The 200-plus attendees circumnavigated the room slowly and methodically, studying each entry. It felt a bit like an elementary school science fair, where each kid stands beside his three-paneled display board as the teachers examine his or her molten lava volcanic sculpture. The wares were far more satisfying, though: corned beef hash knishes, bacon brioche bits with maple-pecan-pear filling, deviled eggs, dosa-wrapped lox.
I was one of three judges, accompanied by Tamara Palmer from SF Weekly (read her roundup of the event here) and Karen Armstrong from Bi-Rite Market. We plowed through each amuse brunch with clear winners, clear losers, and a lot of tough decisions.
I was most curious to try Team Porkuporkia’s Pork in the Hole: slow-braised pork belly tucked into a maple-glazed doughnut hole. It both intrigued and frightened me. I took a bite and instantly felt a sugar-induced brain freeze. Yet other people loved it; it took home People’s Choice. The three of us agreed rather quickly on the first- and second-place winners. Good Foods Catering took first with the Bite of Smokey Porky Love: a griddled micro wheat bun with a smoky tomato jam, sliced cherry tomato, pork crackling aioli, and house-cured bacon. And second place went to Memmalicious for their Salmon Dill-ites: crispy hash brown rounds topped with smoked salmon and dill crème fraîche—refreshing and classic yet true to the theme.
Choosing third place was the tough decision. We went with a modern take on brunch—Team TimeCube’s One Shot Waffle—described as “pure essence of waffles distilled into a liquid with extra notes of bacon and strawberries, topped off with a maple syrup foam.” It was strange, yes, but pleasantly tasty. They also won the Photog’s Choice for best presentation.
Two things I noted: The dishes we chose were all bite-size, not two bites or three, and they all stood up well at room temperature. Getting things hot enough is tricky in a chafing dish. As a first-timer to SF Food Wars, I was impressed. It’s an amazing array of food, people, and talent, and a fun food-and-community event. Nice work to all the contestants!