Cooking Challenge Format

The constant, unchanging ideal of Cast Iron Chef has always been to allow SCA cooks the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of what medieval food should be prepared, and how it should look and taste once it is cooked and served. Because of this, we do not require that the recipes used by participating teams be taken directly from period cooking resources. Rather, we encourage our cooks to trust their experience and knowledge that they have gathered over their time in the kitchen to create their own dishes, so inspired by what they know about how to cook medievally that it would be entirely possible that they could have been found on the tables of actual historical banquets, right alongside the recipes we have all studied.

In other words, there is no documentation requirement for this tournament. Instead, our judges are looking for “period plausibility,” or how much your food would fit in with the recipes that we are able to document in period cookbooks. Because of this, we do not require cookbooks to be used during this tournament, nor do we make any available.

The goal for each team this year will be to come up with FIVE separate components that, combined, make up a complete meal that focuses on the theme “Fellowship Through Food,” which cooks may interpret however they so desire. Each team may choose whichever kind of meal they would like to cook; The five elements that make up their table may be as simple or complex as they desire, as long as it meets the following thematic challenge format requirements:

On Saturday, the archers from each team will be participating in a special shoot in which they will have the chance to “hunt” for some prized ingredients that are available to you. The results of this shoot will determine what, if any, food “prize” items you will be entitled to use to enhance the dishes you create. Please note that items obtained by your archer during this hunt MUST be used in some way for your submitted entry unless otherwise specified by the tournament rules and information discussed prior to the start time on Sunday.

Sunday morning, once all of the teams’ cooks have arrived, and important information has been given, the pantry will open. One representative from each team (either the cook or the assistant) will be sent into the pantry for a one-minute “shopping trip,” during which time they must gather all of the ingredients they will need to come up with their five dishes for their entry. If they are still inside when time runs out, their team will receive a penalty.

Please Note:

  • Spices, herbs, and seasonings of the sort are not counted in this limited time, and will be available to access throughout the duration of the cooking portion of the tournament.
  • Any ingredient selected from the pantry MUST be used somewhere/somehow in the final product being judged. Please do not just grab anything and everything in order to keep other teams from using certain ingredients. This behavior will result in penalties that will affect your standing in the tournament.

Teams will have three and a half hours to create these five-dish meals and get them plated for presentation and serving. Once the bell rings at 2:30 PM, all cooking and plating must cease, as the judges will be coming around for their final assessments. Judges will be basing their scores on period-plausibility, complexity, aesthetics, and workmanship. Copies of the judging forms will be available to teams for review starting on Saturday morning at the tournament location on site.

It is recommended that all cooks and assistants participating in Cast Iron Chef supply the following items for themselves for use during the tournament:

  1. Cast iron cookware, or cookware of other materials safe and appropriate for cooking over an open flame
  2. Accessories for cooking over an open flame (such as fire gloves, lid-lifters, trivets, tripods, spits, etc.)
  3. Kitchen knives and other favored cooking tools you may want to use
  4. Day shade, work tables, and chairs for use on Sunday
  5. Serving dishes/utensils, table cloths, etc. for making your presentation table visually appealing for the judges. Yes – presentation counts!

Please note that Cast Iron Chef will have a limited amount of cast iron cookware, welding gloves, serving dishes/utensils, and tables available for teams to use, but we highly encourage those who are able to do so to bring their own so others who do not have access to these resources can take advantage.

Cast Iron Chef will have a supply of kitchen prep equipment such as work bowls, cutting mats, measuring cups/spoons, and utensils for cooks to use while preparing their entries. You will not need to worry about supplying yourselves with these.

Teams can begin setting up their day shades after court on Saturday evening. Day shades and/or other items for designating/furnishing work space for each team should be set up and ready for use by 10:00 AM Sunday.

And, once more, we would like to reiterate that absolutely NO outside food or ingredient will be allowed to be used in any dish submitted as part of a tournament entry. This includes wine or other alcoholic beverages. We hope you understand and will adhere to this policy.

We hope you will join us for a fun day of fire, friendship, and food at this year’s Cast Iron Chef Cooking Tournament! If there are any questions, please contact the Tournament Directors, Edelvrouw Lijsbet de Keukere and Lord Sabastian Mora on Facebook Messenger.

See you around the campfire!