The NACUFS Culinary Challenge is sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation (ACF), and is classified as a K-8 Live Lobster Practical and Contemporary Hot-Food Cooking Competition.
Individual competitors will have 60 minutes, with ten additional minutes for plating, to prepare four portions of an original hot entrée, featuring the mandatory ingredient of lobster, (two 2.5 pound live lobsters per competitor), side dishes and sauces to create a balanced plate. Each plate should follow the nutritional guidelines listed below in the general rules. See product specifications at the end of the rules for details.
The entrée recipe should be nutritionally balanced and follow these guidelines: Based on overall calories, no more than 30 percent of daily calories should come from fat; 50–60 percent of daily calories should come from carbohydrates; and 15–20 percent of calories should come from protein. A nutritional analysis is required.
The entrée recipe must feature the mandatory ingredient: live lobster (see product specifications below) and two "classical cuts." The "tournee" cut is NOT required for this competition.
No advance preparation or cooking is allowed. Vegetables can be peeled and salads may be cleaned and washed but not cut or shaped in any form; beans may be pre-soaked. Exceptions are chopped herbs, shallots, garlic, and mirepoix. Each contestant will be allowed up to 30 minutes of preparation time before the competition to complete this task.
Competitors may also bring proteins pre-marinated, but will be required to demonstrate fabrication of protein and making of the marinade during the allowed 60 minute cooking time. (Access to the kitchen the night before the competition will be available to allow marinating of the protein.)
Competitors are allowed to bring in only the whole and raw materials in an unprepared state in the amount stated in their recipes; however, the judges may allow variances in amounts for products that require further preparation. No finished sauces are allowed; however, basic stocks may be brought in as necessary for the assignment. No clarified consommés are allowed.
All competitors are required to pre-scale their recipes. Puff pastry, phyllo dough and Bric are allowable in the Culinary Challenge.
Contestants will work unassisted.
Contestants must provide their own knives, smallwares, additional cookware, and/or small appliances. All cookware must be induction burner compatible. No additional heat source may be used during preparation. Small appliances may not be used during 30 minute preparatory time.
Only the mandatory ingredient will be supplied by the challenge.
All other recipe ingredients are the responsibility of the contestant. All ingredients will be proctored and only those ingredients listed on the contestant’s recipe will be allowed for use.
The NACUFS Culinary Challenge (National competition) is open to the winners of the six regional Culinary Challenges. Regional competitions must be conducted in a similar manner to the national Culinary Challenge, using the same rules and judging criteria. Competitors represent the individual’s region.
Competitors' institutions must be NACUFS members in good standing.
Regional Culinary Challenges are open to all culinary professionals (chefs, cooks, and production personnel) employed at member schools. Individual competitors must have worked at the member institution for a minimum of six months, on a full-time basis. The member institution may have a self-operated, contracted, or co-sourced management system.
In the event a regional winner leaves his or her institution before the national competition and is employed by a member institution in the same region, he or she may represent that region and compete in the NACUFS Culinary Challenge.
In the event a regional winner leaves his or her institution before the national competition and is no longer employed by a member institution in the same region, the region will send its second place winner to compete in the NACUFS Culinary Challenge.
Members of the Culinary Challenge committee are not eligible to compete.
Culinary professionals on the staffs of committee members are eligible to compete.
Late entries may have points deducted for each day late.
Culinary Challenge registration form, found through your regional conference.
Original hot entrée recipe and recipes for side dishes and sauces, on the Culinary Challenge recipe form. (The recipe may be reviewed by the committee to ensure a consistent format.)
Nutritional analysis of recipes
Contestant's bio: maximum of 300 words of narrative, summarizing contestant's career highlights leading to the Culinary Challenge competition
Color Photo of the original signature dish (in electronic format, preferably JPEG)
Contestant's photo (in electronic format, preferably JPEG)
Text must be submitted in electronic format via Email to the Regional Culinary Challenge Committee on the official Culinary Challenge forms. Photo must be submitted electronically. Complete instructions will be e-mailed to the competitors from the Culinary Challenge regional committees.
Each recipe submitted to the national competition must bear a strong resemblance to the winning regional recipe. Small alterations for the entree will be allowed, providing the main ingredients are the same as those in the winning regional recipe. Alterations to the side dishes may be allowed but final copies of their recipes, including any alterations, must be submitted no later than [deadline will be determined following the regional competitions].
If more entries are received for the regional Culinary Challenge than the number of positions each region has available for competitors, regions will use one of two methods (described below) to allocate the available competition slots. Your regional Culinary Challenge representative will inform you once your entry has been received which method your region will be using. The total number of competitor slots will be decided by each region’s Culinary Challenge committee and may vary from region to region.
For both methods described below, the following rule applies. Only one competitor will be chosen per school. A school may submit more than one person for consideration but will only be permitted to send their number one choice to compete if the region receives more qualified challengers than they have available slots.
If the region receives more entries from schools than the total number of “regional slots”, then each school’s number one ranked competitor will go into a pool of names to which one of the following methods will be used to award the available slots:
Method #1: All eligible entries will be forwarded to the regional ACF approved competition judges. This independent panel of judges will evaluate each entry and provide the regional Culinary Challenge committee with a list ranking each entry. Available competition slots will be awarded according to this ranked list. Alternates will also be selected should a selected competitor withdraw and a competitor slot becomes available.
