How to Host a Cooking Competition for Your Kids

How do you entertain your children, encourage creativity and healthy competition and spark adventurous eating habits?  My friend Sharon Cichy, creative whiz, mom of three darling girls, and co-founder of Capital City Mamas, told me about a really creative way to do all of the above — by hosting (and videotaping) your own cooking competition.

I thought the project sounded a little intimidating, but Sharon laid all the steps out to show us how doable it can be:

  1. Divide the kids (or kids and adults) into 2 or 3 teams of 1 – 2 people.
  2. Gather a set of cooking items for each team (utensils, measuring instruments, bowls, etc.).
  3. Choose an adult or older child to be the judge (and/or the announcer/assistant). The judge can also decide on the “Secret Ingredient” that will be revealed to the contestants. Sharon suggests making it a fruit, a veggie like carrots or celery, a bread or cracker, or a spice like ginger or cinnamon.
  4. Once the “cooking stations” are set up, make a separate spot for the judge to taste the food.  This station should be equipped with a plate and eating utensils, and a palate cleanser like water or crackers.  You may want to create scoring cards with categories for taste, originality, good humor or sportsmanship, and presentation.
  5. With a timer set for 20 minutes (which should also allow about 5 minutes for the kids to plan their recipes) the children can begin making their creations.  They should be allowed supervised access to the kitchen for additional food/spice/condiment ingredients.
  6. After the time is up, each team presents their creation to the judge so that he or she can taste each one and fill out the scorecards.
  7. Great prizes include ribbons or “coupons” for privileges around the house, a new (to them) cookbook, or colorful cooking utensils.
  8. Consider videotaping parts of the competition and interviewing the contestants before, during and after the competition.

I think it might be a cool idea to make the secret ingredient carrot sticks or red pepper strips, and ask the kids to create a dip for them. We like the combination of flavors in this Creamy Feta and Roasted Red Pepper Dip.

Do you and your kids like to watch any of the cooking competitions on TV? I’d love to hear how it goes if you host your own competition this summer!

Creamy Feta and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Creamy feta and roasted red pepper dip, a one-step recipe for fun with kids!



  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1/2 cup light cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced


  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Serve with carrot, bell pepper and celery sticks, pita chips, toasted baguette slices or use it as a spread for sandwiches.

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

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