Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Ritz Cracker Competition- Dinner Party

Every now and then there is an event I just know I have to be a part of.

A few weeks ago I got an email that was an invitation for a dinner party. It was all very mysterious and intriguing. The hosts would be cooking a “New American” meal for everyone but first there would be a Ritz Crackeroff. What exactly was a Ritz Crackeroff? If you chose to participate you would have 30 minutes to assemble toppings of your choice on a Ritz Cracker. The crackers would then be voted by your peers and the one winner with the most votes would be referred to as whatever moniker they preferred for the rest of the evening. In this case it would be either “Your Highness,” “Your Majesty,” or “Your Master.”

Host Chef Albert
I arrived at the location, an apartment building in Brooklyn, without knowing who’s apartment I was going to, a contact phone number, or an apartment number. Puzzled, my friend and I scrolled through e-mails to find a way to contact our mutual friend. The doorman, amused by us, saved the day by saying, “You must be here for Albert. There are already a few people who have shown up.” 

Off we went with eyebrows raised. We had no idea what to expect only that in New York this was common. You show up with an open mind and just go with the flow. The Ritz Cracker competition was about to begin.

There were eight of us participating. We had all brought our own ingredients and got to work. We were permitted use of the kitchen and whatever gadgets or appliances we needed. I had practiced my recipe earlier in the day. I called it A Picnic in Tuscany. My concoction was cream cheese based. I soaked sun dried tomatoes in olive oil and chopped them up in a blender. I threw in red pepper flakes for spice. I mixed the tomatoes with cream cheese and let it sit in the refrigerator to form. For assembly, I put a dollop of sun dried tomato cream cheese on top of the Ritz cracker and topped it with a pinch of dried basil and jalapeno cheddar pepperoni. The result was favorable. Everyone said it belonged at an Oscar party.

A Picnic in Tuscany
I was amazed at everyone’s creation. None of us knew what each other was bringing. In fact, the majority of us were meeting for the very first time. Some did savory recipes. Some did sweet. A few drew from their cultures for inspiration and some were fueled purely by determination to impress. In the end we had a full on meal of Ritz Crackers from appetizers and main courses to dessert.

Which one would you vote for?
We had cucumber shrimp salad, salmon and lox, Thanksgiving, A Picnic in Tuscany, Thai Mango chili, red wine figs and brie, ribs with sour cream, and chocolate ganache with cannoli filling. Everyone was given 20 Ritz Crackers. We had a choice between regular, low fat, and wheat Ritz Crackers. It was interesting to see how each was paired and even more fun tasting each contest entry.

Ribs flavored with Sriracha for a kick!
The winning Ritz Cracker was ribs with sour cream made by @Stellaaa. She has a new blog called Cooking With Stella. Hopefully, she will post her winning recipe! 

The Ritz Crackeroff turned out to be a huge success. We were all full from the tastings and had bonded over the shared experience. If you ever need an ice breaker to start a dinner party, this would be a great one. Of course, the delectable bites didn’t stop there. We then moved on to a full sit down dinner of salad, barbecue chicken, grits and chorizo, vegetables, and sugar pie. How I love dinner parties but this one really took the cake!


  1. What a neat idea for a party! Who new ritz crackers could be so gourmet?

  2. Superb idea for a neat and enjoyable dinner party with minimal efforts! I would like to try this out sometime for house party but recently have been seeking suggestions for my engagement party menu. Will get engaged soon at garden party Venues in San Francisco but I just can’t decide on a good menu. Please help.