Culinary Challenge Awards -March 7, 2022
Now here’s a food challenge that’s quite unique since it’s being held in 2022 at Union Station in downtown St. Louis. The formal title is the Culinary Challenge Awards and is sponsored by the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS), and is great for students who are already enrolled in cooking or chef classes in St. Louis. The Show Me’ state is just a handful of whistle stops for this regional challenge for the Midwest division.
What makes this culinary cookoff so much more attractive is that it’s a chance to show off cooking skills for a panel of select judges in the preparation of an entrée that’s nutritionally fit. For the 2022 competition, this time the meat to be prepared is Turkey breast. Some select rules are included with this, but since this is St. Louis we’re talking about, there’s no rule it can’t be prepared in the St. Louis style of BBQ!
Though the official challenge is on March 7th, all submissions for the deadline need to act quickly before January 14th, 2022. The bonus is that most students will find this cooking challenge rewarding since there are opportunities to join other regional challenges. The only catch is that all the competitors must be enrolled or employed at participating NACUFS institutions. Aside from that, the challenge is appropriately fast and furious!
The rules are pretty simple after this, and each competitor will have 60 minutes to cook and prepare 4 equal portions meant for the judging panel. They actually give you an extra 10 minutes for plating the meal, so the prepping and cooking time can be up to 60 minutes if needed. Along with the entrée, it needs to have a vegetable and salad-like side dish. They require that all competitors bring all of their own utensils or extra appliances.
This is great if you decide to bring a handheld smoker or other BBQ-related devices. The turkey itself does need to be cooked on an induction burner, so this makes it a bit more interesting if you decide to bring a grilling pan to get more of a BBQ effect. Unlike other BBQ cookoff competitions, the meal isn’t placed into a box and sent to the judges, it’s served up like any other culinary dish and judged accordingly.
How did this challenge all start?
This 2022 challenge, will mark the 22nd annual competition that all started back in the year 2000. The history of the National Association of College and University Food Services actually goes back 64 years and was founded in 1958. It started with just 20 participating colleges and universities all over the US and is highly supportive of the foodservice industry.
They were the first to become the benchmark for helping create the best practices for young cooks and chefs. This was accomplished with their educational programs and a lot of professional networking contacts. Since they were the first to focus on the foodservice industry, this had led to more interesting training opportunities for new recruits. This includes technical assistance, industry information, research, and even student scholarships.
Many of the winners who take on this challenge go on to have more advancement in their careers as a chef. Most of the competitors are often apprentices working at participating NACUFS member restaurants. For many of the lucky winners, they can advance in their careers by becoming a chef with help through the NACUFS programs. Although, this competition does feature cash prizes too!
What makes this cooking challenge different?
Actually, to be very honest, this competition is all about the art of cooking and allows the creativity behind traditional culinary training. Because the time limit is much shorter, the pressure to perform is just like any chef or cook will experience in real-life situations. Compared to a BBQ cookoff event, time is not a luxury when it comes down to the final minutes for the food preparation.
This competition also does not feature music or entertainment that you will find with other festivals or competitions, and since it’s a public event that is held at various hotels and public spaces, this challenge will be limited to view in person. It’s best to contact NACUFS to find out more information on attending the St. Louis challenge event.