Photo credit: StockFood / Frank Wieder
It may have started with your first taste of salted caramel, then got a little more serious when you discovered the classic combination of chicken and waffles. Now, after nursing a SERIOUS addiction to bacon-chunk chocolate bars, you’re ready. It’s time to throw a DIY potluck mashups party with some like-minded friends who have far-reaching palates and fertile imaginations.
But where to start? Throwing a mashups party at your home is a great way to test your creativity—as well as the limits of your tastebuds and culinary imagination. Here are a few tips to set you on your way to mashup-ville.
PICK A THEME
Instead of considering the whole wide world of food, pick a core dish and invite friends to riff on it. Like barbecue? Smoke a couple of pork shoulders and make them your focus. Fan of Italian red sauce? Whip up a pot as your centerpiece. Want to explore the limits of the great American sausage? Imagine the weirdest hot dog variations, then go for it.
SET HOUSE RULES
Is your gathering a good-natured fling involving kitchen experimentation, or a competition where bragging rights are involved? If it’s the latter, consider judging criteria ahead of time. (Example: habañero-loving competitors must sample 3 bites of their own fiery concoctions.)
GIVE GUESTS THINKING TIME
If you depend on the element of surprise, you’ll likely get a LOT of dishes that are either boring or borderline inedible. If your guests know the basic outlines of the meal/competition, you’ll likely get better (and more palatable) entries.
KEEP PORTIONS SMALL
No one wants 20 bites of something insane; consider doling out portions on the tiny side, all the better to encourage experimentation with limited “big plate” investment.
CONSIDER THE FLAVORS
Successful dishes will likely play on contrasting and complementary flavors, so give your guests a few ingredients as a head start with salty, sweet, hot, tangy, and spicu options. Condiments and little spice containers can come in really handy here. Consider: exotic pickles, dark chocolate sauce, obscure hot sauces, complex spice rubs, donuts for buns, graham crackers, etc.
"We’ll provide ________ for the party. You are welcome to bring other ingredients, props or strange outfits."
HAVE A SOLID FALLBACK
As people try to push the envelope of flavor and texture, they’ll likely end up with hilarious dishes that are closer to performance art than a solid supper. Have a more standard dinner option baked into the plan (such as burgers for the grill), and always keep the local pizza delivery guy on speed-dial.
But where to start? To get a whole range of ideas for extreme mashups, watch the new season of Frankenfood, a food competition show hosted by Chefs Josh Capon and Tony Luke Jr., airing Sundays 10/9c on SpikeTV. Share your favorite mash ups at #frankenfood.