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California’s “Diamond Chef” Sparkles at the World’s Largest Food Sport Competition


California’s “Diamond Chef” Sparkles at the World’s Largest Food Sport Competition Why did the chicken cross the road? Don’t know? Perhaps you should consult an expert like Lidia Haddadian. The home cook from Pasadena, California was recently crowned the 2018 World Chicken Champion at the 7th Annual World Food Championships (WFC) in Orange Beach, Alabama.

After five days of nonstop, high-paced, tournament-style cooking with more than 500 teams from 12 countries and 40+ states, Lidia was announced as one of the 10 category champions at WFC, which was present by Walmart. More than 5,600 dishes were served and judged in the process of determining the 2018 champions, each of whom won $10,000 and world culinary titles.

Growing up, Lidia always admired both of 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, Lidia developed a unique culinary perspective due to her exposure to Brazilian, Mediterranean and American cuisines.

“From a young age I was introduced to a lot of different culinary cuisines. 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,” Lidia explained.   

WFC, in addition to being Lidia’s first world title, also marked this Food Champ’s 40th cooking competition win. From her first grand prize in 2014 –– an apron–– to a $10,000 win and becoming the 2018 World Category Champion, this passionate cook certainly has come a long way.  

“Cooking is a big part of my life and I love it,” Lidia noted.

Lidia is no stranger to Food Sport. She’s placed in the Top 10 at WFC three out of the four years she’s competed (2014, 2017, 2018). For this year’s competition, her Sweet & Spicy Tropical Sticky Wings w/ Paradise Salsa dish scored a 97.0556 which landed her the top spot amongst the field of talented cooks in the Chicken category.

Lidia’s win did not come without some challenges that often occur when competing. While creating her signature sticky sauce in the Top Ten round, Lidia realized she was missing the main ingredient. As any true Food Champ would do, she thought quickly and sent her sous chef to retrieve the needed component for her dish, leaving her to cook alone for a good portion of the competition. Though she was nervous about her performance, her efforts paid off!

This home cook contributes a great deal of her WFC success to her supportive husband of 32 years and sous chef, Vahik Haddadian. In addition, she also credits Vahik for the naming of her team, Diamond Chef.

“Many years ago, we were watching Iron Chef America, and I was mesmerized with the talent of on the screen,” Lidia 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,” said the Pasadena home cook.

The “Diamond Chef” will now prepare to take on the other nine WFC category champs in the ultimate test of skills, performance and creativity at WFC’s Final Table, where the 2018 World Food Champion title and $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,” Lidia shared.

For the first time in WFC’s history, the Final Table will be a destination challenge that requires the champions to travel to a great American city and replicate dishes from the host city’s heritage to be judged by local celebrity chefs. Details on the Final Table process and location will be revealed at a later date.

To review all the 2018 World Food Championships results, visit For Food Sport updates, visit and follow the World Food Championships on Twitter (@WorldFoodChamp), Facebook and Instagram (@WorldFoodChampionships).

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