Embassy of Hungary Resident Chef Viktor Merényi “dazzled” judges with a traditional slow-cooked beef dish at the Embassy Chef Challenge 2012 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center on Thursday night (with photos and videos).

Chef Merényi presented a dish with slow cooked beef served with traditional Hungarian accompaniments: “lecsó” sauce-stuffed potato, semi-dried oven-baked tomato, country style pasta pellets and red wine glace. The dish was paired with a 2006 Vylyan Villányi Zweigelt dry red wine. Chef Merényi won the jury's first prize with a presentation that showed “creativity, showed artistry, and did some pretty good cooking.”

Click here to see the photo gallery.

Organized by Cultural Tourism DC, the jury of this year's Embassy Chef Challenge included the following judges: Washington Post’s Tim Carman, former Top Chef competitor Carla Hall, last year’s Challenge winner, Danish Chef Lars Beese, CakeLove Founder and Owner Warren Brown, Reagan Building Executive Chef Xavier Deshayes, Occasions Caterers Executive Chef Sina Molavi, Peacock Café Executive Chef Maziar Farivar, and Washington Business Journal “Top Shelf” Columnist Missy Frederik.

The Culinary Council of the event featured United States Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall, Former White House Chef John Hanny, Next Iron Chef finalist Jehangir Mehta, Belgian Chef Jan van Haute, Winner of the 2010 Embassy Chef Challenge, and Washington Post Food and Travel Editor Joe Yonan.

The Embassy Chef Challenge presented thirteen resident chefs: Chef Devin E. Johnson (Embassy of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas), Chef Sen Sun (Embassy of the People’s Republic of China), Chef Malkhaz Maisashvili (Embassy of Georgia), Chef Viktor Merényi (Embassy of Hungary), Chef Djamel Amroune (Embassy of Iraq), Chef Sherene N. James (Embassy of Jamaica), Chef Shogo Shimodaira (Embassy of Japan), Chef Yerlan Abdrakhmanov (Embassy of Kazakhstan), Chef Young A. Byeon Lee (Embassy of the Republic of Korea), Chef Nazha Kasraoui (Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco), Chef Sondre Bruvik Ellingstad (Royal Norwegian Embassy), Chef Channa Perera (Embassy of Sri Lanka), and Chef Vincent Muia (Embassy of Switzerland).

The diplomatic culinary competition started in 2009 and is now in its fourth year, drawing nearly 600 guests this year as one of the “hottest tickets in town”.

Chef Merényi graduated from the College of Catering, Commerce and Tourism at the Budapest Business School Faculty of Commerce. Chef Merényi has offered extraordinary Hungarian culinary experiences to Washington’s diplomatic circles as well as in gastronomic events around the world. He is the two-time silver medalist of “Culinary World Cup Luxemburg” (2002 and 2006) and winner of the “Best Creative Foods” category at the Traditional and Evolution High Class “Live Kitchen” competition (2008). He has experience cooking in world-class restaurants in Budapest, New York City, and Wexford, Ireland. Chef Merényi received the “Challenge Sweden” award at Embassy Chef Challenge 2010 for his smoked catfish served with chicken-celery salad, mesclun lettuces, cauliflower foam, and beet-root “caviar.”

FOX 5’s Holly Morris visited the Hungarian Ambassador's residence to learn all about this year's event. Watch the videos:

Executive director of Cultural Tourism DC, Linda Harper talks about this year's contest, Chef Lars Beese presents morning dish for the crew:




Hungarian Embassy Chef Viktor Merényi prepares the Szapáry máj (or Szapáry liver) named after the Hungarian Ambassador's ancestors:




Ambassador Szapáry arrives on bike after his morning ride for the interview: 





Ambassador Szapáry talks about Hungarian gastronomy, diplomatic relations, Chef Merényi talks about the special features of Hungarian dishes:




The Hungarian Embassy's band, the The Diplomats rock it at the Ambassador's home:





The Three competing top chefs present their dishes: