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Designer  Karl-Heinz Schmiel     Artist  Jochen Eeuwyk,  Christof Tisch   

HeidelBÄR Games in Germany are a fairly new company, being independent of, but still associated with, Heidelberger Spieleverlag, and are the latest in a long line of companies to publish this game which first saw the light of Game Store shelves in 1989. My understanding is that over the 31 years the rules have been slightly altered, with the cover art and components being all very much the same since the 2009 edition. The cover does show you all you need to know about the game idea so why change it indeed? This version was nominated for the 2010 for SPIEL DES JAHRES and included the new artwork from 2009.

The components are excellent and deserve additional mention, especially when you consider the price of this game is under €40.00. 

Each player has their own cooking stove (specially designed for this edition) top made up of a gas ring and heat controlling dial. These are made of pressed card and assembled at the start of the first game only - the box has been created deep enough that there is no need to disassemble them - in fact breaking them down will ruin them in no time as the hard sides of the compressed card easily fall away from the mulch in the centre and once that happens you cannot get the tabs into the connecting holes; thus great care is required when you assemble them that first time. They do look impressive though.

Of course the chef needs something to cook in and one would expect a die-cut 2D or assembled 3D pan of some sort but no, there are actually 4 (one per player) metal saucepans (please do not be tempted to try to actually cook using them though). As chefs each player has to cook dishes and score points for making them as perfect as possible. These dishes are named and shown on one side of tiles and on the flipside is the recipe requirements for seasoning them and at which heat number they must be cooked.

 

The condiments/seasonings are in the form of plastic crystal pieces, a different colour for each; Green for Herbs, Yellow for Lemon, Red for Paprika and Black for Pepper. Then there are the white pieces of Salt which generally over-flavour the dish, though with a little care they do not need to ruin it. The condiments are in solid, clear plastic containers, each beginning with 15 of the named seasoning and 5 pieces of salt. The game has an additional 5 pieces of each condiment, including salt, in case you lose any - just remember to put these aside so that they do not accidentally end up in a jar, that would make cooking a lot easier (this game is fun as it is so do not feel tempted to add them all in to help children play; kids will probably be better at it than adults anyway).

The condiments are therefore the main part of the game play and adding them to the pan is the most skillful part. 

 

Other components are basically flat card pieces, except the Heat Die, and make up Coffee cups, Star Awards and Kitchen utensils, all of which have their own small part to play. After a couple of games you will be concentrating on your pouring skills, believe me.

Each recipe requires seasoning, except those that don't - Crepes, Coffee, Cuban Breakfast (the rules call this Breakfast Fidel, younger players may not understand this reference). There are two of the twenty recipes that Player one and Player two generally start with as they are easy to complete. Everyone can make a crepe Suzette, only one, they just have to be able to cook it and toss the tile up in the air so that it spins and comes down on the flip side. Crepes score well but only two attempts are allowed - if you fail to flip you lose the crepe (one foible I have is that I like to have Lemon on my pancakes and here it isn't allowed - I guess I could make up my own rule for that).

 

Play is in turns with players all beginning by having the necessary components and a self-chosen Dish tile. From then on the turn consists of 2 options and three actions, selecting a new Dish or completing a Dish isn't an action. Mostly the action chosen will be shaking one of the required condiment jars, removing the lid and pouring contents into your pan. The pouring may cause a few raised eyebrows or even the occasional harsh word from an opponent or two because it has to be in one fluid movement. Shake (if you want to), lift, tip, pour, tip back. You are not allowed to shake the jar over the pan though you can make a slight stutter (this leaves the rule open to ambiguity) as you pour. We have a rule which allows you to not count it as an action if nothing comes out of the jar, the rules are open on this (as in they don't actually mention it). The idea is to get the correct amount of each required Seasoning without any Salt and without over-spicing. Three of any one colour seasoning ruins the Dish and all used condiments are poured down the sink with the Dish tile going into the Bin.

 

Another way to find your tasty Dish ending up in the Bin is to over-cook it. One of your actions can be to roll the special Heat die and then adjusting your ovens cooking fireiness. There is a spot on the die that turns up everyone's heat by one degree and that can be enough to ruin yours or your opposing Chefs Dishes. Keeping the temperature of cooking is usually the easiest thing to do as most recipes have a good range that one or two die rolls generally succeeds at.

 

This is a good, fun game for families. It probably doesn't have enough focus to be a gamer's game and I know many gamers who would poo-poo it just by looking at it. Families though, especially with kids from about 7 years up, will have great fun laughing with and at each others culinary attempts. Worth the cost in components alone it's no wonder that this game has lasted the pace for 30+ years.

Finally it's time to relax with a coffee. Roll the Coffee Cup symbol on the die and draw from the face down coffee tiles. These are tiles you can freely use - one per turn - during your turn for a coffee break and although they can affect your success they do not cost an action to use. You begin with a randomly drawn coffee cup and only get more from the roll of the die.

Coffee Cup Confusion:
There is a little bit of a misunderstanding over what is Face-Up for a Coffee Cup. If you collect one from the die you place it Face-Up (green side showing) in front of you. This means its effect cannot be seen (though we suggest the owning player can look at it). When you play it you discard it back on the supply tray face-up (Pink side showing). If all Coffee Cups are used then the discards are shuffled and placed Face-Down (Green side up) back on the tray.
How We Play:
look at what your Coffee Cup's effect is and then keep the card Face Down (Green side up) until you use it. Discard it Face Up (Pink side up). When required flip all used cups to show their Green side and mix them, leaving them Green side showing (Face Down) to be drawn as needed.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015