Chili cook-off sample tasting trays
Jo and I host a chili cook-off every year in the fall, and every year the same problem crops up when it comes time to vote — how do you hold your sample cup, spoon, voting ballot, and pen all at the same time, AND be able to mark your score on the ballots? After several failed attempts at solving this problem, we finally came up with a great solution. We made sample tasting trays that make it easy to hold everything!
We started with some simple, inexpensive clipboards. If you time your purchase right, you can find these really cheap at back-to-school supplies closeout sales!
For sampling our chili, we always use disposable 2oz portion cups (a.k.a. souffle cups) because they are inexpensive, convenient, and the perfect size. I positioned three of them on the board in a way I liked.
Then I marked their position by drawing around the bottom edge with a pencil.
Next I got out my hole saw set and found the one that was the right size for my sample cups — it has to be big enough for the cup to fit into but not so big that it would fall through. Just put a cup into each of the graduated saw blades until you find one that fits just right.
I then attached the saw blade to my drill and took it all outside, where I cut out the three holes in each clipboard.
When all the holes were drilled, I tested to make sure my cups fit and the result was great!
Once I had the first board cut, I used it as a template to draw the circles on all the other boards, then I cut the holes out on those in the same way.
I then took some 24″ lengths of ribbon and tied one to each clipboard and tied a pen on the end. I used a different pattern of ribbon for each board, so that people could remember which board was theirs during the evening (as in, “mine is the one with pink polka-dots!”). Our printable chili cookoff voting ballots fit nicely in the clip and the hard surface and attached pen made scorekeeping so much easier for everyone.
We found after using these boards a couple of years that the surface wasn’t very easy to clean, so we ended up painting them with a glossy black paint that was easy to wipe off.
These boards work great with our voting ballots and are the hit of the cook-off every year!
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