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2021 North Carolina Jr. Chef Competition

The North Carolina Junior Chef Competition (NCJCC) was created to inspire the next generation of culinary professionals, stimulate interest in locally produced agriculture, increase participation in School Nutrition Programs, and encourage healthy eating habits.  The competition seeks student created and approved recipes for school meals. Additionally, this competition will recognize students for their ability to work as members of a team to demonstrate valuable skills in recipe development, food preparation, marketing, public presentation, organization, and local food systems.

The NCJCC consists of two parts; the recipe contest and the recipe cook-off.  Details for each part are as follows:

1.  Recipe Contest

Student teams must develop a recipe for a school lunch entrée (that meets the guidelines) to submit for the NCJCC recipe contest. 

Student teams are encouraged to work with their FCS teachers/FCCLA advisers and local School Nutrition Programs to develop creative entrée recipes for school lunch that:

      • meet the National School Lunch Program meal pattern and nutrition standards
      • include at least one (1) USDA Foods item and two (2) North Carolina grown products, and are replicable by School Nutrition professionals.  

2.  Recipe Cook-off

During the NCJCC cook-off, finalist teams must prepare, cook and plate their recipe and present two (2) plates of their prepared recipe to judges.

How to participate in the competition?  Who is eligible?
Teams of 2-4 high school students (grades 9-12) currently enrolled in NC Career and Technical Education Food, Nutrition, and Culinary Arts courses can participate in the NCJCC. 


Important DatesAction Step
December 18, 2020 Teams interested in participating in the NCJCC should submit an online Intent to Compete form.  The Intent to Compete form does not obligate a team to submit and application for the competition.
February 1, 2021 Teams must submit the online Submission Form, NC Jr. Chef Competition Application Recipe Photo and a signed NCJCC Permission and Release Form (Word) form for each student team member.  The Excel application includes team information, recipe ingredients and instructions, nutrient analysis and cost analysis.
February 19, 2021 Based on a review of applications and recipes, 8 finalist teams will be selected to compete in the virtual cook-off phase of the competition. Teams will be notified regarding finalist selections.
March 19, 2021 Finalist teams must submit an online Finalist Submission Form with their final Application with recipe, recipe photo, time management plan and an unedited recipe preparation video.
April 8 or 14, 2021 Teams will be scheduled for a brief virtual live interview with a panel of judges.
April 16, 2021 A virtual ceremony will be held recognizing all finalist teams and announcing the results.
April 19, 2021 Competition results will be officially announced via press release and social media.


USDA Food Composition Database 

USDA Food Buying Guide  

USDA Foods List

2018 NC Jr. Chef Competition Photos

2018 NC Jr. Chef Competition Video

2019 NC Jr. Chef Competition Results Press Release

2019 SE Jr. Chef Competition Results Press Release

2020 NC Jr. Chef Competition Results

Have Questions? Need Assistance? 
For questions about the North Carolina Junior Chef Competition, contact Tracey Bates, School Nutrition Specialist at

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