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8 Culinary School Games for High School and Middle School

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Unsurprisingly, middle and high school students love and learn from games and fun activities as much as little kids do! Culinary Arts does not have to be all notes, labs, or even cooking. You can incorporate games into your instruction, and your students will love you for it! You might be thinking of traditional board games, but you can incorporate cooking games, digital games, mobile devices, and more into your classroom. Students benefit from gamified instruction, whether higher culinary arts or simple concept cooking basics. 

Best Cooking Games for Your Students

Digital Escape Rooms are fun games that have your students learning about culinary skills, and you don’t need to do a ton of printing. We use these to reinforce the lesson and review essential topics. 

1- Food Safety Digital Escape Room– In this fun online breakout room, students work through clues about food safety, including food-borne illnesses, cross-contamination, kitchen safety, etc. This quickly can become one of your student’s favorite games as there is a competitive element to see which students “breakout” the fastest! Students must correctly find and type the clues to move to the next clue. The best part is you don’t have to do any grading with these interactive games. Additionally, it is a great way to review or introduce a dry but essential concept in your culinary arts curriculum.

free culinary arts lesson plans

Other similar games include Sugar Digital Escape Room, a free resource, Kitchen Math Digital Escape RoomReading a Recipe Digital Escape Room, and more! Read more about using digital escape room culinary games in our blog post. 

middle school culinary arts curriculum life skills cooking

2- Kitchen and Food Safety Board Game– During the back-to-school season, kitchen safety and food safety are among the most important topics to cover in culinary arts. If you prefer to stay off the computers or perhaps like both, this board game is easy to set up and will engage your students for an entire class period! It is one of the best games to play with your students if you want to avoid screen time and avoid a messy kitchen.

You only need a printer and some game pieces for students to play! Put the question cards and the game pieces in little baggies, and they are ready!

This set from Amazon is inexpensive!

The student with the high score wins, and the groups can play this simple game multiple times while answering questions about kitchen safety and food safety. This is also a great game for homeschool culinary arts middle school and high school students and can be played by the whole family! 

life skills cooking lessons high school culinary arts

3- Cooking Challenges– your students probably love the chance to get creative and love a challenge. These challenges, such as the Gourmet Ramen Challenge, are culinary games because they are fun cooking activities in that you can create a test-tasting judging scenario. You can give students packs of cheap Ramen and have many ingredients and food items to choose from. The brainstorming sheets included in this resource will help them set up their recipe. There is also a score sheet included and a rubric so that you can assign students a grade. You will be surprised at the new recipes students develop!

These cooking challenges are fun because students can gain confidence, grow in their love of cooking, and get excited about making good food for others. They even may try new things, such as spices and seasonings, that they may never have at home. 

culinary school games

4- Common Cooking Terms BINGO– This is a fun activity to help your students familiarize themselves with common cooking terms. Print each student a copy of the blank BINGO board and give them a copy of the cooking terms with the definitions. Have students fill in their BINGO board with cooking terms in any order they want. Cut the definitions and draw from them as you call out terms. The first student to fill in an entire board or 5 in a row wins!

Food Truck Project

5- Healthy Food Truck Challenge: Organize a role-playing game that does not include video games, where players become food truck owners. They must design menus that include healthy and unhealthy foods options while catering to customer preferences. This takes students to a new level of creating their food service operation. Here is how you can set it up:

