2015 Embassy Chef Competitors

Chef Lars Beese
Royal Danish Embassy


Chef Benjamin Velasquez
Embassy of El Salvador


Chef Irma Japaridze
Embassy of Georgia


Chef Francis Otoo
Embassy of Ghana


Chef Jorge Jorge Lamport
Embassy of Guatemala


Chef Szabolcs Somogyi
Embassy of Hungary

Chef Galih Kuntobaskoro
Embassy of Indonesia


Chef Sindre Risvoll
Royal Norwegian Embassy


Chef Mujibul Hogue Bachu
Embassy of the State of Qatar


Chef Zodwa Sikakane
Embassy of South Africa


Chef T. Buran
Embassy of Sri Lanka


Chef Manuel Rodriquez
Embassy of Venezuela

2015 Embassy Chef Judges

Bonnie S. Benwick
Deputy Editor, The Washington Post Food Section

Bonnie S. Benwick is the deputy editor and recipe editor of The Washington Post Food Section, where she writes two weekly columns. She also contributes to the Plate Lab column in The Washington Post Magazine. She edited "The Washington Post Cookbook: Readers' Favorite Recipes" (Time Capsule Press, 2012).


Monica Bhide
Cookbook Author and Blogger, Life of Spice 

Monica Bhide is an engineer-turned-writer based near Washington, DC. She has built a diverse and solid audience through the publication of three cookbooks and a collection of short stories, her website MonicaBhide.com, and articles in Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, Saveur, The Washington Post, Health, the New York Times, Ladies Home Journal, AARP The Magazine, Parents, among others. In 2012, The Chicago Tribune named Bhide one of the seven food writers to watch and Mashable.com picked her as one of the top ten food writers on Twitter. Her work has garnered numerous accolades and has been included in four Best Food Writing anthologies (2005, 2009, 2010, 2014). She released her debut short story collection, The Devil in Us, in October 2014. She is a frequent presence on NPR and serves as a speaker and teacher for organizations such as Georgetown University, the Association of Food Journalists (AFJ), London Food Blogger's Connect, and the Smithsonian Institution. Her sixth book, A Life of Spice, was released in April 2015.


Warren Brown
Founder and Owner of CakeLove Bakery

Before founding CakeLove, Warren Brown practiced law. In 2000, he left his legal career to pursue a passion for baking. Since then, he has been recognized for his entrepreneurial spirit by local and national media outlets including the Oprah Winfrey Show, Today Show, People magazine, and NPR. He also was featured in national advertisement campaigns for American Express and Dell computers. He has written four cookbooks -- CakeLove, United Cakes of America, CakeLove in the Morning, and PieLove – and is the former host of Sugar Rush which aired on the Food Network from 2005-2007.


Chef Xavier Deshayes
Executive Chef, Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

Chef Deshayes has been catapulted into an arena of high profile and socially responsible chefs, as the leader of the catering operations for one of the nation's largest buildings. He is on the forefront of developing sustainable and environmentally conscious menus by thoroughly researching his product sources. He takes great pride in his volunteer endeavors, including his service as a member of The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation's Advisory Committee, DC, and of Central Kitchen, Inc.'s Board of Directors.


Chef Luigi Diotaiuti
Chef and Owner of Al Tiramisu Restaurant

Award-winning chef and restaurateur Luigi Diotaiuti is a certified sommelier and television personality. Born in the mountains of the Southern Italy, he completed his culinary degree at the Culinary School of Maratea. He has worked in renowned restaurants such as Hotel Georges V in Paris, the Grand Hotel Bauer Grunwald in Venice, Il Gourmet restaurant and Hotel Bellavista in Montecatini, Tuscany and Costa in Smeralda, and Forte Village in Sardinia. He opened Al Tiramisu restaurant in 1996. He is a member of The James Beard Foundation, Slow Food DC, The International Association of Culinary Professionals, the Culinary Historians of Washington, Confrérie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, Ciao Italia, and the American Chefs Corps network through the U.S. Department of State, where he recently prepared Italian –American classics at the Groundbreaking Reception for the USA Pavillion at Milan Expo 2015. A born educator, he currently conducts regional Italian cooking and wine -pairing classes at Al Tiramisu and is author of The Al Tiramisu Restaurant Cookbook: An Elevated Approach to Authentic Italian Cuisine.

