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Top Chef Cooking Party (44 photos)


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For my husband's birthday, I decided to throw a surprise cooking party, themed after one of his favorite TV shows, Top Chef!  He loves to cook and has been fantasizing about being on the show, so I hoped he'd love it.  I knew having a cooking party in my kitchen would be cramped, so I was on the search for a party location.  There is a local commercial kitchen available for small business owners to rent and I knew that would be the perfect venue.  With all their stainless steel appliances, it looked like the real deal.  They were nice enough to allow me to use it!

Once I had the location secured, I got busy creating all the printables and decor.  I chose to use the orange and grey color scheme found in the Top Chef logo.  Orange is the color of 2012, you know?  I wanted to keep it modern and manly, so I used a bold chevron stripe and lots of stainless steel.  Since guests would be divided into teams and would actually cook the dinner, I didn't need much food, but I wanted a few snacks in case our chefs worked up an appetite.  To keep it simple and bite size, I served cupcakes, cookies, popcorn, and orange candy slices.  Rather than styling a traditional dessert table, I used a stainless steel rolling rack from the kitchen, used an orange sheet to line the back, and added a Top Chef pennant banner along the side.  Cakes and Kids created a dozen adorable cooking themed cupcake toppers, which were the highlight of the snack cart!  I displayed the foods along with a few kitchen utensils.

Guests were divided into teams of two and then drew knives from a knife block to determine which menu item they would cook.  Numbers on the knives corresponded with a Mandatory Ingredients card that was placed at each cooking station.  One each for appetizer, entree, side dish, and dessert.  Each team received two mandatory ingredients they were required to use, but the rest of their dish was up to their creativity.  All the mandatory ingredients I selected where my husband's favorite foods.  I stocked the fridge, freezer, and two rolling racks with pantry items.  Chefs had 60 minutes to complete their dish.  Each team presented their dish to the judging panel, which consisted of all party guests.  At each placesetting, I placed a Judging Panel voting card, where guests selected their favorite dish.  The winner (the birthday boy, of course!) was awarded a set of knives.  My husband had a blast at the party and even wants to host an annual cooking challenge now!

Here are the mandatory ingredients and what the chefs created with them, in case any party people are looking for ideas!

Appetizer, Mandatory Ingredients: sunflower seeds, mozzarella string cheese. Final Dish: Ritz crackers with spinach dip topped with sunflower seeds and grated mozzarella cheese

Entree, Mandatory Ingredients: orange slice candies, chili powder. Final Dish: Open face pork chop sandwich marinated in chili sauce drizzled with an orange sauce

Side Dish, Mandatory Ingredients: cream style corn, cream cheese. Final Dish: Corn porridge with colby jack cheese

Dessert, Mandatory Ingredients: bacon, chocolate candy bar. Final Dish: Mini cheesecakes garnished with chocolate covered bacon and a strawberry

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