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DeRushaEats: Local Chef Challenge


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My favorite food event of the year is coming this weekend. And it's free!

There is no bigger cooking competition in Minnesota than the Minnesota Monthly Local Chef Challenge, this Saturday and Sunday at Mall of America. It's our 4th year, and judging the competition in year one led to my job writing for the magazine.

So give thanks, or be upset about that development.

It used to be part of the Food & Wine Experience at the Convention Center, but last year we moved it to a separate event at Mall of America. I was skeptical, but it was awesome. Totally free to watch, but $10,000 on the line for the winning chef. That's serious money (chefs don't haul down the bank that you might think they do).

Last year Vincent Francoual won the money and I'm pretty sure he used it to go to France. He'll tell us more about his year as champion in the 4 p.m. competition Saturday against the 2010 winner, Jack Riebel. Jack's had a year to stew about not winning, and I expect him to bring his A game.

Other fun match-ups? I'll be curious to see Chris Thompson from Masu square off against Landon Schoenfeld from HauteDish. That's at 2 p.m. Saturday.

The whole thing starts with Doug Flicker from Piccolo taking on Jim Christiansen, the La Belle Vie veteran who helped reboot Il Gatto. I'm curious to see how those two do in the time crunch of the competition—both are very thoughtful, technical chefs. Check them out at 10 a.m.

And Patrick Atanalian from Sanctuary taking on Jim Kyndberg from Crave is the wildcard of the day—I have no idea what to expect at high noon.

Last year the "secret ingredients" included octopus, ginger snaps, barramundi, and gummi bears. What will this year bring? I have no clue.

The prelims are Saturday, the semifinals and finals are Sunday (starting at 11 a.m.). I'm the emcee, and my friends and co-bloggers Stephanie Meyer and Jason Ross will do play-by-play to share more about what the chefs are doing. You get to ask questions during the show, it's really a great time, so I hope to see you all at Mall of America!
 

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