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A 'Top Chef' birthday party

January 26, 2009 |  3:53 pm

Topchef_3Kids' birthday parties are already kind of like reality television shows (endurance tests, sleep deprivation, food fights), so a "Top Chef" theme party is a stroke of genius. That's how my daughter and her friends from school celebrated Paysie's 11th birthday this past weekend. 

The 16 girls began by decorating aprons at art stations set up in the kitchen. Then they were divided up into groups of four (appetizer, side dish, main dish, dessert), and driven to a nearby Ralph's to shop for food. Back home, the fifth-graders prepped, cooked, assembled and presented dishes of their own design...

Amybruschetta Appetizers included this bruschetta with tomato-basil sauce. "The grown-ups did the grilling; we chopped stuff," reports my daughter. Among the sides were fruit kebabs and individual croissant sandwiches (below, check out the olives on those toothpicks!). A very popular cheese-tomato-pesto lasagna was one of the main courses ("they made their own pesto in a blender"). That's 16 girls, four teams, eight dishes, three adults. And for dessert?  Homemade chocolate mousse with coffee ice cream, raspberry sauce (also made in the blender; the extra was served with pancakes the next morning), and "strawberry sushi." Wonder what Tom and Padma would have made of that? 

Amysandwiches There was no elimination challenge because, of course, everybody wins.  Including the parents, who don't have to make dinner. "We only had one injury," said Paysie's mom, "a burned finger, and it was mine." When I picked up my daughter the next morning, the girls were watching the movie "Chocolat" in rapt silence. Chocolate and Johnny Depp. Wow. What an utterly fitting end to the party. 

-- Amy Scattergood

Photos: Roberta Wolff

Poster: Paysie Whitwell