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Belgian Chef Wins Embassy Chef Challenge

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Belgian Chef Jan Van Haute prepares plates of creamed Brussels sprouts, mustard-panko crumble and pork-belly cooked in brown beer.
Rebecca Sheir
Belgian Chef Jan Van Haute prepares plates of creamed Brussels sprouts, mustard-panko crumble and pork-belly cooked in brown beer.

By Rebecca Sheir

Washington, D.C. is home to a new top chef of the Embassies. Jan Van Haute of Belgium has sliced, diced and simmered his way to the title of Embassy Chef 2010.

The Embassy Chef Challenge is a fundraiser for Cultural Tourism D.C., a nonprofit coalition promoting Washington's arts and history.

And last night at the House of Sweden, chefs from ten embassies vied to taste sweet and savory victory. From Panama, with its vol-au-vents filled with avocado and shrimp salad...to Bahrain, with its chickpea kebob...to Belgium, which served creamed Brussels sprouts and mustard-panko crumble, along with pork-belly that chef Jan Van Haute had cooked in brown beer for 18 hours.

"We are very famous for our pork," says Van Haute. "We are a very tiny country but our number-one export product is pork, so, and now beer as well."

When the winner was announced, Van Haute, who's cooked for Washington's Belgian Ambassador a little more than a year, was practically speechless.

"This is just amazing," he said. "I don't have words. I almost started to cry."

But Van Haute isn't likely to shed any tears soon. In addition to earning the title of Embassy Chef 2010, he's earned a little vacation, too. After nearly a week practicing his winning dish in the kitchen, he says he's taking the apron, clogs and day, off.

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