How To Host a Cook-Off

published Jun 3, 2010
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If you’re looking an entertaining idea for this summer there is nothing more amusing than a little friendly competition between friends – especially when it involves food! Hosting a cook-off is a great excuse to encourage friends to go head to head with their best recipes and serves as an instant icebreaker among the guests. With a bit of planning, hosting a cook-off can be stress-free.

Here’s the breakdown of planning your own food-centric competition.

Decide The Dish: Salsa Sampling? Tastiest Ribs? The dish you choose as the star of your party can help decide the theme for the evening. Be sure to offer your guests some dishes and drinks to accompany the main event.

Summon The Chefs: This is probably one of the few times when you want your guests to bring, and prepare, most of the food. The more organized you are the better and be specific with your requests. For example, if you are hosting a Best Burger contest be clear to the contestants on what you’d like them to bring (meat, condiments) and what you will provide (grill, buns). You may also want the contestants to print out their recipes to share with the crowd so let them know in advance if they need to bring copies.

Set The Stage: Think about how to best utilize your space so that each contestant has enough room to prepare and display their food. If you have little or no outdoor space hosting a grill-off may not be practical. Hosting a Perfect Pie contest, where contestants can bring pre-baked food, may be a better alternative. Regardless of your space, try to have the contestants bring as much prepared food so your kitchen isn’t clogged with too many chefs.

Let The Judging Begin: This is when the fun really starts. You will want to think about how the judging will take place. Will it be a blind taste test or do you want each chef to present his or her own food? Should there be actual judging cards for rating specific items or is this vote by screams of accolades? You know your audience best and can decide what would be most fun for your party. If you decide to tally the votes you can easily design a tasting note cards or judging cards on your computer and distribute them to your guests.

You may hear the words “cook off” and think “chili” but there are a whole range of foods that could inspire strong competition. Here are some ideas to host your own throw-down:

  • Chicken Wings
  • Burgers
  • Spaghetti & Meatballs
  • Macaroni & Cheese
  • Meatloaf
  • Burritos
  • BBQ Ribs
  • Lasagna
  • Salsa
  • Pie
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Brownies
  • French Toast

Have you ever hosted a cook-off? Let us know how it turned out…

(Image: Pegwinn‘s flickr licensed under Creative Commons)