You’ve been glued to the Food Network’s hit program “Iron Chef” for years, and always think that it would be a blast to find yourself in Kitchen Stadium. Even though you might not have a cavernous television studio equipped with 2 full kitchens, you can still re-create the Iron Chef experience at home. With a little planning, preparation, and some willing participants, you can create your very own Iron Chef battle at home, using Japanese ingredients as the theme of your competition.
When you’re thinking about hosting this type of “all-in” party, you need to consider your guests and their comfort level in the kitchen. Some will be great at creating the dishes, others would love to taste and judge the food, while the rest may be comfortable to just watch the whole event unfold. Even though it is a competition, you don’t want your guests to feel undue stress at the thought of participating. Communicate that this is a fun way to get together for an evening!Unlike the Iron Chef competition on television, you will need to give your guests a preview of the ingredients being used, and the chance to prepare some items at home. Realistically, you don’t have 2 full kitchens where teams can create multiple items. The week before guests arrive, as host you will need to:
- Knowing your friends/family and their personalities, break guests into 2 cooking teams or partners.
- Unveil the theme to each team. Japanese ingredients are the perfect theme for an Iron Chef party!
- Pick the number of courses/ingredients that you feel is manageable. Three is a solid number, with one of the courses being a dessert.
- For each course, you can pick a different ingredient to be highlighted or featured. For the theme of “Battle Japanese”, three great ingredients would be rice vinegar, soy sauce, and green tea.
You will need to lay down some ground rules for the competition to make sure that you have friendly fun and not combative guests during your Iron Chef party. A great idea is to email each team the rules, that way, all members can communicate before the party about specific ideas/dishes.
- Establish a price limit, and let teams know they need to supply ingredients.
- Set a time limit for preparing food at your home– 1-2 hours is sufficient.
- Ask that contestants supply their own utensils, knives, bowls, pots, and pans.
- Let teams know that they are given one burner during the competition
- If teams need to use the oven, ask for notification so teams don’t have conflicting temperatures/times.
- If you have one, offer use of your grill– first to RSVP gets it!
- Allow teams to prep and prepare dishes before they arrive.
Once the dishes are prepared, you will need a way to gauge the winner. Create scorecards that evaluate the taste, presentation, and creativity, each with a 1-10 score. Teams can present each course/ingredient side by side so judges can see which team highlighted the Japanese flavor with the most finesse. Add up the points to declare the winner!
You can present the winning team with a gift certificate to a local gourmet food shop, a silly trophy that can be the centerpiece of future battles or cold hard cash collected from guests as an “admission” for the party.The at-home Iron Chef competition is a great way to showcase Japanese flavors to your friends and have a fun, food-filled gathering with your loved ones. Allez cuisine!