Local Chef Challenge invades Mall of America this weekend

Inside the Mall of America rotundra, the knives will be sharp, the ingredients strange, and the chefs ready for an all-out throwdown. The annual Chef Challenge competition from

Minnesota Monthly

magazine pits many of the area's top chefs against one another to win the title and an oversized check. This year's competition includes past winners, fresh faces, and a celebrity guest judge.

The event will again be hosted by two food bloggers for Minnesota Monthly, Stephanie Meyer of Fresh Tart and Jason DeRusha of WCCO. Joining them on the judging panel will be Minnesota Monthly food critic Rachel Hutton, Chef Jason Ross, head instructor at Le Cordon Bleu, and healthy-living guru and actress Mariel Hemingway, representing Cambria, one of the event's sponsors.

Chefs will be given a basket full of mystery ingredients and a brief time to create a dish to dazzle the judges. Past ingredients have included black licorice, oreos, octopus, and canned sardines. It's always a fun opportunity to watch some of the best chefs in the area cook on the fly. The event kicks off Saturday and will culminate with a winner Sunday afternoon. The chef is awarded a comically sized check for $10,000.

The event is free and open to the public.

Here is Saturday's lineup:

10 a.m.: Donald Gonzales of Forepaugh's vs. Jorge Guzman of Solera
Noon: Sarah Master of Barbette vs. Marshall Paulsen of Birchwood Café
2 p.m.: Nick O'Leary of Borough vs. Sameh Wadi of Saffron and World Street Kitchen
4 p.m.: Doug Flicker (returning champion) of Piccolo vs. JD Fratzke of Strip Club Meat & Fish

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