World Food Competition Qualifier Coming To OC

OCEAN CITY – Officials say a World Food Championships seafood qualifier event is coming to this year’s Trade Expo.

On Sunday, March 6, six local chefs will go head to head for a chance to win a “Golden Ticket” to compete in this year’s World Food Championships, held in Dallas.

Officials say the seafood qualifier event will be the first ever held at the annual Ocean City Spring Trade Expo, which returns to the Roland E. Powell Convention Center March 6-7.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our region as typically these types of events are in large cities,” said Susan Jones, executive director for the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association (OCHMRA). “So I was thrilled that they considered having it as part of our Expo.”

Jones said a chance to host the seafood qualifier event was made possible through OCHMRA’s partnership with the Restaurant Association of Maryland (RAM), which has been a state partner of the World Food Championships for three years.

“We are the representative for the entire state and offer qualifier events for chefs to win ‘Golden Tickets’ to the World Food Championships …,” said RAM Director of Events Kim Brennan. “This is the first time this competition has been hosted in Ocean City.”

Brennan said the cooking competition, which will be on display for all Trade Expo attendees, will feature two brackets, with three chefs in each bracket. The winning chef from each round will then compete against each other for $500 in prize money and a “Golden Ticket” to the World Food Championships in November. The seafood dish that each chef prepares will be judged anonymously.

“We’ve actually had to modify the logistics of the competition because we had so much interest from chefs locally …,” she said. “The winner from round one and the winner from round two will go head to head to determine the winner of the day.”

The World Food Championships is a five-day outdoor cooking competition where top chefs from across the globe compete in any of the 10 cooking categories. The winners of each category then advance to the World Food Championships finals for a shot at the World Food Champion title and an additional $100,000.

Brennan noted the winner of this year’s qualifier event in Ocean City will compete in the seafood category.

“They will only be accepting 30 chefs in that category from all over the world,” she explained. “So whoever wins this event will be one of 30 competitors worldwide.”

Brennan noted that the six competing chefs – all local to Ocean City – will be announced in the coming days.

“Competing at the World Food Championships is an exclusive opportunity,” she said. “This is an opportunity for them to have access to be able to compete on a more international level. There’s tons of publicity between TV and national sponsorship opportunities. It can really propel some of these chefs to become more public entities than they are currently.”

Brennan said the seafood qualifier event will be held at the Ocean City Spring Trade Expo on March 6, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Between the different rounds, the competition will run the duration of Sunday’s Expo event,” she said. “It will be hosted onstage, so people can sit and stay the whole time or walk in and view as long as they wish.”

The Restaurant Association of Maryland will host other qualifying events for the World Food Championships throughout the year.

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About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.