If you have created your food challenge from scratch using your own ideas and there are no similar existing challenges around that you based your challenge design off, how do you know your challenge will work? You may have even followed all of the rules, ideas, and guidelines on this website, but the only true way to know that you put together a good challenge is to test the challenge before officially starting it. It’s much easier to make changes before you actually set the challenge, create all of the advertisements and challenge rule images, and officially announce all the details. You don’t want to get 7 challenges in and realize that its way too easy, way too hard, or just not a good challenge in general. Therefore, you should find people to test your challenge beforehand so that you can then be sure and confident that all of the important details work well together.

Especially if your restaurant has been open for a while, I’m sure you have had a few local people inside your restaurant that you know can eat a lot. They may be local high school or college football players or other athletes in training (yes the stereotype does apply here), or just people in general that like to eat. If you are starting a spicy challenge, I’m sure you know of a few people that love spicy food too. A few of these people may even come in for some food 2 or 3 times per month. Contact these people and see if they are interested in attempting your new challenge idea. They are providing you with a service, so hopefully you weren’t really considering charging them for the meal. How many people are really going to turn down a tasty free meal?

There are multiple reasons to test your challenge. One big reason is to give your kitchen staff an opportunity to prepare the meal so that they can time everything out correctly. Then they can practice putting the challenge together to make it ready to be served to customers. If the entire meal takes 45 minutes to prepare, the chefs cannot just cook everything at the same time. People don’t want a scalding hot burger served with cold fries or chips. If the challenge has many layers, this test will allow the staff to figure out how to add all of the toppings and make your dish look presentable. If you have a tall burger that just keeps falling over, the test will help you realize that you might need to purchase skewers to hold everything together. One thing about big challenges is that sometimes they don’t get served very often, especially if you don’t let groups order the challenge meal to split. If the cooks have not had much experience preparing everything, there is a good chance that something will go wrong, causing the meal to not taste very good. The hardest thing for a cook to perfect is large pieces of meat, whether it be a large steak or burger patty. It can be very tough to cook a 2kg patty of beef so that it is cooked all the way through but still juicy and edible. This test will help the kitchen staff know whether anything needs to be fixed in regards to preparing the challenge meal. You need to make sure your chefs can prepare it!!

Hopefully you found 3 or more people (or teams) to test your challenge, especially if it is not massive and expensive to prepare. You will want 3 or more so that you can critique the challenge afterwards more easily. If you are wanting to have a special presentation ceremony while bringing out the challenge, you can practice this too. Many restaurants play a particular song when a challenge is being served, just to add some additional fun and excitement. This is also a perfect opportunity for you to take pictures of the challenge for all of the new advertisements you are about to prepare (please see the Marketing A Challenge section). You can also now produce a video of the test challenge so that your customers online can experience it and learn the challenge details. Let your “testers” take the challenge just like regular customers will be when its available to the public. Watch the entire challenge and study their faces and body language so that you can critique the challenge experience too. The test event should be fun, but remember it should definitely be a learning experience too.

After they are finished, it’s time to weigh the results and decide whether you need to make any changes. How far did the challengers get? Did 1 person win and 2 people lose? If that is the case, you may be great, especially if you know that winner was a very strong eater. If none of the challengers even got close, you have a problem. Figure out whether the time limit needs to be increased or the challenge needs to be reduced. Sometimes a restaurant may actually believe that the time limit is okay, but then after testing they learn that it really isn’t. If nobody won but the 1st place person got within less than 1 pound, you should definitely be fine as long as that person was not a professional eater. If you have a true professional eater test your challenge and he doesn’t come close, don’t plan on having anybody take your challenge after the first month unless you have a $500 or more prize. You need people believing they can win, but not people actually winning, so please reduce it.

Ask the contestants what they actually thought of the food. Was something too salty? If something was too salty, you should fix that because salty foods are very hard to eat a lot of. Were there too many onion rings or too many french fries? Did the chili make the bun too soggy? Find out if there are any ways to make the food challenge taste better. People will attempt your challenge if everyone is bragging about how delicious it is. People won’t attempt your challenge if everybody is saying it tastes disgusting. Are the onions in the fresh-cut onion rings too thick? Find out these answers before the challenge starts. That is why you have 3 or more “testers” too. If there are only 2, then your answers may become 50/50, and that won’t necessarily help you. If all 3 or more contestants complain about the same thing, you know you definitely have something to fix.

Many restaurant challenges have issues that should be fixed, and most of those problems could have been solved if the restaurant had tested the challenge beforehand. Testing a challenge is like trying on clothes at the store. A large shirt is a large, but the fitting is different based on the manufacturer and country of origin. You may require a large in one brand and an extra large in another. Try the shirt on beforehand so that you know it fits. 15 minutes is not a lot of time, but it can also be the difference maker for allowing your challenge the opportunity to be successful for your restaurant. Some challenges are smaller and/or more simple than others and they don’t really require testing beforehand. If you have questions though, make sure to test your challenge beforehand, and get customers excited by posting the “test event” pictures online for all to see and share.

Thanks for reading why you should should test the food challenge and using FoodChallenges.com!!

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