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Host Your Own Cooking Contest

Updated April 28, 2020
adding salmon, tomatoes, lemon, and peppers on top of parchment paper
If you have a few friends who pride themselves on their cooking skills, invite them to participate in a super fun cooking contest. The rules are simple and a lot of fun!

With the popularity of food TV, it’s only fitting that at-home entertainers begin to follow suit and host their own cooking contest. Here’s how to get started:

The Rules

As the host, invite two competing “chefs” to create a dish (or two) using a secret ingredient (or two) that they must use in their recipe. It’s up to you to decide if the contestants will prepare one dish or an entire meal.

You can reveal the ingredient on the morning of the event so they can shop for groceries, create their masterpieces and bring them to the party by the set time. Or if you have a large enough kitchen, you can invite your chef friends to cook right in your own home.


The other party guests get to taste and judge each dish. You could have a numbered voting system of 1 to 5, and each judge gets a vote. Part of the fun will also be in the verbal critique, so no wallflowers allowed at this party! At the end, the dish with the highest total points is the winner.

Extra Touches

Part of the fun of this party is the ability to carry out the theme visually. Offer your two competitors a chef’s hat and apron to wear while they’re preparing and presenting their food. For party decor, set up a large chalkboard to display the menu, and fill glass vases with dried pasta or lentils. Have a prize ready for the winner—a special apron, or a nice bottle of wine, for instance.

Other Tips

Keep the guest list small—10 to 12 people is a nice number and not overwhelming for the chefs. To help offset the expense to the competitors, you may want to ask each guest to contribute $5 or $10.

The basic format of a “Top Chef” party is simple, but remember you can change it up to suit your particular circumstances and group of friends.

Have fun with it—pack your knives and go have a party!