Chef Maziar Farivar: Culinary Ambassador to the World

We’ve always contended—based on the food and the man—that chef Maziar Farivar, co-owner with his brother Shahab of the popular Peacock Café in Georgetown, is one of our favorite chefs in this city, where chefs are often kings.

Farivar’s kitchen—whether in the initial small 12-table space he and his brother opened in 1991 or the current sun-lit, spacious spot—has always been top-notch.

First in 2011 and again in 2012, Farivar was invited to the James Beard House and Foundation in New York City to serve a five-course dinner in celebration of the Persian New Year. It was an ideal task for Farivar, because he and his brother hail from Iran, and the experience allowed him to add a little bit of his childhood memories into his cooking.

Then, last year in September, Farivar, along with other national, regional and local celebrity chefs, was named to become a Culinary Ambassador and a member of the American Chef Corps, part of a new Diplomatic Culinary Partnership with the U.S. State Department, its Protocol Department and the James Beard Foundation.”

“It makes sense,” Maziar said. “This is about culinary diplomacy. This is such an international city, and there are so many foreign dignitaries who work here, and visit here, including heads of state, and there are all these embassy chefs. It was really an honor, I am very proud to serve.”

The Chef Corps will be deployed overseas, and travel as “chef ambassadors” or cook for dignitaries, speak to groups and extol American cooking and food products.

This September, Farivar got his chance.

He was assigned to represent the U.S.A. in the Cous Cous Festival, a multi-nation cook off competition held September in the ancient fishing village of San Vito Lo Capo, located between the Gulf of Castellammare and the city of Trapani.

“What a great experience,” Farivar said. “Eight nations competed, included Italy, Israel, Morocco, France, Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia as well as the United States. This is like rich territory for dishes and chefs featuring cous cous. This was the first time the U.S. competed so I was really proud to be there.”

This was a competition to determine, if you will, the capo of cous cous.

“I was in a group with Tunisia and Morocco, this is like people who grew up with this all our lives,” Farivar said. “There were two votes, popular and judges. In the end, Israel won.”

Farivar came up with what he called an American-Persian dish called Lamb Khoresht, a heavy stew with dried lime and citrus cous cous. “I got some very nice comments like ‘bold flavors’ from judges and people.”

“Let me tell you,” he added, “when you walked out flanked by the Italian and American flag, and they played the Star Spangled Banner, I got a lump in my throat.”

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