Food ordering: a competitive sport

The origins of the sport of Food Ordering extend far back into the dawn of time, as long ago as October, 2001. In that month the first competition was held in the vibrant metropolis that is Lost Hills in the state of California. That first event is the subject of Chris Edge's report. Following this success, it was decided that the rules should be defined on a more formal basis. Alas, the minutes of the drafting committee have been lost in a Burns Brothers chip fire and all that remains as a record of the hard work and deep thoughts of those heroic pioneers is Draft A of the 2003 Rules. Both these historic documents are presented below.

The Other World Champs, 2001

The World Food Ordering Championships took place at Denny's Restaurant, Lost Hills in parallel with the Free Flight World Championships during the Endless October of 2001. People from 30 nations took place, even though some of them didn't realise they were competing. The rules were simple; a team of three each order a breakfast, lunch and dinner from Denny's with as few questions back from the waiter as possible.

Of course, different menus have different degrees of difficulty (DOD). For example ordering a garden salad with ranch dressing produces a lower DOD than a Slam with easy over eggs, English muffin and beans instead of tomatoes. The scoring works by deducting a point for each question asked by the waiter, so if you order a steak and forget to define how you want it cooked you would loose a point. All clear ?

Anyhow, the GB team of Ball, Edge and Williams came out top. Weeks of practice were required to hone the skill required to pull this one off. Team manager Martin Dilly was ecstatic "These guys are really good; they deserved to win. Even I take it seriously by ordering food at least twice a day. It's a tough job !" From a possible 9 maxes (a perfect order per person, minimum DOD of 7, is a max) the Brits managed a score of 7.7. Edge cleaned up and got the the pudding menu but Ball dropped one order when he forgot to ask for Jack cheese on his baked potato. Williams too missed a perfect order when the waiter asked if he wanted mustard with his meat. In a lowly 10th place were the local US team who each time missed out on the catch-all question "Would you like some more coffee Sir ?".

For Denny's the lure of a World Champs in their restaurant was too much to miss. Asked how long it had taken to train the waiters to ask as many questions as possible, the manager said "Do you want a two minute interview or the longer five minute one?".

- Chris Edge, 2 Nov 2001 SEN

Food Ordering Rules 2003

Draft A, 30/01/03, prepared by Chris Edge


The following rules shall apply to the purchase of foodstuffs at any designated eating establishment during FF open internationals in 2003. The aim of the competition is to obtain the smallest number of points from each set of designated establishments during the period (practise plus flying) of each open international. The winner of each event will be the local champion with an Eating Cup winner being based on the aggregate points from at least three venues. Ordering shall be done in groups of at least three people. Points are awarded for a non-perfect ordering of foodstuffs as follows :-

  1. One point is awarded for each question asked by the waitress during an ordering period.

    Example: "What kind of cheese would you like on your jacket potato?"

    NB Multiple options for the same question are scored as a single point.

    Example: "Would you like cheddar, jack, Amphibian Blue or Iraqi cheese on your jacket potato?"

  2. Ordering on behalf of a group incurs the same scoring rules; be careful when ordering beer!

  3. Attempts to elicit questions from a waitress on behalf of another orderer will be allowed.

    Example: "Aren't there some different salad options with that, Chris?"

  4. If a member of the group asks a legitimate ordering option not offered by the waitress but while they are present then this will score -1 point on their total and +1 point on the orderer.

    Example: "Mike, did you want herb, English muffin or toast with that set meal?"

  5. Going on hunger strike for the duration of the ordering period is not allowed; at least one course must be ordered per meal.

  6. If questions are asked but not heard by another member of the group then they will not be scored unless the orderer volunteers them.

  7. If an orderer asks the waitress for option and she has to refer elsewhere for clarification then the orderer will score -1 point.

    Example 1: "Do you have French mustard please?"

    Example 2: Chris Edge asking the waitress if he could, ".....have that on a yellow plate".

    NB No-real ordering such as for Jugged Hare will not count but could result in a slight snigger or general mirth.

Designated Eating Establishments at Lost Hills

The list of eating establishments considered for scoring at Lost Hills is as follows. Note that further ones can be added with the agreement of at least two members of the ordering group but must be communicated to all group members before scoring is allowed.

Rule change proposals, 2007

The changes listed below have been submitted to the Rules Subcommittee of the Food Ordering Committee (FOC) for approval and, if accepted, to take effect from the 1st of January, 2007.

M. Gregorie, Convenor, the Rules Subcommittee, FOC.