Announcing Gourmet Survivor II: A Benefit for Katrina Victims


The devastation in New Orleans has left many of us, foodbloggers especially, feeling a bit frivolous in the face of catastrophe. We can debate the merits of green risotto and the value of Amazon knife deals, but in the background 10,000 people have died and thousands more need assistance. Surely there’s something we can do.

Last year I ran a Gourmet Survivor which was a big hit with my readers (that’s you). Much like the TV show, contestants competed each round to receive immunity and then proceeded to vote each other off. The winner–Miss Andrea–endured almost two months worth of challenges, intrigue and dirty politics. Her prize is still in the mail (wink wink, heh heh). (Wait, I did send her a prize, didn’t I?)

This year we’re going to run things much differently. Our focus is fundraising and fundraising we will do. Here’s how:

(1) To enter the contest, each entrant must “pay” a $10 admission fee. Really, this is a donation to Katrina victims. I’ll set that up as soon as I announce the scavenger hunt. (Yes, there’s going to be another scavenger hunt!) More info to follow.

(2) To keep things simpler this year, we’re only going to have four contestants. That’s right, only four! And they won’t be competing for immunity. What will happen is that each round they will be asked to cook something specific native to New Orleans. Then, based on how well they do, readers will vote for their favorites and here’s the twist: to vote you must donate $5 to Katrina victims. Every $5 = 1 vote. So if you really love someone’s entry, you can donate $100 to them and they’ll get 20 votes. We’re not concerned about democracy here, only fundraising. You can even buy your own victory because that kind of injustice helps those in need. Our ultimate goal is to raise as much money as we humanly can and this kind of set-up will make that possible. The player with the least amount of donations at the end of that round will be “eliminated.”

If that seems unfair, remember: this is all for fun. And what makes it even funner is…(drumroll): celebrity coaches!

Each contestant will be assigned a celebrity food blogger coach. These are, in random order:

David Lebovitz!






(Sorry, Jeremy, couldn’t find your picture!)


[This slot was filled by Louisa of Movable Feast but she can no longer do it. I’m working on a replacement right now!]

Their roles will be two-fold: (1) they will coach each contestant in the creation of their dishes for each round. This is no small thing since some of them have cookbooks and others received James Beard scholarships. You’ll be in great hands! And (2) they will host your entries on their blogs. They’ll be in your corner, rooting you on, and convincing their readers to donate money in your name. You’ll be feeling the love hardcore.

And so that’s how this is going to work. As for how we narrow it down to four contestants, that’s where the scavenger hunt comes in. Tomorrow night I will reveal the new scavenger hunt list and you’ll have ’til Sunday to take as many pictures as you can with the objects I assign. This year it will be mandatory that you use Flickr so please set up your accounts now. And, once again, you’ll have to donate $10 to play—that’ll get us off to a great start.

I realize that playing a game of “Survivor” while some are still struggling to survive may seem a bit callous, but we’re playing in their honor and hopefully through challenges that highlight the great food of New Orleans we’ll pay appropriate tribute to a great city in a moment of crisis. Let’s do them proud!

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