And in the first seven manga volumes, a much crueler Yami Yugi would make these up on the spot to challenge anyone who pissed him off/hurt his friends with. They were typically much darker and dangerous than other examples of this trope (example: challenging a crooked shopkeeper to a contest of "draw the coins out of the sneaker with a deadly scorpion inside it").
Hikaru no Go likewise milks the traditional Japanese board game of go for all the drama they can get. In fairness, some people in Real Life make their living playing the game.
Spoofed in Slayers, where the main characters must dress up in animal costumes and pass several ridiculous tests in order to reach the top of an enchanted tower, one of which is an actual cooking battle in which the mazoku Xelloss (who elects to flamboyantly clothe himself for the occasion in a frilly cap and apron) creates such a deliberately noxious concoction — after all, it's a cooking duel, right? — that he almost kills them all with the fumes, and then wonders why he loses even though he created exactly what he aimed for. The price of losing these contests is being turned into adorably chibified dolls, which is the sort of thing you grow to expect from this series. The characters tend to hang lampshades on this quite forcefully as they protest the unfairness (and the ridiculousness) of it all.
The other challenges fall in this category. The next one was an Octopus and a game of rock paper scissors...where the octopus did them all at once. The third was a game of tag, where you had to grab someone by the butt, and the opponent was a snake. That one was funny.
In NEXT Lina and Martina had a game of magic tennis for the prize. At least the game moved them to a truce and Xelloss got some tasty mayhem...
In CLANNAD, Fuuko and Sunohara engage in a wood carving duel.
Sasami entered a literal — and televised — cooking contest in volume 8 of the Tenchi Muyo! manga. Her main opponent seemed to be somehow related to Kagato.
In Chūka Ichiban! (a.k.a. Cooking Master Boy), continuous Cooking Duels are not just Serious Business, they're also the main way of life for chefs in China, and can earn rising stars wealth, power and even political clout.
Galaxy Fraulein Yuna takes this to even sillier extremes: the opening scene is a literal cooking duel between giant mecha! The protagonist wins by cooking eggs by the heat of atmospheric re-entry.
Real Bout High School, an anime series about a school where all of the student clubs are dedicated to fighting with lethal weapons, features a Cooking Duel between the female leads for the affection of a male student. Both lunches make him sick enough to vomit grey foam.
An upcoming event in the Black Butler manga, in which the title Battle Butler Sebastian will face Funny Foreigner Battle Butler Agni in a curry competition. Slightly unfair as Agni can enhance the taste of curry just by touching the ingridients while demon Sebastian finds human food (at least desserts) distasteful.
Happens in the anime, three quarters into the first season. As is common with anime events, much of it is changed; for starters, Agni is simply exceptionally skilled at picking the spices to make the best curry, while Sebastian lacks the disinterest in human food of his manga counterpart. Sebastian ultimately wins with two innovations; adding chocolate to his curry (which Agni notes is a very valid ingredient, but it's a combination of spices most English wouldn't consider adding to their curries) and then turning his curry into curry buns. His cooking is so good it can actually counter the Kali Ma "demon spice".
Kannagi has a cooking contest between Nagi, Tsugumi, and Zange.
Later on, the "Kiss Negi" competition treats a pillow fight this way, complete with a commentator.
Throughout the manga Oishinbo there are a number of Cooking Duels between the main character and his father or their proxies.
Constantly shows up in Kitchen Princess, both officially (that is, an actual cooking competition) and unofficially (pitting Najika against a professional chef to prove her spot in the special class, among others)
In Yumeiro Pâtissière, Ichigo and "The Heiress," Koshiro Miya, have a pudding baking competition to decide who gets to enter the Cake Grand Prix with the Sweets Princes. Ichigo, of course, wins, specifically by making a pudding with fewer "cavities" and intentionally making the caramel topping bitter because she noticed earlier in the episode that the judge liked bitter foods.
This trope ultimately becomes an important plot point (albeit not at first).
Seto no Hanayome has an epic singing contest between Lunar and Sun. Their rival fan clubs turn the school into a war zone.
DearS had a cooking duel as part of a three-part contest between Myu and Ren to determine which of the two would be allowed to stay at the school said contest occured in. The first two parts were a running contest and a five subject test, so the latter did raise some questions until Myu explained that housework was part of a DearS' indispensable skills.
