Culinary Competitions

Competitions are a thrilling way to help you develop new skills, through studying, planning, practicing and competing. Competitions exist in formats for individuals, teams of 2, and teams of 4 or more. Our Chefs de Cuisine chapter hosts 2 ACF-sanctioned competitions each year locally. Nationally, ACF and other ACF chapters sponsor local, regional, and national competitions. And the ACF and other organizations in the US sponsor teams in numerous international competitions.

Participating in one of our culinary competitions could earn you top recognition and will open the door to new career opportunities.

Competitions play a vital role in culinary arts as they continually raise the standards of culinary excellence. There is no better way for a culinarian to hone their craft than by putting their skills and knowledge to the test in a competitive format.

Participation in ACF approved competitions will also earn you continuing education hours for ACF certification.

ACF-sanctioned competition categories include:

  • Category A - Cooking
  • Category B - Cooking
  • Category C - Patisserie/Confectionery
  • Category D - Showpiece
  • Category E - Live-Action Showpieces
  • Category F - Hot Food Mystery Baskets
  • Category G - Edible Cold Food
  • Category H - Ice Carving

The national ACF website has a plethora of forms and resources relating to competitions. Click here to see what is available.

Local Competitions

Check our Upcoming Events page for details on our locally hosted competitions. All our competitions are ACF-Sanctioned and are open to the public for watching.To participate in a local competition, application forms will be made available on that specific event's web page.

Every Spring (generally March or April), we provide an ACF (Category A) Hot Foods competition for professionals as well as one for Culinary Students. Both competitions are open to chapter members, other (non-local) ACF members, and other culinarians in general. Depending upon interest, we may also host other competition categories.

In the Fall (generally late-August or September), in addition to our regular professional and student competitions, we have our annual Chef of the Year and Junior Chef of the Year competition.

Our chapter is proud that several of our members are "ACF Approved" Culinary Competition Judges. They are often asked to judge competitions at other locations, just as other approved judges from around the country travel to St. Louis to judge our competitions.  For additional information on how to participate, contact our chapters competition chair, Chef Wade Bruhn, CEC, at  [email protected]

Professional Competition Manual                     Student Competition Manual

ACF Regional and National Competitions in 2020

In 2019, the American Culinary Federation introduced a new dynamic structure for both regional and national culinary competitions in order to make sure the competitions are fair and accessible.

What is the new format?

All regional competitions will take place at ACF’s National Convention on July 19-23, 2020, in Dallas, Texas. Each region will be assigned one day during which the competitors from that region will all compete. At the end of the day, the highest- scoring competitor from each category will be announced as regional winners. After all four regions have competed, the competitors and teams with the highest overall scores will be our national winners, announced at the President’s Gala on Thursday night.

What are the benefits of ACF's new competition format?

  • It’s a Package Deal: With the new format comes new perks. The application fee for individual competitors includes one ticket to the ACF Welcome Reception, 1 Education Badge, the full amount of CEHs from the entire convention and 1 ticket to the President’s Gala — a total value of over $700. Student team fees include enough of these items for all five team members and one coach.
  • Cook Once, Travel Once: The ability to plan in advance to compete one time in one location is a significant benefit to competitors who must allocate time, resources and funds in order to participate.
  • Same Kitchens, Same Judges: In 2020, the ACF will show case 10 brand new competition kitchens. The kitchens, generously supplied by our national sponsor, Southbend, will allow competing chefs to cook with consistent, state-of-the-art equipment. In addition, the same set of judges will evaluate the competitors.
  • Affordable and Accessible: By removing the requirement to compete both regionally and nationally, the ACF is working to ensure that the competitions are accessible to all chefs.

What is staying the same?

  • The Student Team State Competitions will remain the same. Refer to your Competition Manual for more information about Student Team State Competitions.

When are the applications due?

In order to compete at ACF National Convention in July, all individual competitor applications and fees must be submitted by November 1.

Student Teams will be notified by December 1 if a state competition will be required. All state competitions must be completed by March 1.

Why has the ACF changed the competition format?

While many longtime members of the ACF have enjoyed the past format of competitions, it became increasingly clear that a large number of potential competitors could not afford the costs associated with competition at both regional and national levels. In addition, some regions and states hosted widely-supported competitions with high caliber coaching, premium kitchen equipment and sponsors while other regions were not as fortunate. The net result has been fewer competitors, competitions that did not meet ACF standards and a diminishing of our prestigious brand.

By moving to a 4-day competition, every region will be showcased, with one full day of competition and an opportunity to take home the national award during the ACF President’s Gala.

Apply to compete by November 1, 2019

For more information on Competions and Awards, follow the following links.
National Competitions/Awards             Student Team Competition

Baron H. Galand Culinary Knowledge Bowl

Baron H Galand Knowledge Bowl Logo

Showcase your culinary program by becoming the next national champion in the Baron H. Galand Culinary Knowledge Bowl. The competition is open to teams from ACF chapters, ACF apprenticeship programs and accredited American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFEFAC) institutions. Teams compete in a "Jeopardy"-style double-elimination competition with questions covering topics such as nutrition, baking, culinary math, safety and sanitation, and the arts of classical and modern cooking.

NEW to 2020
Knowledge Bowl Teams are open to Professional members.

That's right - starting in 2020, professional chefs can be members of the team, not only students. Teams will no longer compete at regional conferences, only at the national conference. All teams must pass a written pre-qualifying test taken at during the national conference. Teams must score at least 60% on this test, and then ONLY the top 6 scoring teams from the pre-qualifying test will be selected to go forward to the actual face-to-face competition. Teams will still compete face-to-face - initially against other teams in their region, if any, and the winners go on to the finals.

Cost of registering a team is $350, but $100 is “refunded” if the teams does not place in the top 6 and is applied to the following year’s application.

Deadline for submitting a team to compete is March 30, 2020.




Student Culinary (Hot Food) Team

Most every year, our chapter fields a local "Hot Food" team, comprised of 5-6 up and coming chefs. The team competes against regional culinary school teams during the national ACF Conference for the opportunity to win the ACF Hot Food Team of the Year.

Team tryouts are held every year in August or September. Stay tuned for upcoming information and dates.

Should you have any questions, please contact team coach Chef Scott Scheible at 314-993-0161.