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Food Challenge

March 3 @ 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm

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

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.

                         Heat 1                          Heat 2
1:00 pm– Registration/ Box Checks 2:30 pm– Registration/Box Checks
1:30 pm– Contestant Orientation

Group Leader/Judging Orientation

3:00 pm– Contestant Orientation


2:00 pm– Heat 1 Challenge Begins 3:30 pm– Heat 2 Challenge Begins
2:40 pm– Heat 1 Challenge Ends 4:10 pm-Heat 2 Challenge Ends
3:00 pm– Heat 1 Judging 4:25 pm– Heat 2 Judging Begins
4:00 pm- Heat 1 Awards 5:30– Heat 2 Awards



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.

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 January 9, 2017 and close at midnight February 6, 2017.

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

NOTE:  There is no Mixed age division for 2016-17.

Teams per county. Each county may enter 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. Each team will have at least three and no 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.

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 for food preparation (i.e. closed toed shoes, etc.)

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 ChooseMy Plate – 10 Tips to a Great Plate,  FightBac- Fight Foodborne Bacteria BrochureNutrient Needs at a Glance (updated 7/11),  Altering Recipes for Good HealthFood Challenge Worksheet, and copies of grocery receipts. 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 will 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://d44-h.tamu.edu/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 describe specific accommodations needed at the time of registering on 4-H Connect or contact Derrick Bruton at 972-952-9264 or d-bruton@tamu.edu at least 2 weeks prior to the program or event.

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.
    • Different from State: There will not be any pantry items available.
    • The ingredients provided to each team may also be used to garnish the dish. Additional garnishing items will not be provided.
    • 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
  • 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
  • Spatula
  • Stirring spoon
  • Storage bags (1 box)
  • Tongs
  • Two single-burner hot plates OR one double-burner plate (electric only)
  • Whisk



March 3
1:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Event Categories:


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