3… 2… 1… Cook Off!

by Amanda Cupp on September 15th, 2015


It’s that time of year! Cook-offs everywhere are starting their initial planning stages. In this industry, cook-offs are a great way to engage your residents and to get your whole community involved in something yummy.

‘Tis the season for chili. If you do a quick Google search, millions of results appear for award winning chili recipes. Since they are not in short supply, this is the perfect fall cook-off theme. Whether your community has participated in chili cook-offs in the past or you are a first-timer, here are five tips that will spice up your community’s cooking event.

  1. Request Sign-Ups

You don’t want to launch a chili cook-off without having an idea of how many cooks and how many tasters will be in showing. Have a sign-up sheet in your main office. To receive higher visibility, start promoting your event around the same time rent checks are due. That way, you will get plenty of traffic coming into your office. Also, you can promote the event on your social media sites using hashtags (ex. #CuppCookOff2015) for tracking purposes. Make sure that is unique for your community to avoid any confusion.

  1. Assign Judges and Prizes

What’s a chili cook-off without a little friendly competition? Judges are a great way to keep the competition fair. Assign three to five people to be on the judge’s panel, preferably non-residents. From management to maintenance, this is a great opportunity to get more face time with your residents.

Bragging rights are great and all, but nothing increases participation more than the word “free”. Promote some fabulous prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners. Prizes can range from gift cards to one month of free rent. It all depends on what you are comfortable with spending.

  1. Determine the Location

This is where the number of sign-ups come in handy. Depending on the number of cooks, you will need a space with plenty of outlets. Bring extra extension cords so you provide enough power for all of your entries. If your community has a recreational room, this is the perfect space for your cook-off. If the weather is in your favor, move the party outside. Some bales of hay can make your cook off more festive, while providing inexpensive seating.

  1. Provide Other Refreshments

Since your residents will be providing the chili, it’s important to consider some other things that you can provide to make your event the best that it can be. Consider grilling out some hot dogs and providing vegetarian options for those who do not eat meat. Chili is hot, so your residents will need something to wash it down (free booze is always a party favorite). If you want to keep the alcohol controlled, use drink tickets to ensure your residents drink responsibly. If your community is more relaxed, set out coolers with free drinks or put BYOB on the invite.

  1. Ask for Feedback

Feedback will always be your community’s best friend. During and after the cook-off, ask your residents if they are enjoying/enjoyed the event and how you can make it better. They will appreciate you asking and it will make them feel that much more involved. They may even have some other great ideas that you can implement.

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