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 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. 

Each entry must include: 

Selection Procedures


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:

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:

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

Cooking Skills and Culinary Technique: Total of 25 points

Taste: Total of 50 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:

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:

ACF medals will also be awarded, based on the following point totals:

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. 

Product Specifications: 

Mandatory Protein: Two whole Cornish hens and black beluga lentils

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