ORLANDO, Fla. (May 25, 2022) – Calling all chefs and foodies! June 1, 2022 is the deadline to apply for a contest unlike any other in the region. FusionFest, Central Florida’s leading cultural diversity festival with year-round programming, is bringing back a fan favorite: its Fusion Cooking Contest curated by Idrees Khan, paired with a special edition of the festival’s monthly Diversitastic! Dining Experience. Both initiatives are produced in partnership with Valencia College.
FusionFest is inviting professional and amateur chefs to be creative in cooking up a dish that fuses ingredients, spices, and/or techniques from different continents of the world. Sixteen chefs will be selected to compete on June 27 or 28 (eight chefs each night), with first and second place winners receiving a $1,000 and $500 prize, respectively. Sign up by June 1 at FusionFest.org/cook.
The public can purchase tickets for a delicious front-row seat alongside the judges and exclusive access to tasting these unique “fusion” dishes at a special edition of Diversitastic! Dining Experience, to be held on Monday, June 27 and Tuesday, June 28 at 7 p.m. on the downtown campus of Valencia College, 500 W. Livingston Street, Orlando, FL 32801. Tickets are $49.95 per person and space is limited with 30 seats available each night. Purchase tickets at FusionFest.org/dining.
Idrees Khan is content creator at Eat’N’Cultures, a TikTok channel with over 21,000 followers that highlights the great food from primarily immigrant and minority owned restaurants in Central Florida. This year’s esteemed panel of judges are:
- Joseph Hayes, freelance writer, playwright, and former Orlando Magazine Dining Critic
- Hospitality Industry Social Media Manager Faye Albanna
- Abeba (“Abby”), owner and chef of Nile Ethiopian Restaurant
- Rich Maladecki, past president of the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association (CFHLA) and 2013 CFL Hospitality Hall of Fame inductee
- Puerto Rican Food Influencer Ramon Valles
- LetsTryThis Food Influencer Chantal
- German-Certified Master Chef Alex Erdmann
- Chef Kevin Phanhvilay, owner of Sticky Rice Lao Street Food and a 2019 winner.
- Lilly Tiumalu, a chef specializing in Polynesian Island flavors and winner of the 2017 Taste of Orlando competition
Need more inspiration? Here are examples of past tantalizing creations:
- Ryan Manning, owner and chef of MX Taco, combined favorites from Germany and Mexico by using pasilla chile Sauerbraten, apple hominy and poblano braised red cabbage, tortilla crumble, mustard sauce, and mole sauces.
- Venoy Rogers, executive chef of Temhe Bohemian Hotel, fused Japanese and North American cuisines by creating “Mac a Uni & Cheese” a Uni Fondue with Vermont Cheddar, corkscrew rice noodles, secret sushi rice seasoning, toasted chicharron, and Furikake.
- Alex Diaz, chef and owner of Alex’s Fresh Kitchen, created a Puerto Rican and Asian mofongo burger, using ribeye and brisket, homemade adobo seasoning, Kimchi mayo, garlic soy, Asian-style pickled greens.
“In addition to celebrating the many heritages found in Central Florida, we want to encourage the creativity and innovation that can come from combining elements from different cultures,” said “Terry Olson, Director with Orange County Arts & Cultural Affairs and FusionFest’s Chief Instigator.
Added FusionFest Executive Director Thali Sugisawa, “What a thrill it is to again gather in person after a two-year hiatus, and to do so in a delectable way that celebrates our community’s diverse food scene.”
FusionFest’s leadership is also seeking sponsors for this and other events in its upcoming line-up. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
FusionFest Inc. is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the mission of celebrating the people and the many different cultures that make Central Florida awesome by showcasing talents, sharing stories, collaborating, educating, and breaking down barriers of fears and division. In addition to its annual festival, FusionFest produces year-round programming including the Diverse Orange Talk Show, MYgration Films Watch Parties and Diversitastic! Dining Experiences. FusionFest was founded as a project of the Orange County Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs. For more information, visit FusionFest.org and stay connected on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.