Wellington chef Mike Castaneda recently took first place for Kansas in the soup category of the World Food Championship for his dish, Asian flank steak ramen.
“I was for sure nervous and anxious,” Castaneda said, of watching the Facebook World Food Championship page, waiting to see if he had won. “I was ecstatic when I saw my name on there.”
Castaneda and other state champions from the soup category will compete in Dallas this November with the winner receiving the first-place $10,000 prize. There are 10 categories, including burgers, seafood, barbecue and desserts.
The winners of each category will then compete early in 2021 for the $100,000 prize.
For his Asian flank steak ramen, Castenda used ramen noodles and added broth, cilantro, soy egg and green onions. The steak came from KC Cattle, a company owned by a former Army ranger.
“It’s all about having some depth,” Castaneda said. “Having additions.”
The meat is from a “different breed with a higher fat content that makes it more tender and flavorful,” Castaneda said.
There are Asian and Mexican ingredients in the soup, also.
“I think they’re very compatible,” Castaneda said. “I want to do things with the Mexican-Asian fusion. I think it’s going to be huge.”
Castaneda said he wants his dish to be better every single time he makes it.
“I want it chewy, crispy, tart,” he said. “I want every aspect of food, something to savor in every single bite.”
The first year he entered the contest, Castaneda qualified for the Food World Championship, taking sixth place and later went on to take two second place prizes.
Castaneda made a name for himself writing about food online and cooking for football teams and others.
“That opened some crazy doors,” he said. “I did stuff with the (Kansas City) Chiefs before the Superbowl.”
Probably the biggest celebrity he has cooked for is Grammy Award winning contemporary Christian singer Lauren Daigle.
In 2015, the Food Network named Castaneda one of the Top 10 cooks in America.
Castaneda said he likes meeting other chefs from throughout the world in food competitions. He recalled taking photos with the steak and barbecue team from Japan.
“It’s cool to make connections with people you otherwise wouldn’t meet,” he said.
Castaneda wanted to make sure his wife, Lindsay, is credited for how much she helps him at home.
“She’s my guinea pig for new recipes,” he said. “She’s a huge attribute to the success I’ve had.”
The couple live in Wellington with their three children.