An episode of Pokémon did this with a restaurant run by two sisters, who let their Pokémon do the cooking. One's Sneasel does it the old fashioned way, while the other's Mr. Mime does it using its powers. The Sneasel's food is delicious but looks terrible and is presented with no style, while the Mr. Mime's food looks amazing and the cooking is done with extreme flair, but in the end tastes wretched. In the end, they find a way to combine to two styles into one bigger, more successful restaurant.
An episode of Koihime†Musou had an eating contest. And one of the participants was a professional eating competitor.
Another had a three-part duel which included intellect competition (designed for monkeys) and cosplay competition.
In Princess Tutu, nearly everything is decided by ballet (I bet you couldn't tell from the title). Many of the dances actually don't fall under this trope since they aren't duels, instead focusing on characters revealing their true feelings through dance. But there's several that do, including any sword fight in the series (which usually mixes ballet moves with sword fighting), and the first season's finale where the titular Magical Girl and her Dark Magical Girl rival end up dancing to determine who gains control of the Prince.
Koe de Oshigoto! has an erotic voice acting contest (it's that kind of series) between Kanna and Fumika with one particularly timid and reserved colleague as their target. They themselves don't take too seriously, unlike resident Hot-Blooded pervert Sakanami, who suggested the whole thing in the first place.
Most of the battles in Gintama involve some form of this trope, including even some of the serious ones. Most notably, the Yorozuya, wallowing in poverty, can often be seen having over the top battles over hot pot or crab.
Mister Ajikko is Cooking Duel: The Anime. And the effect the food has on the judges...
Hunter × Hunter had a section of the Hunter Exam in the form of a cooking contest where they were asked to make sushi. However only one of the contestants really knew how to make it and even then the female examiner doing the test had too high of standards that she flunked everyone. It took her supervisor to make her realize the test was unfair and she had to change it.
Shokugeki No Soma has cooking duels or shokugeki to settle disputes. You can even challenge the alumnus!
Incia's life was saved when a chef on his way to a cooking duel chose to save her life... by using the ingredients he had intended to use to win that competition to save her from starving to death, including the legendary dragon's meat.
Taken to its extreme in God of Cookery, a spoof of a traditional Hong Kong martial arts movie substituting the fighting with cookoffs, including a climactic cookoff where the combatants fling magical fireballs at their food to make it cook faster.
In the Chinese movie Jin yu man tang or The Chinese Feast, the heroes fight the bad guys... in a cooking competition.
In Zoolander Derek and Hansel have a male-model runway competition patterned after a physical fight.
Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines: Duel by balloon and blunderbuss. Basically the opponents each take off in a gas balloon, and then try to shoot down the other's balloon with a blunderbuss.
One important plot element in the Apprentice Adept series by Piers Anthony is the main character contending to win the prize in a competition known simply as "The Game" or "The Tourney." The contestants could end up in any potentially competitive contest; it could be something as conventionally sportsmanlike as running a marathon, or something as seemingly undramatic as blowing soap bubbles. A lampshade is hung over any situation that calls for it, pointing out that the rules of the game involve an element of luck that can lead to unusual results. In at least one case (a "friendly," rather than part of the Tourney) it was an actual Cooking Duel, with humorous results given that neither contestant needed to eat, or had any idea what chocolate brownies were supposed to be like.
In Alan Dean Foster's Mad Amos short story Witchen Woes, Mad Amos has a literal Cooking Duel (a chili cookoff) with a kitchen witch as a kind of exorcism.
The best part about that was when the princess who hit her uncle over the head with it, turning him into a poached egg, is found to be the rightful wielder the big, manly fighters/knights/barbarians insist on finishing the duel because they were "really looking forward to it." The one man's chocolate cake made with a helmet and baked in a shield is actually delineated in his own words in the back of the collection, parenthetically translated for modern-style cooking of course.
Eating duels are common in the Redwall series. Also, a song in one of the books tells of a duel in which the combatants threw salad at each other.
Numerous Game Shows and Reality Shows are more or less entire series of literal Cooking Duels — in live action, to boot.
Food Network runs or has run several other Cooking Duel-based shows, such as Throwdown, where Bobby Flay challenges another famous chef at his own specialty, and Date Plate, where two guys compete for a date with a hot woman by cooking her dinner.
Master Chef in Britain and Australia. Cooking doesn't get tougher than this!
Ready Steady Cook (Ready.. Set... Cook! in the USA) - Debuted in Britain in 1994, USA in 1995, independent of any Iron Chef popularity (1993 in Japan, then to the USA a few years later). Two chefs each team up with a normal person, receive a mystery bag of ingredients and have to prepare a meal with it.
