Kitchen Stakes

Who will be crowned the greatest chef?

A game for 2 or more players, 1 acting as Judge. The other players are Chefs, describing how they work to Cook their Masterpiece and be crowned the greatest chef. The Judge describes the Results of their choices.

As a group, the players (Chefs and Judge) need to decide what kind of game they want to play. Think about the variations described at the end of the document and pick one that fits your desired play style - Solo, Teams, Multiple Courses, etc.

Players need to follow the instructions in Playing a Chef. Judges need to read Playing the Judge. Everyone needs to understand the basic flow of the game.

Playing a Chef

When you play a Chef, you are competing in a game show. Your combination of Ingredients and Tools needs to be the closest to the Judge’s Ideal Meal. To win the game, you need to cook.

What you have

You have 2 hands so you roll 2 dice (normal six-sided dice) to see what you’ve grabbed from the kitchen pantry. Roll them at the same time.

If you get a odd number, you get a rare ingredient.

If you get an even number, you get a special cooking apparatus.[a]

If your dice match, you get to have one more item than usual. Roll again with 3 dice. If all 3 dice match, you’re going to get 4 items. You have to roll all 4 dice at once and continue this process.

rare ingredient suggestions

Whole ostrich egg

Spicy Nigerian peppers

Tibetan long grain rice

Deep sea fish roe

Argentinian mountain boar belly

Scalded pygmy goat milk

special cooking apparatus suggestions

Blast chiller

Noodle press

Pressure cooker

Smoke infuser

Shaved ice machine

Sous vide cooker

How You Got Here

You have these cool things. How did you get them? Why are you competing in this show? Have some fun thinking about these things to set the mood for your game.

Playing the Game

The general flow of play is:

  1. Players describe how their Chefs try to Cook their Masterpieces (Try Things).
  2. The Judge describes how the show and the audience react. (Results).


To really play up the cooking game show concept, start by introducing the Chefs. Have a cool montage where each player describes their Chef, their cooking style, where they came from and how they plan to show they are the best.

Then introduce the Judge. This can be a single person or a whole panel of people that the person playing the Judge will act out.

Take Turns

During the game, take turns having players describe what their Chefs do and having the Judge describe the Results. Go through what each Chef is doing and give everyone a chance to shine. When the Chef makes a decision about how they Cook their Masterpiece the player describes it. They can describe it however they want- with lots of action, very calm and deliberate, humorous with unintended effects- it’s whatever they want.

Every time it’s your turn, you Try one Thing. See Trying Things for your options. At the end of the round, you will have committed or converted one of your items.

When the Judge describes the Results, they talk about how the people officiating the competition, the audience and the crew react.

Cooking Your Masterpiece

You need to cook. To do so you’re going to need some items. If you got what you needed, great. You just have to keep them.

If you didn’t get what you need, or if you lose it on the way, then you need to find things.

To cook, at the end of the story you need to have the correct combination of items. If you do, you win. If you don’t, you lose.

Cooking  is not something you do all at once. For example, if you need to have a rare ingredient and a cooking apparatus to cook with, you could do the following:

  1. Use the rare ingredient to come up with a tasty recipe.
  2. Use the cooking apparatus to make it sizzle..

Trying Things

To Cook Their Masterpiece, the Chefs are going to try things. They have 2 choices in how to proceed. They can either:

  1. Give up one of their items in the expected way.

This means that a cooking apparatus is used to cook (a fryer fries) or a rare ingredient is used as an ingredient (lychees used in lychee-infused pork tenderloin).

When the player makes this choice, they have commited the item. The Judge will narrate the scene until the item is no longer of use, then the player will set the item to the side to show it is now committed.

For example, if the Chef is now using the fryer, they prepare their dish by frying, then the item is committed and cannot be used further or taken back.

  1. Trade 2 items of 1 kind for 1 of the other.

If the players want to trade 2 cooking apparatuses for a rare ingredient or vice versa, they may do so. The Judge will narrate a scene where that happens.

For example, trading a fryer and a knife to get a rare dragonfruit ingredient, the Judge could narrate a scene where the Chef goes to an opponent and makes the trade..[b]

  1. Use an item to attempt to get an item of the other type. Roll a new die. If you roll the result you want, you get what you desire. For example, lose 1 rare ingredient to gain 1 cooking apparatus. If you get what you want, great! If not, you’re stuck with what you had.

Raising the Stakes

When you have more items than you think you need, you can Raise the Stakes. Your remaining items can be used to add flourishes and special touches to really show off what you’re capable of. Basically, you should use every item you have to get the best possible result.

Playing The Judge

Being the Judge is different from being a Chef. Judges win when everyone plays the game and has a good experience. They should understand the ways they can act in the game and what is considered a ‘winning’ result. As the Judge, you need to treat all players fairly and respect the rules. You need to make sure players know when they’re making progress and when they’re about to succeed or fail. You can remind them of rules but don’t Judge their decisions.

Setting the Stakes

Follow the rules for the number of dice used to Set the Stakes in one of the Kitchen Stakes variations below. There are lots of different ways to determine the winning combination!

