If you’re in a relationship like mine where one of you can’t cook and the other has a natural talent for it, you understand that cooking for each other on date night is usually pretty one-sided (I’m the one who can’t cook). I wanted to do something special for date night. Our comfort cooking show is Chopped, so we decided to go head to head and make it a Chopped-style date night and see who’s dish would be on the chopping block. 

The Rules

The Chopped baskets often have interesting ingredients like mystery jelly beans, whole chicken in a can, and scrapple, but we stuck with ingredients we know to avoid wasting money on things we don’t know how to cook. We also decided we only had 15 minutes to cook our dishes.

The Ingredients

We started by heading to the grocery store. When we were grabbing our ingredients for our Chopped-style date night, I had a feeling I knew what he wanted to make for his dish but decided to concentrate on what I needed to make my dish. We ended up skipping the appetizer round because we forgot to buy ingredients for it. I was too busy contemplating if I should get Lunchables before grabbing frozen broccoli, jarred garlic, red pepper flakes, and angel hair pasta noodles. I was going to make a very simple pasta using a recipe I got from a family friend.

The Competition

When we got back to the house, we set out our ingredients and started a timer for about 15 minutes.

While there was no panel of judges making small talk in front of us, we had other judges, his two dogs, that were waiting for us to drop food. Those judges were a little more intense than the ones you see on Food Network.

Normally, it feels like my boyfriend can just look at ingredients, and it magically turns into a dish. But that night, it took him some time to rinse off the pre-seasoned pulled pork he needed for the sandwich he was making, which gave me the lead when it came down to time.

I was not an elegant-looking chef when I was cooking. I completely missed the boiling pot of water when dumping in the pasta, like Linguini from Ratatouille. It set me behind by a couple of minutes as I dug the noodles out from underneath the heat shields on the stove. My boyfriend kindly stopped his cooking to help me, which was cute, but also put him behind. He told me I was banned from pouring pasta from now on.

As my pasta was cooking, he fried the meat he needed for his dish on the stove, and I was adding more garlic to the broccoli I was sautéing. Seven minutes had flown by already, but by then I was getting the plates out for both of us. I finished with minutes to spare but didn’t take my food off the heat because I didn’t want it to get cold.

The Results

My boyfriend ended up making a Cuban sandwich. He brought the flavor to Flavortown and did an excellent job doing it. I give him credit for making rinsed pulled pork taste amazing, like an authentic Cuban sandwich with real roast pork. We didn’t have any judges to decide whose dish was on the chopping block, but I think his dish won the night.

I asked my boyfriend if he liked my pasta, and he said it tasted great but the only problem was the dish was cold and needed to be warmed up again. Once we were done doing the dishes, we treated ourselves to ice cream. That was the true star of the night because it meant no more dishes.


For this special Chopped-style date night, we could’ve given ourselves a little more time, but besides that, it’s always incredibly fun to cook for each other. Who knows? Next time I might get my pasta-pouring privileges.