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Cooking is a game to Iron Chef Michael Symon

December 28, 2009 |  8:59 am

No doubt about it, "Cooked or Be Cooked" is entertaining. After all, the new Wii game that throws down cooking challenges also lets you try to "poison" the judges with undercooked bacon and eggs. (Judges include the spot-on avatar of Food Network honcho Susie Fogelson.)

But can it really teach you how to cook?

Food Network Iron Chef Michael Symon, who consulted in the game's creation, was in Los Angeles earlier this year to unveil an early version to the media and said the game can indeed teach someone how to cook. To prove it, he demo-ed a chicken-and-broccoli stir fry by following the game. (At times, he actually fell behind, but in his defense he also was chitchatting with a crowd of onlookers and answering their cooking questions at the same time.) The game includes cooking tips and recipes, although it has been dinged in some corners for not including enough recipes.

Symon said the game held something for everyone: Inexperienced cooks will gain inspiration, and experienced cooks will no doubt struggle to make sure that everything arrives at the judging table at the same time. 

"People come up to me all the time and say, 'Oh, I love to watch Food Network,' and I ask them what they cook, and they say, 'I don't really cook.' They're afraid, they're intimidated, they know all about food from eating out and watching TV, but they don't know where to start in their own kitchen. This gives them a place to start."

Symon said he would like to see parents and kids playing the game together. First, because chances are that the kids will beat their less-tech-savvy parents, and that's always a fun thing. And also because "it's one step toward getting families back at the kitchen table together. That's something that we are losing in their country, and it would be great to get that back. Eating together as a family is very important, everyone knows that, now we have to do it."

If a family is having fun pretending to cook imaginary food, imagine how much fun they could have heading into the kitchen and cooking food they actually could eat, he said.

-- Rene Lynch  

Photo: Food Network