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16 May 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The "Flavors of the Philippines" is getting ready to take the largest diplomatic community in the world by storm at the 8th annual Embassy Chef Challenge that will be held on 25 May 2016 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

As Washington's leading international culinary event, the Embassy Chef Challenge is the night when participating Embassies wield their respective cuisines as the main diplomatic tool.

"This is the first time that the Philippines will join the Embassy Chef Challenge. It is a significant step for our culinary diplomacy as cultural and economic objectives drive our participation. We want to celebrate our cuisine, bridge cultural differences and foster international understanding, and promote Philippine ingredients and products," Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. said.

Embassy chefs from diverse nations will prepare world-class cuisine and compete for the Judges' Choice and People's Choice Awards, the latter being selected by the guests at the event.

Internationally-acclaimed Filipino chef Claude Tayag will represent the Embassy in the high-profile competition.

"The Embassy Chef Challenge is a wonderful opportunity to showcase not just the unique flavors of Philippine cuisine but also the accessibility of our food. It has been said that food culture is a reflection of a nation's soul, and so I intend our offering to be a culinary demonstration of our people's inherent openness and generosity. After all, Filipino cuisine is meant to be shared," Chef Claude Tayag said.

Chef Claude Tayag was born in Angeles City in the province of Pampanga, the "Culinary Capital of the Philippines". A renowned artist, food writer, and chef, Claude Tayag is no novice to international festivals, where he showcases his delicious creations and carries his passion for Pampango cuisine. He was the Philippines’ culinary expert during the Memphis in May International Festival in 2012 and was part of Team Philippines in the international gastronomy congress of the Madrid Fusión Manila in 2015.

Together with his wife Mary Ann, Chef Claude established Bale Dutung (Wooden House), his abode turned into a restaurant serving traditional Pampango cuisine. The by-reservation-only restaurant gained popularity when world-renowned chef and writer Anthony Bourdain personally visited and featured the restaurant in his TV show, "No Reservations" in 2008.

The couple also co-authored "Linamnam: Eating One's Way Around the Philippines," a culinary guide book on what food to eat in every region of the country as well as what makes each dish unique and outstanding in its own right.

Chef Claude has likewise written an award winning book, "Food Tour: A Culinary Journey" and was the co-author of "Kulinarya: A Guidebook to Philippine Cuisine".

He will take on eighteen (18) chefs from other Embassies, including that of Venezuela whose cuisine topped last year’s challenge as both the Judges’ and People’s choices.

Aside from the actual competition, this year's Embassy Chef Challenge will also feature silent and live auctions, premium beers, wines, and spirits, and cultural performances. Tickets are available at  www.eventsdcembassychefchallenge.com.

Chef Claude's participation is a joint project of the Philippine Embassy, Philippine Trade and Investment Center and Office of the Agricultural Attaché in Washington D.C., in partnership with the US-Philippines Society, Philippine Airlines and Seafood City Supermarket.  ###