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Fyood Kitchen: The Maine cooking competition for everyone - 'no experience required'

Maddie Purcell founded Fyood Kitchen in 2016, challenging teams of Mainers to make their most creative dish using mystery ingredients.

PORTLAND, Maine —

Do you ever find yourself making dinner and daydreaming about starring on your own cooking show? If that is you OR you just love food you'll want to check out Fyood Kitchen.

It's a timed cooking competition in a professional kitchen where teams of Mainers go head to head to see who can create the best dish using mystery ingredients. And if you think your unimpressive cooking skills would disqualify you, think again. 

"Most people are better cooks than they think they are," says Maddie Purcell as she shows me the fully stocked Portland Kitchen were teams ranging from three to five people compete in two 40-minute rounds. In the first round they make a savory dish, in the second a sweet one. 

"There is no right way to create a dish creatively." Purcell started Fyood Kitchen in 2016 after watching an episode of the Food Network's Chopped with her roommate. The two were talking trash about how they would attack a Chopped challenge. "We decided to put our money where our mouth was." They both bought each other mystery ingredients and were pleasantly surprised at how good their dishes turned out. 

When I ask Purcell her background with food she answers with a chuckle, "I am an eater, really." Purcell grew up in a foodie family, knew food well but says she felt like she wasn't "allowed" to do the creative cooking because she lacks formal training. 

With a background in organizing sports events, Purcell has turned Fyood Kitchen into a high-energy, fun, competition that moves quick and welcomes heckling. The competition ditches recipes and rules. 

Purcell and her team provide a basket for each team with four mystery ingredients. She likes to throw in something people aren't familiar with and she also likes to highlight local ingredients. The day we stop by, three teams from Martin's Point Healthcare are cooking with Pineland Farm sausage, cauliflower, Mexican soda and Halva which is a sesame fudge. 

It throws all the teams for a loop but they quickly recover and the teams come up with wildly different dishes: an omelet, a stew, and a Mediterranean inspired jambalaya.

Purcell says Fyood Kitchen is for people of all ages. They host team building events for companies, birthday parties for kids, bachelorette parties and adult family throwdowns. 

There is this challenge moment in each competition that going through it together really brings people together."

Teams judge each other on taste, presentation, and creativity. The classic Fyood experience starts at around $99 per person. For more information check out their website