The New Game Night: How to Host a Virtual Cooking Competition

Follow our step-by-step guide to host a social distance-friendly cooking competition in your kitchen.

Image of cooking prep, including grated sweet potato, cracked egg and garlic.

You might not get to have your friends and family come over for dinner parties or meet up for brunch these days, but there are still fun ways to connect over food. There’s a hot new spot for game night these days — your kitchen. Host a cooking competition with these tips and you might even find your new signature dish.

Step 1: Set your invite.

Invite two or three of your friends to your virtual cooking competition and set a designated time for your group video chat with at least a few days’ notice so that everyone can be prepared. Having just a few friends makes it a little easier to keep track of what’s going on — and it means you can have more competitors for future competitions, too.

Step 2: Send out your ingredients list.

Keep ingredients lists to under eight ingredients, and keep them simple and general since not all kitchens are fully stocked. Think scavenger-hunt style. Some suggestions: Include at least one green ingredient, an ingredient that starts with a “C,” an ingredient from the freezer, a fermented ingredient, something chocolate, etc.

Step 3: Set the ground rules.

Limit the competition to 30 minutes in the kitchen and decide what parameters everyone needs to follow. Is this a dessert-themed competition? Competing for best fancy appetizer? No special equipment? As the host, you get to decide, and you also get to decide the winning criteria.

Step 4: Start the timer and get cooking.

While you are cooking in a competitive scenario, don’t get too wrapped up in perfection. You’re on video, after all, so share what you’re doing as you cook, ask questions if you’re curious and take turns walking each other through your process. And since this is a very visual competition, don’t forget that plating counts.

Step 5: Throw in a twist.

You know how reality game competitions always throw in an unexpected extra challenge? They tend to even out the playing ground a little bit and usually end up being pretty fun. Like with five minutes remaining, everyone has to add something orange to their dish. Or maybe the group has to spend two minutes of cooking time with one hand above their heads. Keep it safe, but have fun with it.

Step 6: Taste test.

When the competition is wrapped up, it’s time to sit down and taste your dish with the group. Description is key here. This is everybody’s chance to pitch their dish in the best way possible — get creative, because everyone is “tasting with their eyes” for now. Pour yourself a drink, and enjoy the recap of the game and the company.

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