Iron Chef for Kids
1. Fill your kitchen counter or a side table with a variety of pre-cooked, adaptable meal staples: rice, pasta, tortillas, chicken, cheese, soup stock, etc. The older the children involved, the more varied the available food should be.
2. Set up two separate stations with plenty of working room, and divide into teams (kids v. adults, or two teams of one child/one adult).
3. Reveal the mystery vegetable. It can be one the kids eat all the time, or a brand new vegetable they've never seen before. If it's a pretty standard veggie (like tomatoes or beans), encourage them to use it in a new way. If they've never eaten it before, allow them to taste it and give them a little bit of information (Can it be eaten raw? What country did it come from?).
4. Quickly go over some basic kitchen safety rules as appropriate for the kids' ages.
5. Set the timer for 30 minutes, and let the cooking begin! At the end, everyone can enjoy the results. Making dinner doesn't get more fun than this!
When working with younger children, the grown-ups should serve as assistants by doing the cutting and cooking at their request.
At the end, a judge can declare a winner based on appearance, taste and creativity. If there's no judge available, try taking pictures to put online, along with notes about how each dish tasted. Then, let grandparents, uncles, aunts, and friends who could not be there serve as competition judges.
For an outdoor version, set up a picnic table with all of the items, and have the grill fired up and ready for the grown-ups to cook food at the kids' command.