Challenge Friends to a Virtual Chopped Competition
We’ve all seen Chopped right? It has to be one of Food Network’s (or if you live in the U.S; Food Channel) most popular shows. If you haven’t, then we’ll bring you up to speed: Chopped is a cooking competition that’s all about skill, speed and creativity. Four chefs compete before a panel of three expert judges and take a combination of everyday and out-of-the-box food items and turn them into an epic three-course-meal. Generally, the mystery box items are pretty random and don’t mix well (think octopus, ketchup, long beans and processed cheese) so the chefs are forced to get really creative to make something that’s not only edible, but restaurant quality delicious food.
We’ve wanted to have our own Chopped competition at home for awhile now, but the challenge has always been having too many cooks in the kitchen (literally) to do it right. I mean, who’s house has four ovens (and if yours does then can we be friends?). So, since we’re social distancing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we thought this was actually the perfect time to do it. We’ll all work in our own kitchens and make the competition virtual.
Since we’re all going to the grocery store as little as possible, instead of using crazy ingredients we’re going to use pantry staples for our Chopped competition mystery basket and announce them five days in advance – this way people have time to get prepared. And let’s be honest, none of us our chefs so we’re not as worried about giving people time to prep. Plus, everyone has the same advantage.
While we hosted this during the pandemic, keep in mind that you can do a virtual Chopped competition at any time. It’s great for long distance relationships, when you have family overseas, or just wanna make it a big group thing.
- A consensus on the four mystery box ingredients (we break down how we chose ours below) and the confirmed course everyone will be making (we suggest entree for your first time, but feel free to go the route of appetizer or dessert!)
- An agreed upon competition timeline
- A consensus on the rules, including how the dishes will be submitted and judged (we break down our recommendation below)
- A real or metaphorical Chef’s hat and apron
- A willingness to get creative and competitive
1. Choosing the Mystery Box Ingredients
We hosted our competition on Instagram, inviting anyone and everyone to join in. And given the circumstances of hosting during a pandemic, we threw out entree options for mystery box ingredients for people to vote on via IG stories, all of which were simple. Here were the options, with the four ingredients selected in bold:
- Chicken or Fish (either of which can be subbed tofu for vegetarian or vegan friends)
- Mustard or Soy Sauce
- Crackers or Beans
- Berries or Leafy Greens
If you want to keep your competition to an intimate group of friends, we recommend using the app Doodle, where you can set up a poll for free for people to vote on anonymously.
2. Determine Your Timeline
Decide when you will be sharing what the mystery basket ingredients are and when you want the dishes to be submitted. We decided that we would share the ingredients five days prior to the competition day and require that all dishes be submitted virtually between 9-9:30pm on competition day.
3. Decide on the Competition Rules
The traditional rules of chopped is that every mystery basket ingredient must be used in the dish in some capacity and every competitor must submit their completed dish by a specific time.
This remaining rules are up to you to customize, but we recommend the following:
- Setting parameters on how many people can compete on one team (ideally no more than four given it’s by household)
- How the dish must be submitted. We had all competitors share a photo of their finished dish along with a short description on Instagram (via grid or stories) between 9-9:30pm on competition day, tagging us and using the hashtag #VirtualChopped.
- Determine how you’ll judge the dishes. Obviously, you can’t taste the dishes when you’re competing virtually. So, we recommend choosing the winning individual or team based on creativity, visual presentation and drool factor. People vote on each category on a scale of 1-5. We created a survey with photos on Get Feedback and gave people 24 hours to vote. We then announced the winner on Instagram, but if you have a more intimate group you can do so via email or text.
Want a simple cocktail to sip on while you cook? We’ve got one. Try out a Bees Knees. It’s made with just three ingredients: gin, lemon juice and honey. Grab the recipe here.
These tunes will get you jacked up for some serious competition and give you a bit of rhythm for all that chopping.Click Here to Start Listening!