Bartender/Mixologist Jojo Valenzuela (left) and Chef Red Garcia carried the Philippine flag at the Embassy Chef Challenge 2017 held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center on May 24, 2017.

WASHINGTON — Washingtonians and visitors were introduced to binalot at the Embassy Chef Challenge 2017, held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. on May 24, 2017.

Red Garcia, owner and executive chef of Kalye DC, represented the Philippines in Washington’s top culinary competition, making over 800 pieces of binalot with Filipino-style pork barbecue as the featured dish.

“The competition brought me back to my roots. It was an amazing experience to show our culture through food by bringing the classic binalot to the table, to relive our culture and to share it with people from all over the world. My crew and I are so very proud to be able to carry the Philippine flag for the Embassy Chef Challenge. It was so very surreal and quite humbling,” Garcia remarked.

Using the distinctly Filipino style and Philippine ingredients, Chef Red infused the pork meat in a mixture that included Datu Puti soy sauce and vinegar, and made the basting with UFC Hot and Spicy banana ketchup.

Jojo Valenzuela, a renowned Filipino bartender/mixologist in the Metro DC area, complemented the binalot with his award-winning cocktail, Rizal.

Made primarily from gin and spiced guava mansi soda, Rizal played well with the sweet, spicy and smoky flavors of the barbecue.


Chef Red Garcia unfolds binalot, a uniquely Filipino food tradition, with Filipino-style pork barbecue as the featured dish.

“The Embassy Chef Challenge is a fun and engaging way for different countries to promote their cuisines, cultures and products to a truly global audience. What the Philippines offers tonight is the experience of unwrapping the ‘Filipino lunchbox’ — the binalot — and discovering and enjoying the scrumptious pork barbecue inside, then washing it down with a refreshing cocktail,” said Patrick A. Chuasoto, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the Embassy.

“The Embassy recognizes Filipino talents like Chef Red and Jojo, who make an impact every time they bring their creations to the table. They are very skilled in what they do, and always passionate about highlighting their Filipino heritage,” he added.

Chef Moha Fedal of Morocco won the Judges’ Choice Award, while Chef Cynthia Verna of Haiti took home the People’s Choice Award at the Embassy Chef Challenge 2017.


Bartender/Mixologist Jojo Valenzuela prepares award-winning cocktail Rizal made of gin, guava and calamansi purees.

“Although we did not get the golden pineapple this year, I am still so happy and proud to represent the Philippines. It was a huge honor and I would love to do it again should the opportunity present itself,” said Chef Red.

The Philippine Embassy’s participation in the Embassy Chef Challenge 2017 was spearheaded by the Philippine Embassy, Philippine Trade and Investment Center, and Office of the Agriculture Attaché in Washington, D.C.; and generously supported by the US-Philippines Society, Tito Al’s Choice, Seafood City Supermarket, Datu Puti, and UFC Banana Catsup.


Washingtonians and guests (top and bottom photos) at the 2017 Embassy Chef Challenge enjoy the Philippine Embassy’s offering, Binalot and Rizal.



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