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Food Challenge

March 22, 2019 @ 9:00 am - 2:00 pm

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Date.   Friday, March 22, 2019

Location.   State Fair of Texas fairground, Creative Arts Building (1327 Admiral Nimitz Circle, Dallas, TX 75210).  MAP

Day of the event parking information:

We are excited  that you have registered for the District IV Food Challenge contest scheduled for Friday. This will be our biggest contest to date!

Below are a few updates, tips, and instructions that pertain to the day:


1. Teams have been assigned to heats and the assignment list is attached, please review carefully and check-in to your appropriate heat.

2. Plan for traffic coming in and leaving. Check-In/Registration for Heat 1 begins at 9:00 am. Please do not try to enter early; you will have plenty of time entering at 9:00 am for Heat 1. (Check-In/Registration for Heat 2 begins at 10:30 am.)

3. Parking: We have 2 lots that we can park in. To get inside the fairgrounds: from Parry Avenue, turn east onto Washington Street and proceed through Gate 3. It’s an odd entrance with the rail line and such, so just be cautious. Continue on Washington St. until you reach Keating Drive. Turn right onto Keating. Nimitz parking lot is on your right. You may park here. If that lot is full, proceed to Admiral Nimitz Circle and turn left. Drive past the Creative Arts Building and Coliseum. You may park in the big lot on your left. There will be other events taking place at Fair Park, so please adhere to parking in one of these two designated parking lots. You may park momentarily by the Creative Arts Building to unload your kits and kids. I have included a link to a custom Google Map showing driving directions from Parry to the first and second lots. The two lots are designated with a “P” icon.

Google Map: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1RRPB2Qxkx-hXqYZrt7vrVxmpLDQ&usp=sharing

We likely will not have enough chairs in the waiting area for parents and siblings, so please bring bag chairs for your family if you like.

You may also bring snacks for your family, but please help keep the facility clean and free of trash.

We wish you safe travels and the best of luck at the contest. See you there!


Tentative  Schedule.   The following tentative schedule applies to all contestants and judges.  (subject to change).  A final schedule will be distributed/posted following the registration deadline.  The Awards Program for each heat will be conducted as soon as judging and tabulation are complete. More specific times will be sent to the Judges and Group Leaders after entries are received.

                         Heat 1                          Heat 2
9:00 am– Registration/ Box Checks 10:30 am– Registration/Box Checks
9:30 am– Contestant Orientation

Group Leader/Judging Orientation

11:00 am– Contestant Orientation


10:00 am– Heat 1 Challenge Begins 11:30 am– Heat 2 Challenge Begins
10:40 am– Heat 1 Challenge Ends 12:10 pm-Heat 2 Challenge Ends
11:00 am– Heat 1 Judging 12:25 pm– Heat 2 Judging Begins
12:00 pm- Heat 1 Awards 1:30– Heat 2 Awards


TEAM HEAT ASSIGNMENTS:  Will be posted after the registration deadline.

Registration.   Each participating member is required to register on 4-H Connect and pay the district $12.00 contest registration fee. Registration will open on February 1, 2019 and close at midnight March 1, 2019.  Please make sure each team member uses the exact same team name when registering.  County offices, please double-check and correct any team naming issues at your level before certifying.

Participation.   Participants must be active 4-H members enrolled in a Texas 4-H and Youth Development county program in District IV, and must also be academically eligible.

Age.   Age divisions are determined by a participant’s grade as of August 31 of the current 4-H year.

Junior   grades 3, 4 or 5
Intermediate   grades 6, 7, or 8
Senior   grades 9, 10, 11, or 12


Teams per county.  Each county may enter up to  4 teams in each age division. The 1st place senior team from each food category will advance to state.  Teams advancing to state will not automatically be assigned to the same food category as they were in at district.

Members per team.  Senior and Intermediate teams will have at least three and no more than four members.  Junior teams will have at least three and not more than five members.*  Teams may not include members in different age divisions, with the exception of juniors, who are allowed to move up to the intermediate age division.  Only seniors can compete in the senior age division.

