Union Square in San Francisco was filled with cheers from a crowd of thousands as 49ers wide receivers Josh Morgan and Jason Hill partnered with additional Bay Area celebrities and local chefs in the 8th Annual Celebrity Crab Fest at Union Square – a fundraiser for the San Francisco 49ers Foundation in partnership with the Union Square Association Business Improvement District.
The three minute timed competition got underway when nine competing pairs worked to remove the most meat from their crab as possible. And just like on the field, the contest quickly got competitive.
In Morgan's first crab competition, he quickly realized how intense the three minute contest was as he was covered from the start with crab parts. But in the end, even though Morgan's duo was by far the messiest group, they weighed in with the most meat.
Hill, a San Francisco native, thought he would be able to overtake his fellow position mate but unfortunately did not prevail.
"It's a very sad day in the city today," said Hill. "Second place is not good enough."
The end tallies were very close with all competitors bringing in between 1.22 and 1.26 pounds of meat in the three minute period. Morgan, with his partner Fernando Padilla, the Boudin Bakery & Bistro Boudin's master baker, were the only team to weigh in at 1.26 giving them the 8th Annual Celebrity Crab Cracking Contest crown – a sourdough bread crab.
"I've never received an award like this," said Morgan. "I'm not sure if it will mold if I put it in my trophy case. I might eat it later. I don't know what to do – or I might just get it bronzed."
Although the contest with the players and additional celebrities was the highlight of Saturday's event to honor San Francisco's favorite food, the Dungeness crab, the event allowed everyone a chance to get into the crab action. The Square was packed throughout the afternoon as the crowd sampled crab delicacies from some of the best restaurants in San Francisco.
Eight food booths lined one side of the square and a beer and wine garden pouring Guinness beers and wine from Kenwood Vineyards Winery was a central point for hours after the contest. 49ers players were also on hand at the 49ers booth to sign autographs with a $10 purchase of either a 49ers hat or shirt for a donation to the 49ers Foundation.
There was also a special kids area at the Recology Golden Gate booth where Dreamstar Parties, a proud partner of the San Francisco 49ers, provided face painting for all the youngsters at the event.
In addition to the autograph donations, the 49ers Foundation, which aims to help support and fund development programs for underserved youth that keep them safe, on track and in school, raised over $11,000 through beer, wine, and food ticket sales from generous fans in less than three hours!
The 49ers Foundation would like to extend a big THANK YOU to the Union Square Association Business Improvement District for producing the event and all the event sponsors: Macy's, Recology Golden Gate, Diageo Guinness, The Chancellor Hotel, Boudin Bakery & Bistro, MJM Management Group, Sears Fine Food, See's Candies, Stanley's Steamers, CBS5 and CW 44cable12 and of course the Union Square Business Improvement District!
Another big thank you to the participating restaurants and chefs: Sharon Nahm (E & O Trading Co.), Robert Helstrom (Kuleto's), Mike Koenig (Grand Café), Richard Slusarz (Grandviews), Robert Helstrom (Kuleto's), Darren Lacy (Luques), Thomas Rimpel (The Oak Room), and Fernando Padilla (Boudin Bakery).
And finally to 49ers alumni Eric Davis for outstanding emceeing efforts throughout the day and to the celebrities participating in the crab cracking contest: Josh Morgan, Jason Hill, the Gold Rush girls, Sourdough Sam, SF's legendary doorman Tom Sweeney from the Sir Francis Drake, San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, Miss Chinatown San Francisco Amy Chu, and CBS5' Kim Coyle and Dennis O'Donnell.