The First Rule of Culinary Fight Club: You MUST TALK about Culinary Fight Club.

Okay, actually, their first rule is that you must have a passion for food and cooking. But we MUST talk about this thing…

This week I attended an awesome food event in Chicago that I just couldn’t help but share with you. I am a huge fan of the TV show “Chopped” and this was like being at a real live version! It’s called Culinary Fight Club, and for any Chicagoans that like to eat and compete, you HAVE to check this out!

“Think Top Chef meets Fight Club meets Pop-up Restaurant.  If you can cook, then you can cook anywhere, with limited ingredients and on a time-crunch!”

Culinary Fight Club hosts monthly “Tastebud Challenges” around Chicago. These are cooking competitions “where taste buds duke it out!”  The rules are simple: 60 minutes, 4 judges, 3 Chefs, one 10,000 BTU burner. Chefs have 30 sec to pick from the ingredient table (pantry) and then fire up their burners and cook! Anyone can participate. The only criteria is that you have a passion for food and cooking.

Each month the Tastebud Challenge has a different theme or cuisine. The February challenge, held at The Ogden on the West Side of Chicago, was all about one of my favorite foods: CHILI! Three cooks took the stage and duked it out, and then we, the audience, had the privilege to sample each contestant’s dish. The judges tasted, deliberated, and decided on a winner. The audience got to vote for a Taster’s Choice winner, and I had such a hard time deciding! I could have eaten my fill and more of ALL of the bowls of chili.

Each Chef could also bring three of his own “secret ingredients” to use in his chili. There were some interesting choices among them, which gave me inspiration for future recipes! I spotted oregano, cocoa power, Guinness, chipotle peppers, beef, and venison as just a few of the ingredients of the chefs’ tables. Mmmm.

There may have been only one “official” winner, but these chefs were all winners in my opinion. And Culinary Fight Club is an all-around winner for a new and exciting thing happening in Chicago. This was only their fourth Tastebud Challenge, but The Ogden was PACKED full of people wanting to be a part of the action.

Next month, the theme for Tastebud Challenge #5 is “Guinness and Green.” Get your tickets now, as they sell out fast!

Until then, remember Chef Gusteau’s famous motto: “Anyone can cook!” Get out there, experiment, and make something eatable. Who knows… maybe you could be a future contestant at a Culinary Fight Club!

Check out Culinary Fight Club’s website and facebook page for more info and to buy tickets for future Tastebud Challenges!