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The bay's biggest battle is back 

He had black cod and oysters. He had abalone. He had heirloom tomatoes and blood oranges. And, armed with nothing more than these ingredients and his will—and, OK, other cooking supplies and equipment—he forged a menu that earned him victory in the inaugural Battle of the Bay at last year’s Savor the Central Coast event.

This year, the exalted Neil Smith, executive chef for Windows on the Water, will defend his championship title against Shawn Washburn of Shawn’s on Main Street in another epic contest, set for Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. at Santa Margarita Ranch.

The two Morro Bay chefs will clash culinary skills as part of the popular event, put on by Sunset Magazine and the SLO County Visitors and Conference Bureau. The battle—just one small part of the four-day foodie fest—challenges competitors to serve up something delectable using local foods unveiled at the smackdown. The chefs work to prepare their dishes as the time ticks away and spectators salivate.

Sunset Editor-in-Chief Katie Tamony will judge.

Here are your contestants:

Smith has been executive chef at Windows on the Water in Morro Bay since 2007. He boasts 20 years of experience in the industry, and has described his style as a “melding of all the foods, flavors, and aromas enjoyed in California.”

In the other corner is Washburn, who’s owned Shawn’s on Main Street, also in Morro Bay, with his wife Nicole for seven years. His restaurant focuses on wine country cuisine with an ever-changing menu devoted to local and seasonal specialty foods.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit

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