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What is the Louisiana 4-H Food Challenge?

The Louisiana 4-H Food Challenge competition which challenges teams of 4-H members to create a dish using only a key ingredient and access to a “grocery store” of other ingredients. From the ingredients, team members are challenged to create a healthy dish while practicing proper food safety, food preparation, and communication skills. Following the dish preparation, teams then present to a panel of judges who will further test their culinary and nutrition knowledge with a question and answer segment.

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Purpose of the Contest

  • To develop and demonstrate: cooking skills, decision making skills, stress management, critical thinking, and public speaking skills.
  • To use sound nutritional knowledge when planning meals.
  • To provide a competitive group cooking experience for 4-H members grades 4-12

Contest Eligibility

  • Each team must consist of 3-4 members.
  • All contestants must be bona fide members of Louisiana 4-H as least 30 days prior to the event and age-eligible for their respective division at the time of qualification.

Contest Details

State Contest Date and Location

Friday, April 20, 2022 at the State Evacuation Center, Alexandria, LA

Age Divisions

  • Division I: 4th – 6th graders
  • Division II: 7th – 8th graders
  • Division III: 9th – 12th graders

Contest Rules

Contestants will be given a mystery food item to use as their key ingredient and have 40 minutes to prepare a dish in front of a live audience. After the dish has been prepared, contestants will bring their dish before a panel of judges where they will discuss how the prepared the dish and the cost to make it.

  1. The contest key ingredient food item will be from one of four categories:
    1. Protein
    2. Fruit & Vegetable
    3. Grains
    4. Dairy
  2. Teams will be randomly assigned to a category, which will not be announced until contest check-in the day of the contest.
    1. Please note, based upon the number of entries, it is at the discretion of the contest committee to determine if all teams will compete against each other (in the same category) or be assigned to categories. Whether or not teams are assigned to categories will also determine if a “final round” is held. Once all entries are received, teams will be notified of the committee’s decision.
  3. Teams may be made up of 3-4 individuals.
  4. Each team must supply their own equipment for the Food Challenge contest. Teams may only bring the supplies listed in the contest supply box list. Supply boxes will be randomly checked by contest officials during the contest. Any unapproved equipment will be removed from supply boxes and placed at a storage location outside of the contest area. It is up to each team on what type of box is used to store their supplies. *List for supply box given below.
  5. Teams should be prepared to only use one heat source at a time during the preparation phase of the contest to avoid electricity issues. Teams that experience any equipment malfunction(s) may not replace the equipment with supplies from another team, leaders, volunteers, parish Extension agents or contest officials. Instead, team members must work together and be creative in completing preparation.
  6. Each team should dress appropriately for the preparation of food (i.e. no full or draping sleeves; closed-toe shoes only; hair appropriately restrained, etc.). Each team has the option of coordinating clothing, aprons or hair coverings.
  7. No electronic devices or jewelry (except for medically required) is allowed in contest. This includes cell phones, smart watches, or other communication devices. Team members caught with and/or using electronic devices (except for medically required) will automatically disqualify the entire team and be asked to leave. Resource materials provided at contest. Resource materials will be provided for each team at the contest. These include Choose My Plate - 10 Tips to a Great Plate, Fight Bac - Fight Food borne Bacteria Brochure, Nutrient Needs at a Glance, Altering Recipes for Good Health, Food 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.
  8. Entry fee. Each team may be required to pay a registration fee of $25 to cover the cost of ingredients for the contest.
  9. Awards. Awards will be determined by the committee and are based on sponsorships. Mystery awards may also be given based on sponsorships and committee decision. Division III will win a trip to the National Food Challenge in Dallas, TX.
  10. Participants with disabilities. Any competitor who requires auxiliary aids or special accommodations must contact the 4-H Office at least two weeks before the competition.


Contest Contact

Claire Zak

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture