SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Spam, canned vegetables and Ramen — hardly the stuff of gourmet cuisine but, when the next big quake strikes, such humble fixins may be all you have in the cupboard.

Friday night, San Francisco’s top emergency responders used those ingredients in a cooking competition styled after the Food Network’s Top Chef. Their challenge: turn bottom-shelf pantry items into something truly tasty.

“Their job is to cook together and make great food out of foods people might think are rather boring,” one of the contestants told KPIX. “What we have in front of these teams today are the kind of items you might find in your pantry, the things you haven’t cooked in the last year and probably never will.”

Another goal of the event, which was sponsored by the Salvation Army, is to inspire us to make sure our kitchens are well-stocked when the Big One hits. With a little forethought and organization we can all be better prepared.

Each team had to make an appetizer along with a main dish. At this evening’s challenge, the San Francisco police department won the competition with their braised Spam, sauteed chicken and parsley plus stir-fry noodles and chicken adobo.

As one shaky chef put it, “after a disaster, there’s a lot of things that are going to be affecting us … and maybe in that moment cooking some good food might really be the best thing a person could do for themselves and their families.”

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