Chef Paolo Dungca wins Capital Food Fight; virtual event raises $468,000

Chef Paolo Dungca, second from left, won the Capital Food Fight’s culinary challenge. (Courtesy Rey Lopez)

What would you cook if your secret basket included passion fruit, cultured butter with sea salt and whole smoked turkey?

Chef Paolo Dungca of the Peter Chang Restaurant Group made egg linguine with smoked turkey and corn ragu; a parmesan tuile with crispy turkey skin; and seared scallops with passion fruit and goji berry sauce. And that dish won Wednesday night’s Capital Food Fight fundraiser for D.C. Central Kitchen.

The 17th annual Capital Food Fight was virtual this time but streamed live. About 1,000 ticket-buyers tuned in. It raised $468,000 for D.C. Central Kitchen from ticket sales and other donations — not bad for a virtual event. Last year’s in-person Capital Food Fight raised a record $815,000.

Dungca’s competing chefs in the secret ingredient culinary battle were Angel Barreto of Anju, Peter Prime of Cane and Shannan Troncoso of Brookland’s Finest Bar and Kitchen.

This year’s judges were “Top Chef” contestant Eric Adjepong, Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals and D.C. chef Ris Lacoste.

While virtual, those who bought $150 tickets got a taco dinner and margaritas from Santa Rosa Taqueria delivered to their homes. Those who bought $500 tickets received a four-course dinner for two from Occasions Caterers.

Other headliners at Wednesday night’s Capital Food Fight included well-known local chefs José Andrés (the event’s founder), Spike Mendelsohn and Carla Hall, along with TV food personalities Tom Colicchio, Andrew Zimmern, Maneet Chauhan, Padma Lakshmi and Amanda Freitag.

Proceeds from this year’s event go to D.C. Central Kitchen’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic and support for the local hospitality community.

D.C. Central Kitchen has served more than 2 million emergency meals during the pandemic.

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