We’re sharing another great event for you to put on your calendar today! Though our version of Chopped is based on the popular Food Network show, we have made some adjustments to allow all the participants to cook throughout the competition.
We actually held this event at our youth group last year and it was a giant success! Believe it or not, guys and gals were way into it and they did a fantastic job cooking up their dishes.
PREP TIME– 1-3 Hours
ITEMS NEEDED– Food (check out the PDF below to see a list of recommended items), Access to Multiple Stoves, Griddles & Ovens, 2 Tables per Team, BBQ (optional), Cookware, Measuring Spoons, Utensils, Plates for Dishes
GAME TIME– 3 Hours
PARTICIPANTS– Teams of 3-6
If you have not watched Chopped before, you really should. It will help you get a better grasp on what the competition is all about. The show revolves around the preparation of three dishes: Appetizer, Entrée, Dessert. Each round gives contestants (they compete as individuals, you will have teams) an opportunity to cook their best dish while using a “secret ingredient”. Their ingredients are far more complex than what you’ll need, but the idea is to create an environment in which the contestants can not prepare ahead of time.
Once the contestants begin, they are given access to a kitchen full of ingredients to add to the mandatory items. They have a set amount of time per round, after which the judges taste their dish, deliberate and ultimately “chop” one of the contestants. For our event, you will not be chopping anyone until the end, in which you will crown a winner.
First things first, though. You will need to begin by securing a location that teams can cook in. Here are a few options to consider:
Option 1: Many schools have off-site classes in locations they use for cooking classes. Simply contact the school for location details and costs.
Option 2: Look for culinary classes offered in your area. They will have access to special kitchens with multiple stations. Explain to them what you would like to do and they may even be willing to participate with you!
Option 3: Purchase stove top burners from the store. This is not the best option, but it worked for us. Make sure they have at least two burners and that they will heat up enough to cook effectively in a limited time.
Option 4: If you know how many people you will have, you can secure enough BBQ grills for every team to have one. Just make sure you are in an open area with plenty of ventilation & light.
Once you have a location, you will need to determine your “secret ingredients”. Suggestions for the three rounds are:
Appetizer: Bacon, Assorted Cheeses, Salad Greens, Bread, etc.
Entrée: Chicken, Ribs, Wings, Steak, Chili, etc.
Dessert: Chocolate, Ice Cream, Berries, Baking Items, etc.
Okay, now that you have the hard part done, you simply need to start shopping. Here are a few items to think about: CHOPPED FOOD SUGGESTIONS. Feel free to add or take away from the list, just make sure to have items that can be combined with your secret ingredients. I also let students bring up to two things from home (this cuts down on cost!).
Once you have everything and you are on site, you will need to set things up. Make sure that everything is working beforehand. Create an area for shared items, such as spices and other foods. Keep it centralized so it is easily accessible to everyone. Let everyone walk the area before you start so they can see what is available. You will also need to remind teams and check periodically to make sure they are putting items back once they are done. Let them know if there are limits on any items (i.e. 2 apples per team, etc). They can then barter for limited items with other teams if they would like.
Show them their cooking stations and make sure they know where microwaves, blenders and other cooking pans/pots are. Lastly, you will need to make sure every team has plates to serve each meal on. Don’t use paper plates. After all the work they do to cook, it looks really cheap when you serve it on Styrofoam! You can buy nice looking plates at the Dollar Store.
Finally, find three judges who are willing to eat what your contestants cook! Once you’ve done so, you’re ready to hold your Chopped event!!
Phew! If you’re still with me, I commend you. Here’s how you play.
Once you’ve laid out everything for them, explain to them that they have the next three hours to cook an appetizer, entrée & dessert for you. For the sake of time, we altered things a bit. Teams are allowed to start any component of their meal from the very start. However, they have to serve dishes at certain times.
Appetizer must be served at the 45 minute mark.
Entrée must be served at the 2 hour mark.
Dessert must be served at the 2 hour & 30 minute mark.
Dishes must be in on time (one for each judge), or they will be disqualified for that round. You can adjust these, but give ample time for them to actually cook the meal. Remind them that any meats that are uncooked will not be judged, thus, they will forfeit their points for that round.
We judged on the following criteria:
Presentation- 10 points
Taste- 20 points
Creativity/Use of Ingredients- 10 points
In the case of a tie, award the team with the best overall dish.
1. Have a large clock that allows each team to monitor where they are at in the competition.
2. Ten minutes into the competition, give teams $10 to buy up to two items at the store. Send someone to the store to buy all the items on the list. This will help alleviate any stress they may have about not having an item they need.
3. Award the winning team gift cards to a nice restaurant or take the team out with you for dinner on a designated night in the future.
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