*Junior teams with five members will be allowed for 2018-19.  Starting in 2019-20 all teams will be required to have at least three and no more than four.

Food categories.  In each age division, recipes will be selected from the four Food Categories:  Main Dish, Fruits & Vegetables, Bread & Cereal, and Nutritious Snacks.  Teams will be assigned to a heat/category, and a schedule will be posted and distributed prior to the contest.

Attire. Each team will have the option of wearing coordinated cloth­ing, aprons, hair coverings, etc.  Clothing needs to be appropriate and safe for food preparation (i.e. closed toed shoes)

Contest References & Forms.   Refer to the following website for additional rules, scorecard, and forms: http://texas4-h.tamu.edu/projects/food-nutrition/.  Note that there will be a different Scorecard and Team Worksheet for the Junior/Intermediate age divisions.

Resource materials provided at contest.  Resource materials will be provided for each team at the contest. These include:

No other resource materials will be allowed. Teams may not use their personal copies of the resources during the contest.   You can find these resources at the same link noted above in the Contest References & Forms section.

Supply box.  Each team must supply their own equipment for the challenge. Teams may bring only the supplies listed in the supply box section (below).  Any extra equipment will be confiscated.  Safety note: please make sure all knives are properly and safely packed in the box so that contestants and officials are not injured.  There will be no dish cleaning/washing facilities available.  Plan your supply boxes for each team accordingly.  Restrooms are off limits for dish/utensil washing.  After each heat, burners will be moved to a central table to allow for cooling.  Please make sure all burners are clearly labeled with a county, club, or individual’s name.

Awards.   The top two high scoring food challenge teams in each age division from each heat will be recognized with awards during the awards program.  In the senior age division, the 1st place team from each food category will qualify for state.

Team Spirit awards.   Team Spirit awards be awarded in each heat in each age division.  The Team Spirit award will be given based on teamwork, enthusiasm, and professional appearance.  Team Spirit judges will be different than presentation judges.  Team Spirit will be evaluated during the 40-minute preparation time.

Volunteers.  The list below details responsibilities where volunteers are needed.   Agents need to recruit and sign volunteers up online at: https://agrilife.org/d44h/district-events/food-challenge-volunteer-assistance/.  Volunteers will need to check in at the times designated on the schedule.

  • Timekeepers – Judge’s Rooms (4) – responsible for keeping time for each team being judged
  • Group Leaders (3) – responsible for ushering teams to their judging rooms
  • Room Monitors (12) – responsible for ensuring contestant cooking safety and contest rules
  • Judges (12) – responsible for judging teams’ presentations; need nutrition background
  • Runners (2) – responsible to gathering score cards and taking them to tabulation room
  • Timekeeper – Contest Room (1) – responsible for keeping time in the main cooking room

Participants with disabilities.   If you need any type of accommodation to participate in this program or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact the district office at 972-231-5362 at least 2 weeks prior to the program or note such needs when registering on 4-H Connect.


Food Allergies.   Contestants with food allergies must note their specific allergy at the time of registering on 4-H Connect.

