The Cookbook Club Competition

Cookbook Clubs have become a "thing". Here in Singapore, we're taking it to a whole different level. By making it a competition.

It started easily enough. A random WhatsApp message between a group of friends suggesting that we try a Cookbook Club. What a great idea! We are a highly social bunch here in Singapore so an idea like this would work well. Basically a potluck with friends but each of us cooking a recipe or two from the same cookbook. An easy and fun way to hang out and help take the pressure off the host. All of us are incredibly passionate about our food so what better way for us to enjoy time together and try new things.

“The idea behind Cookbook Club is a simple one—a group of friends all make recipes from the same book and gather to share the results, a crowdsourced feast.”

This was the quote from the original link that my friend sent out to us. You can read the full article here.

Sign me up“, I said, because what could be simpler. I also loved the idea of having lots of food around a central cookbook/theme without having to make it all myself. A couple more WhatsApp messages went back and forth, all of us keen to get this going but then someone said, “we could make this a competition“. And that is how our Cookbook Club Competition was born. It is now a competition of epic proportions!

We all met one evening to discuss some ground rules. Also to look at the selected cookbook that we would all cook from. This was conveniently left behind by the cookbook’s owner… (hmmm). While I knew that my friends were highly competitive people, I didn’t count on the intensity of these negotiations! There was trash talk, there was argument over the minutiae of details, people wanted a medal or an award statue, there was finger pointing at unhelpful partners. Even threats were issued to buy out all the ginger on the whole island. By the end of the night, we were all turned into frienemies over this competition but we all left excited by the challenge.

david-thomson-thai-food-cover-865

David Thomson’s beautiful silk covered Thai Food cookbook. As you can see, it is very much loved already.

Here are the facts: 

  • There are five couples in the competition (meet the teams below).
  • The cookbook we are are cooking from is Thai Food by David Thompson (see also the restaurant review of Long Chim by David Thomson).
  • The date has been set for the 19th of November.

Rules and regulations:

  1. This is a couples competition with two people competing as one team. The division of labour within the team is up to each team to decide.
  2. The team members themselves are required to do all preparation and cooking as well as presentation of the dish. No help is allowed by anyone else other than to shop for the ingredients and help clean up.
  3. Each team will cook two dishes from the Thai Food cookbook. For future competitions, this may be reduced to one depending on the cuisine.
  4. Each couple will vote on each dish except the ones they prepared themselves.
  5. Voting criteria will be one out of five for the overall flavour of the dish or dishes.
  6. The team with the highest total number of votes wins.
david-thomson-thai-food-dessert

Perhaps one of the desserts on competition night. This recipe is from David Thomson’s Thai Food cookbook.

Meet our teams:

Kell and Sal
This team’s reputation preceeds them. Many a long dinner has been held at their home and they are also the authors of the following recipes on ordinarypeople.inkLabour of Love, A Family’s Traditional Vietnamese Pho Recipe and Delicious Taiwanese Style Dumplings Recipe, Hand Folded with Care. I dare say that they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Jules and Ed
Another team worth contending with. They hold the title for the best EVER lasagne. Jules also won her latest culinary team building contest last November and many of us refuse to do a roast because it would never live up to the Jules and Ed standard.

Mehru and Noon
The diversity from this couple astounds. From the perfect roast chicken to a Pakistani feast, I would almost dare add the title of “Hostess with the Mostest” to their repertoire, that is, if it would not offend the rest of the teams. Not to be upstaged by his talented wife, Noon has also won a team building culinary challenge.

Angela and G
Besides being crazy about food and coffee, my team is just along for the ride. If something is to go wrong, it will be with us because, for one, G is The Vegetarian so anything meat related is pure guesswork on our part. I am a book cook so the cookbook component may play to my strengths. I wouldn’t rule us out but we are definitely not the front runners.

Ann and Julius
I personally have not tasted anything from Ann and Julius’s kitchen but I have been promised that Julius is a superb cook. The dark horses, they were originally intended to be the random judge couple but instead insisted on participating in the competition. I think the lure of bragging rights in the event of a win was just too much to resist.

Start your own Cookbook Club Competition

If you’re in Singapore and the idea of your own Cookbook Club Competition or just a simple, friendly Cookbook Club intrigues you, then join us. Email cookbookclub@vanillabeige.com and let us know you’re interested.


If you would like to sponsor or participate in this competition, suggest or donate a book for future rounds, please email cookbookclub@vanillabeige.com.

Feature image is a picture of the competition cookbook, David Thomson’s Thai Food cookbook.

Angela Manners loves finding an interesting story and talking to people about what they are passionate about. She is Australian but was born in Bangkok, grew up in Southeast Asia and then studied in America. Angela is passionate about coffee, food and everything that surrounds them.
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