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We're excited to see the field of competitors who have already won their golden ticket and registered to compete at the 2022 World Food Championships. And we are always proud to announce our special guests and celebrity judges participating in our judging events across the nation - we're sure the championship food certainly helps! Best of luck to our 2022 competitors!



HEAD COOK: Hrant Arakelian

COMPETITION: World Vegetarian Championship

Hrant was born in Lebanon (his father is Armenian and his mother a native of East Tennessee), and raised in Muscat, Oman. At a young age Hrant was invited to share in the passion his parents held for cooking, and he considers those early childhood memories of being in the kitchen, and at the table with his parents to be the primary driving force for his culinary pursuit. His family departed the Middle East for Nashville around the time of his eighth birthday, and since decided to make it his permanent home. As a young man Hrant was inspired to do a fair amount of travel. His backpacking tour through Europe as well as extended stays back in Oman, accompanied by his father, only further spurred his interest in the world’s cuisines. This diverse exposure, both at home and abroad, set the course for his professional life in the kitchen. Upon his entry to professional kitchens, Hrant found himself working with restauranteur Randy Rayburn at long-time Hillsboro Village staple Sunset Grill. He honed his skills at Flyte World Dining & Wine, and in 2008, Hrant was offered the Sous Chef position at Zola’s. His time spent working under the local legend Deb Paquette led him to management and sous positions at the Amerigo Company and beyond. Hrant has held Sous and Executive Chef positions at Rumours East, Adeles, Butchertown Hall, The Holland House Bar & Refuge, and most recently as Chef de Cuisine at Deb Paquette’s flagship kitchen, Etch. After almost two decades of honing his skill, Hrant and his wife Liz (industry veteran and long-standing former Beverage Director of East Nashville’s Lockeland Table) finally set out on their own project. Hrant’s passion for the family tradition and food of his childhood matched by Liz’s curious spirit for wine and libations, and their shared dream of bringing modern middle eastern food to their neighbors has delivered Lyra to East Nashville.