Team Lake Murray Country Chefs Sweep Top 10 at the World Food Championships

Team Lake Murray Country turned up the heat at the 2023 World Food Championships (WFC), in Dallas, Texas. More than 450 teams from 40 states and 10 countries competed in 10 categories of food at this year’s tournament. Team Lake Murray Country swept the top 10 in each of their respective categories: Chef Mike Ellis, Chef – 8th place; Chef Maegan Horton, Seafood – 4th place; Chef Chris Williams, Sandwich – 2nd place.

“We are so proud of these Chefs and their top 10 placements! These awards are a validation of what locals already know – that the Lake Murray Country region is a foodie destination,” stated Miriam Atria, President/CEO of Capital City/Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board.

Team Lake Murray Country Play-by-Play Results:

Chef Mike Ellis competed on Thursday, Nov. 9 in the Chef Category, and took 6th place. The placement qualified him for the Sam’s Club™ Bite Club on Friday, Nov. 10, a 5th and 6th place sudden death style challenge judged by the public. His opponent, Chef Preston Nguyen won the 2021 WFC Final Table event held in Columbia, SC in 2022, and appeared on “Next Level Chef with Gordon Ramsey”. Chef Nguyen won the match and advanced to the top 5 final round. Chef Ellis placed 8th in the final rankings on Saturday, Nov. 11. Back home in Columbia, SC Chef Mike will continue his stellar direction of Culinary Services for Smoked, The Grand on Main, The Main Course, Good Life Cafe, The Players Club, and Peak Drift Brewing. Stop by and have a world-class meal!

“The World Food Championships was an incredible opportunity to showcase my skills and see how they stack up against some of the best chefs in the world. The competition challenged me to be more creative, provided validation of my talent, and helped to propel my skills to the next level! I learned a lot with this experience, and I cannot wait until my next opportunity!”

Chef Meagan Horton competed on Thursday, Nov. 9 in the Seafood Category, and placed 4th. She went on to compete in the top 7 final round, held on Saturday, Nov. 11 where she took home 4th place. Chef Maegan is excited to share that she is venturing out on her own and opening her own private meal prep service, Chefs for Seniors of Columbia, SC.

“I am so excited to have this opportunity to venture out and open my own business continuing with the hospitality industry, giving back to my community that has supported me over the years doing what I love. I can’t believe I placed 4th in the seafood category at the World Food Championships, it is hard to put into words, but my experience at WFC was just AMAZING. I want to thank Capital City/Lake Murray Country for the opportunity to have this experience, and our team rocked it out in Dallas!”

Chef Chris Williams competed Friday, Nov. 10 in the Sandwich Category, and took 6th place, qualifying him for the Sam’s Club™ Bite Club on Saturday, Nov. 11 against the 5th place Chef. Chef Chris won the challenge and advanced to the top 7 final round on Sunday, Nov. 12 where he placed 2nd. Want to taste the #2 Sandwich in the world? Visit Chef Chris at Roy’s Grille in Irmo at 7971 N Woodrow St. Suite D. Chris serves up high-quality BBQ, homestyle flavors, and also offers catering.

“It was yet again an honor to represent myself, my company, and Capital City/Lake Murray Country at the World Food Championships. To be so close to victory and not win has really motivated me to go harder than ever next year! I will take home #1!”

Party with a purpose & vote for next year’s team

Join Capital City/Lake Murray Country, on Thursday, March 21, 2024, at the DoubleTree by Hilton for the Taste of Lake Murray (TOLM) fundraiser. All proceeds directly benefit the 4th of July Celebration on Lake Murray held next year on June 29, 2024. Party with a purpose, taste bites from over 20 restaurants, and vote for the next Chef to join Team Lake Murray Country at the 2024 World Food Championships. Early bird tickets go on sale Thursday, Nov. 16 at 10:00 AM. Visit, Call 803-781-5940 or stop by the Lake Murray Country Visitors Center at 2184 North Lake Drive, Columbia, for more information.

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