[RPG] How does cooking work in D&D


So, I haven't played in forever, but a few friends and I have been talking about playing 5e again. I've been the DM, and they've been requesting a cook off since the beginning.
How does cooking work in D&D?
I have no idea what to do about it.

Best Answer

Make an ability check, adding your proficiency bonus if you are proficient with cook's utensils.

For general cooking, they aren't really any rules. There is a tool listed in the equipment section of the PHB called Cook's Utensils, and the rules for tools state:

A tool helps you to do something you couldn't otherwise do, such as craft or repair an item, forge a document, or pick a lock. Your race, class, background, or feats give you proficiency with certain tools. Proficiency with a tool allows you to add your proficiency bonus to any ability check you make using that tool. Tool use is not tied to a single ability, since proficiency with a tool represents broader knowledge of its use. For example, the DM might ask you to make a Dexterity check to carve a fine detail with your woodcarver's tools, or a Strength check to make something out of particularly hard wood.

So the rules do not tell us what ability is associated with cooking, so that is up to you, the DM. If a character has proficiency with Cook's Utensils, they may add their proficiency bonus to the check.

Xanathar's Guide to Everything adds a little bit more to Cook's Utensils, though it isn't much, and it isn't really relevant to having a cook off.

Tasha' Cauldron of Everything (released Nov. 2020) adds a feat called Chef that significantly expands the usefulness of Cook's Utensils, but doesn't contribute much to a cook off, except possibly a narrative argument that a character with the Feat should always win a cook off against someone without the feat, but that would be your call as the DM.

For a cook off, use the rules for contests.

The rules do contain some general guidance for skill contests, so use these rules and the Cook's Utensils check described above for your cook off:

Sometimes one character's or monster's efforts are directly opposed to another's. This can occur when both of them are trying to do the same thing and only one can succeed, such as attempting to snatch up a magic ring that has fallen on the floor. This situation also applies when one of them is trying to prevent the other one from accomplishing a goal — for example, when a monster tries to force open a door that an adventurer is holding closed. In situations like these, the outcome is determined by a special form of ability check, called a contest.

Both participants in a contest make ability checks appropriate to their efforts. They apply all appropriate bonuses and penalties, but instead of comparing the total to a DC, they compare the totals of their two checks. The participant with the higher check total wins the contest. That character or monster either succeeds at the action or prevents the other one from succeeding.

If the contest results in a tie, the situation remains the same as it was before the contest. Thus, one contestant might win the contest by default. If two characters tie in a contest to snatch a ring off the floor, neither character grabs it. In a contest between a monster trying to open a door and an adventurer trying to keep the door closed, a tie means that the door remains shut.

So have the two characters make the check, and the higher result wins the contest, but obviously, make it more interesting than saying "you win" - get creative with your narration, maybe watch some Gordon Ramsay videos before hand to work up your food critic vocabulary.

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