Looking for ideas for a fun, exciting & not-so-predictable party? How about throwing a “Chopped” Cooking Competition Party!?! This was tons of fun for teens & adults! Read on for inspiration, ideas and ingredients…..
A few months ago a friend approached me for some help organizing a “Chopped” themed party for his youth ministry. I was so excited – I knew this was going to be some serious fun!
I worked hard to not overthink or over complicate this. Nobody was competing for prizes, money or recognition here. This was a day for the girls to get together, hang out and have fun.
There was a big obstacle – one kitchen. One kitchen means one stove. Six plus girls sharing one stove.
The girls were all teenagers with varied levels of cooking skills, so an adult was added to each group to help out where needed. Everyone got split up into two groups.
The girls had no problem sharing the kitchen. This minor set back was compensated by giving the girls a lenient time limit. We decided to skip the entree and did just an appetizer and dessert round.
I tried to come up with a group of ingredients that were challenging to put together but not too far fetched. As in “Chopped”, the main focus here was to transform these ingredients into something – not just pile them all together and call it a dish. Creativity is key – as is taste, of course!
When judging we kept it fair and simple with no room for debate. Each round, each judge picked their favorite dish. At the end, the group with the most picks wins. In the case of a tie there would be debate & discussion.
This was a lot of fun and I was beyond impressed with how creative everyone was in the kitchen. The girls did an awesome job working together to create some fab food!
Sponge/shortcake dessert cups
Appetizer round (before) thoughts:
I personally cannot stand those dessert shortcake cups. (You usually find them around the strawberries in the produce section) I’d be so disappointed if they were used plain, as is. They have great potential. They could be chopped up, seasoned and fried as croutons or crumbs, made into a toasty garlic bread or a quick bread stuffing or soaked – lots of ideas for them! Spam – ha, who knows!? It’s a fun ingredient that can be cooked or eaten straight from the can – the girls could get very creative with this. Fresh basil is simple, versatile and has such great flavor. Pomegranate – they could use the the seeds or juice the seeds – dealing with them can be tricky if you’re not familiar with them.
I think the obvious direction with these ingredients would be a green salad or a bruschetta style appetizer. The salad should be creative to be successful – a balsamic and oil salad dressing made with pomegranate juice or seeds would be clever. Ideas that come to mind – an Italian style “bread salad”, maybe a tomato salad, a bruschetta or something cheesy and crunchy baked with those shortcakes. If they’re piling ingredients on top of the shortcake, I’d hope they dress up the shortcake in some way.
Appetizer round (after) thoughts:
Both groups took a very dessert approach to the shortcake cups. As for the spam – one group fried it up with bacon and made lettuce wraps with it – it was surprisingly good! The other group fried it up and added it to a salad with pomegranate seeds and a delicious balsamic dressing. I loved the salad! Guess what I learned – Spam can be good 🙂
Rolled / Quick Oats (Not the instant packets)
Queso Fresco Cheese
Dessert round (before) thoughts:
I feel this is a very simple set of ingredients, but involves some thought to make it work. Cranberries should be cooked in some method for best flavor, the rolled oats can be cooked, baked, fried – even used raw. Queso Fresco is wonderful – it’s very mild and versatile. The orange marmalade tastes absolutely awful (imo) and needs to be incorporated carefully.
There’s many directions to go with these ingredients. I would automatically think of a crumble or a crisp style dessert. Cookies, tartlets, pudding, bread pudding – chocolate and cranberry is an insanely delicious flavor combo…a bit of orange in the mix is great too….
Dessert Round (after) thoughts:
One group made a french toast with a topping of chopped cranberries, marmalade, queso fresco, walnuts and syrup. They served it with a side of fried apples sprinkled with brown sugar and oats. Very breakfast but very delicious.
The other group got very creative, but things didn’t turn out so well. They went for a custard type dessert incorporating the cheese in the mixture. The finished result had fabulous flavor – but the texture was off. The cheese didn’t melt as they expected and gave the dessert almost a curdled consistency.
These are just some of the basics….
- 2 cutting boards
- 2 saute/fry pans
- 2 saucepans
- 2 cookie sheets
- 2 muffin tins
- 2 square baking dishes
- 2 knives, spatulas, spoons (etc) utensils & cutlery
- plates, bowls, silverware
- Mixer, Food Processor
Many of these ingredients are pantry staples. The remainder of ingredients were provided/purchased by the attending adults.
- Olive Oil
- Cooking Spray
- romaine or other leafy green lettuce
- balsamic vinegar
- white vinegar
- fresh garlic
- green olives
- black olives
- fresh tomatoes
- shredded mozzarella cheese or Italian blend
- salt & pepper
- vanilla extract
- baking powder
- baking soda
- garlic powder
- Parmesan cheese
- any other herbs/spices
- Chocolate Chips
- Chocolate Bar (regular Hershey’s or such)
- Brown Sugar
- White Sugar
- Dozen Eggs
- loaf bread
- Maple Syrup
This Chopped party was so much fun for all involved. Maybe next year I can get in on the fun. Or maybe not, I crumble under pressure and am so not competitive 🙂
Thanks so much for stopping by!