Can I compete? I’ve never cooked massive amounts of stuff before!
You can, you should, you WILL. This is an amateur cooking event. Cooks of all levels compete, and most of what is made tends to be a happy accident. Some people do profess to know what they are doing, others not so much. Either way, the important thing is everybody has a wicked amazing time.
Is this a cook-off?
You don’t cook on the premises! Cook at home, and bring it to the event! I supply sterno heated trays for whatever event I am throwing, and they get plenty hot for your needs!
If its a chili takedown, does it have to be meaty?
Hey, you do what you want. The gold standard for chili is beef. That’s how the cowboys et it, and that’s how it should be. But this is not the Wild West! This is a Takedown! We love our chili, but we love any crazy person that wants to deviate from the norm! We’ve had veggie chilis, pork chilis, chicken chilis, candy chilis… I can’t guarantee they will win- that’s for the people and the judges to decide! But I’m not going to say no to anyone tough enough to flaunt Texas justice. If anyone complains, explain to them about the last eight years… And when we’re talking other foods, like Curries, Bacon, Fondues, and whatever other Takedown’s I dream up, same rules apply: veggies welcome and embraced…
How much do I need to make?
Typically, I ask for 2 gallons of chili or mac and cheeze or whatever (that’s a big pot, basically) For fondue takedowns, I require 2lbs of cheese. The cookie takedown required about 60+ cookies, divided into 4 pieces! Expect 250-300 people to sample your goods. The more you make, the better the chances your stuff will last the length of the 2 hour event! If it runs out early, people won’t get to try it, and latecomers won’t vote on your brilliant creation!
Who is judging?
For some events, I bring in celebrity judges (loosely termed). These people might be local chefs, restaurateurs or food writers. But the largest and most important prize at any Takedown is won through audience votes!
Should I bring condiments?
Since audience members are sampling your creation, a condiment or any extra food item might get in the way of the tasting experience. Visitors have to try 20+ dishes besides your own! But that hasn’t stopped competitors from bringing food extras if they think it will help their chances. These tend to run out early though! I’m just saying!
What is provided by the Takedown?
I’ll have cups, plates, spoons or forks for attendees to use! I have a chafing dish and sterno at each station, should you need it. Try and bring an apporopriate serving spoon with your food.
Should I make a sign?
The takedown gives each contestant a number – and I encourage you to get creative with any signs or decorations at your station! People appreciate a beautifully arranged Takedown station!
What are the rules?
Make enough food and show up one hour before event time.
There are no rules! Well, aside from quantities- you must bring enough. But the premise of the takedown is: Anything Goes. Our chili competitions pit vegetarian against meat eater (the vegetarians have been known to win)! We’ve seen every variety of chili, from pork, to beef, to tofu, to crab!!! All with varying degrees of culinary success!!! The cookie events see every cookie under the sun – ginger, pecan sandwich, bark, sugar, whatever. The Fondue Takedown has one rule: they all have to be cheese-based fondues. I decided a while ago that a cheese fondue would never win against a chocolate fondue. Chocolate fondue is too delicious. But could anyone be expected to eat 20+ bites of chocolate fondue and not puke? Exactly.
And don’t sign up, say you’re going to be there, and not show! This is a fight to the death! Gengis Khan didn’t flake on sacking a village – neither should you. You are there to destroy, and that is an important task to sign on for! Take it serious!
Audience votes get the big win? So is this just a popularity contest?
No way! This is my 14th year doing this, and the crowds have always been very, very cool. Sure cooks bring their friends. Sure, the friends are expected to vote for their chef’s creation. But I have seen a healthy amount of backstabbing, when the friend’s recipe turns out to be the worst ever on the planet of earth amen. I insist over the mic at every event that people judge with their brains, and not their hearts, and I usually get through to them. But the vast majority of people who come to these events don’t know anyone in competition! And we attract a TON of people! Never has there been an unfair result in the history of the Takedown!! The best tasting thing has always won! I promise you will not be bummed!
Does it cost to enter?
Not if you are here to compete!! I try and get chefs to enter solo- and if they need an assistant, that is also doable. If you’d like to come down and eat, the takedown usually costs $15. A small price to pay for limitless food stuffage!!!!