  1. Planning and Preparation:
    • Determine the date, time, and location for the food truck challenge.
    • Create a budget for the event, considering the cost of ingredients, supplies, and prizes or awards.
    • Decide whether the challenge will be an individual competition or if students will work in teams.
    • Seek permission and support from school administrators and parents.
  2. Food Truck Themes:
    • Choose a specific theme for the food truck challenge. For example, it could be “International Cuisine,” “Healthy Meals,” “Comfort Foods,” or any other relevant theme that aligns with the curriculum. This allows students to create their art style and food theme and have fun creating their food truck design!
  3. Menu Planning:
    • Provide a list of approved ingredients that students can use for their food truck menus. Ensure that the ingredients align with the chosen theme.
    • Encourage students to plan balanced and creative menus that include appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. 
    • Have them make a grocery store list of items they will need.
  4. Food Safety Training:
    • Before the challenge, conduct a food safety training session for all participants. Cover topics such as proper handwashing, food handling, and sanitation practices.
    • Create a budget for the event, considering the cost of ingredients, supplies, and prizes or awards.
    • Decide whether the challenge will be an individual competition or if students will work in teams.
    • Seek permission and support from school administrators and parents.
  5. Determine the date, time, and location for the food truck challenge.
  6. Food Truck Set-up:
    • Arrange workstations or tables for each food truck team with necessary kitchen tools and equipment.
    • Assign mentors or supervising teachers to assist students during the challenge.
  7. Ingredients and Supplies:
    • Organize the ingredients and supplies for each team, ensuring they have access to the right ingredients and everything they need for their menus.
  8. Judging Criteria:
    • Establish clear judging criteria, including taste, presentation, creativity, adherence to the theme, and overall execution.
  9. Guest Judges:
    • Invite local chefs, culinary experts, or food enthusiasts to serve as guest judges for the event.
  10. Presentation:
    • Encourage students to create eye-catching food truck displays to present their dishes attractively.
  11. Event Day: Arrange workstations or tables for each food truck team with necessary kitchen tools and equipment.
  12. Assign mentors or supervising teachers to assist students during the challenge.
  13. On the day of the challenge, give each team a designated time to set up their food truck station and prepare their dishes.
  14. Allow students to present their dishes to the judges, explaining their menu choices and the inspiration behind their creations.
food truck project
  1. Evaluation and Awards:
  • Have the judges evaluate each food truck’s dishes based on the predetermined criteria.
  • Announce the winners and present awards or certificates to the top-performing teams or individuals.
  1. Post-Event Discussion:
  • After the challenge, hold a post-event discussion or reflection session to review the experience, what students learned, and areas for improvement.

Virtual Kitchen Internet Games

4- The Cooking Mama series of culinary games is a popular culinary game franchise that can benefit those interested in learning to cook. While it may not replace hands-on experience in a real kitchen, it does offer several advantages that can help aspiring cooks and food enthusiasts improve their culinary knowledge and skills. For students, it can support the following:

  1. Step-by-step Instructions: Cooking Mama provides detailed step-by-step instructions for preparing various dishes. Players are guided through the cooking process, which can be helpful for beginners to understand the sequence of tasks involved in creating a recipe.
  2. Familiarization with Ingredients: The game introduces players to various ingredients in different cuisines. This exposure can help players become familiar with various food items and their uses in cooking.
  3. Precision and Timing: Cooking Mama emphasizes precision and timing in cooking tasks. Players must follow the instructions accurately and complete tasks within a set time limit, which can improve their ability to multitask and manage cooking processes efficiently.

5- Diner Dash is a popular time management and restaurant business simulation game released in 2004. In Diner Dash, players take on the role of Flo, a hardworking waitress, as she strives to build and manage successful restaurants. It can give students an idea of what it is like to have their own restaurant. They can learn about:

  1. Restaurant Management: Players are tasked with managing a restaurant, which involves seating and serving customers, taking their orders, and delivering food to their tables. The goal is to keep the customers happy and satisfied.
  2. Time Management: The game operates on a time-based system, where players must complete tasks as a restaurant owner efficiently to ensure customer satisfaction. Customers have varying levels of patience, and if they are not served promptly, they may become impatient, reducing the player’s chances of earning higher tips. 
  3. Upgrades: As players progress through the levels, they can earn money and use it to upgrade their restaurants, purchase new furniture, and improve facilities. Customizing the restaurant can lead to better service and attract more customers, which, as far as restaurant games go, can be a great life lesson.
culinary school games

6- Cooking Academy 2: World Cuisine – A sequel to Cooking Academy, this fun game takes players on a global culinary journey, introducing them to diverse cuisines and cooking techniques from different countries. If you teach International Cuisines, this game could be a fun way to take your students to another place! Unfortunately, you can’t play this on web browsers, so you’ll have to allow phone or iPad use, but this can be a great early finishers option. A fun cooking game that doesn’t make a mess, what could be better? This game could work for culinary arts students as it is  good exposure to:

  1. Introduction to Culinary Techniques: The game provides a virtual platform for culinary arts students to familiarize themselves with various cooking techniques. It offers step-by-step instructions and interactive mini-games that simulate chopping, slicing, sautéing, and other essential culinary actions.
  2. Diverse Recipe Collection: Cooking Academy features various recipes and new ingredients from different cuisines worldwide. Students can explore and learn about various dishes, ingredients, and flavor combinations, broadening their culinary knowledge.
  3. Skill Practice: The game allows students to practice their cooking skills in a risk-free and engaging environment. Students can build confidence and competence in the kitchen by completing cooking challenges and perfecting their techniques.