Once you know how to do it, roll dice and examine the results.

If you roll an odd number, they need a rare ingredient.

If you roll an even number, they need a special cooking apparatus.

If all the dice match, add an item to what the Chefs need to Cook their Masterpiece. That means if you’re rolling 2 dice and they match, the Chefs now need 3 items to Cook their Masterpiece. Roll 3 dice to see what they need.

If you have just 1 Chef, roll 2 dice but keep them different (color, location) and if they match, the Chef needs 2 items to cook. Roll 2 dice and find out what they need. Ignore other matches.

The default position of the game is that Chefs will not know what they need in order to Cook their Masterpiece. Record the results and let the Chefs complete them in any order.

The Judge will inform Chefs of the success or failure of their choices by marking progress.

If the Results of play include making progress towards Cooking their Masterpiece, be sure to show that. Keeping players informed of the progress required to Cook their Masterpiece can be a good way to keep the tension in play low and make sure everyone has fun.

Describe Results

The Chefs describe how they try to Cook their Masterpiece. They can make up locations and assistants, talk about their processes and describe everything they want about what they do. As Judge, you describe the results.

For example, when the Chefs use a ice cream maker to make a delicious gelato, you describe what the result looks like.

When the players make progress towards Cooking their Masterpiece, Mark Progress, but also describe the scene. How does the using the ice cream maker go?  In the above example, when the Chefs got the ice cream maker, they made progress. As Judge, you mark it where the players can see it, then describe what the result was. Maybe the gelato was perfect. Maybe it wasn’t but the Chef turned it into a quick ice instead. The Judge might be especially fond of desserts, or they might hate them - but love this dessert.

Mark Progress

To show the Chefs that they are getting closer to the end of the story, you need to Mark Progress. For each of the dice you rolled to establish the stakes in the game, leave a visible marker on the play surface. This could be a progress bar, a set of markers like plastic skulls or game pieces, or a set of coins that get turned over or removed with each play.

Marking Progress is one of the ways the Judge can communicate to the Chefs how hard this cooking challenge is. If you have 2 progress markers up, they know they need 2 items to win. You can also think about using keywords to describe the challenge; saying ‘cook a unique meal’ might mean you want a rare ingredient while ‘show your best technique’ might mean you need a cooking apparatus.

The End

The Final Item

When you get to the last item the Chefs need to cook, you have to make it big. Narrate a scene filled with tension and excitement. Play up the importance of the item and how it makes a difference. Make things sound amazing. Let the players describe their Chefs’ actions but you describe the Results.


Not every group of Chefs will win. If your group does not, make their final scene exciting and end on a cliffhanger. Describe the Results and when the Chefs find out they don’t have what they need, fade out on a scene that goes to black as the Chefs are knocked out of the competition....


Sometimes you get lucky. If the Chefs have what they need at the end, they cook. Describe where they find themselves and what they’ve done. It’s a success, but will they want to compete again? They might be challenged once more.

Variations on the Cooking Game

Solo Challenges

When you have just 1 Chef and 1 Judge, consider one of these solo play options:


There is no Judge! Roll 2 dice to set the stakes and leave the dice under a cup. Both players describe how they Cook their Masterpieces. Compare your results to the stakes to see who was closest.

Challenge Mode

The Judge simulates both the cooking judges and another Chef! They can roll dice to see how the opposition does and if the player Chef wins the competition. Roll for the items the opposing Chef has.Set the stakes with 2 dice.


Chefs compete in teams of 2 or more. For each Chef on a team the Judge rolls 1 die to Set the Stakes, plus 1 additional die. For example, with teams of 2 and 2 players, the Judge sets the stakes with 3 dice.

Multiple Course Challenge

Chefs are competing to cook a whole meal, not a single course! The competition will be a 3 course challenge. For each course, the Chefs roll to find out what they have and the Judge sets the stakes with 2 dice. The winner is the Chef who wins the most rounds. Need a tie-breaker? Finish the game with a sudden death challenge.

Sudden Death Challenge

Each Chef gets only 1 die to roll for what they have and the Judge rolls only 1 die to set the stakes.

Collaborative Challenge

This version is based on the original rules for the collaborative survival game Stakes.

 At the start of the game, roll 1 die for each Chef. The entire group of Chefs pool their items and make their choices; they need to get as close to the stakes as possible.

Elimination Challenge

If you’re playing Kitchen Stakes over multiple sessions, have an elimination challenge. Each game the player create Chefs and try to prove their cooking prowess; the next session the winner plays the same Chef but everyone else creates new Chefs. See who can stay the top Chef the longest! You can set the stakes according to the style of cooking challenge (solo, teams, multiple course, collaborative) you are using.


Kitchen Stakes - a Short RPG by Hans Chun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Based on a work at

[a]considering changing this to a 'flavor' or 'flavor profile' to reflect unique cooking styles instead of tools.

[b]This is most appropriate with shared resources, such as the Team version of the game described below. Otherwise players are spending enough resources that it may not be enjoyable.