The live competition sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation (ACF) begins at the regional level. ACF judges are on hand at all the competitions to judge and provide their expertise, making each event a valuable learning experience. Individual competitors’ creations are judged based on a 100-point scale to rate organization, cooking skills, culinary technique, and taste during the regional and national competitions to determine if they will take home an ACF medal.

The NACUFS 2023 Culinary Challenge winner receives a trophy, $500, and recognition during the National Conference. The winner is also featured in the official NACUFS magazine, Campus Dining Today®.

In March, more than 40 collegiate chefs from member institutions around the country showed off their culinary prowess at six regional competitions during the 2023 National Association of College & University Food Services’ (NACUFS) Spring Conference Series. Six chefs have risen to the top, advancing to compete during the NACUFS 2023 Culinary Challenge, sponsored by US Foods, Cintas and Hormel Foods. The individual competitors will face off against the clock to prepare a creative entrée featuring the mandatory ingredients — pork tenderloin, ground pork and smoked bacon — to create a nutritionally balanced plate.

Continental Region

Jacob Gandy, University of Utah


Gandy (Continental)






Northeast Region

Jeffrey MacDonald, University of Massachusetts


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Mid-Atlantic Region

Athan Spanos, Pennsylvania State University


MA2 Headshot



Pacific Region

Héctor Giancarlo Pérez-Scolari, University of California - San Diego


P1 Headshot


Midwest Region

C. David Wolf, The Ohio State University


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Southern Region

Chad McDonald, University of Houston


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2023 Culinary Challenge Sponsors