Organization is my middle name – or get ready for the Paper Chef!

Ha ha ha ha! If anyone I know well ever reads this, please accept my apologies for the bump from where you fell off your chair.

But I am being organized just this once.

Paper Chef is coming up Friday September 2nd. I have a host of constitutional and philosphical issues to sort out before then (OK – one or two) since I have been asked for clarification re judging and the ‘competition’ side of it. So in the spirit of the brotherhood and sisterhood of the Paper Chef and in the spirit of building a groundswell of consensus from the thousands (OK tens) of you out there who have an opinion, I am opening up the discussion. First, I only decided to have it be a competition because I thought the teeny tiny competitive edge would bring out the best in everyone – the ‘I want to show my fellow food bloggers how well I can do with this…’

That seems to have more than succeeded, so I am willing to consider making it all non-competitive. The only issue with that is that I think everyone who judges likes judging!

That brings up the issue of rational criteria and a level playing field for all. This one is tougher. Since we don’t get to taste the recipes and since everything is subjective, I’m not sure we CAN do that. I’d prefer to put the burden back on all the judges. I think we should do multiple awards (everyone’s a winner) but still pick an overall personal favorite for the main title. I guess it is just nice to have that winner=judge chain thing going on.

But let me know what you all think. I don’t want to get anyone or anything all bent out of shape about this.


  1. Although it would be difficult to please everyone, I asked myself three questions when judging:

    1. Is the dish something I would pay money to eat?
    2. Are the theme ingredients highlighted?
    3. Do I wish I would have thought to make this?

    It is a very subjective competition…but it also just for fun. No one really wins or loses. I assume past judges used similiar criteria?

  2. Owen,

    I like the uncertain element of the judging. I think it’s very much in the spirit of the event itself.

    That said, it is nice to know how it was judged after the fact.

    And can I get a logo?


  3. I like the uncertainty of judging. Perhaps one way to approach it would be to have that month’s judge write a few sentences on what they’ll be looking for on their blog as the ingredients are announced.

    In my case, I was looking for a healthy respect for each of the ingredients, and whether I would be tempted by that dish in a restaurant.

    I also agree that judges should be encouraged to give out multiple awards. I feel as though I could easily have given 2 or 3 more (beyond the 2 honorable mentions I already gave).

  4. Although I have yet to participate in a PaperChef, I have been following them and I really like the judging. I think it’s fun, makes everything more interesting, rotates the write-ups. And it has to be subjective; there can be no objectivity for something like this, so it’s just fun to see what different people find enticing.

  5. I do Paper Chef for fun of it and so far had a great time learning about ingredients and trying ideas from everybody. It’s an opportunity (or a lame excuse) to try something different instead of plain everyday sphaghetti and sauce.

    I like the idea of mulitple awards, not so much about “winning”, but it’s about letting a blog owner or interested bloggers know the terrific aspect of the entry. It’s about learning, sharing and community. For example, I like the following “awards” (presented in a fun manner):
    – Creative writing/story telling
    – Photography, not necessarily professional, but as long as the picture tells a story of the Paper Chef attempt, success or failure (Noodle Cook is famous for the latter)
    – Food styling, presentation, or plating up, where a picture is helpful, but a description of how to serve up also acceptable.
    – Healthy dishes or description of how the dish can be made heathier like reduction in fat, salt etc

    The above awards by people’s choice instead of a judge?

    The overall winner, I suggest to leave up to the creativity of reigning judge to decide in a fun manner the criteria for the month on top of dishes meeting the theme ingredients. Of course taking into account the judge’s subjective perception of edibility and reproducibility. For me, I’ll put creative cooking on top of the criteria list. Others may like criteria like budget, time frame etc

    I don’t know how everyone feels about having a celebrity chef or otheriwse invited as a guest judge. Can be great fun, so long there is no commercialisation…

  6. Noodle cook – thank you for your lengthy and thoughtful answers – same for everyone else, too. I’m going to wait to see if anyone else speaks up and it is great to see people interested in making this all a good experience for everyone

  7. Hi Owen…I’m posting a condensed, slightly revised version of the email I sent you on this topic earlier, since you asked for comments on the site:

    …as a new food blogger I enjoy the Paper Chef…Kevin of Seriously Good and I were recently talking about how participation in this and similar events has challenged us and helped us to get to new places with our cooking.

    I like the model being used for the ‘Does My Blog Look Good in This?’ competition…(5 judges score 1-10 on 3 different aspects of the entry, highest total score wins). With the publication of the scores in DMBLGIT everyone who enters can learn something, since everyone gets clear feedback and thus learns how their contribution is viewed by their peers. I think, in fact, that scoring everyone would de-emphasize the “winning” aspect, since the way it is now there is one winner …and everyone else. With a score system, the winner is just the one who got the highest overal score, with the (usually very small) differences between the winner and the others readily visible…

    I love the Paper Chef already…but I think it would be a more valuable learning experience with this approach. Thanks for creating and hosting this wonderful event…

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