At 12 noon on Friday, March 5, tickets will go on sale for the latest installment of SF Food Wars, the monthly cook-off pig-out that is as alterna-hip as it is caloric. The food competition that asks we, the public to serve as freelance eaters, has recently been selling out in under 5 minutes.
By 12:05 PM, some 200 lucky San Franciscans will have some (itty) inkling how Charlie Bucket felt when he held his golden ticket to enter Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. Their mission: the chocolate cookie.
The Food Wars have earned a cult following. The first event (Mac and Cheese last September) sold out in 20 hours. Holiday fixins, mini cup-cakes and last month's bread-off were equally as popular. Yes, these menu items say the magic words "carbs and sugar," but SF Food Wars also satisfies by serving up a festive mood of communal eating and socializing.
The Sunday afternoon event is something between an Iron Chef smack down and a Pillsbury bake-off. Contestants (professionals and lay cooks) provide samples of food for over a hundred tasters. For $14 ticket holders (or eaters, as they are called) rate the food along with a panel of judges. Winners win cash and prizes and the whole event is a carnival of foodies trying to out-bake each other. And sometimes to out-quirk one another. There are wild team names (The Modern Halitosis Lovers) counter-intuitive recipes Tossed Salad (Dressing) mini-cup cakes and attention grabbing attire.
While the trendy coffee bar The Stable hosted the first few events, the upcoming food war will take place at Mighty, a dance club on Utah Street. It promises to be even more of a party atmosphere -- with cocktails and dancing.
The night-clubby vibe is part of this month's theme; the contest, "The [Chocolate Cookie] Situation" is inspired by MTV's Jersey Shore," says Jeannie Choe, who created and runs the monthly events. A designer and dog treat baker, Choe felt that San Francisco was in need of "more community-driven events involving delicious food stuffs."
Her initiative gelled with the emerging democratization of the food movement. High rents and expensive restaurant licenses have sent some chefs underground. This has led to a trend towards unlicensed roving supper club speakeasies, as well as traveling street food vendors who are followed by devoted twitterers.
Certainly there have always been community based food celebrations. In fact, this weekend marks the 30th anniversary of Bayview's Black Cuisine Soul Food Cook-Off.
So it's really the democratization of trendy food eaten by young white people that we're talking about. In fact, this weekend, there's another food bash, this one marking the one year anniversary of popular street food vendors The Magic Curry Cart and Crème Brulee Cart.
Yes, you can try foie gras ice-cream at Humphry Slocombeand maple glazed bacon apple donuts at Dynamo, two new sparkling-clean Mission hot-spots. But these flavors, served at these retro-trendy store-fronts, seem self-consciously unorthodox and self-satisfied.
There's something way groovier about the unveiling of weirdo concoctions at SF Food Wars, where you get to chit chat with the mad scientist chefs behind their schizoid eatables. "We simply want to celebrate and eat food made by home and pro chefs alike. If it's made in a home kitchen, we eat it. If it's made in a commercial kitchen, we eat it. If it's made on the street, we eat it. If it was made in a kitchen or on the street, but fell onto the street, we might not eat it. But if it's really tasty, we might eat it."
The [Chocolate Cookie] Situation is on Sunday, March 21 at 2-5pm at Mighty. Tickets will go on sale on Friday, March 5th at 12pm noon. For tickets and information visit sffoodwars.com.