Let’s be honest. What could be better than sampling half a dozen different kinds of dumplings for a good cause? Kearny Street Workshop’s Dumpling Wars II: The Hungry Games, where six courageous teams of amateur chefs entered the arena at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center… but only one survived… was a delicious delight.

Dumpling Wars: The Hungry Games prep

Competition was friendly but serious at the April 12th event. A lot was at stake for the teams, who each made over 400 servings for an eager audience and an esteemed panel of judges that included Penny Baldado, from Café Gabriela on Broadway in Oakland; Sita Kuratomi Bhaumik, who is known for her curry; and David Yeung from HRD Coffee Shop in San Francisco (featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives). The host for the night was Saqib Keval from Oakland’s own People’s Kitchen. Teams were judged on execution, flavor, concept and presentation, and each team excelled in every category.

Dumpling Wars: The Hungry Games winner on stage

Besides bragging rights, Dumpling Wars II: The Hungry Games was a chance to show off skill, precision, and innovation against some of the Bay Area’s most creative culinary artists. Mac-niss Everdeen’s “Mac of All Dumplings” was filled with a bacon shrimp mac & cheese that redefined the flavor concept.

Dumpling Wars: The Hungry Games mac dumpling

2013’s Dumpling War winner Carb Fairy Dessert Company also stepped outside tradition with their “Banh Mi Dumpling,” using a fluffy “slow rise yeast” dough wrapper, packed with grilled ginger lemongrass chicken and finished with a carrot and daikon slaw.

Dumpling Wars: The Hungry Games banh mi

Team Better Pork Tomorrow took the Audience Choice Award with their “Thrice Cooked Pork Sigsig Dumpling” resting on a banana leaf with a squeeze of fresh kumquat juice.

Dumpling Wars: The Hungry Games better pork tomorrow

More traditional takes were elevated and perfected, offering classic dumpling flavors with subtle twists. TBdub-ling’s “Secret Ninja Dumpling” was clever take on Shanghai-style xiao long bao, fusing the traditional vinegar sauce with an adobo flare.

Dumpling Wars: The Hungry Games ninja dumpling

Team Dumpling Darling’s delicious “5-spiced Duck Potsticker,” paired with fresh greens and a crispy taro chip, was another audience favorite.

Dumpling Wars: The Hungry Games duck

Team We Grew Up In San Francisco Chinatown won the judges’ award with their expertly stuffed, folded and pleated “Eternal Prosperity Dumpling,” a traditional potsticker with superior ingredients and execution.

Dumpling Wars: The Hungry Games winning dumpling

Dumpling Wars was created last year by KSW’s Executive Director Claire Light as a way for the organization to increase outside awareness of their arts programs by leveraging the rich history and love of Asian food. The success of this strategy was evident by the ethnically diverse and inter-generational crowd of over 200 attendees and 6 dumpling making teams. A $25 admission fee helped support the KSW’s exhibits, like “Thank You For Failing” at the Asian Resource Center, where artists display works they consider failures and discuss how that failure ultimately contributed to success.

Dumpling Wars: The Hungry Games crowd

Kearny Street Workshop is the oldest multidisciplinary arts nonprofit addressing Asian Pacific American issues and has been the Bay Area’s hub for Asian-Pacific-American arts since 1972. Born from San Francisco’s Civil Rights Movement, KSW also has a history of championing issues like LGBTQ rights, eviction, and gentrification. The organization has resided in Chinatown, North Beach, the Mission and SOMA, its current residence. They have a strong footprint in the East Bay and host their annual fundraiser at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center in Chinatown.

“Kearny Street Workshop aims to build community,” said KSW’s Executive Director Claire Light. “We empower by helping artists produce new art, including emerging and queer artists. We want to make accessible art and not disempower art by it making it elitist. We recognize art is a creative outlet for group identity and forward thinking.”

Follow KSW on Facebook for updates on upcoming exhibits and events, like the interactive performance bus tour.

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