15 years ago, Matt Timms, a struggling actor, began hosting friendly chili cook-offs in his home, partly as a way to hang with friends on the cheap. The parties became popular enough that in 2005, he moved them to Bar Matchless, got 100 people to pay to eat chili, and thus the Takedowns began. Since then, the Takedowns have expanded and gone to other cities, but a few months ago, Matt brought them home to Greenpoint and the new Brooklyn Bazaar. And this month’s Takedown, happening next Sunday the 21st, is all about one of the best foods ever created on this Earth, tacos.

The Takedowns have grown a lot since that first cook-off in Bar Matchless. For a few years, it was still just the Chili Takedown. Chili is the perfect food for this kind of cook-off. According to Matt, the Takedowns are “about the spirit of improv” and, though many people have certain rules when it comes to chili, it’s still an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink kind of meal. Since then, Matt has thrown Takedowns with cookies, mac and cheese, meatballs, chocolate, and lobster, among others, as the “main ingredient,” and the event has gone everywhere from Los Angeles to Milwaukee to Boston.

The contenders in this year’s Meatball Takedown

During event itself, Matt knows he has to be “the Willy Wonka” setting the warm, friendly tone. This isn’t a serious “professionals only” event. Plus, home cooks have more fun. And it’s not about competitive eating either. For those who have never been to one, you can expect about 20 contestants serving up their classic or creative attempt. Try one or try them all, but most importantly, you must vote. The winner takes home the glory, but there are also prizes on the line.

Keeping that celebration of the home cook remains the center of the Takedowns. Even though the Takedowns have been covered by Japanese media, count Tyra Banks, Michael Bloomberg, and Danny Meyer as fans, and consistently sells out of tickets, Matt has never sold the event out to “the Man.” He has, perhaps stubbornly, kept it true to its roots. And recently, after primarily hosting Takedowns at The Bell House and Royal Palms in Gowanus, Matt began using the first floor space at Brooklyn Bazaar.


The Taco Takedown will happen Sunday, May 21st from 2 to 4pm at Brooklyn Bazaar, 150 Greenpoint Avenue. Tickets are $20 and available on Brown Paper Tickets. Think you’ve got the best taco skillz? Email matt@takedowns dot com. He will supply the tortillas and little taco boats, you just need to bring your fillings.

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