Top Home Chef!

In three short weeks, Bravo’s wildly successful cooking show Top Chef returns for its 13th season. Do you love cooking competition shows, but you’re tired of being outside of the action? Here are some fit-for-TV dinner party themes, just in time for the return of your favorite show to binge on.

Pizza Party:
This is a throwback to my childhood. At birthday parties, my parents would prepare a huge batch of pizza dough, buy a variety of ingredients, and turn we young party-goers loose on the kitchen to prepare our own personal pizzas at whim. I always painstakingly arranged mine with meticulous care and thought…but the kids who just threw a bunch of stuff on and drenched it in cheese always had the pizzas that reigned supreme. If you don’t feel like making your own, store bought dough works too–stage a pizza battle with your roommates!

Iron Chef Dinner:
A few years ago, a humongous, blue, hybrid, Hubbard squash popped up in my mom’s garden. She was perplexed, what does one do with a squash the size of a one-year-old? She took a page out of the Iron Chef book, and cooked a variety of dishes that focused around that one ingredient: think stuffed squash, curried soup, latkes, pie, squash bread, and frittata. It wasn’t a competition of course, because she was the only chef. Instead, she invited all of her friends over to enjoy the bounty. If you want to switch things up, tell all of your friends to prepare a dish highlighting one ingredient, and then have a potluck style dinner to taste them all!

Blind Tasting:
My sister’s fiancé is convinced that most of my family’s food snobbery is completely arbitrary. He doesn’t think that there’s necessarily a difference between, say, artisanal olive oil vs. bargain brand. He’s wrong, of course, but that doesn’t stop him from his ongoing antics. Time and time again he forces us to test between store bought guacamole, and homemade. Or tomatoes from the farmer’s market vs. a generic grocery store. Try setting your friends up with a blindfold and bottom vs. top-shelf wine, or real vs. fake maple syrup!

Photo by Didriks.