Columbia area’s top chefs advance to World Food Championship



A team of six local chefs will represent the Columbia area in a World Food Championship event later this year.

The six were judged the best of the “Taste of Lake Murray” event by 600 people who attended the cooking competition at Columbia’s Hilton DoubleTree on Thursday.

Team Lake Murray Country will now travel to Dallas, Texas, for the “Ultimate Food Fight” the week of Nov. 5-9. There they will take on other top culinary artists from across the country. The top chefs will win $350,000.

The local winning chefs include:

Kevin Schwab of Bistro on the Boulevard

Henry Griffin of Griffin Chophouse

Arif Rizvi of RF’s Corner Grill

Brandon Velie of Juniper

John Worthington of Figaro the Dining Room

Jon Cooper of Alodia’s Cucina Italiana

In addition, World Food Championship CEO Mike McCloud named Eric Crissey of Columbo’s Restaurant as

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‘Top Chef’ Portland contestant Gabriel Pascuzzi thinks the show will help boost the city’s image

For Gabriel Pascuzzi, one of two Portland-area chefs competing on “Top Chef” Season 18, having the show finally come to town in 2020 provided a much-needed boost for the local food scene. “It’s kind of the perfect timing,” Pascuzzi says, in that the cooking competition series, which airs weekly on the Bravo cable channel, gives Oregon food and dining a positive national spotlight.

In a recent phone interview, Pascuzzi also sounded a bit wistful about “Top Chef” not being able to film in Portland “during normal times.” Instead, the Bravo series came to the Rose City during September and October of 2020, when measures meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus forced many restaurants to close, or pivot to takeout-only. For food professionals in Portland, the pandemic has often meant lost jobs, financial hardship and unprecedented challenges.

“I think ‘Top Chef’ will definitely help,” Pascuzzi says, because of its

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Top Chef alum Tu David Phu returns to his Vietnamese roots with signature dish

OAKLAND, Calif — Cooking is the heart and soul of Chef Tu David Phu. The Oakland native believes cooking for others is the purest form of love. He remembers watching his mom in the kitchen at a young age, which sparked his passion for cooking.

“I started cooking with my mom when I was five years old and had this amazing obsession with her food. She would let me taste things. And that’s how I learned how to taste, not just cook,” Chef Tu said.

Chef Tu is a California-born first-generation Vietnamese-American chef whose family comes from the island of Phu Quoc. He remembers the struggles and hardships he and his family faced over the years.

“We grew up very, very poor. And I think for many years, I had self-shame about my identity and my own story. And given the fact that my parents have been laborers their whole

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The special recipes from Mum that inspired top chefs to follow their dreams

“I grew up in the south of Ukraine, in a small town about an hour from Crimea. Mum’s cooking was really varied – day-to-day it was traditional Ukranian food, but when we got our first cookbook in the ’90s, translated from a Canadian chef, she started expanding her repertoire with coq au vin and other things.

“I never took much interest in food as a child or a teenager. It was when I was an adult that I realised what an amazing source of skill and knowledge my whole family is, but especially my mum. She knew so many recipes that people over here had never heard of, let alone eaten. When I secured the deal for my first book, Mamushka, I went to Ukraine and followed Mum around with a set of scales and spoons – she cooks intuitively, so there was no recipe for most of the dishes.

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