By John Evanson  

Each summer we have a BonusXP company “picnic”.  While this has never literally been a picnic, it has occasionally been some sort of outdoor activity.  In Texas.  In the summer.  Once outside, it becomes obvious that humans are apt to spontaneously combust in the Texas heat, especially those of us flying in from much further north.

Hot on the heels of such an outdoor event in 2016, this year’s “picnic” was thankfully indoors.  We visited Tre Wilcox Cooking Concepts for a cooking competition along the lines of the TV show Chopped

As people arrived, we grabbed some drinks and some colored beads that corresponded to the teams we’d eventually end up on.  This was also a good time for people to fess up to their inability to even boil water to their teammates.


Our high school interns took this time to do some… uh… competitor analysis on their phones.


If you’ve ever watched random parts of several episodes of Chopped, like I have, the idea seems to be torturing chefs by forcing them to make things with ingredients that mostly should just stay out of the type of food they are required to make with it.  In that spirit, we were presented with our secret torture ingredients: watermelon, cucumber, red quinoa, and bacon.  With these we were expected to make both a chicken and a shrimp dish.  I guess because we’re amateurs they threw us a bone with that bacon.  Or maybe the judges just wanted some bacon in there to cover up the rest of the mess we were likely to inflict upon them.


Secret ingredients in hand, our teams broke up and had forty minutes to figure out how to use all the ingredients in both a chicken and a shrimp dish — and actually cook and plate two of each.  Frantic confusion ensued, but everyone came up with something at least.

Purple team:


Green team:


Red team:


Blue team:


Gold team:


Once the bell rang, each team had to explain their dishes to the judges, trying their best to sound convincing about why it was a good idea to have chicken and watermelon together:


The judges took notes and tallied up the scores.  We had a blast, even if most of the dishes weren’t going on anyone’s shopping list for next week.  And in a way, you could say we were all winners.  But in another more accurate way, the Red team won with their Kung-Pao Style Chicken With Watermelon and Cucumber for Some Reason and Sushi Roll Sort of Thing with Bacon Instead of Seaweed featuring Quinoa, Cucumber, and Watermelon Because We Had To.*

* Author may not be remembering official names of these dishes entirely accurately.


All the teams received a cool prize from BonusXP based on their place in the competition, and the Tre Wilcox team served us some delicious (and most importantly, professionally prepared) food for dinner.  In all, it was a great time, and despite it being a room full of competitive game developers (and their significant others) who were intentionally given knives and fire, there were no major incidents.  I’m already looking forward to next year’s picnic.  Let’s hope it’s something indoors again!