“The Mayor of Eastville wants to Uplift the town by including a gourmet restaurant. As one of the townspeople, you seize the opportunity to follow your lifelong dream of becoming a famous Head Chef. It will be a tough road, and you are not the only one with this dream. With just a food truck, it’s time to start on your journey!”
Video courtesy of Peter Cricchiola
How to play:
From the starting player, play in a clockwise direction. Each round you may perform 1 action per unused action cube.
These actions can be any combination of pick or play. When using an action, move an action cube from the unused action pile to the used action pile on the right of your character card.
- For the cost of 1 action cube, you may pick a card from the deck and place into your fridge (hand)
- A food from your fridge to the trash
- Power card
- A pair of the same ingredients gaining 1 fame (A Trade)
At the end of your turn move them all back to the unused action pile. You should also only have 4 ingredients in your fridge, if you have more than 4, discard any excess cards.
- Before continuing the game, any leftovers are offered around the table in turn order. Players can buy only one card and use an unused action cube, but players may not exceed the 4-card fridge limit.
Fame is earned by playing foods from your fridge and moving up the path from a food truck, to a café, and finally a restaurant. As players move up the ladder of success, the must discard one action cube to pass the café after earning ten fame. After reaching 20 fame, players also must discard two actions cubes to open their restaurant.
The first player to earn 20 fame by using their power cards and creating foods from the menu is the winner.
When I first received Head Chef, I expected a very light, luck-based game with little to no challenge. But I was so wrong. Though there is a slight luck element to this game, there is so much more strategy in this game than I expected. Playing your power cards at the right time, using your special ability of your chef and serving menu items at the right time. This game looks simple but you really need to play to your strengths.
As someone that has worked in commercial kitchens, I have a soft spot for food/restaurant games and own quite a few. Head Chef is very different to all of them. And, I actually couldn’t compare it to any of those games. I like so many elements of this game.
The aspiring chef cards are an amazing addition and I’m actually shocked how many there are. They all have their own separate abilities. Depending on which you receive can change the way you play the game. Due to the number of aspiring chefs, every game seems new or different. Your play style needs to change from one game to the next. This is very impressive in a small box game. I know I played about 12 or so games and only played the same character twice and they were on separate games night.
The aspiring chefs are definitely a highlight for me. From my experience in the restaurant industry, I have seen so many people from different industries like lawyers or accountants that say all they ever wanted to do was be a chef. Unfortunately, I can count on one hand how many lasted longer than a few years. This little nod to the industry makes me smile, as it isn’t something many would know.
The chibi character art is awesome too. If you ask any of my friends, I love this style of art. It is so adorable cute and they have carried chibi feel into the art into the food items too. In a game that could quite easily have very little art, this really adds a real personality to the game.
Places to improve
There are a few things I’m not a big fan of. The choices of food I felt could a little more exciting. As it feels a little more like a school cafeteria than a food truck or café or restaurant. I wish once you moved up the different levels of an establishment, the food would improve or change. You could easily use the same cards and ingredients, just change what they make. For example, meat, bread and onion could be a hot dog in the food truck, a croque monsieur once you reach the café and French onion soup when at the restaurant level. That way, it feels like you are growing and improving within the game.
I would have also liked a board, rather than individual player boards and a scorecard. I would like to have everything on the table so everyone can see. That way, you can look at one place for all the answers and don’t have to look at several individual boards. It isn’t much of a complaint I know, but small box games are all about quick gameplay and battling one another. Individual player boards feel a little disconnected from the play. You spend more time looking at where other players are, rather than focusing on the game. Though this doesn’t make a huge difference, I feel like this would allow for the game speed to increase. It would also allow players to feel an extra layer of excitement and involvement in the game.
Overall, I really enjoyed this game. It was challenging and strategic with an element of luck. The power cards and aspiring chef cards were beautifully balanced that allowed for quick gameplay. Plus, there’s plenty of replay value.
If you are looking for a great family game or filler game for your euro heavy game night, this will impress and surprise you with its great gameplay.