Chef Ris Lacoste
Executive Chef and Owner of Ris

Ris Lacoste is the executive chef and owner of Ris, an upscale neighborhood restaurant serving seasonal American cuisine. She also is one of the most respected and dedicated chefs working in Washington today. Prior to opening Ris, she was executive chef of Georgetown's celebrated 1789 Restaurant, where her innovative regional American fare drew national attention and earned numerous awards as well as a nomination from the legendary James Beard Foundation. The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) named Lacoste "Chef of the Year" in 1999 and awarded 1789 Restaurant its "Restaurant of the Year" prize in 2000. A native of New Bedford, Massachusetts, she began her career at the young age of 12, when she worked at Johnny Gorka's Polish Market. She studied at the famous La Varenne Écôle de Cuisine in Paris, France, and worked with renowned Chef Bob Kinkead at the Harvest Restaurant in Cambridge, MA, before helping him open 21 Federal in Nantucket, MA, and Twenty-One Federal in Washington, DC, in 1987. She sits on the board of RAMW and is a member of its Education Foundation; she is a member of the board of DC Central Kitchen; and she is on the Advisory Board of the Hospitality High School of Washington, DC.


Chef Nate Lindsay
Executive Chef, Jardenea at The Melrose Georgetown Hotel

Nate Lindsay is the Executive Chef of Melrose Georgetown Hotel (a Remington Hotel) and Jardenea, a farm-to-fork signature restaurant. He also oversees the hotel's catering, in-room dining, and Jardenea Lounge. Prior to taking over Jardenea, he was sous chef at One Ocean Resort & Spa and Azurea restaurant in Atlantic Beach, Florida. When he is not cooking, he lends his talent to multiple charity events and organizations, such as Friends of James Beard Benefit Dinner, Children's Home Society Caring Chefs, Tom Coughlin's Jay Fund Foundation, and the First Coast Premier Wine Extravaganza benefiting the Children's Cancer Fund. Chef Nate studied advanced culinary arts at the Connecticut Culinary Institute in Suffield, Connecticut.


Chef Sina Molavi
Executive Chef, Occassions Caterers

Chef Molavi got his first hands-on cooking experience in 1981 while working at Café Du Bec Fin in Greenwich, Connecticut. After two years there, he to Le Pavilion, where he worked with Washington, DC favorite Yannick Cam. The kitchen at Aux Beau Champ, in the famed Four Seasons Hotel, was his next stop before landing at Melrose in the Park Hyatt. After working three celebrated kitchens, he began catering, working for Design Cuisine, Susan gage, and finally, Occasions Caterers. He has found success with Occasions, garnering impressive accolades and respect within the industry.


Chef Huda Mu'min
The Taste (ABC) and Cutthroat Kitchen (Food Network) Contestant and Owner of Pretty and Delicious

Chef Huda is the owner and CEO of Pretty and Delicious™, a full-service personal chef and culinary company, and creator of A Happy Food Place blog. Chef Huda made Food Network history on the top-rated show Cutthroat Kitchen, hosted by Alton Brown, and was an audience favorite on the first season of the ABC's "The Taste." Recently, served as guest chef at the White House, where a variety of her signature dishes were featured at the President and First Lady's 2015 Black History Month Reception. Her cuisine has been featured on ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX and in Vogue Italia, The Washington Business Journal, Ebony Magazine, The Washington Post, Jet Magazine, Washington Life Magazine, On Tap Magazine, NPR, CNBC, Yahoo!, The Steve Harvey Morning Show, and The Howard Stern Show. A native of Massachusetts, Chef Huda was raised in an organic household and her love for the culinary arts presented itself at the young age of six. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland-College Park and Le Cordon Bleu in Los Angeles.

Chef Amy Riolo
Cookbook Author, Educator, Consultant, and Member of Les Dames d' Escoffier

An award-winning author, chef, television personality, cuisine and culture expert, and educator, Amy Riolo writes and speaks extensively on the joys of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Her publications, like The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook and Nile Style: Egyptian Cuisine and Culture, have won her accolades from healthy living associations, cultural organizations and diplomatic entities alike. As a successful restaurant consultant and graduate of Cornell University, she enjoys developing concepts and recipes for corporations, restaurants, and hotels. She has created menus for many world leaders, earning her the title "Cook to the Kings" from a Cairo newspaper in 2008. In addition to her professional work, she spends a great deal of her time mentoring culinary students, teaching children's cooking classes, and participating on panels for charity events.


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