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Iron Chef or 'Throwdown' style party: Where & How can I have an one?

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My wife's 40th is coming up and she expressed interest in having a Lemon Pie cook-off as part of her celebration. I thought it would be more fun to upgrade to an onsite cooking activity of some sort, like group cooking class, imitation iron chef competition or another variation.

Does anyone know where to go to do something like this? Any experience doing something yourself? I fear our home kitchen isnt big enough but I dont mind if this feels homeade and humorous. I'd prefer, though, that it feel nicer than glorified potluck. Sadly, we dont have an endless budget.

Additionally/alternately, we were thinking perhaps we'd ask a private chef to do a lemon-inspired meal, like the secret ingredient.

Seeking any ideas, suggestions or experience. I just have to imagine that other foodies have figured this out!!

thanks!

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  1. I have hosted a few cooking contests at my home and they are quite fun.

    These types of events work best when people bring their dish completed as much as it can be and finish it at your home, and in the case of pies, baked all at approximately the same temperature, which is relatively easy. You want to avoid a scenario where seven people are trying to chill and roll out pastry dough at the same time in your home kitchen, and in fact with pies, they are also fine slightly warmed or at room temp. At this time of year you could make a lovely braise of whatever for dinner, not offer huge portions to leave room for the lemon pie tasting afterward, and allow everyone to vote and determine a winner.

    I have no idea what your wife might be expecting, but a warm and cozy event at home with great friends and a bit of food-related sport would make me quite happy. You might spend the money you are saving by having at at home to hire someone to clean up during and after so your wife can relax and enjoy her guests and also perhaps on a champagne toast.

    Good luck!

    1. Gordon's wines in Waltham has a demo-tasting room would be perfect for this. Multiple oven's mirrors on ceiling so folks can see prep. I am sure they would rent it out. Spot on perfect for what you are looking for.

      1. Some friends of mine and I did an event like this at the Cambridge Culinary Institute. Apparently it took a little bit of convincing but eventually they agreed to host a private class in which all we really wanted was use of the kitchen and pantry and someone to clean up afterward. The instructor was kind enough to do the judging, too.

        1. A good place to try, which is fairly inexpensive, is your local Elks Lodge, Knight of Columbus hall type places. Here in NY I rent out their kitchens for parties, cooking lessions, etc. You can choose to rent the Kitchen only or the whole hall at a very inexpensive cost. I have rented the kitchens here in NY at the elks lodge for $150 for a full day. Prices may vary.

          Have fun and Good Luck!!!