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2021 National Cooking Challenge

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Shelby Brawner, Extension Specialist


Penn State Extension is hosting the 2021 National 4-H Cooking Challenge on May 15 and 22, 2021. The challenge is for the individual or sibling group to apply their creativity, knowledge of nutrition, food preparation, food safety, and leadership skills to prepare a recipe using a secret ingredient and ingredients in their food pantry, and then make a presentation about the prepared dish to a panel of judges. The individual, or sibling group (2 siblings), will be given a list of 10 ingredients one prior to the contest, and one of the ingredients will be the secret ingredient that will serve as the focus of the dish. Since the judges cannot taste the food, participants will need to make sure the dish looks attractive and desirable to want to eat.

The contest will last 45 minutes, and participants will:

  1. Think of how the secret ingredient is typically paired with other foods and flavors
  2. Keep camera and sound on during preparation
  3. Determine the cooking or prep methods that enhance the food/flavor combinations
  4. Select ingredients from their kitchen
  5. Prepare the dish
  6. Record approximate amounts used of each ingredient
  7. Prepare a presentation 3-5 minutes long that includes nutrition facts, serving size, safety considerations, and reasons for selection of additional ingredients with resources provided
  8. Place a typical serving on a plate in an attractive manner

There are four divisions to enter and a state is permitted to enter each division:  

May 15, 2021 – 11:00 a.m. ET
Senior individuals (age 13-18)
Senior sibling group (age 13-18)

May 22, 2021 – 11:00 a.m. ET
Junior individuals (age 8-12)
Junior sibling group (age 8-12)

I am opening up the application for you to share with your 4-H’ers to be apply to participate in one of the four divisions above. In addition, I am offering to provide them with a $20 grocery card to purchase the 10 ingredients.

Applications are due by April 1, 2021, and the link can be found here: https://utk.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9zdl2MKQjNsLdRk

Please note: The application is asking to submit a short 2-3 minute video of why they (the individual or sibling group) should be selected to represent our state. Consider encouraging them to share their experience with cooking, nutrition knowledge, food safety, etc.

Contact Shelby Brawner for more information.