On Judging: How Skill'it Was Scored
When coordinating a production, it's important to do your best to take out the guesswork. Sometimes that means having a backup plan for certain elements of production. Usually, it means having a lot of meetings just to make sure everyone has thought of all of the possible pitfalls. But when it comes to a competition series, you also have to think about fairness.
Skill'it was a blast to create, and it was thrilling to watch the action unfold in person, but it was also important to make sure the playing field was level and that everyone was being judged on an equal scale.
To ensure this, the production team got to work breaking down the categories on which competitors would be judged. We looked carefully at what was important and what we wanted to emphasize. In the end, judging was approached with four categories in mind: Taste, Plating, Creativity, and Meeting the Challenge.
It probably goes without saying that this one is important. After all, it is a cooking competition! But it still needed to be said! As viewers, we don't get to taste the food, so we have to rely on the palates and descriptions of the judges (as well as visuals and our understandings of food) to know what it tastes like. So, taste obviously needed to be scored and taken into account.
It's been said before; we eat with our eyes. If you don't believe me, I can refer you to a childhood story of eating spare ribs for Shabbat made with purple ketchup. Taste? Great. Appearance? Well, definitely worth factoring in. The purple ketchup was never used again... So yes, plating and appearance are a factor that must be taken seriously.
This is an interesting category, but again, one that really needed to be emphasized. We wanted our competitors to think outside the box rather than rely on old faithful recipes that just sort of “fit in.” So we therefore wanted to reward being creative within each round. This could mean having a creative interpretation of the challenge, cooking things in a creative way, or anything in between.
Meeting the Challenge:
This ended up being a key category that definitely influenced the results of the show. This ensured that competitors were rewarded for fulfilling and embracing the challenges presented to them. That meant that someone could create something delicious, creative, and beautiful that completely missed the mark in terms of the competition itself. As Chef Nir put it, someone could “hit a home run, but in the wrong game!” This made the difference between a “Who can cook any dish the best” competition and “Who can excel at THIS” competition. We wanted the competitors to stick to the rules and shine in doing so!
Once these categories were laid out, it was determined that they would each be weighted equally, so that no one category would count too heavily or be dismissed by competitors who didn’t think it was a good time investment.
We also wanted to give competitors the opportunity to be creative, which is why we created the Bonus Ingredient Basket. It wasn’t compulsory, but competitors would be rewarded for showcasing the surprise ingredients, which they found out about minutes before cooking.
Once all of this was determined, the Skill’it team made up scoring cards. The judges would fill out one card per competitor for every episode, and at the end, the results were added up and the numbers determined who won, who went home, and who was safe.
Of course, contestants were told about the judging categories ahead of time, but they were still absolutely on the spot when it came to their challenges. It really makes the final results all the more impressive!
Relive Skill'it from the beginning here!