Kentucky 4-H Culinary Challenge

Food shows are extremely popular. The Kentucky 4-H Culinary Challenge is expected to generate interest among foodies and food show fans and add excitement to 4-H food and nutrition projects. The 4-H challenge is similar to the Food Network’s “Chopped.”

At the state contest, teams of three to five teens from each district are challenged to create a dish using a clue, common ingredients found in a pantry, and secret ingredients. Since teens need to eat more fruits and vegetables and Kentucky produces an abundance of fine foods, these are guaranteed to be found among the contest’s ingredients.


The Culinary Challenge puts everything youth have learned about FOOD and NUTRITION to the test.

It will challenge youth to:

      • Increase their knowledge of food and nutrition.
      • Master food preparation and safety skills.
      • Use creativity when preparing, combining and presenting food.
      • Include more fruits and vegetables and Kentucky products in meals.
      • Apply nutrition principles to the real-life meal planning.
      • Learn from each other and experienced mentors.
      • Develop real-world leadership skill in working as a team.
      • Increase skill in public speaking. 


About the Kentucky 4-H Culinary Challenge…

The Challenge: Team members must use their food preparation skills, knowledge of nutrition and food safety, leadership skills, and creativity to prepare a serving or plate of food and then make a presentation about it to the judges. The presentation will include information about the nutritional value, serving size, preparation skills and decision-making behind the dish. On-site preparation of the food allows 4-H members to demonstrate their culinary skills to the judges. This contest is modeled after the Oklahoma 4-H Food Showdown.

The Event: The Kentucky 4-H Culinary Challenge is held during Teen Conference (track time) on Tuesday/Wednesday during the second full week of June, in the UK Foods Lab in Erikson Hall in Lexington. One  team is selected champion and receives a special commemorative award. 

Youth Eligible for State Challenge: A team is made up of 3 to 5 members who are in grades 9-12.  All team members must be from the same county.

Qualifying Events: Within each Extension district, agents and volunteers determine how the team will be selected to compete in the Kentucky 4-H Culinary Challenge. Some districts may host a district challenge but other districts may come up with other unique methods. Regardless of the method, the district team will need to be fully prepared for the challenge at the state competition.


Helpful Resources 

  • Team Manual (2017 version will be available later in year)
  • Team Worksheet (2017)
  • State Culinary Challenge Score Sheet (2017)
  • Pantry: For 2017--available by May 1
  • Clue: For 2017--available by May 1


Past State Champion Teams


2015 State Champion Team: Henry County  

Secret Ingredients: Tomatoes, Summer Squash, and Asparagus             


2014 State Champion Team: Mongomery County

Secret Ingredients: Bibb Lettuce, Strawberries, and Smoked Chicken

National 4-H Food Challenge 

The National 4-H Food Challenge is a new event. In fact, 2014 was the very first!  It is held at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. On the day before the challenge, team members are invited to participate in educational workshops.  More...

Montgomery County (KY) Team competing in the 2014 National Food Challenge


Kentucky's 2014 Team at the National 4-H Food Challenge

from Montgomery County


Additional Resources for Volunteers & Agents

Tips for Planning a County/District Qualifying Event  

Orientation Outline for Team Members 

Orientation Outline for Judges