General Tso Chicken - © J. Kenji via

Chaos Cooking: Gonna Be Even Bigger This Year?

Some say it started when folks hunkered down at home under COVID lockdown looked in their fridges and said, “What can I make with what’s here?” However it originated, Chaos Cooking has proved it has staying power. And it’s fun, too!…

Fench Onion Grilled Cheese - © Yunhee Kim via Food & WineFrench Onion Soup Grilled CHeese: Born of desperation and inspiration – in chaos!

Even notable chefs are promoting the trend, one of it’s major plusses being anyone can try it – even rank beginners. But what seems to me more important is, anyone can get into the act, playing with nutritious foods and varying their diet. Not to mention veering away from the ‘processed foods’ path of self-destruction.

What it is

The best definition I’ve read of Chaos Cooking comes from Food & Wine magazine: “The idea of tossing whatever you’ve got in a bowl and seeing what comes out has indeed created a few standout dishes. As Daily Meal pointed out, you can think of it via dishes like Wolfgang Puck’s Buffalo Chicken Spring Rolls or, as Eater noted, the forever loved and loathed Sushirrito.”

As an aside… General Tso’s Chicken (see photo, top of page), the classic Pizza Marguerita, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Potato Chips and the Popsicle were all created by accident – out of chaos!

You get the idea…

What you do

Fortunately, those keen to try this new ‘non-protocol’ of food preparation have what Food & Wine calls ‘a whole new generation of social media chefs’ more than willing to provide an example to follow.

Psychologists are always quick to assure you, there are no wrong answers to an ink blot test. Likewise, the trepidacious should know, from the get-go, that there are no failures in Chaos Cooking. Just some dishes that aren’t quite as appealing as others.

One of the ‘new chefs’ is Matthew Bounds, whose TikTok account @YourBarefootNeighbor has attracted nearly one million followers. He says he’s loved because he’s laid back, non-judgemental and just plain goofy at times.

“I joke around sometimes and say that my channel is inspirational and aspirational because I don’t try to pretty it up,” Bounds told Food & Wine. “We’re not doing these ‘chefy’ type things. We’re just cooking normal food. And I think that’s where a lot of people really gravitate toward it because it is not intimidating.”

An ‘anti-recipe’ ethic?

Chaos cooking has been called ‘anti-recipe’ concept. Because there are negatives associated with cooking from recipes that many folks – particularly beginners – find discouraging.

The key to Chaos Cooking – for me, anyway – is that I know ‘what goes with what’ flavour-wise and texture-wise. And I let my imagination run rampant. There’s a delicious challenge in figuring out how to use ‘whatever’s in the fridge’ to make something great!

My tips…

Use your fave pasta or rice as a jumping-off point for any Chaos cuisine experiment. Remember, too, that you can put anything in a taco or burrito. Or on Nachos. Or in/on Pita or Naan Bread. And you can have a lot of fun mixing and matching cuisines.

Yah, I know. That’s already a thing. They call it ‘fusion’. But in our case, as suggested of late by some pro chefs, it’s going to be more like ‘con-fusion’!

The most important thing is, like the Starship Enterprise, “to go boldly where no cook has gone before!”

~ Maggie J.