Co-Superintendent: Amy Peterson
Co-Superintendent: Cami Wells 

The 4-H Culinary Challenge Contest will require youth to demonstrate healthy decision making through nutrition, food preparation, menu planning, and food safety, utilizing foods and nutrition curriculum. They will apply healthy living knowledge and skills by planning a nutritious menu, demonstrating their understanding of time management skills in the kitchen, and expressing their originality and creativity through an appropriate themed and properly set table. To showcase these skills, youth will create a menu, prepare one food item, and choose an appropriate theme for their occasion while expressing their food, nutrition, and food safety knowledge during a live interview with a judge at the contest. In order to highlight knowledge and skills acquired during pre-contest preparation, youth will utilize technology as part of their interview.

Age Divisions

Age divisions will be determined by their 4-H age, the age of the youth before January 1 of the current year. 

  • F500097 Intermediate: Ages 10-13
  • F500098 Senior: Ages 14-18


Winners at a county contest (Culinary Challenge, Table Toppers, Favorite Foods or other such contest) may advance to the 4-H Culinary Challenge Contest, but participation at the county level is not required. The 4-H’er must been rolled in at least one Foods and Nutrition project to enter the contest.  Each county is eligible to submit up to 4 teams of two 4-H members for the 4-H Culinary Challenge Contest State Fair 4-H Foods Event to be held during the Nebraska State Fair. Selection of such eligible teams shall be at the discretion of the county.  

County Contest

Contact your local UNL Extension Office to determine if a county contest will be held.

State Contest

County teams of two 4-H members will have the opportunity to advance to the 4-H Culinary Challenge Contest, which will be held the second weekend of the Nebraska State Fair. Teams will be determined by the oldest 4-H’ers age and will be placed as follows: F500097 - Intermediate – ages 10 - 13; and F500098 - Senior – ages 14 - 18. (Age divisions will be determined by their 4-H age, the age of the youth before January 1 of the current year.) 

Advance Entry

Must be submitted in ShoWorks with all other advance entries. 

Entry Fees

A nonrefundable entry fee of $5.00 per person is required.

Contest Schedule 

Judging will occur on the second Saturday of the Nebraska State Fair in the Raising Nebraska Building. Groups will be determined following the advance entry deadline. Specific competition times may be requested, but cannot be guaranteed. 

Challenge Ingredient/Item

A challenge ingredient will be selected each year, highlighting a Nebraska commodity food product.  The 2019 challenge ingredient is dairy. Please keep food safety in mind when selecting the recipe used for the Challenge.Foods must be able to be kept chilled during transport to the contest, then be able to be re-heated in a slow cooker or microwave. Each team must incorporate the challenge ingredient into their food item they will be presenting during the contest.  This may require altering a recipe or creatively incorporating an item into their overall table theme. The challenge ingredient must also be included in the interview presentation, demonstrating youth knowledge of the ingredient, such as nutritional value, a farm-to-fork concept, or how to adapt a recipe to include the ingredient.

Judges Interview

The team should view themselves as the hosts, welcoming the judge, cooperatively presenting the table to the judge, incorporating multi-media resources, and answering any questions from the judge. Teams must be prepared to present to the judge utilizing technology, such as PowerPoint, picture story, or other multi-media resource. Presentations may include photos, clip art, animation, video or audio sound. The 4-H members should cooperatively present a verbal presentation to the judge that is highlighted by their multi-media presentation via computer or tablet. Participants must provide their own computer or other equipment needed for their 4-H Foods Event judging interview. Presentations will occur at participants’ tables. Please do not bring projectors or other equipment which will require extra space.

Considerations should be given to creatively include the following items through the multi-media presentation:

  • nutritional facts of their menu 
  • food safety 
  • time management 
  • choice of menu 
  • food preparation 
  • cost of item/per serving 
  • food handling techniques
  • recipe of the food item shared with the judge 
  • challenge ingredient (nutritional value, farm-to-fork, recipe revision, etc.)

General Rules/Guidelines

  1. A team will consist of two members to be eligible to compete. 4-H members must all be at least 10 years of age by January 1 of the current calendar year.
  2. All team members must be enrolled in a 4-H foods and nutrition project during the current 4-H year.
  3. Judging interviews will be approximately 12 to 15 minutes for F500097 - Intermediate and F500098 - Senior Divisions. This time includes a short presentation by the teams, as well as questions from the judge.
  4. Teams should arrive at least 15 minutes prior to your assigned time to set up their table.
  5. Team members must provide their own card table for the display.
  6. Upon arriving, check-in at the registration table. Teams will be assigned a specific area to set up.
  7.  Check-in area will contain a refrigerator, a microwave and *limited* temporary storage for table settings.
  8. Only contestants will be allowed to set up or arrange table settings.  
  9. Participants must have their table setting ready by the assigned time. Once tables are set, contestants should stay with their tables, as they are responsible for items placed on tables. Chairs will be available for contestants.
  10. During judging, 4-H members may choose to dress in appropriate clothing, costume, or accessories relevant to the theme. A 4-H chevron or 4-H emblem must be visible on clothing.
  11. All tables will be removed following a designated time. Tables will available for judging and public viewing for a maximum of 2 hours.



Team members will receive purple, blue, red, or white Nebraska State Fair ribbons. Medals will be awarded to first and second, place teams in each age division. Results will be posted following the completion of the contest.


Scoresheets, Forms & More