Rules of Play

  • Check-in. Teams will report for check-in.
  • Orientation. Orientation will be provided for all participants.
  • Stations. Each team will be directed to a cooking/preparation station. There will be a set of ingredients at each station, but no recipe. The ingredients will represent a recipe from one of the following categories: Main Dish, Fruits and Vegetables, Bread and Cereal, and Nutritious Snacks.
  • Resources and Instructions. General guidelines, resources and instructions will be located at each station to assist the team.
  • Time. Each team will have 40 minutes to prepare the dish, plan a presentation, and clean up the preparation area.
  • Participants only. Only participants and contest officials will be allowed in food preparation areas.
  • Equipment. Teams may experience equipment malfunction(s).  If so, please contact a contest official immediately.
  • Preparation. Each team will be provided ingredients reflective of the assigned category, and will create a dish using them. The amounts of ingredients, based upon a recipe, and a clue will be at each station to assist the team.
  • 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 their 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. Additional ingredients will be available at the contest on a “food pantry” table.
  • Note cards and the Food Challenge Worksheet may be used to write down the recipe that the team creates, along with notes related to nutrition, food safety, and cost analysis. Teams should be exact on ingredients used, preparation steps, cooking time, temperature, etc.
  • SENIOR Teams will be judged during the preparation phase of the contest. This judging is based upon observation only. Refer to the Preparation Scorecard for details.
  • Food Safety. Each station will have food safety resources. Follow the steps listed to ensure proper food safety and be prepared to discuss food safety practices used in the team presentation to the judges.
  • Nutrition. Each station will have a variety of nutrition resources/references. Each team should name key nutrients in their dish and their functions.
  • Cost Analysis (Seniors only). Prices will be available for each ingredient provided to the teams. Teams will need to find the ingredients on the list and calculate the price of the dish along with the price per serving. Teams will also need to determine the number of servings per recipe.
  • Menu Planning and Substitutions. Identify additional menu items that could be served along with the dish to make a complete meal. Also provide suggestions for possible substitutions.
  • Presentation. When time is called, each team will present their dish, according to the criteria on the score card, to a panel of at least two judges.
  1. All team members must participate in the presentation, with at least three of them having a speaking role.
  2. Judging time will include:
  1. 5 minutes for the presentation
  2. 3 minutes for judges’ questions
  3. 4 minutes between team presentations for judges to score and write comments
  • Teams are allowed the use of note cards during the presentation, but should not read from them, as this minimizes the effectiveness of their communication.
  • Judges may ask teams questions that are not directly related to the dish prepared. Instead, some questions may address the general knowledge gained through the 4-H members’ food and nutrition project learning experiences.
  • No talking and no writing is allowed among any team members while waiting to give the team presentation. Team members caught talking and/or writing will receive a warning.  The second time, the team will be disqualified and asked to the leave the contest facility.  Team members should not have pens or pencils in their possession while waiting to give their presentation.
  • Clean-up. Teams must clean up their preparation areas. Clean-up time is included in the 40-minute preparation allotment. Teams should plan to not have access to a kitchen facility; therefore, dirty dishes should be placed in a plastic container, bag, or box to be cleaned at home. Left-over food should be disposed of properly.
  • No tasting of food. Judges are not allowed to taste the foods prepared. No left-over food should be shared with any participant or the audience.
  • Rankings. Placing will be based on the rankings of teams by judges. Judges’ decisions are final.
  • Awards Program. An awards program will be held at the conclusion of the judging process.


Each team will bring an equipment box containing only one each of the following items, unless a different quantity is noted:

  • Beverage glass
  • Bowls
  • Dip Size (1)
  • Mixing (2)
  • Serving (1)
  • Calculator
  • Can Opener
  • Cookie Sheet
  • Colander
  • Cutting Boards (2)
  • Disposable tasting spoons (no limit)
  • Dry measuring cups (1 set)
  • Electric Skillet
  • Extension cord  (Teams should be certain the extension cord is compatible (2-prong/3-prong) with the plugs on their electrical supplies)
  • First aid kit
  • Food thermometer
  • Fork
  • Gloves
  • Grater
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hot pads (up to 5)
  • Kitchen shears (1 pair)
  • Kitchen timer
  • Knives (2)
  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons (1 set)
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Note cards (1 package – no larger than 5″ X 7″)
  • Paper towels (1 roll)
  • Pancake turner
  • Pencils (no limit)
  • Plastic box or trash bag for dirty equipment
  • Pot with lid
  • Potato masher
  • Potato peeler
  • Sanitizing wipes (for tables) (1 container)
  • Serving platter
  • Serving utensil
  • Skillet with lid
  • Spatulas (2)
  • Stirring spoon
  • Storage bags (1 box)
  • Tongs
  • Two single-burner hot plates OR one double-burner plate (electric only)
  • Whisk

Gadget of the Year: Teams may have the following kitchen gadget in their box for the 2018-19 Contest Year: Melon Baller



March 22, 2019
9:00 am - 2:00 pm
Event Categories:


State Fair of Texas
1327 Admiral Nimitz Circle, Dallas, TX 75210
Dallas, TX 75210 United States
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