A Chopped Kids Birthday

IMG_5763It doesn’t take long to realize we are a food family. We love to eat, try new places but nothing is more fun than cooking together at home. The girls, like so many other children today, are definitely into FN shows like the Kids Baking Championship, Cupcake wars and of course Chopped. So when I started chatting with Madz about what she wanted to do for her birthday, her love for cooking and different ideas morphed into the idea of a Chopped birthday party. I was a little nervous about how it would work but in the end it turned out to be a great success. I’ve had a lot of people ask how it would work or what the baskets would be, it was surpringly easy to implement once the logistics were figured out. Here’s how it all went down.

The Teams
-We had 12 kids split into 4 teams of 3.
-I pre-set the teams giving consideration to age, siblings and seeing as we had a mix of -kiddos who didn’t all know one another, tried to mix it up a bit.
-When the kids arrived they had a small activity box with their name on it. Inside were two thin strips of card stock and some tissue paper to decorate and MYO chef hat, an apron and a small spatula color-coded. They could find their teammates by matching spatulas.
-Each team had a sous-chef, aka an awesome mom willing to help with the appliances and pantry items.

The Baskets & Pantry
Round 1: Salad mix, ginger snaps, mandarin oranges and cheese triangles
Round 2: Cooked noodles, breakfast sausage, mushrooms and hummus
Round 3: leftover chocolate cake, popcorn, marshmallow peeps and unsweetened applesauce
The pantry consisted of a variety of items that we pulled out ahead of time. Although this was an area that spiraled fast and suddenly there were items not pulled for the pantry on the plates…i.e. an entire container of ginger spice LOL

Key Players
The Dad’s/uncle were crucial to this party. I mean they came to play and we couldn’t have done it without them. One dad played host-Ted and I shouldn’t say played, he dressed the part and rocked managing the mini-chefs. Two other dads and the soon-to-be uncle Cameron were our brave judges. They too, came to play, with their age appropriate critiques, good feed back and suggestions for technique. I swear, these 4 guys were the best part of the party and I had a small token of appreciation for them but in hindsight that box of chocolates wasn’t enough for what they had to eat. They deserved beer, lots of beer.

How it Played
-3 rounds (appetizer, entrée and dessert)
-10 minutes each
-Teams could request use of the microwave, food processor, mixer, blender and toaster but had to direct their sous-chef on what they wanted done. Note: There was no use of the stove, oven, grill or knives.
-After each round the oldest on each team presented their dish to the judges for tasting.
-Teams were sent outside for 2-3 minutes so the judges could contemplate, the moms could do a quick clean-up and restock baskets.
-We awarded medals to each team as they got chopped. I made little medals for best taste, best presentation and most creative then the last team’s medal said “Chopped Champions.”

In the end the kids had a blast! They all played and worked so, so well together. They cheered each other on and remained engaged even after they’d been chopped. I wouldn’t have changed much about the party with a few exceptions. I put a lot of thought into the baskets but not a lot of thought into the pantry and will probably need to head to the grocery store to restock on things I wasn’t expecting. I also didn’t get a group picture of my little chefs. We have lots of good pics but a group photo would’ve been good for the memory book. Lastly, it got chaotic fast. Not in a way that was unmanageable simply due to the parent-child ratio, but 12 kids between the ages of 3-11 and 12 adults made our house seem really small, really fast. In hindsight we probably could’ve done this whole thing outside however, you can’t predict the weather, hence the snow I’m looking at right now… but the use of indoor and outdoor did work incredibly well, so it all worked out. I’m sure if I had to do it over there would be a few more things but these are the highlights and it was a great time overall.

I can’t thank everyone enough. There is absolutely no way that I could have done it solo nor would I want to. It was nice to have a party where the parents could be involved and not just sidelined. I’m not sure if my judges would agree but they, along with everyone, were truly great sports. I extend my greatest thanks to all who made my Madilyn’s birthday so special. Thank-you ❤