At the World Food Championships, a fast-paced culinary challenge, home cooks and back yard grillers compete with Food Network chefs and restaurant owners. It’s all about good food, competition, and fun.
Once you have chosen your category out of the nine included in the competition (bacon, barbecue, burger, chili, dessert, steak, sandwich, seafood, and recipe) and you quality and your registration is accepted, all you have to do is create a recipe that will win not only the $10,000 prize for your category but the coveted silver suitcase with the final, overall prize of $100,000.
To be ready for the competition, you have to prepare your recipe again and again and again. Until the appearance, taste, and degree of doneness is perfect, until the time it takes to prepare your recipe comes in under the allotted time, every time, because a late turn in to the judges is a reason to be disqualified.
You book your transportation and accommodation and pack up your equipment, display dishes, and team mates, if you require them, and get yourself to Gulf Shores/Orange Beach Alabama where you purchase any supplies that you haven’t transported with you.
On the day of your first round of competition you locate the tented kitchen arena at The Wharf in Orange Beach where shiny, stainless steel kitchens are all set up. You and your category competitors line-up to wait for the signal to enter.
Once in the kitchen arena, you meet with World Food Championship CEO Mike McCleod for announcements and a review of the rules of competition. You sign in your team at the turn-in table where all the finished dishes are presented for delivery to the judges.
When all the competitors are at their kitchen stations, the competition begins, the clock starts counting down, and spectators begin to gather.
Your kitchen space is compact, the set up unlike what you are accustomed to, but, because you spend so much time in a kitchen it is also familiar. You begin to set out ingredients and utensils, turn on the stove, plug in the blender, and test the grill.
Media people come around asking questions. They point cameras and microphones at you, and your hands, as you open containers, set out bowls and measure spices.
Cheferees cruise around the kitchen stations answering questions, teasing the spectators with descriptions of all the dishes being prepared, and shouting out the time left on the clock.
In spite of all the distractions, you have to stay focussed.
As the final minutes tick down, as all the components of your dish are close to completion, your family, friends, and new foodie acquaintances cheer you on.
Far too soon, it’s time to plate your dish. You set out plates and build your presentation.
You load your large serving tray with one main plate to be judged for execution and appearance and 5 small plates for the individual judges to taste. The highest points are given for taste.
Before picking up your tray, you take the time for any necessary quick fixes like wiping dribbles and straightening garnish. Every plate must look exactly the same.
It is a long walk from your kitchen prep space to the turn-in table, especially when you are carrying a tray loaded with your precious servings. You have to walk as fast as possible but at the same time prevent those plates from slipping.
You made it. Your dish is on the turn-in table. You’re done!
Your path to the silver suitcase is in the hands of the judges.