Food Show & Food Challenge

4H CloverThe Food Show & Food Challenge is an exciting way to get kids involved in the Foods & Nutrition Project. Youth interested in sharpening their culinary skills will also have fun learning about nutrition. Members can compete in Food Show as an individual or as a team for Food Challenge! If you are interested in participating, please reference the rules and guidelines outlined below.

Food Show:

Individual Contest only.
Contest Category Descriptions

The 4-H Food Show gives youth the opportunity for educational and personal development and recognizes members who excel in the 4-H Food and Nutrition Project. The Food Show is an individual contest in which a 4-H member prepares a dish that correlates with the current year’s theme in one of the contest categories and presents it to a panel of judges. During the presentation and interview with the judges, 4-H members exhibit the knowledge and skills gained through the 4-H Food and Nutrition Project, such as preparation steps, nutrients found in the dish, the functions of various ingredients, personal dietary needs, healthy substitutions, and cost analysis.

Contestants will be interviewed in a room near a kitchen. The Kitchen Supervisor will inform each contestant when and where to take his/her dish to be judged. When the contestant arrives to their designated room they will begin their interview. The interview is broken down into three main parts: Introduction/Presentation, Question & Answer, and Serving. At the conclusion of 4-H Food Show, ranking, judges’ comments and other correspondence will be forwarded to the 4-H County Agent. Please read the interview breakdown below:

  • Introduction/Presentation: Each contestant will start with a maximum (3) three-minute presentation to introduce themselves and their dish. You should describe your inspiration in choosing your recipe and how it relates to the year’s theme.
  • Question and Answer: Judges will have the opportunity for a (5) five-minute interview asking questions applicable to the scorecard. It includes but is not limited to basic nutrition, food safety and preparation as well as project experiences. Being familiar with the information from the recommended study resources will improve your interview success.
  • Serving: At the conclusion of the question and answer period you will have (1) one-minute to serve the judges a portion of your dish. This will allow judges to visually evaluate the dish you have prepared. Contestants are encouraged to practice proper food handling techniques when presenting food to the judges. The food should be presented in a serving dish with a serving utensil. The dish should be presented to the judges as if it were about to be placed on a table for a family dinner. In some instances, it is not necessary to present to the judges the entire recipe. For example, if a recipe makes two loaves of bread, only one loaf needs to be presented for judging. Serve judges only a small portion of food using the paper products provided by the judging supervisor. The serving trays provided by the Kitchen Supervisor must be used if a tray is needed to safely transport the dish. Fancy or elaborate placemats, linens, centerpieces, candles, etc., are not to be included with the dish as it is presented for judging interviews. Contestants should use only serving dishes and utensils appropriate and necessary to present and serve the dish to be judged. Agents and leaders are encouraged to use discretion regarding this manner when counseling 4-H participants, members or contestants for the state show.


Food Challenge:

Teams (3-5)
Contest Category Descriptions

More than 120,000 youth participate in the 4-H Food & Nutrition Project, learning how to prepare nutritious and safe meals and snacks and adopt behaviors that can help reduce their risk for chronic disease. This contest challenges teams of 4-H members to create a dish using only a predetermined set of ingredients. From these ingredients, team members must identify and prepare the dish, then make a presentation about it to the judges. Please read the Food Challenge breakdown below (Please note, additional instructions may be provided at county, district, and state level):

  • During Food Challenge each team will be provided with a set of ingredients reflective of the assigned category and a clue, and will create a dish using them.
  • Each team will need to be present with a supply box that contains cooking equipment to complete the Challenge. The Supply Box List can be viewed here.
  • Teams will have 40 minutes total to prepare a dish, plan a presentation, and clean up the preparation area. Teams are given a 20 minute warning, 10 minute warning, 5 minute warning, and 1 minute warning during the Challenge. Teams are encouraged to prepare their presentation at the 10 minute warning. After the 40 minutes has elapsed no talking or writing is allowed among any team members.
  • The ingredients provided to each team are based upon a recipe; however, teams are challenged with being creative and developing their own recipe with the ingredients provided.
  • Teams must incorporate each ingredient into the dish. However, teams may determine the exact amount of each ingredient to use. The ingredients provided to each team may also be used to garnish the dish.
  • Teams will have access to a “pantry” of additional ingredients that may be incorporated into their recipe.
  • Teams will be judged during the preparation phase of the contest. This judging is based upon observation only! Teams that may experience any equipment malfunction(s) may not replace the equipment with supplies from another team, leaders, volunteers, county Extension agents or contest officials. Instead, team members must work together and be creative in completing preparation without the malfunctioning equipment.
  • If electricity goes out during the preparation phase of the contest, teams are asked to turn away from the table immediately. Contest officials will stop the clock so that no preparation time is lost.
  • Once the preparation portion is over, teams must wait to be escorted to another room to wait to give your team presentation.
  • After your team presentation, you will be instructed on where to wait until Awards are presented. Award presentation differs at County, District & State levels so do not leave the premises until then!
  • After Awards are presented your team is free to take your dish and supply box with you!


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