- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 6, 2009

Food Network: Cook or Be Cooked (Namco Bandai Games, $39.99) has Wii players chopping, slicing, dicing and flipping through real recipes while Food Network’s Mory Thomas and Susie Fogelson offer advice, tips and criticisms of cooking skills.

Playing the simulation will provide chefs with some pretty cool tips and tricks, such as salting garlic before smooshing it with a knife blade, a very handy technique when making guacamole, salad dressings, gravies — anything you want to have the full flavor of fresh garlic.

With more than 30 dishes to unlock, accomplished by successfully completing a recipe with liberal uses of the Wiimote and Nunchuk controllers to twist, turn, rotate, shake or tip, there is always something new to try.

Following recipe cards plays the game. For more complicated dishes, a virtual cook might have more than four cards, each having the amount of time that particular part of a dish takes to prepare.

Smart players will read through the cards to determine the best order of proceeding. You want to allow items, such as some salads that need time to marinate in dressings, while you are doing other tasks.

Earn points and unlock additional recipe cards by multitasking, such as chopping the avocados for the guacamole, while the quesadilla cooks. Getting food to the table cooked and at the proper temperature results in points and the unlocking of additional recipes.

But, be careful. Don’t watch the timers and the quesadilla will burn quickly. Fun and challenging to a game player, frustrating to someone who really wants to create a great quesadilla with guacamole and salsa.

The game elements have players using motions to salt and pepper foods, but one must apply just the right amount of shake to the motion of the Wiimote or you will either over-season or even smash the shaker into the food.

It’s not only a bummer but also costs big points.

While chopping, pouring, smooshing, salting and doing other skills, the game offers on-screen feedback and meters to show whether actions are too hard, too soft or just right.

According to our in-home kitchen denizen, the game does actually impart some good timing techniques and cooking skills, and the recipes are Food Network-quality, leading her to take the instruction booklet, which has the recipes for 12 dishes printed within, for a read in the other room.

I think I can anticipate a real table, not virtual, version of the Food Network’s pan-roasted chicken with couscous and steamed fennel.

Adding to the gaming fun is the cooperative game “Hot Potato,” in which players pass the Wii Remote and Nunchuk between them to work together with up to three other chefs in a team attempt to earn medals and unlock new recipes and a split screen.

A head-to-head two-player game has competing chefs cooking in split-screen mode as they vie to win the cook-off challenge.

Visiting the Cook or Be Cooked Web site (www.cookorbecooked.com/#/foodie-central-top-ten) to find three of the games’ recipes, stir-fried chicken and broccoli; grilled ahi tuna with mojo sauce, and pancakes and baked bacon.

Also at the site are Mory and Susie’s Top Ten Food Tips ranging from “Cook bacon over medium heat to melt the fat without burning the meat” to “Don’t store your tomatoes in the fridge; it makes them grainy and kills the flavor.”

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