At this year’s World Food Championships (WFC), the Super Bowl of competitive cooking, two local amateur chefs will test their skills in the largest outdoor kitchen arena ever produced when they head to Kissimmee, Florida, November 3-10, in hopes of bringing home the $100,000 grand prize and title of World Food Champion.
George Levinthal, of Goleta, and L.J. Washington, of Carpinteria, will be among nearly 500 U.S. and international professional chefs and amateur cooks competing in 10 different categories, including: Bacon, Barbecue, Burger, Chili, Dessert, Pasta, Recipe, Sandwich, Seafood and World Chef. Joining them as sous chef will be Ann Peyrat, of Goleta. The friends are not new to the world of food sport— Ann helped them compete at WFC once before, this will be George’s second appearance on the field, and for L.J., third time’s a charm!
George, a Senior Project Manager at UCSB, has been part of the competitive cooking world for five years. He walked away with winning dishes in the 2010 and 2011 Santa Barbara Independent’s Sizzling Summer BBQ Contest; his original burger creations were named winners in the Los Angeles Times Battle of the Burgers in 2011 and 2012; his victories extend beyond the local arena when George had the opportunity to go to New York in 2012 to tape a segment on the Cooking Channel’s The Perfect 3 for his cornbread pudding; his potato salad recipe was published in the June/July 2013 edition of Taste of Home Magazine; and two of his burgers, which he submitted through Just A Pinch, earned him his ticket to the 2014 and this year’s World Food Championships in the Burger category.
L.J., an ICU nurse at Cottage Health, owns a cooking style rooted in her hometown of New Orleans. She won the Santa Barbara Independent Sandwich Showdown in 2012, in which she triumphed against two professional sandwich chefs in Santa Barbara; she added Grill Master to her accomplishments when she won the 2012 KEYT-TV News Backyard BBQ; was a finalist in both the 2012 and 2014 Santa Barbara Independent’s Sizzling Summer BBQ Contest and the Today Show Father’s Day Burger Battle in New York City, which aired June 2013, with Giada De Laurentiis as guest judge; was victorious at the 2014 Carpinteria Chili Cook-off and was featured in that year’s winter edition of Carpinteria Magazine; and competed in the 2013 and 2014 World Food Championships finishing back-to-back top 10 finishes in her category: Sandwich.
Both George and L.J. are packing their knives, recipes in hand, with the goal of knocking down their competitors and claiming the ultimate prize of World Food Champion!