And Chopped which takes the secret ingredient concept from Iron Chef and multiplies it.
The iCarly episode "iCook" has a parody of these shows complete with an Expy of Bobby Flay who has a nervous breakdown when he loses.
Tendo Souji was not only the title character and The Ace of Kamen Rider Kabuto, but also a genius chef. Naturally, this meant that any feud he had with another character would inevitably come down to a cooking duel. A short two-episode arc called "The Dark Kitchen" took this premise to its logical, yet highly absurd conclusion.
Then there's that make-up duel between Kazama Daisuke and a rival make-up artist. It's hilarious. Daisuke barely won by doing the impossible: eyeliners on his opponent. WHILE HE WAS WEARING GLASSES.
Also note this was a Single-Stroke Battle - they each did a makeup job on the other in a fraction of a second while leaping past each other.
Kamen Rider Double did this in their Hyper Battle Video. Philip was hungry and the enemy was food-based, so his 3 allies had a cooking duel with him as the judge to find out what the enemy was made of. The announcer from Iron Chef was there as a gadget giving commentary. Notably, none of this made any logical sense at all (but then, the Hyper Battle Videos are non-canon anyway.)
The Mama's Family episode "Soup to Nuts" features Thelma, Naomi, and Iola competing to see who cooks the best chili.
The Odd Couple episode "They Use Horseradish, Don't They?" had Oscar helping Felix in a cooking contest when Felix's back went out due to the stress of the competition.
A later episode of Three's Company had Jack enter a recipe contest in a women's magazine as "Grandma Tripper". He thinks he won and dressed up as an old woman to go and collect the prize. When he arrives (with Janet and Terri as his "nieces"), he finds out he's only a finalist and must now engage the other two finalists in a televised cooking duel.
More on the silly side and less on the dramatic, the various contests on Top Gear could qualify. Jeremy, James, and Richard will take part in competitions involving cars that often involve some odd regulations, such as "You are given £2000 to spend on a car and insurance as if you are 17 and buying your first. You are then to drive to X location while asserting why your car is better, spend the remainder of your money on modding your car to make it cooler, drive up to "your parent's house" at night without waking them, and impress some teenage girls with a handbrake turn. Whoever has the most points at the end wins."
To say nothing of the time presenter James May appeared on Gordon Ramsay's The F Word, engaged Ramsay in an actual cooking duel, and won.
He drank what appeared to be an entire bottle of wine, to boot.
The show Future Food has a competition in every episode.
On Parks and Recreation health-conscious Chris tries to convince unrepentant carnivore Ron that taking hamburgers off the menu was a good idea. Ron dares him to prove it, so they have a cook-off; Chris' turkey-burger with fancy herbs and spices versus Ron's ordinary beef patty on a plain bun, ketchup optional. Everyone actually likes Chris' turkeyburger, but then they have one bite of Ron's burger and all agree that it's better, even Chris.
In Weeds, Silas and another one of the growers who he's always fighting with decide to compete to see whose weed is the best quality. The test? Each one blows smoke at a cage raccoon and the winner is the one who's raccoon eats the most cheetos
The cover for the Nov. 17, 2003 issue of The New Yorker, drawn by Gary Larson, has two men in front of a Wild West saloon putting about ten paces between each other to see who will be the faster to draw... a caricature of the other on their easel.
Over the years, WWE has had numerous swimsuit competitions, dance-offs, rap battles and other non-wrestling competitions.
Ring announcers Lillian Garcia and Howard Finkel had an announcing competition in 2002. It was cut short when 3 Minute Warning interrupted and Howard shoved Lillian to them to save himself.
Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff's "Redneck Triathlon" from Badd Blood 2003.
The Junkyard Dog and Jimmy Hart once faced off in a waterslide race on a 1986 edition of Saturday Night's Main Event.
The Changeling: The Lost sourcebook Swords at Dawn details the various types of duels the Courts use to resolve disputes, split along lines of Physical, Mental, Social, and Mystical. Sure, two members of the martial Summer Court could engage in a fist-fight to first blood... but they could also easily decide on a duel where each argues a case before an impartial judge and tries to make the best argument.
Feuds between samurai in Legend of the Five Rings are typically solved with whatever skill the parcipants are trained in - swords for bushi, magic for shugenja and so forth. However, as samurai are expected to have knowledge in the courtly arts, the challenger may suggest more or less whatever he or she likes. Thus one can settle a feud through a flower-arranging battle or through actual cooking. This does tend to cost the challenger some face, though, as onlookers think less of their martial abilities.
