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First DCCK Cook-Off in the Klein Center Enchants Our Judges

February 15th marked an important day in DC Central Kitchen history – our very first Cook-Off in our new home!

After seven weeks of refining both their knife and life skills, our latest class of Culinary Job Training students, sponsored by The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation and Marriott International, had the chance to show off their culinary chops in a DCCK-style cooking competition.

The students, divided into four teams, were tasked with conceptualizing and creating an original chili dish to impress our impressive panel of judges, including Marriott International Restaurant and Bars Manager Ashley Cummings; The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Program Director Jen Lawrence; Timber Pizza Co. CEO Luke Watson; SVC II Udine Lifestyles Director of Dining Keira Jarrett; and Tatte Bakery Executive Pastry Chef Anthony Young.

Cook-Off judges examining the four chilis

Each team displayed thoughtfulness and creativity in crafting their dish names, with our judges receiving innovative treats like Team Master Chefs’ “Bomb Chili,” a historical tribute to Mexican chili, and heartfelt classics like Team Chef Steppers’ “Soul in a Bowl,” which was aptly named for the soul that goes into cooking a meal for another.

But in the end, Team Kitchen Magicians stole the show with their “Enchantress” seafood chili, a cream-based take on the old classic with generous portions of lump crabmeat, lobster, and shrimp. Topped with some dynamic spices and fresh herbs, it was hard for the judges not to fall under Team Kitchen Magicians’ culinary spell.

Team Kitchen Magicians’ Enchantress Chili

“Winning is overwhelming. We are all a family in this class. We are all winners today. But still, it feels great to have our hard work and effort recognized with this win,” said Carolyn M. of Team Kitchen Magicians. “We chose the team name ‘Kitchen Magicians’ because when you cook, you bring all your spices and skills together. You bring your magic to the kitchen. We worked together to bring our magic as a team, and it paid off.”

Our students will continue to bring magic to our community as they finish out their program by participating in internships and externships at restaurants and hotels around the District before graduating on March 17th at the Naval Heritage Memorial Center. We hope you will join us in celebrating our students’ hard work, perseverance, and commitment to transforming themselves and our city for the better.