Sara Ayyash, pastry chef at the Jefferson Hotel, went tropical to win the dessert competition at the fifth annual RVA French Food Festival on Saturday. Using passion fruit mousse and curd, ginger meringue powder and blood orange, Ayyash struck an artful balance of texture, flavor and appeal to capture the prize. A similar dish is on the menu at the hotel.
Named a close runner up was the chocolate sea salt caramel crème brulee from Amour Wine Bistro owner Paul Heitz. The dessert's prime ingredients make it a consistent favorite at his Carytown establishment.
The festival drew a record-setting crowd that queued up to sample cuisine from chefs Paul Elbling, John Maher and Sean Murphy among others. Proceeds benefit Little Sisters of the Poor. rvafrenchfoodfestival.com.