After several years in hibernation, EA and Maxis have reintroduced Stuff Packs to The Sims 4, in the form of Home Chef Hustle – a dedicated item pack themed around comfort food. While the pack is hyper-focussed on the art and act of cooking in a virtual environment, it does this very well. It’s a rewarding, and genuinely game-changing Stuff Pack that transforms the overall Sims experience.
In the base game, cooking food is fairly simple. While some recipes require a high level of skill before they unlock, most meals can be cooked with a click of a button. There’s no real fuss around gathering ingredients or following steps. Your Sims will just hop to it, and a few moments later, your food is prepared (or your stove is on fire).
Home Chef Hustle adds a number of layers to this process, in an effort to make cooking feel a bit more earned. You can still follow basic steps to cook meals, as in the base game, but using the new Stand Mixer appliance to cook basic ingredients first – dough, batter, prepped veggies, prepped seafood – will save you money and time overall. Just like in the real world, it’s cheaper and more fulfilling to prepare your own ingredients rather than buying them outright – and Home Chef Hustle presents a compelling reason for taking your time, and turning the act of cooking into a more methodical, step-by-step process.
While this is similar to the grocery store shopping of Cottage Living, it differs slightly in that it adds more steps to the actual cooking process, rather than the prep stage.
When playing with Home Chef Hustle, the pack retroactively applies this measured process to older recipes as well, allowing you to more carefully prepare your favourite meals. There’s also a number of brand new recipes included with Home Chef Hustle, largely made with the new Stand Mixer, Pizza Oven, and Waffle Maker appliances – chicken and waffles, strawberry waffles, seafood pizza, focaccia, and more.
It’s a great mix – and further cements The Sims 4 as a paradise for foodies, and anyone that loves a good virtual cooking game (although if you’re looking for a more methodical depiction, Cooking Mama is still the queen).
In recent years, The Sims 4 has introduced a variety of new recipes in response to fan demand – most notably, adding in grilled items in Horse Ranch. Where there are gaps in the game’s cookbook, fans have stepped in to fill the void, with plenty of great food mods for individual recipes available online.
There’s something so satisfying about sitting down to guide your Sims through life, and spending the time idling away baking muffins, roasting vegetables, crafting sushi, and cooking pizza. It speaks to the reason why people still love and play The Sims: it’s an escape. A fantasy simulator.
Some of us dream of owning a big house one day. Some of us dream of a prolific career. Maybe we want to conquer the stars, meet aliens, build a rocket ship, explore caverns, or become a mermaid. For some of us, the perfect fantasy is finally having time to sit down, leaf through a ginormous recipe book, and cook every meal we could ever want, with all the time in the world.
Home Chef Hustle offers that experience, rewarding you for taking your time to create the perfect meal. It also offers monetary benefit beyond food being a simple habit, or for survival purposes, with the inclusion of the new Food Stall item.
Food Stalls can be established in any location – even outside somebody else’s home business – and they can be stocked with any type of food you create. On opening a stall for the day, you’ll stock it with any good food you’ve made (and note: each food item does have an expiry time) and then neighbourhood folks will flock to peep at your wares.
It’s a nifty way of make money, made all the more satisfying by the knowledge that you’ve hand-made each and every food item that’s sold throughout the day. As an added bonus, establishing a food stall also lets you interact with your neighbours, gathering everyone together for warm chats over warm plates – as all food should be enjoyed.
In my time running a food stall while reviewing Home Chef Hustle, I was able to turn a tidy profit by turning cooking into my Sims’ home business. It was a wholesome routine: get up, prepare ingredients, bake goods, craft pizzas, sometimes put out fires (they’re still overeager, even after multiple game patches), and then set up the stall with an array of pizzas, waffles, and cakes. By the afternoon, I’d have made a few good friends, and a whole bunch of cash – and then I’d start the process all over again. A simple life, but a very good one.
With every new recipe to play with, there’s a whole new dimension to cooking in Home Chef Hustle. That also includes stranger dimensions, with the arrival of one specific meal: the Curious Pizza. While only a small part of the new pack, it’s well worth mentioning.
We all love when The Sims gets weird. The Curious Pizza is one of the weirder additions to the game in recent memory. When you cook this meal – which requires a high level cooking skill, and an Alien Fruit (which can be found in space via rocket travel) – you’ll get a unique moodlet, and an indication that strange things are on the horizon, in the form of “unexpected visitors”.
The pizza is, of course, named after the famous Curious family, who appeared most prominently in The Sims 2, as a collective of weird science nerds. While the effects of this pizza are vague, it appears it attracts alien visitors, and increases the likelihood of abductions. It’s fun, very silly, and a great reminder of just how weird The Sims can get. For this pack, it’s the icing on a lovely cake.
Beyond these essential items and game tweaks, there are some other inclusions in Home Chef Hustle – including new food-themed outfits, accessories, and kitchen decorations – but there’s no doubt the flagship cooking overhaul is what makes the pack shine brightest.
While only a small tweak, adding extra steps to recipes goes a long way towards making cooking in the game seem more realistic, and far more rewarding. It paves a path for you to spend hours working on your virtual food arrays, and then watching with pride as each of your home meals is snapped up by willing Sims. As an activity and side hustle, it’s a great inclusion, and adds a dose of flavour to The Sims formula.
Hopefully, there’s more activity-based Stuff Packs on the horizon for the game. As The Sims 4 ages, packs like Home Chef Hustle keep the experience feeling fresh.
Four stars: ★★★★
The Sims 4: Home Chef Hustle Stuff Pack
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Release Date: 28 September 2023
A copy of the PC version of The Sims 4: Home Chef Hustle Stuff Pack was provided and played for the purposes of this review. GamesHub reviews are scored on a 5-point rating scale.