The Chew is one of the most popular shows on daytime television. Every day at noon, millions of people watch Carla Hall, Clinton Kelly and Michael Symon turn out tasty dishes. So we were STOKED when they launched the "Best Chef on the Block" contest, looking for a D.C. standout.
We sounded the alarm, and put out a call for local chefs to tell us why we should pick them for the chance at representing D.C. on the national show, and what signature D.C. dish they would make. After soliciting nominations from all of our readers, we narrowed down the competition to three finalists: Jonathan Dearden from Radiator DC, Sasha Felikson from Doi Moi and Mario Lanzone from Peruvian Brothers.
On the morning of Martin Luther King Day, we dragged our three finalists out of bed at the crack of five, and put them to the test with a live cook-off, in which they all had 60 minutes to prepare their signature D.C. dish. Chef Lanzone, a Peruvian immigrant who came to D.C. in 1997, whipped up Pan con Chicharrón sliders with a trio of sauces: Huancaina, Sweet & Spicy, and Rocoto Hot Sauce. Chef Felikson also gave a nod to D.C.'s "melting pot heritage" and made one of his personal favorite dishes, South East Asian-style vegetarian dumplings. Chef Dearden, a DMV native, created Maryland crab cakes nestled on a bed of half-smoke potato hash with an Old Bay remoulade and Virginia apples -- he really went for the DMV trifecta with the D.C. half-smoke, the Maryland Crab Cake and Old Bay remoulade and the Virginia apples.
When the time was up, a panel of four judges consisting of two DC Refined writers (Troy Petenbrink and Lani Furbank), WJLA's social media coordinator (Kirsten Nicolaisen) and our very own reporter-host for the contest (Eileen Whelan) tasted all three dishes and judged them based on presentation and taste. It was a tough call, but ultimately chef Dearden was crowned our winner, and will be representing D.C. all this week on The Chew against five other regional chefs.
"It's great to cook among other other great chefs, and I'm really proud to represent D.C. in New York," said Dearden, who became an executive chef at just 22 years old.
He currently serves as as the Executive Chef at Radiator, where he brings a global perspective to the menu at the chef-driven cocktail bar on 14th Street. His background in Caribbean, Creole, French and Pan-Asian cuisines helps keep Radiator’s ambitious menu on pace with a constantly-evolving list of seasonal and classic cocktails.
Tune in to ABC7 on Tuesday, February 20th at 1 p.m. ET to see Chef Dearden take on the other East Coast finalists as they whip up their family-favorite dishes! If he advances, he will take on the West Coast winner on Thursday February 22nd, and the final "Best Chef on the Block" winner will cook with The Chew crew on Friday February 23. Follow along with Chef Dearden's progress, right here on DC Refined!