Chef Erwin “Wing” Villarias was awarded the People’s Choice during the 2022 Embassy Chef Challenge

13 OCTOBER 2022

WASHINGTON D.C. – Chef Erwin “Wing” Villarias, who was invited by the Sentro Rizal of the Philippine Embassy in DC to represent the Philippines in this year’s Embassy Chef Challenge (ECC), claimed the People’s Choice Award for his signature chicken inasal (or chicken roast). The event was held  at the Smithsonian American Art Museum on Thursday, 13 October 2022. 

Chef Wing is a rising Filipino Chef with feature articles from the Washington Post, Arlington Magazine, and Washington City Paper. From his humble beginnings in his hometown Roxas, Palawan, his hardwork and perseverance paved the way as he entered the culinary scene in the culturally diverse city of Washington D.C. He opened his Filipino pop-up restaurant called Balangay DC in the midst of the pandemic in 2021. 

He is now the People’s Choice Awardee of this prestigious culinary competition with his creations – the Philippine Chicken Inasal and Majin Ube cocktail. His chicken inasal was marinated for 24 hours in a unique marinade made from lemongrass, coconut milk, garlic and ginger sauce, and served with toasted garlic rice, pickled papaya, fried enoki mushroom and chili. It is then paired an Ube (Native Philippine purple yam) and gin based cocktail.

Chef Wing’s success is the third winning streak of the Philippines in this competition. Our very own Chef Claude Tayag’s Bringhe won the People’s Choice Award in 2016, while Chef Abigail Sincioco-Mateo’s Pork Sisig secured both Judges’ and People’s Choice Awards in 2018.

“The people have spoken. It is no exaggeration to say that Filipino cuisine is coming of age in America, and the Embassy happily greets the local community’s cultural curiosity about the Philippines and our cuisine.Because of the growing number of Filipino-Americans, the United States is learning more about our flavors and culture, and they love it.” Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez said in a statement.

In conjunction with the Filipino American History month in October, the Philippines was not only able to showcase Filipino cuisine at the ECC, but also highlighted Philippine culture and heritage through a dance medley by the Migrant Heritage Fil-Am Dance Ensemble. The crowd was entertained by their performance featuring dances that represented the three major islands of the Philippines: Basket Weavers Dance (Luzon), Pangalay Dance (Mindanao), and Tinikling Bamboo Dance (Visayas).

In addition to Chef Wing’s gastronomic menu, Mama Sita’s provided guests with free samples of its Fiery Labuyo Barbeque marinade and Sinigang and Adobo mixes. 

Our 2022 ECC participation was made possible by the generous support of our major sponsor the Philippine Department of Agriculture, and with special thanks to Mama Sita’s, Balangay, and the US Philippines Society.

Embassy Chef Challenge (ECC), part of the 2022 Events DC International City Food Festival, is DC’s annual culinary showdown wherein Chefs from all over the world  showcase the unique flavors of their own countries. During this global culinary experience, guests played an important role in determining the People’s Choice Award winner by casting votes for their favorite dishes. Alongside this, the Judge’s Choice Award was selected by a group of elite members from the field of diplomacy, culture and the culinary arts.###

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The People’s Choice – Chef Wing’s Signature Chicken Inasal and Majin Ube cocktail


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Chef Wing (right) describes his special Chicken Inasal and Majin Ube cocktail to Esther Ciammachilli (left), Host of ‘Morning Edition’ on WAMU 88.5 FM and one of the Judges in the 2022 ECC


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Chef Wing (center) prepares his winning dish at the Philippine Embassy’s booth


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Chef Wing and the Embassy team celebrates their win


Migrant Heritage Fil-Am Dance Ensemble performs a dance medley as a finale to the 2022 Embassy Chef Challenge