In RISUS, anything can be a "fight", explicitly so, as long as it's entertaining or funny.
Dungeons & Dragons Oriental Adventures campaign setting has a rule for official and unofficial contests in any proficiency appropriate for the situation, such as calligraphy or falconry. Winning or losing such challenges gives or takes a Honor point and the winner receives XP bonus proportional to the host's level, doubled for official competitions.
Unknown Armies wants players to realize just how dumb engaging in lethal violence can be and suggests methods to avoid it. One of those, Rechannel, involves substitution of another competition for violence. The main book suggests drinking contests, cards, scavenger hunts, arm wrestling - really, anything with a clear winner and loser can do. Imagine the GM when a character offers to settle a feud with an NPC with winner-takes-all Hungry Hungry Hippos.
A more ominous example is the yearly contest between the Unconquered Sun and Saturn the Maiden of Ending, which may implies whether Creation will survive another year. One form of the contest was seeing who can spit the farthest.
In the original version it was a best two out of three contest, with shaving and tooth-pulling being two of the events (Sweeney wins both). But the tooth-pulling is one of the parts that is often cut from adaptations of the play.
Every single Pokémon game ever. What does an individual risk in a battle between his pokemon, other than that what he stakes on it? The pokemon always are easily brought back, and never are a risk to the trainer's life, even if the combatants are gangsters or want to destroy the world or something of that nature.
The Playstation game Suikoden II included a minigame with cooking duels between your army chef Hai Yo and various wandering chefs, including the two army chefs from the first Suikoden game. Complete with the twirling of weapons, the leaps of agility, and the bursts of energy from some of the opponents.
You can play a Cooking Duel minigame in Star Ocean: The Second Story's amusement park city, complete with a "secret ingredient" revealed with much fanfare.
Including a battle with slime as the secret ingredient.
In Tales of Symphonia, there's an optional scene towards the end of the game in which Regal has a cooking battle with "The Dark Chef" and earns his "God of The Kitchen" title.
Tales of Vesperia also gets one of these, putting the party member of your choice up against Flynn to earn cooking titles for your party members.
A character with a high enough Wisdom in Neverwinter Nights Tales of Arterra can bypass one test by telling the one-handed evil spirit who has been instructed to prove his is better than you that you are better at clapping your hands than he is.
Before Nippon Ichi hit it big with games like Disgaea, they made a whole game based on literal cooking duels called Cooking Fighter.
Cooking Mama allows one to duel in head-to-head mode on the NDS.
Parappa The Rapper kind of revolves around this. In each level, the titular rapper resolves a problem by rapping against a "master"—but they're all things that have nothing to do with rap. In the first game, you have to learn kung fu, get a driver's license, earn money at a flea market, bake a cake, move through a line at a gas station bathroom, and perform a stage show all by rapping. Only the last one makes any sense.
In Breath of Fire II, Princess Petape comes up with the idea to expose the impostor posing as her brother Tapeta by having the two engage in a Cooking Duel. The player's involvement in this consists of plumbing a dungeon to gather the ingredients (all of which happen to be boss monsters). It's a shame that the odds were in favor to Kuwadora/Quadra, because he threatened the judges, and so he would be victorious. Even they had to be reluctant to the fact that one of the prepared food contained the valuable Golden Fly/Greenbottle.
One of the scenarios in Elite Beat Agents is Chinese Chef Lau Pai Pai going up against French Chef Jean Pulori in an Iron Chef ... Cheff... ..off.. thing. With Leonardo da Vinci as host and judge.
All of the multiplayer scenarios in Ouendan and EBA could count as this trope, as well as a few singleplayer levels in both Ouendan games.
The cooking themed game, Order Up!
Then there's the Monkey Island series. No, not those duels. This is about the Banjo Duel. The kicker? You have to cheat to win.
Many of the text-based mini-quests in Space Rangers can be seen as this. They're not always one-on-one duels (usually it's a four-way contest), but when a planetary government asks you to win a pizza-baking contest on some far away planet...
Mario Party, anyone? Where to start: Don't look in the same direction as the opponent, blow a balloon between opponents' cars, walk on a ball and bump into the other to throw them away from the platform, shake a soda, and so on.
Trauma Center: New Blood has, as would be expected in this game and no other, a surgery duel. You don't get to see the other surgeon, though.
Triangle and Robert features "cuisine magic", so literal cooking duels are actually a regular feature of the strip.
Darths & Droids in this strip, which features a Force Arm-wresting challenge (which does not involve any actual arm-wrestling). And of course, The Rant links to this page.