7- Good Pizza, Great Pizza- This pizza shop simulation game allows players to run their pizzeria to take orders, make pizzas, and interact with customers. It allows for students to have an:

  1. Introduction to Pizza Making: The game offers a fun and interactive way for students to learn about the art of making pizzas. It introduces them to various pizza styles, crust types, and toppings, providing a foundation for understanding pizza preparation.
  2. Hands-On Pizza Assembly: In the game, students actively participate in making pizzas by choosing ingredients, preparing the dough, adding toppings, and baking the pizzas. This hands-on approach allows them to virtually experience the steps in creating a pizza.
  3. Customer Interactions: Students must interact with virtual hungry customers, take customer orders, and accurately fulfill their requests. This aspect of the game helps develop communication skills and customer service abilities.
  4. Time Management: Good Pizza, Great Pizza operates on a time-based system, requiring students to manage their time efficiently to serve customers promptly. This aspect of the game teaches students the importance of time management in a culinary setting
  5. Creativity and Customization: The game encourages creativity by allowing students to experiment with various toppings and create custom pizza recipes. This aspect fosters culinary creativity and exploration of flavor combinations.
  6. Understanding Food Costs: Students running their virtual pizza shop must manage their budget and balance ingredient costs. This game element teaches them about budgeting and the importance of cost control in a restaurant setting.
  7. Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking: Students encounter various challenges and customer preferences in the game. They must think critically and come up with solutions to ensure customer satisfaction.
  8. Visual and Sensory Experience: The game’s appealing visuals and sound effects create an immersive experience, making the learning process enjoyable and engaging for middle school students.
  9. Real-World Applications: Although the game is virtual, the skills and knowledge acquired can be applied to real-life pizza making and potentially inspire students to explore culinary arts further.
  10. Low-Stakes Learning: Good Pizza, Great Pizza allows students to practice and refine their pizza-making skills in a low-stress environment. They can make mistakes, learn from them, and improve without real-world consequences. Overall, Good Pizza, Great Pizza offers an interactive and educational experience that introduces middle school students to pizza-making and restaurant management basics. It can serve as a supplemental learning tool for culinary arts education, sparking interest and curiosity about the culinary world.

Are you interested in materials ready to go for this activity? Check out our culinary arts food truck project activity. It includes everything you need for the project except for the ingredients! 

It includes a brainstorming sheet, rubric, the history of food trucks presentation, questions, and more! Read more about including a food truck challenge in your high school culinary arts curriculum here!

Why Culinary Arts Games?

Gamification adds an element of fun and interactivity to the learning process, making it more engaging and enjoyable for students. This can increase their motivation to learn about culinary arts and explore different aspects of cooking. Also, games allow students to experiment with small tasks and big tasks and learn from their mistakes without real-life consequences. They can try different approaches to cooking and discover the outcomes, promoting a sense of curiosity and exploration. Culinary arts games often include recipes and ingredients from different cuisines worldwide, exposing students to diverse cultures and culinary traditions. 

Virtual simulations and hands-on games such as the food truck project and kitchen and food safety board games can save costs on ingredients and resources while still providing valuable learning experiences for students. These games can inspire students to pursue careers in the culinary industry by giving them a taste of what it’s like to work in a kitchen and run a restaurant. They can complement traditional culinary education by providing practical reinforcement of concepts learned in the classroom without the cost and mess of actually cooking.

Obviously, these should be in conjunction with actual food labs and cooking experiences based on your budget, kitchen facilities, and your student’s abilities. These can be an excellent option for when small groups are cooking, and you need other groups to stay occupied while you help the cooking group. In a perfect world, we would all have kitchen space to accommodate our extensive classes, but that is not always the case. 

Additionally, many culinary arts games are available on various platforms, including computers, tablets, and smartphones, making them easily accessible to students both in and outside of the classroom. If you are out and need sub plans or a day to grade papers, projects, etc., these games can help you keep your students engaged and learning and allow you a break from direct instruction. Always check with the administration to ensure you can play games, especially online simulation games, before adding them to your plans. 

Overall, the gamification of culinary arts can enhance the learning journey for middle and high school students, fostering a deeper appreciation for cooking, promoting culinary skills, and potentially igniting a lifelong passion for the culinary arts.

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