Method #2: All eligible entries will go into a lottery drawing system to fairly choose who will compete. Alternates will also be selected should a selected competitor withdraw and a competitor slot becomes available.
In the event that the region has slots still available after allocating positions to each school's top ranking competitor, then one of the above methods will be used to select competitors from the remaining list of names, in order to complete the field.
In order to be considered for this elite group of culinary competitors, you must meet the following criteria:
Your school must meet the eligibility requirements outlined in the NACUFS Culinary Challenge rules
Applicant must have all required information (Culinary Challenge registration and recipe form) submitted to the Culinary Challenge committee by the entry deadline.
The recipe submitted must be in compliance with all rules outlined in the NACUFS Culinary Challenge rules for 2014.
All contestants are required to attend a pre- and post-competition briefing, at times determined by the Culinary Challenge committee.
1 x 6-foot and 1 x 8-foot skirted tables set in an “L” shape with the 8-foot table being the front table
1 x Full-size rectangle chaffer with two half pans
2 x Single induction burners
2 x Sauté pans, induction burner compatible
2 x Large cutting boards
4 x 10-inch white china plates (if required)
1 x Trash container with liner
Assorted Miscellaneous - 2 x towels, container of water and cleaning supplies (including sanitizer), 1 x wet waste bucket.
Additional equipment may be supplied. Competitors will receive a list of such equipment from the Culinary Challenge committee.
The primary heat source for recipe preparation will be the induction burners supplied by the competition. Additionally, competitors may bring small appliances (such as food processors, immersion blenders, or blow torches) to assist in the preparation of the recipe during the competition time. In all cases, if a competitor brings any type of appliance, the use of it must be approved in advance of the competition by the Culinary Challenge Committee.
Contestants will have a total of 80 minutes to compete:
5 minutes to set the station
60 minutes to fabricate and cook
10 minutes for service window (Competitors cannot serve the judges before the end of 60 minutes of cooking time – final plate up should not be done prior to the 60 minute cooking time)
5 minutes clean up and exit station
Competitors will be penalized in scoring if either your food is not to the judges at the end of 70 minutes, if your dishes are plated up prior to the completion of the 60 minute of cooking time or you have not cleaned and exited your station at the end of 80 minutes.
Volunteers will be available to assist each competitor in cleaning and delivering plates to the judges. No other assistance is allowed.
Competition start times will be staggered with 5 minute intervals between competitors. Start times will be randomly assigned.
Three ACF-approved judges will judge the competitors, using a 40-point scale, as follows:
Organization: Total of 10 points
Sanitation/Work habits (HACCP guidelines will be followed): 0–5 points
Utilization of ingredients and use of allotted time: 0–5 points
(1.2 point deduction for each minute late)
Cooking Skills and Culinary Technique: Total of 10 points
Creativity, skills, craftsmanship: 0–5 points
Serving and portion size: 0–5 points
Taste: Total of 20 points
Flavor and texture: 0–10 points
Ingredient compatibility and nutritional balance: 0–5 points
Presentation: 0–5 points
Contestants may lose points or be disqualified from the challenge for lack of compliance with contest rules.
Noncompliance may include, but is not limited to:
Use of copyrighted or unoriginal recipe
Lack of mise en place, or disorganization
Deviation from the recipe; lack of cooking integrity or ingredients that do not meet the guidelines as stated above
Inappropriate or unsafe food handling practices
Improper portion size
Violation of the uniform code
Inappropriate conduct or unethical behavior
Late submission and/or incomplete registration materials
Judges will offer individual critiques to contestants at the close of the competition.
The decisions of the judges are final.
Although we intend and strive for both the National and Regional competitions to be exactly the same, some slight variations may arise at that National Competition due to a different competition venue or other unforeseen circumstances. Although we cannot eliminate all unforeseen issues we are committed to dealing with them in a professional manner to produce a fair and level playing field for all the competitors. The National Culinary Challenge Chairperson along with the lead judge of the competition has the reserved right of making final decisions on unresolved issues for what they believe to be the benefit of the competition.
First, second, and third place NACUFS prizes will be awarded based on total points:
First place: Trophy engraved with winner's name, $500
Second place: $250
Third place: $150
ACF medals will also be awarded, based on the following point totals:
ACF Gold medal (36–40 points)
ACF Silver medal (32–35.99 points)
ACF Bronze medal (28–31.99 points)
All contestants will receive certificates of participation.
Awards will be presented at the national conference. All winners will be announced on the NACUFS website, through press releases, and in the post-conference edition of Campus Dining Today®.
All recipes and photos entered into the Culinary Challenge become the property of NACUFS.
By entering, contestants grant permission to NACUFS to publish and/or use in any way the materials submitted, including the recipes and names and photos of competitors.
Permission to use copyrighted materials, symbols, etc., must be verified with a copy of the permission from the copyright owner.
NACUFS shall not be liable or responsible for personal, college, or company equipment that is lost, stolen, or broken unless such equipment has been authorized in writing by the executive director for use in connection with association activities. (NACUFS P&P A-220)
Mandatory Ingredient: Live lobster
Each competitor will receive (2) 2.5 pound live lobsters. Competitors will be responsible for trimming and portioning of mandatory ingredient.