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Feb 24, 2011 05:53 AM

Doing our own Next Chopped Top Iron Chef

Just curious, has anyone tried to do their own version of any of the various TV cooking show/competitions?

I'm trying to organize something like that for a party and just looking for suggestions/feedback of how it went.

So far, I think we're going to aim for four teams of two chefs, with partners being paired by random selection (drawing names from a hat).

Guests would each pay $10, which would be split between the teams, who would get one hour to shop for groceries before the competition begins.

We figured we'd have three judges, though thinking about it, maybe it would actually be better to just let everyone have a vote. (Though I still like the idea of judges as some sort of master of ceremonies.)

The secret ingredient is kind of where we're struggling with the best way to do it, though I suppose it may just be a matter of preference. Some of the things we're thinking about::
* Should there be one secret ingredient through the whole contest (a la Iron Chef) or varied per the three courses (a la Chopped)?
* Should the judges pick the secret ingredient(s), or should we have each chef put an idea in a hat and draw from that? Either way, should the ingredient be a protein, which would probably be the dominant item in most of the courses, or something that can be worked in to a greater or lesser degree (i.e. strawberries or peanut butter...)?
* Should the chefs find out the ingredient(s) right before the competition or get 24 hours?

Any other thoughts from anyone who might've done something like this?

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  1. This sounds like great fun. I have some questions. If you are having 4 teams, where will they cook? Do you have 4 stoves, sinks, blenders, etc? Or is this outside with 4 grill stations? I like the idea of the guests paying and the idea of judges. Maybe you could have two judges, and let the guests' vote count as a third judge. What is the prize? Just bragging rights? or a Gift Certificate to a nice Restaurant?

    Since the guests will be paying, you almost have to ensure an edible meal. You also don't want things to take too long. You can still pair partners by random selection, but no one is going to want to wait while they shop, load the car, unload the car, peel potatoes, etc. The party will drag.

    I'd give the teams a "theme". in advance. BBQ, Mexican, Luau, French, whatever sounds fun and delicious to you. Just have your guests list any allergies when they pay. Give each team their budget and theme. Have them shop and prep in advance, and come ready to cook. Even though they know the theme, you'll still get to see creativity and talent in how they express it.

    1. I'd pick one common ingredient for each team to work with, and I would let them know what it was right before the challenge.

      1. We did that for an office party at a local cookware/cooking lesson shop. We split into 2 teams with each team responsible for 3 courses (breaking into smaller teams for appetizer/entree/dessert - so we weren't cooking for 3-5 hours) and then we ate the results.

        Each team had the same grouping of ingredients (proteins, veg, starch) and could choose to prepare them in any way they desired.

        Good event overall. In my opinion, I wouldn't overcomplicate it by having a shopping session beforehand, just pick up the same items for both (or use different proteins) and maybe have a blind "surprise" ingredient to mix it up.

        1. I haven't but my brother and his girlfriend did for Thanksgiving a few years ago. They made a Turkey and then each person prepared a tapas sized portion of their dish. I think the way they assigned the "challenges" Were to have slips that were a type of dish appropriate for a course (soup, salad, app maybe) for each course, slips with each participants names, and then Turkey day ingredient slips. IIRC each person made a dish for each course. They found out ahead of time so prep and shopping, and small dish procurement could be done ahead of time. Last minute prep was done in there kitchen (stanadard - 4 burner, 1 oven, 1 toaster oven). They had a blast - I was so jealous that I couldn't make it.