Cooking For a Cause in Haiti

Student chefs wearing white chef jackets and toques gather around pots on stove
U.S. rice wins every time
Jan 11, 2021
ARLINGTON, VA – A new made-for-TV cooking competition in Haiti called “Kompetisyion Diri” (Rice Competition), is being produced by USA Rice in collaboration with the World Central Kitchen and hosted by Sister M., a well-known local TV personality and musician.

World Central Kitchen is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters.  Founded in 2010 by celebrity chef José Andrés, the organization is well known in Haiti for delivering prepared food following the devastating earthquake that hit there that year.  But the mission of the organization goes well beyond just feeding and is really focused on empowerment through the establishment of a gastronomy program to turn citizens into chefs.  Since the program’s inception in 2010, more than 500 aspiring chefs have graduated with the skills and confidence needed to begin their professional culinary careers.

For the televised competition, student chefs from World Central Kitchen’s gastronomy program are tasked with creating smart solutions to address hunger and poverty in Haiti using U.S.-origin rice and other local ingredients.

“The first of six episodes showcases humanitarian projects that each student supports through food,” said Asiha Grigsby, USA Rice director of international promotion for the Western Hemisphere.  “A panel of three judges, made up of local food service professionals, community leaders, and influencers, will select winners in each subsequent episode until they determine the chef who will be crowned champion of Kompetisyion Diri.”   

Haiti is the number one milled rice export market for U.S. rice with an annual per capita consumption that exceeds 116 pounds per person.  Haitians are willing to spend a significant portion of their income on quality staples such as U.S.-grown rice, when compared to purchases for other basic necessities.  

“In the last decade, Haiti has experienced challenging social unrest, political instability, and extraordinary natural disasters,” said Grigsby.  “However, despite considerable hardship, the people remain resilient while expressing their fortitude through food, and this competition highlights the work World Central Kitchen is doing to help enact positive change there.”