2020 Culinary Challenge Rules
The NACUFS Culinary Challenge is sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation (ACF), and is classified as a Category W - Customized Wildcard Category.
Individual competitors will have 60 minutes, with ten additional minutes for plating, to prepare four portions of an original hot entrée featuring the mandatory proteins of Cornish hen and black beluga lentils with side dishes and sauces to create a nutritionally balanced plate. (See product specifications at the end of the rules for further details.)
General Rules and Guidelines
- The entrée recipe must feature the mandatory proteins, Cornish hen and black beluga lentils, and two "classical cuts." The "tournee" cut is permitted but 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 or lentils 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 these tasks.
- Competitors may also bring proteins pre-marinated, but will be required to demonstrate making of the marinade during either the 30 minute preparation time or the 60 minute cooking time. (Access to the kitchen 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. No finished sauces are allowed; however, basic stocks may be brought in as necessary for the assignment. No clarified consommés or reduced stock 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. Small appliances may not be used during preparatory time with the exception of a small grinder.
- No additional heat source may be used during preparation. Smoke gun handheld food smokers are allowed. Competitors may bring and use a heat lamp only during the 10 minute service window.
- Only two whole Cornish hens per competitor will be supplied by the challenge.
- All other recipe ingredients are the responsibility of the contestant including the black beluga lentils. All ingredients will be proctored and only those ingredients listed on the contestant’s recipe will be allowed for use.
- Any alterations to the recipe submitted with the official entry form must be submitted to the regional culinary challenge chair no later than one week prior to the regional competition. Changes after that time will result in a reduction of points.
The NACUFS Culinary Challenge (National competition) is open to the winners of the six regional Culinary Challenges. Regional competitions must be conducted in a like manner to the national Culinary Challenge, using the same rules and judging criteria.
- 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, but other members of their institution are eligible to compete.
- Applicant must submit the Official Culinary Challenge Entry Form completed in full, and all attachments to firstname.lastname@example.org by the entry deadline.
- The recipe submitted must be in compliance with all rules outlined in the NACUFS Culinary Challenge rules for 2020.
Each entry must include:
- Official Culinary Challenge Entry Form, found on NACUFS Awards & Contests website, in its entirety, including an original hot entrée recipe and recipes for side dishes and sauces in Microsoft Word format.
- Color Photo of the original signature dish (in electronic format, preferably JPEG.)
- Contestant's photo (in electronic format, preferably JPEG.)
- Each recipe submitted to the national competition must bear a strong resemblance to the winning regional recipe. Providing the main ingredients are the same as those in the winning regional recipe, small alterations may be approved. To request approval, you must submit your request to the National Culinary Challenge Chair no later than 20 days prior to the national competition. Changes after that time will result in a reduction of points.
- The total number of competitor slots will be limited to a maximum of 8 competitors per region and may be less if facility space is limited.
- Only one entry will be accepted per school. If multiple entries are received, the voting delegate for that institution will be notified and will select the one entry that is accepted.
- If the region receives more entries than the total number of “regional slots”, then the selection will be made as follows:
- All eligible entries will be stripped of any identification of individual or school.
- All eligible entries will then be forwarded to a team consisting of the six regional culinary challenge chairs who will evaluate each entry and provide the regional Culinary Challenge liaison 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.
- Your regional Culinary Challenge chair will inform you if you have been selected to compete.
All contestants are required to attend a pre- and post-competition briefing, at times determined by the Culinary Challenge chair.
The following equipment will be provided at the competition site:
- 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 requested on entry form)
- 1 x trash container with liner
- assorted miscellaneous - 2 x towels, container of water and cleaning supplies (including sanitizer), 1 x wet waste bucket.
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, smoking gun handheld food smokers, 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, it must be listed and detailed on the entry form and approved in advance of the competition by the Culinary Challenge chair.
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 75 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 10 minute intervals between competitors. Start times will be randomly assigned.
Three ACF-approved judges will judge the competitors, using a 100-point scale, as follows:
Organization: Total of 25 points
- Sanitation/Work habits (HACCP guidelines will be followed)
- Utilization of ingredients and use of allotted time
- 1 point deduction for each minute late
Cooking Skills and Culinary Technique: Total of 25 points
- Creativity, skills, craftsmanship
- Serving and portion size
Taste: Total of 50 points
- Flavor and texture
- Ingredient compatibility and nutritional balance
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
- Significant difference from what was prepared at regional competition
- 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
- Inappropriate conduct or unethical behavior
- Late submission of final recipe
Judges will offer 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 the 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 has the reserved right of making final decisions on unresolved issues for what they believe to be the benefit of the competition and to ensure consistent standards.
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 (90-100 points)
- ACF Silver medal (80-89 points)
- ACF Bronze medal (70-79 points)
All contestants will receive certificates of participation.
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 CEO for use in connection with association activities.
Mandatory Protein: Two whole Cornish hens and black beluga lentils