Naturally, when I was recently approached to judge the Macy's Mystery Basket Battle in San Francisco, I couldn't say no. The event featured two local celebrity chefs, Staffan Terje from Perbacco and Hoss Zaré from Zaré at Fly Trap, facing off in a 45-minute battle to create at least one dish that incorporated the following six ingredients: kabocha, mint, fennel, cocoa powder, anchovies, and animal crackers.
The event wouldn't have been complete without a live audience of about 50 and a judging panel (which included myself, Masterchef finalist Alejandra Schrader, blogger Carolyn Jung of Food Gal, and SF City Dish founder Kevin Blum). But judging a competition wasn't anything like I thought it would be. Read more for some surprising postcompetition observations.