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The Culinary Challenge recognizes the exceptional culinary expertise within collegiate dining. The Challenge is a live competition at the regional level, with regional winners advancing to the National Conference, where they will compete before a live audience. The National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS) recognizes the skills necessary for chefs to bring together within their creations – a combination of organization, talent, technique, taste, and style. The winner of the Culinary Challenge is recognized during National Conference with an award and cash prize, highlighted in Campus Dining Today®, the official magazine of NACUFS, and may earn a medal from the American Culinary Federation.

The individual competitors will face off against the clock to prepare their original recipe featuring the mandatory protein. For 2024, each competitor will be provided with (2) 28-32 ounce fresh branzino (head and fins on, gutted and scaled), 1 pound medium bulgur wheat, and 1 lb 21-25 P&D white shrimp, tail on. They must use all three types of protein to build a nutritionally balanced plate including starch, vegetables, and sauce that will impress even the most discerning judge.

Midwest Region

Bouakhanh Greene, C.E.C., University of Michigan


Northeast Region

Jeffrey MacDonald, University of Massachusetts


Southern Region

Chad McDonald, University of Houston


Continental Region

James Jorgen, University of Utah 


Mid-Atlantic Region

Nicholas Simpson, Virginia Tech 


Pacific Region

Tye Nielsen, University of California - Riverside


Thank you to our 2024 sponsors!