Geo-US Cook-Off Highlights Georgian Products on 25th Year of Diplomatic Relations

On May 5, the Culinary Academy of the Agrarian University hosted a culinary contest together with USAID-based program REAP (Restoring Efficiency to Agriculture Production) and the Ministry of Agriculture of Georgia. The event was dedicated to the 25th anniversary of US-Georgian diplomatic relations and aimed at supporting Georgian agricultural produce and demonstrating the assistance provided to the sector by the two governments.

The participants of the cheerful competition were: Nicholas Berliner, Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy to Georgia; Douglas H. Ball, USAID Mission Director; and Giorgi Chkheidze, Deputy Minister of Agriculture. The show had a jury, too, formed by: Levan Davitashvili, Minister of Agriculture; Meriko Gubeladze, well-known Georgian Chef; Anastasia Bendukidze, Director of the Knowledge Fund; and Bakhva Bregvadze, actor.

“It has been several years since the United States of America started very intensely supporting the development of the agriculture sector of Georgia,” said Minister Davitashvili. “REAP is an important project that has assisted a lot of private enterprises in the framework of the grants. Our ministry tightly cooperates with this program, in the framework of which a lot of new brands and enterprises have been born. Today’s symbolic contest also demonstrates our good cooperation”.

“The US is investing a lot in agriculture here in Georgia,” said Berliner. “It’s a major source of income for many people in this country. This particular project of USAID is REAP. [Today]’s cooking competition uses the successful products that you can find in many supermarkets throughout the country. This is exactly what we want to see: we want to see things being marketed, produced to European and international standards; things that create export opportunities, create jobs and start to place Georgia as a player on the global market”.

Douglas H. Ball, USAID Mission Director noted: “Today’s event is a wonderful opportunity to highlight 25 years of very close partnership with Georgia. The USAID has been a key partner to help Georgians develop the agricultural sector in Georgia. Today, we are highlighting some of the products that have been the result of this wonderful partnership”.

Anastasia Bendukidze, Director of the Knowledge Fund and organizer of the event, spoke to GEORGIA TODAY before the event: “My father, Kakha Bendukidze founded the Culinary Academy in 2013. Four years later, our graduates are working in some of the best restaurants in Georgia and also abroad. I’m really proud to continue my father’s hard work. Today, we have a very interesting competition that uses Georgian produce. We’ll see how new modern Georgian produce can be used in new Georgian cuisine. I have asked that the competition be anonymous so it is fair”.

The contesters used products produced by the beneficiaries of the Ministry of Agriculture, USAID REAP and Agriculture Projects Management Agency (APMA). They were assisted by the students and graduates of the Academy. All the products hold quality-proving certificates, which aim to boost their export potential to the EU.

The contenders fought in three groups, headed by Berliner, Ball and Chkheidze who 40 minutes. The given ingredients included: spinach, spices, cheese, hazel nuts, broccoli, mushrooms, honey, and matsoni (natural yogurt).

When the time was up, the long-awaited moment came: the jury named the winner: the trout in orange and lemon sauce and the corresponding dessert cooked by Chkheidze’s group.

“We had a lot of fun and were indulged with a rich palette of ingredients,” Chkheidze told us. “I’m very happy that our team’s work merited the admiration of the jury. Through this contest, we’ve marked the friendship between the American and Georgian peoples and the support that the United States gives to the development of Georgia”.

Maka Lomadze

11 May 2017 18:28