Published : Thursday, December 13, 2018 | 6:56 PM
A home cook from Pasadena who says she learned her cooking skills from both her Armenian grandmothers was recently crowned the 2018 World Chicken Champion at the 7th Annual World Food Championships (WFC) in Orange Beach, Alabama.
Lidia Haddadian competed in five days of nonstop, high-paced, tournament-style cooking with more than 500 teams from 12 countries and 40 U.S. states. She was later announced as World Chicken Champion, one of the 10 category champions in the competition presented by Walmart. She was awarded a cash prize of $10,000 and a world culinary title.
More than 5,600 dishes were served and judged in the process of determining the 2018 champions.
Haddadian will now prepare to take on the other nine category champions in the Final Table, the ultimate test of skills, performance and creativity at WFC, where the 2018 World Food Champion, who wins a $100,000 prize, will be determined.
“I’m super excited for the Final Table and can’t wait to find out more about the competition because my brain is anxious to start creating,” Haddadian said.
The Final Table will be a destination challenge where Haddadian and the other champions will travel to an American city and replicate dishes from that city’s heritage, with local celebrity chefs judging them.
Haddadian said she had always admired her grandmothers’ Armenian cooking skills and techniques. She longed to present beautiful dishes and create inventive recipes like the women she looked up to. Throughout her childhood, she developed a unique culinary perspective based on her exposure to Brazilian, Mediterranean and American cuisines.
“From a young age I was introduced to a lot of different culinary cuisines,” Haddadian said. “While growing up in Brazil, I was able to experience the culture’s dishes,enjoy Mediterranean foods at home and American-style lunches at school.”
The WFC Chicken championship is Haddadian’s first world title, and her 40th win in a cooking competition. She said she first won in 2014, getting an apron as the grand prize.
She has placed in the Top 10 at WFC three out of the four years she’s competed – 2014, 2017, and 2018. For this year’s competition, her Sweet and Spicy Tropical Sticky Wings with Paradise Salsa dish scored a 97.0556 which landed her the top spot in the Chicken category.
Haddadian credits her WFC success to her supportive husband of 32 years, sous chef Vahik Haddadian. It was also Varik that named her team Diamond Chef.
“Many years ago, we were watching Iron Chef America, and I was mesmerized with the talent of on the screen,” she recalls. “He looked at me and said, ‘Honey, what are you talking about? They are Iron Chefs. They rust! You, you are my Diamond Chef – you’ll never rust!’”
“He is my biggest inspiration,” Haddadian said.
To review all the 2018 World Food Championships results, visit www.worldfoodchampionships.com.