''Nectar of the Gods is a prime example of this during its Tournament Arc. As the whole tournament is a bunch of Cocktail Battles between two bartenders at a time, for a large prize along with huge amounts of recognition.
Codename: Kids Next Door has Numbuh 1 in the episode "Operation: O.O.M.P.P.A.H." roped into "a tuba battle" (actually sousaphones) in order to save his father. He even lampshades how ridiculous the idea is.
In an Anvilicious episode of the 70's Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Fat Albert participated in a cooking contest. In a shocking (for the time) display of Positive Discrimination, Albert was continually denigrated, insulted, and generally made fun of by the other competitors (all girls, of course). In accordance with the episode's Aesop that anyone can do anything if they want it bad enough and work hard to get it, Fat Albert wins.
Pucca has cooking duel death courses, restaurant fights, and otherwise a whole new level of passion for the culinary arts.
SpongeBob SquarePants once faced Poseidon in a Cooking Duel to see if Spongebob was really of "the Golden Spatula". The challenge: be the first to make 1000 Krabby Patties. Poseidon uses his magical powers to make Krabby Patties by the hundreds, while Spongebob just carefully makes one. It turns out Poseidon's patties taste horrible, and the one Spongebob made was the best Poseidon had ever had. There's probably a lesson in there somewhere about "quality over quantity"...
The difference between the patties was that Spongebob cared for his patty (literally, tucking it into a lettuce bed and everything) and Poseidon used his magical god-of-the-sea merman powers to whip up a thousand patties as quickly as possible. So it's more like a cooking aesop where love = good food, processed meats produced cheaply in large quantity = icky food, even if they look the same.
I shall never eat fast food again.
The episode "Fry Cook Games" has Spongebob and Patrick compete in fry-cooking themed athletic events like ice-cream high-diving and bun wrestling.
Avatar: The Last Airbender - in "Tales of Ba Sing Se", Sokka gets knocked into a poetry class and ends up in a haiku duel with the teacher. Which, stylistically, he treats as a rap battle.
An episode of the AlfSpin-OffALF Tales changes John Henry from a steel-drivin' man to a celebrity chef who competes against a machine that synthesizes food.
In Futurama, Bender is an aspiring chef. Unfortunately as a robot he has no taste buds and is appalling. But once he entered into a chef duel with the famous Elzar, and won by using a magical ingredient. It was ordinary tap water... laced with nothing more than a few tablespoons of LSD.
Katz will do this sometimes too. In one episode, he and Courage had an epic duel to the death... in the form of a Staring Contest.
This seems to be Katz whole schtick. I'm pretty sure there is another episode where they have an overly-dramatic handball competition.
In the comic strip Lucky Luke: Calamity Jane from 1967, Jane gets involved in a baking contest with the equally unqualified matron of the establishment, the unlucky witnesses have to eat the results at gunpoint.
Xiaolin Showdown is a very prominent example. A Showdown can be anything: a race, sumo wrestling, basketball, bird-catching, alligator-hopping, etc. Showdowns also take place in a warped, tricked-out version of wherever the characters were standing to make things interesting.
South Park has had dance-offs, whore-offs, virtual Yahtzee, and the "Hell's Kitchen Nightmares Iron Top Chef Cafeteria Throwdown Ultimate Cookoff Challenge," among other crap (literally).
Home Movies - Brendon and Jason play an attorney and his romantic rival who first square off with plastic swords, which break, so naturally...
Brendon: Oh. It looks like we're gonna have to complete the fight without weapons!
Jason: You mean a battle of wits?
Brendon: Close...we fight with jazz!
Jason: Bring it on, daddy-o!
The Simpsons parodies this mercilessly in the Hell's Angels episode; when Homer challenges the leader of the bikers to a motorcycle duel, they literally pick up their motorcycles and have a swordfight, complete with copious flynning and dueling up and down stairs.
Greedy in The Smurfs episode "The Gingerbread Smurfs" challenges Brainy to a cooking duel in order to prove who is really the best cook in the village, with gingerbread cookies being the item that both contestants will make. Of course, Brainy disqualifies himself by using one of Papa Smurf's magic books in order to make a magic gingerbread cookie, which becomes Anthropomorphic Food that multiplies and causes trouble in the village.
The Fairly OddParents: Every thousand years, Fairies and Anti-Fairies use a cooking contest to decide which side (Fairies or Anti-Fairies) gets the right to have godchildren until the next cooking contest.