I've always envied the chairman and all the judges on Iron Chef America. After all, who doesn't want to sit down to live entertainment and not one, but two, incredible dinners made by star chefs?
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.