Eight Chefs. Secret Ingredients. $10,000. It's the Local Chef Challenge!

I love TV, but I didn’t get cable until I was 22 years old. I became amazed with what was there; TLC, HGTV, and the Food Network were awesome. I couldn’t believe what I’d been missing. And it’s funny to think about how my cable-viewing evolved with what was going on in my life. Decorating a new place? Trading Spaces was a must-watch. Getting married? Say Yes to the Dress was a ton of fun. Buying a new home? House Hunters and My First Place ruled. Having a baby? A Baby Story was both scary and educational.

And now that I have the house, the hubby, and the toddler, I just love the Food Network. But here’s the secret: I hate cooking. However, watching other people cook? Love it. I love Giada and Rachael and I tolerate Guy. But my favorite Food Network personality is Alton Brown. He’s smart, witty, kind of nerdy, and talks so fast it’s endearing. If you’ve ever seen him on The Next Food Network Star, he’s tough as nails. I love it. My favorite show of his has to be Iron Chef, though. The quick pace, the secret ingredient, and Brown’s intelligent-but-sometimes-sarcastic commentary make for an intense hour of programming.

The 2011 Chef Challenge Winner,  Vincent Francoual,
will defend his title this weekend.
Photo by Todd Buchanan

If you’re visiting the Twin Cities this weekend and want to feel some of that same intensity, stop by Mall of America for the Minnesota Monthly Local Chef Challenge. Eight of our star local chefs will face off head-to-head right there in the Rotunda for all to watch. There will be secret ingredients, expert judges, fast-paced cooking and—wait for it—a $10,000 prize.

On Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. you can watch all eight chefs in four heats compete for a place in the semi-finals on Sunday (starting at 11 a.m. with the final showdown at 3 p.m.) Listen to the ever-clever Jason DeRusha emcee the event with fellow judges Stephanie Meyer and Jason Ross. (Read about DeRusha’s anticipated duels on TC Taste.)

I attended last year and DeRusha was funny, Ross provided great insight (much like Alton Brown), the chefs sweated under the pressure, the audience was on the edge of their seats, and delicious food was presented. It was pretty amazing. You don’t want to miss it!