An article in the Times today confirms that the most exciting thing to happen to food—like, ever—are the numerous cook-offs and takedowns oozing these days from the creative wellspring of Brooklyn. These events usually focus on a single ingredient or theme such as bacon, casserole, guacamole, quiche, risotto, curry, hot dogs, pork, chili, apple pie, tofu, cupcakes, ramen, or no-knead bread, for example, and hearken back to State Fair Blue Ribbon contests, where winning the peach pie contest meant you were allowed to keep the family farm. Now, as it was then, the events are a recession/depression thing, often minus some of the food-craft. Welcome to the liberal arts dustbowl.

Though an entrant might spend upwards of $200 on raw ingredients and hours in the kitchen, it's apparently all about the glory and bragging rights. The contests are also good for businesses that supply home cooks, and the prize for winning might be a set of formerly dusty Cuisinart bowls. Nonetheless, takedowns and cook-offs, the Times notes, inspire a mix serious and not-so-serious culinary contenders and generally amount to big parties haunted by the hipster ghost of Chairman Kaga, a 100-watt Easy Bake ethos, and slightly elevated blood alcohol levels. Sometimes, in the case this month’s pork-off or Cathy Erway's upcoming Risotto cookoff, profits go to charity.

Perpetual Takedown organizer Matt Timms started a few years back with a Chili competition partly because he found the ones held by the International Chili Society weren’t lax enough, so to speak. They were supposed to be fun. Fun, damn it! Now, this whole takedown business is a skinny jeans hydra, probably a Food Network show in the making, and there just aren’t enough Sternos in this city. “I’m going national with this,” Timms told the New York Times. “I’m going on the road!”