Ready, set, make salsa in Redwood City

Downtown Redwood City, spicing up the city with a salsa competition on Sept. 29, is calling on cooks to register by Friday. 

Salsa Tasting & Competition entry fees are $50 in both professional and individual categories and the winner of the People’s Choice award gets $500.

Part of the fifth annual Redwood City Salsa Festival,  the contest will feature chefs facing off on site. Contestants must bring all equipment and ingredients — tomatoes, spices, chiles, onions, garlic and whatever secret they may have to add kick — and prepare their recipes from scratch during the festival. Pre-made or pre-mixed salsas will be disqualified. 

Lucas Wilder, festival special events coordinator, says it’s not easy preparing a fresh batch of good salsa on site, pointing to the difficulty of making large quantities. Organizers suggest six gallons, enough to serve the public during the five-hour tasting period.

Mike Rohrbach, who won last year’s best decorated booth award, says,  “We would have 60 to 70 pounds of tomatoes and work for five hours making about eight or nine gallons’ worth of salsa.”

“Sometimes your peppers don’t add enough heat, so getting the ingredients to work together is more important than following a recipe,” Wilder adds.  

Salsas will be judged based on aroma, consistency, color, heat level, taste and after-taste.

In addition to the $500 top prize, $250 awards will go to best mild and best hot salsas and $150 for best decorated booth. 

Last year, some 15,000 people attended the Salsa Festival, which also  hosts three stages of music — salsa, Latin rock and Latin jazz — and dancing. Tequila and microbrew tasting and refreshments from local restaurants also are on the bill.

Family activities include hands-on art projects, carnival rides and a play area.

If you go

Redwood City Salsa Festival
Where: Courthouse Square, 2200 Broadway, Redwood City
When: Noon to 8 p.m. Sept 29
Tickets: Free; $50 registration fee for salsa contest
Contact: (650) 780-7340,

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