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There are a lot of events out there where food from local chefs is counted on as the big draw. They can get a bit monotonous and sometimes leave attendees hungry for more. One annual event that’s always sufficiently fed my appetite for culinary flare is Chef Showdown. An outdoor evening event established to raise money for the Center for Community Solutions, it pits two teams of San Diego chefs against each other in an Iron Chef-style competition to see whose cuisine reigns supreme.

When one asks a chef to come to a charity event and fix up anywhere from 200 to 2,000 pieces of food, you can imagine how excited they get about it. Even if they’re huge supporters of the cause said event is raising money to benefit, that’s a lot of work in addition to all of the work they have to do that day (and night) at their own restaurant. Like any human being, that’s not a date on the calendar these already overworked souls are going to be looking forward.


One of my favorite aspects of Chef Showdown is the fact these toques show up amped and ready to compete. I’ve attended three of these events over the past five years and have always left impressed by the energy each team puts forth. It’s not showmanship—it’s a real-life battle for bragging rights. Even if they a few are just going through the motions, these motions are impressive. I’m consistently blown away by the complexity of the dishes the chefs are able to prepare on the spot using ingredients theretofore unknown to them. It’s a true test of skill, teamwork, and sheer will; and something to behold.


It really is a big deal for the competing chefs. I’ve shared many a conversation with previous competitors over the years during interviews; not because I asked them about it, but because they’re either so psyched to enter the ring, so proud they won, or so bummed they came up short. One former team captain whose team won proudly displayed the commemorative plate she was awarded for all to see in her restaurant. This thing is for real and, of all the culinary charity events that take place throughout the year in our fair city, I highly recommend checking it out.

This year’s Chef Showdown will take place on Thursday, September 13 at the NTC Promenade (2640 Historic Decatur Road) from 6 to 9 p.m. . For more information, check out the official event website.

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Ian Pike Sept. 10, 2012 @ 1:32 p.m.

I covered this event last year...while I was in the middle of an experimental juice fast so I couldn't eat any of the free samples that were being given out. One of the greatest hardships I've suffered :D


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