Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off is a Paul Hoen-directed classic, written by Dan Berendsen, Jack Jason, and Rick Bitzelberger. It’s one of my favorite sports DCOMs and one of those movies I think easily inspired the High School Musical premise. Eddie Ogden loves to cook, but his father is the coach of Eddie’s baseball team and prioritizes his son’s involvement in the sport.
Eddie’s best friends (Orlando Brown, Reiley McClendon) are all about baseball, but they won’t turn down their buddy’s famous “Eddie dogs,” hot dogs covered in chili and all the fixings. Off the field and in the school hallway, Eddie makes a big decision for himself and his friends: instead of signing them up for computer class, he puts them all in home economics. He claims he made a mistake, so as not to reveal his passion for cooking right away. The good news is, in home ec, Eddie gets to practice his cooking skills every single day.
I noticed that composer David Kitay scored a wonderfully funky theme for every time Eddie starts cooking. This reflects Eddie’s creativity and journey to finally doing what he loves. His mom is happy with Eddie’s culinary pursuits, but his dad is so discouraging – not unlike Coach Bolton in HSM with Troy’s interest in singing. Both Eddie and Troy feel that they must keep their passions hidden from their fathers. Eddie’s dad and brothers specifically think that cooking is girly.
On the flip side, Eddie’s female teammate pretends to be a cheerleader so that her mother won’t discover she’s on the baseball team. Turns out her mom doesn’t mind she’s a baseball player, but Eddie’s dad is super upset to discover that Eddie is pursuing his dreams of cooking. It’s not until the combined cook-off/tournament day (much like the Wildcats’ big basketball game/decathlon mix-up) that dad can accept his son’s dreams.
While a few other sports DCOMs have a similar basic story, Eddie’s cooking interests are so unique to this movie. I don’t recall seeing similar food aspirations until much later DCOMs in the 2010s (there’s a character who likes cooking in 2016’s Adventures in Babysitting). I remember loving Eddie’s Million Dollar Cook-Off when it premiered almost 20 years ago, and I still love to watch it for comfort now. The Bobby Flay cameo at the end (during the cook-off) is also fun to look back on, as I was watching a lot of Food Network with my mom during this time, too. That channel has a story of its own, but like Disney Channel, Food Network was building a cast of memorable stars in the 2000s.