Culinary competition demonstrating US-Georgia friendship
10 May, 2017
Culinary competition demonstrating US-Georgia friendship
On May 5th, 2017, USAID program REAP together with the Culinary Academy hosted an exciting culinary competition marking the 25th anniversary of Georgian and the US friendship. The event was aimed at promoting and supporting the production of Georgian agro products. REAP (Georgia’s Restoring Efficiency to Agriculture Production) has played a significant role in reviving Georgian agriculture and through this joyful competition celebrated the achievements in this sector.

Culinary and agriculture spheres are becoming increasingly prestigious in Georgia. The country's progressive Culinary Academy
established by Kakha Bendukhidze in the Agrarian University has contributed a lot to developing culinary scene in the country. Besides producing professional chefs the academy is actively promoting culinary sphere and bringing Georgian culinary scene to the new level.

“My father, Kakha Bendukidze, founded the Culinary Academy in 2013 and people thought that he was crazy, because the profession of a cook was not appreciated and respected at that time, but four years later everything  changed. We can see it not only in the quality of our students but also in the salaries. Now average chefs receive 7 times more than they used to five years ago, so it is a big progress for us. A lot of people, owners of the restaurants, are coming here and they all are constantly looking for new chefs to produce new projects all over the country. Here you can learn how to be a professional chef, professional pastry maker and how to do desserts. Once a month we also invite chefs from different countries and they share their experiences with our students and conduct workshops. I am extremely proud that I continue my father’s deeds. Today we have organized such an interesting contest to showcase how contemporary Georgian products can be used in culinary”, - Anastasia Bendukidze, Director and Partner of the Knowledge Fund and one of the members of judges said.
Nicholas Berliner, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi.

The competitors of the friendly food fight were: Nicholas Berliner Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, Douglas Ball USAID Mission Director and Giorgi Chkheidze, Deputy Minister of Agriculture. As it turned out, despite their busy schedule and the competitors highly responsible duties, all three are passionate about cooking and still find some time for experimenting in the kitchen. It was a perfect opportunity to them to show off their cooking talent and improvise with organic and fresh Georgian produce. They had to prepare dishes using only Georgian-produced goods and present them in a creative way. The students of the Culinary Academy assisted each of the participants in preparing and refining their dishes. The culinary rivals had to do a lot of chopping, dicing, marinating, mixing, blending and straining before the dishes hit the competitive table.
Giorgi Chkheidze , the Deputy Minister of Agriculture.

“The US has invested a lot in agriculture here in Georgia. This is obviously very important part of the economy; it is the major source of income for many people in this country and this particular project is USAID REAP project. We want to see things marketed, we want to see things being produced to the European and international standards that creates export opportunities and jobs and really starts to place Georgia as a player on global markets in the agricultural sector”, - Nicholas Berliner, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi and one of the contestants explained.

All three teams committed themselves and took this friendly competition with high responsibility. All dishes were prepared with core ingredient Georgian trout, but each of them was presented and cooked in a different way. Judges consisting of Mr. Levan Davitashvili, Minister of Agriculture; Meriko Gubeladze; Georgian Celebrity Chef, Anastasia Bendukidze, Director and Partner of the Knowledge Fund and Bakva Bregvadze, Founder of CulinArt sampled and evaluated the dishes according to its appearance, flavor, quality and preparation time. Trout prepared with orange and wine sauce by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture was revealed the winner and was awarded with the top prize.
Anastasia Bendukidze, Director and Partner of the Knowledge Fund and Levan Davitashvili, Minister of Agriculture of Georgia, evaluating dish.
Trout with orange and wine sauce (The winner dish)

“We had a very interesting and joyful event. This was a culinary contest where only the goods produced by the enterprises who received support and funding from the US supportive programs and the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia jointly were used. We were provided with quite diverse variety of products. I prepared trout paired with orange and wine sauce that amazed the judges. I am thankful to my team of the academy students who assisted me and I am very happy that we claimed the first place and received the prize. Through this event we celebrated the 25 years of friendship and cooperation of American and Georgian people and the achievements we reached through the US support over these years”, - Giorgi Chkheidze , the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, noted.

“It was a very wonderful opportunity to highlight the 25 years of close partnership with Georgia. Today we are highlighting some of the products that have been the result of this wonderful partnership”, - Said Douglas Ball, USAID Mission Director.
Douglas Ball, USAID Mission Director.

The event turned out as a huge success, the guests had an opportunity to get acquainted with various products produced in Georgia as well as personally sample them. As reported, the friendly cooking competition is planned to transform into an annual event. It is noteworthy that apart from culinary contest, the academy has hosted such honorable guests as world-famous American chef and culinary ambassador as Ben Ford as well as celebrated Italian chef and author of the chocolate khinkali Enzo Neri.

Related stories:

World-Famous American chef and culinary ambassador Ben Ford’s unforgettable visit to Georgia

Chocolate Khinkali: Italian Chef’s extraordinary version of Georgian dumpling

Italian Dishes with a Georgian Twist

Author: Lika Chigladze

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