The Food Obstructions Cook-Off Series at The Gutter

Whether you’re cooking for one or preparing a huge feast, there’s always some obstructions in your path — a too-small kitchen, not enough flour. Instead of cursing bloody hell, let’s have fun with that concept, and cook up something great given five obstructions. It’s a cook-off — yes, another one! — with a twist, and the first installment of the monthly series of them will commence October 18th, at The Gutter.

The Food Obstructions, as it were, is a new breed of cooking competition for the fervent or casual foodie alike. Here’s the whole drill:

The Food Obstructions
Oct. 18, 7:30pm
@ The Gutter
200 N. 14th St., Brooklyn
The event is free for competitors (see below for entry rules), and $5 to attend

In 1967, Jorgen Leth made a 12 minute film, “The Perfect Human.” In 2003, Lars von Trier challenged Leth, his mentor as a filmmaker, to remake the film with obstructions that would complicate its production. Von Trier titled the result “The Five Obstructions.”

On October 18, 2009, three Brooklyn food enthusiasts challenge their mentors and fellow culinary artists to a similar challenge, “The Food Obstructions.” Fifteen contestants will be accepted to make a dish of their own originality. In the spirit of the film, there are five obstructions to whatever type of dish they will make:

1. Must include at least one ingredient that is the color purple
2. Cannot contain pork or pork products
3. Must include at least one locally-sourced ingredient (grown or raised within 100 miles)
4. Must contain both a fruit and a vegetable
5. Cannot cost more than $25 to make

The dish will be judged on:

* Taste
* Synthesis of Obstructions
* Presentation

We’ve come up with a novel judging scheme, by which each attendant at the cook-off gets a scorecard to vote for their five favorite entries. The audience ultimately chooses which dish wins, but there’s another surprise in how it’s going to be tallied. Hold your breath! And what do the fine and fierce competitors receive if they should excel enough to win? The cash pot, from everyone’s $5 entry fee, will be divided amongst the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners, with a bar tab thrown in there somewhere as well.

To enter: Send an email to [email protected] Plan to make enough of your dish to serve at least 50 sample-size “bites.” If you need equipment such as a chafing dish, or require anything other than a flat plate and fork for service, please say so in your message.

A little background: The Food Obstructions was dreamed up by my friends Karol Lu and David Roderick. Neither of them strangers to local food competitions (Karol is the standing second-place winner of Enid’s Apple Pie Contest — next to my third!, placed twice at The Brooklyn Kitchen’s last Cupcake Cook-Off, and has won titles with chili, tofu, ramen and more pies, and she also co-hosts the annual Risotto Challenges with me; David won that first Risotto Challenge, and a Chili Takedown, too), this cult film-inspired cook-off came to them. So when The Gutter approached us to do a “food event” at the bar, the idea was resurrected from the ashes of Summer ’09: Things Not Done, and here are we are now. Come and let’s make some fun!

11 Responses

  1. […] The Food Obstructions cook-off series starts at The Gutter where contestants are faced with 5 obstructions including […]

  2. Jorrit Jorritsma
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    What a natty idea. Too often we’re told to aim for the sky and to expect everything in life. But creativity is all about working with limits, breaking rules, reinvention with impossible constraints. Great to see you encouraging people to be inventive and crafty rather than complaining about obstacles that will always be with us. A river gains power because of the boulders in it, not in spite of them!

  3. […] For more details on entering the competition, visit the blog, Not Eating Out in New York. […]

  4. Kim Spurlock
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    Just discovered your blog through the Hapa Kitchen website! It is totally great!!

  5. […] Karol, David and I will be manning the mic and passing out plates at the next Food Obstructions, the only cook-off (we know of) based on a little-known film experimentation called The Five Obstructions. It’ll […]

  6. […] time once again, folks. The Food Obstructions III is happening at The Gutter on Sunday, February 7th, and of course we’re giving it a corny […]

  7. Jeff
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    funny. I like it.
    That is a great concept and a very interesting movie. Von Trier, baby.

  8. […] right before my lovely computer went kaput, I cooked for two different competitions, the Food Obstructions and the Casserole Crazy Party. Both were equally fun and interesting, with different vibes at both. […]

  9. […] I have hosted a Food Obstructions, the cooking competition based on five ever-changing rules. It started out in November at The Gutter, and we held two more Food Obstructions there over the following months. […]

  10. hmong cooking
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    Keep up the good work. Helpful info on your post and interesting too.

  11. […] Combined, a perfect pairing, and a winning team. Congrats, guys. And let’s host another Food Obstructions soon — one of the five rules: must have a hot […]

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