Friday, April 13, 2007

Kid's Top Chef...the results

The challenge was to make a pizza. Any kind of pizza was acceptable. Each kid got five dollars to spend and we allowed them fifteen minutes in the supermarket. Then we would come back to our house to put their creations together. We didn’t put a time limit on that, since we knew we’d have to juggle cooking times and oven space. There ended up being nine kids, since my kids had a friend came over specifically to compete. His parents own a restaurant, so he came to show the other kids how it’s done. On your mark, get set, go!

I live an easy walk to the market, which is a Dillon’s. I also live very close to a retirement community. Taking this logic one step further, the retirees also live very close to Dillon’s. Still with me? In hindsight, it was a mistake to take nine kids to Dillon’s, stand them by the door and, looking at our watches, say “You have fifteen minutes. GO!!” Startled old people scattered like flies as crazed wannabe chefs raced by them on a mission.

The first problem they all ran into was that pizza crusts are expensive and would take a big chunk of their budget. This was also when they started getting creative with it. Some went with a biscuit crust, one bought a boxed mix and made his own and a couple decided on dessert pizza and bought rolls of cookie dough. Not one of them went with a Boboli, even though they’re two to a pack, and we encouraged everyone to share what they could, like cheese, pepperoni and crusts. We had also raided my cabinets and pulled out things like pineapple, barbeque sauce, black olives and chopped jalapenos that could be used by anyone who wanted them. When they were finished shopping we headed back home. Only one of them had gone over budget, but he sold someone a handful of pepperoni and we called it even.

Once we came back they all got to work quickly on their projects and chaos reigned in my kitchen. Everyone was competing independently except for the two youngest girls who had opted to work as a team. Every counter was full, the kitchen table was a hive of activity and the island was covered with pizzas ready to go into the oven. The three moms were giving advice and help when absolutely necessary, but mostly we were trying to stay out of their way.

There were three junior high boys in our group and they were all in varying degrees of protest, feeling they were far too mature to participate. The junior high school girl, on the other hand, was game from the beginning. Two of the boys (not mine) got into it and really made an effort. Sasquatch, on the other hand, was just determined to be a pill. I know that’s hard to believe. He bought a frozen microwavable pizza (words that should never be used in the same sentence) and a bunch of Slim Jims. He nuked the pizza, then chopped up the Slim Jims and threw them on top. Dinner is served. If you’re a fifteen year old gorilla with no taste buds that is.

When the pizzas came out of the oven (which took a while, believe me) we assembled our judges, who were the three moms and the Film Geek. He hadn’t been there for the whole thing, so he was good for an impartial opinion. They would be judged in four categories – taste, presentation, use of ingredients and creativity. Let the judging begin…

The youngest girls made a white pizza, with a biscuit crust, butter and mozzarella cheese. The junior high girl did a dessert pizza, with a chocolate chip cookie base topped with chocolate syrup and M&Ms. The visiting friend created a multi-cultured pizza, with BBQ sauce, pineapple, pepperoni and jalapenos on a boxed crust mix. The red headed step child was the only one to actually cook a topping. He made a spiced ground beef mixture to go on his biscuit crust. The other junior high boy did a cheese and black olive pizza on a biscuit base.

Now we come to my own aspiring chefs. Sasquatch you already know about. His pizza continued to deteriorate before the judging, because a lot of the kids kept sneaking pieces of the Slim Jims off the top. His score wasn’t helped by the fact that not one of the discerning judges would even taste his pizza. Not one single bite. Never before have I been so happy to have vegetarianism as an excuse. Gumby made a dessert pizza on a sugar cookie base and topped it with fresh fruit, a drizzle of yogurt and crushed Butterfingers and Nestle Crunch bars. Surfer Dude used a biscuit base and added pepperoni and black olives. His attempt to do something different was to add pineapple juice to the biscuits. I had a bad moment when I saw his crust literally floating in juice, and convinced him that maybe that wasn’t the best idea after all. He grabbed the turkey baster and sucked the juice out of the pan, but there was still enough left to fill the kitchen with smoke when it started burning off in the oven. You’ll be happy to know that not one of my brand new smoke detectors went off. Yes, I said brand new.

And the winner is…a tie between Gumby and the visiting friend, who each got perfect scores. The lowest score would be Sasquatch, with an amazing 0/20 points. Surfer Dude had a very respectable 17.5 score. We may have scored the visiting friend higher than we should have out of politeness, because when his dad came to pick him up he had a piece of the pizza and boy, you should’ve seen his face. He could barely swallow that bad boy. And while I’m at it, don’t waste any time feeling sorry for Sasquatch, because he was absolutely reveling in his lack of effort. He positively beamed when his score was announced. Makes me so proud…I have a little tear in my eye.

Stay tuned for details of Kid’s Top Chef 2, now in the planning stages. This time we’ll warn the retirees.

1 comment:

Happy in the Abyss said...

Sounds great! Good job, young ones! It seems to be that Sasquatch is preparing for College life! So be it...