Williamsburg Inn Executive Chef Travis Brust picked up the first place honor in the World Chef Challenge category at the first-ever World Food Championships held in Las Vegas earlier this month. The Inn is one of Colonial Williamsburg’s signature restaurants.
Hundreds of chefs competed in seven categories during the Championships, with the winner of each category battling it out for the title of World Food Champion. Brust beat out competitors to take the World Chef Challenge win; he competed against six others for the World Food title, which went to Chef Robert Butler of Las Vegas. The event was hosted by TV personality Adam Richman, who hosts “Man vs. Food: Nation” on the Travel Channel.
“The opportunity to represent the Williamsburg Inn and the bounty of Virginia was tremendous, but the unknown aspects of the contest, the thrill of preparing the food against a clock and competing against other talented chefs made this the most challenging and exciting culinary experience of my professional life,” said Brust.
The World Chef contest featured two grueling days of competition that started with a skills test that asked the chefs to break down a chicken in two minutes, mince four onions in two minutes and tourney four potatoes in five minutes. “I did a fantastic job in this round!” said Brust.
The second round asked competitors to come up with a new twist on eggs benedict, and the third round had them prepare salmon. Brust, who competed with a few other Virginia chefs, said “all the Virginia chefs did very well, preparing the egg benedict and the salmon dish, we all shined and did a tremendous job.”
In the third round, chefs had to come up with an appetizer and a meat course in a limited amount of time. The final round let the contestants shine by creating their signature dish – Brust went with “a rendition of the dish that we fed the Queen of England in 2007,” which consisted of fennel-dusted rockfish with sautéed bitter greens, oyster mushroom and fresh oyster ragout, roasted pearl potatoes, orange scented beurre blanc and fresh carrot-cardamom gel.
As for how he felt upon winning the World Chef Challenge, Brust said, “The feeling was surreal. I did not know how to react as I have never won something like this before. The event was a ton of fun yet very challenging and pushed me to a competitive level that I have not reached before.”
Brust was invited to compete by Chef Patrick Evans-Hylton, senior food and wine editor of Hampton Roads magazine, who served as a judge for the event. Evans-Hylton also invited Chef Mike Farrell of Still Restaurant in Portsmouth and Chef Jerry Weihbrecht of Zoës in Virginia Beach. All three made it to the semi-final round of the Chef Challenge.