Recently, the Dining Traveler and myself went to the RAMMYS, one of DC’s most exciting culinary events. The 35th Annual RAMMY Awards Gala not only awards DC chefs, restaurants, and mixologists in 21 award categories, but it also features food and drinks from chefs, sponsors, and wineries from all over the world. To understand more about the international element of the RAMMY Award Gala (we are the dining traveler after all!) we interviewed Chile’s Trade Commissioner, Rodrigo Contreras, about Chile’s participation in the RAMMYS and food and wine pavilion that they host at the RAMMYS every year.
About Rodrigo Contreras:
Rodrigo is the head of the economic department of the Embassy of Chile in D.C. His role is to represent the economic interest of Chile in the United States, which includes promoting Chilean food, wine, culture, and tourism. Rodrigo is extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the diversity of food and wine in Chile, a topic we love discussing!
When and why did you first get involved in the RAMMYS?
The Chilean Embassy has hosted a pavilion at the RAMMYS for 10 straight years! This was our 11th year. We are very involved with the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (the host of the RAMMYS). It is our desire to showcase and promote Chilean food, wine, and food products in DC, and our involvement with the RAMW and the RAMW events, such as the RAMMYS and the annual Chilean Chef Challenge. This provides us a platform to do that in exciting and fun way.
What did your participation in the RAMMYS involved?
We had an entire pavilion at the RAMMYs where we offer Chilean wine and food made with Chilean ingredients. This year, our theme was focused on mussels. You may be surprised to know that the majority of mussels eat in the United States come from Chile. Our dishes were designed to showcase the flavors, ingredients, and cooking styles of Chile. For example, we offered dish with an avocado aioli. Avocados are wildly popular in Chile and heavily exported to the U.S. We also had a dish with mussels, crostini, and olive oil.
Chilean olive oil is delicious and sold all over the world. We are also served sweet berries, Chilean berries, as well as wine which comes from one of wine tasting regions. Chile is actually the world’s biggest exporter of blueberries! Furthermore, many people don’t realize this but Chile has wine valleys that run all the way from the north to the south of the country. The wines offered at this years RAMMYS were from the Pirazzoli winery, which is from Curico Valley, one of the wine valleys in the center of Chile.
What kind of wine is produced in Chile?
Because the climate, soil, and landscape vary greatly in Chile from North to South, the wines also vary greatly. The Pirazzoli winery produces a rich Cabernet Sauvignon, a Syrah, and a Carménère, which is one of the oldest grapes in the world. Originally planted in France, Chile is now the world’s largest area planted with Carménère. It’s a wonderful, versatile, medium bodied grape that has hints of blackberry.
Is it your goal that people sampling your food and wine will become interested in visiting Chile?
Yes! We want people to become interested in visiting. Most importantly, we want them to become delighted with the products, and curious about the country, people, culture, food and wine.