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Men cook dinner/women cook dinner

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So a few couples were sitting around the other day and we decided to have a Men-Cook-Dinner Night sometime soon. This would be followed by a Women-Cook-Dinner Night not too long thereafter. It's not exactly an earth-shattering concept but some of our partners are excellent cooks, others are not so much. Anyway, we (the women) want to watch the men struggle to organize, plan and execute a meal with no outside help. And, just to be fair, the women will do the same.

What we need is a level playing field. Not sure exactly how to set this challenge out. There appear to be 5 couples - so 2 teams of 5 each. We talked about cooking from a specific cookbook, or tackling a particular theme. But so far no decision has been reached. Any suggestions?

Here is what we are dealing with in terms of men (please don't take this personally, any men out there reading this - it is not a global judgement, merely an observation of this specific group): One man is studying culinary arts part time and has always revelled in producing fabulous European-inspired food; one man is a mad artist who eats whole heads of garlic raw and doesn't cook anything that takes more than 10 minutes to prepare; one is a methodical accountant whose specialite is grilled meat; one is a filmmaker who I'm not sure how much he cooks; and finally, another artist who, left to his own devices would survive on fried liver or canned sardines (he can cook a potato, I know that).

In the women's camp, most of us are passable cooks, one is a food-related professional, the others hobbyists. One semi-vegetarian (she'll eat fish and chicken, but not crazy about red meat). We can all cook our way through just about anything, and we're quite accustomed to cooperating with one another. (This, I feel, is where we clearly have it over the men.)

Anyway - any ideas how to structure this dinner-challenge? All suggestions are welcome and appreciated.

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  1. Why not make 5 course meals and each person is assigned one course? The men can decide on their own theme, the women on theirs.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mojoeater

      We definitely figured 5 courses - one each - but we're afraid that if we don't set out a prescribed theme or cookbook, it won't be a level playing field.

    2. One way to level the playing field would be to have each group supplied with the same list of ingredients and see who comes up with the best meal.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Den

        I think this is the best idea - and the simplest.
        You should make it clear, though, that the women can't just repeat whatever the men did.

      2. Quite a crew, sounds like fun. Jfood suggests a randomized approach.

        Two hats, one with the name of the five courses and the other with the names of 10 cookbooks (each couple can contribute 2 names of cookbooks they own). Each person picks a course and a cookbook out of the two hats, respectively. that way the fifth guy mentioned above who picks appetizers can use up his secret stash of sardines (gotta love that guy).

        Then the two teams meet to decide on a specific menu from the books.

        this sounds like a hoot.

        5 Replies
        1. re: jfood

          Actually this sounds really good - I like that approach. And by the way, the sardine guy is my husband. And he is NOT going to lget off easy with a sardine-based appetizer!

          1. re: Nyleve

            Pate????

            DT

            1. re: Davwud

              Not unless he starts with something he has to kill himself first.

              We've actually gotten a bit distracted from our plans for the Men/Women Cook-Off. We're now talking about an outdoor Lobsterfest for sometime in July, while our short summer still allows such things. The Men/Women Cook-Off may have to wait until September. I promise to keep everyone posted.

              1. re: Veggo

                I am really sorry. I vow to make good on the plans for the Men/Women dinner. But we're in Canada - if we want to boil lobsters over a bonfire, we're going to have to do it in July or August. It's as simple as that. The Gender-Cookoff can and will take place indoors after the frost has driven us from the patio. We are all still quite committed to this. But surely you understand how strong is the Call of the Boiled Lobster...

                1. re: Nyleve

                  Why not make Lobster your Iron Chef ingredient?

                  Oh- and you have to include a cocktail!!

        2. I **LOVE** the idea, though it sounds like too many cooks....

          Thought about breaking the single men's team into two teams, and then doing the same for the women?

          1 Reply
          1. re: OCAnn

            Nah. I want to watch them duke it out. Women are used to cooperating. Men...at least these men...not so much. They're all lone wolves. Hahahaha.

          2. You don't want the same meal twice, and why impose boundaries? The men don't want helicopter moms hoovering around. They already know you mostly want to rubber-neck a train wreck in slow motion and gloat later with mockery and derision. We want to avoid this likeliest of flashpoints between genders/spouses. Toward that end, the infraction of "encroachment" into the opponent's kitchen would result in a 1-point team penalty, and "taunting" would be a 2-pointer. Now, the point system: each team member will grade the meal they ate on a 1-10 scale, so 50 points possible. Hopefully, the honor system will not cause concerns about voter fraud :) Start with a blank blackboard. No theme, no mandatory number of courses. Cookbooks are a resource. The challenge is to design and execute a meal that will win points to be awarded by the other gender. (this should appeal to the women, because the men will realize that an alpha-male dish they might enjoy of roast brontosaurus won't fly; and they may even have to do dessert.) The tactics of individual contributions or team efforts is up to the team. Votes are counted after the second dinner. Could lead to some pouty rides home, however:)

            3 Replies
            1. re: Veggo

              i'm with veggo up to a point: NO RULES!

              let sardine boy do his thing, meat man likewise and so on. why handicap someone by depriving him of what he does best? besides, you want to eat really good food, not some rules-impaired cookbook stuff.

              taunting should not only be allowed but actively encouraged. nothing gets the competitive juices flowing like some well-aimed verbal shots to the ego.

              negotiate with the men on a scoring formula (easy), then negotiate prize/punishment for the winners and losers (difficult). i suggest you do the negotiating after several drinks.

              this plan allows maximum creativity, requires both organizational and negotiating skills, defines reward/punishment and insists on a certain amount of razzing - all good things.

              let the games begin.

              1. re: steve h.

                forgot to add:
                you don't want a level playing field. what you do want is a playing field actively negotiated by both sides.

                give me a shout if you reach an impasse and require an arbitrator. we can knock this out via instant message in a few minutes.

                1. re: steve h.

                  This is genius. I knew I came to the right place to ask. Will let you know what happens - I expect the first meal (men's) will be sometime early July.

            2. You may take the iron chef approach and have one ingredient that must be incorporated in each dish. If the cook offs are going to be on different nights it will be easy not to duplicate.

              1. The only limit I would set would be a certain budget. Why impede the potential creativity, and the posibbility for a life time of stories!