AHF Culinary Competition

AHF’s Culinary Competition is a career-changing opportunity for our competing member teams. Five teams of two are selected from self-operated facilities around the country. Each year our five teams compete for Gold, Silver, and Bronze during a 75-minute timed competition with set ingredient options selected from AHF’s curated Market Basket.

Competitors are selected through a rigorous, blinded, selection process. The live competition will take place during our Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas August 23-25, 2024.

Watch the recording of our 2023 Culinary Competition to get prepared and understand how our competition works. 



To learn more about this year’s competition, we invite you to attend our informational webinar hosted by the 2024 committee chair and the 2023 Gold Winner. Gain insights into the competition format, tips for success, and firsthand experiences from those who’ve tasted victory. Don’t miss this exclusive opportunity to prepare yourself for the culinary adventure ahead.

Competition Format: Unleash Your Creativity & Showcase Self-Op Excellence

Five teams of two will be selected to compete in a 75-minute timed challenge. The challenge? Craft extraordinary dishes using carefully selected ingredients from AHF’s curated Market Baskets.

Selection Process: Fair and Impartial

Our competitors are chosen through a rigorous, blinded selection process, ensuring a fair and unbiased evaluation. We take pride in fostering a diverse and inclusive competition environment.

Save the Date: Finalists Receive Complementary Registration and Travel Support

Mark your calendars for the live competition during our National Conference in San Antonio, Texas, from August 23 to 25, 2024. Join us for an unforgettable experience as teams vie for Gold, Silver, and Bronze honors. Selected finalists will receive complementary registration and travel support to attend AHF’s National Conference where you will earn 15+ CEUs through ANFP, ACF, and The Academy. 

Get Inspired: Watch Past Winners Take Gold

To get a glimpse of what to expect, we encourage you to watch the recording of our 2023 Culinary Competition. Gain insights, witness the creativity, and prepare yourself for the upcoming challenge. Watch Now

2024 Judges Panel – TBA

Following the competition, finalists are invited to a private critique with our panel of celebrated expert judges. Don’t miss out on this excellent opportunity!

2024 Market Basket

Applicants must select at least ONE ingredient from Basket A along with at least TWO ingredients from Basket B.

Market Basket A

  • Catfish, boneless, skinless (fresh or frozen)
  • Venison* (flank steak, French rack, or ground)
  • Chicken, leg quarters
  • Tofu, extra firm

Mystery Ingredient

  • To Be Announced at Conference

Market Basket B

  • Peaches (fresh or frozen)
  • Blackberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Figs (fresh** or dried)
  • Cauliflower (white, green, purple, and/or orange)
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Cowpeas (fresh or frozen)
  • Wheat Berries (dried)
  • Chocolate, dark
  • Hot Peppers, fresh (chile pequin or serrano)
  • Honey*

* Finalists who select Venison will have the opportunity to prepare Venison from J.W. Marriot’s own ranch; and those selecting Honey will have the opportunity to use honey from J.W. Marriot’s very own bees kept on-site during the competition. 

** Fresh figs will be in season in San Antonio in August.

Apply Today! Showcase Your Team’s Talent on the National Stage!

Whether you’re an experienced chef, a dedicated dietitian, a visionary director, a skilled manager, a system-level director, or an executive shaping the future—AHF’s Culinary Competition welcomes participants from various roles. Embrace the spirit of innovation, excellence, and the artistry of healthcare foodservice. Get ready for a rigorous competition that pushes the boundaries of culinary creativity.
Deadline to Apply: April 15, 2024

If you have any questions, please email AHF Staff at culinary@healthcarefoodservice.org.

Culinary Competition Past Finalists

Need inspiration? Click below to see a gallery of final plated dishes of past competition finalists.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, there is no maximum, but you are required to use a minimum of 2 items in Basket B; you can use more if you wish to. Be intentional about it.

Yes, we allowed this in previous years and will allow it again.

No, all ingredients must be provided by AHF or the hotel. Traditionally, Yes. If you wish to bring your own stock, you must find a way to ship it to the hotel and store it safely. The stock must be included in your original recipe and meet the nutritional guidelines.

No, both team members must be from the same facility. Two teams from the same system may apply separately. 

Yes, you can submit more than one recipe for consideration if you like. Only one recipe will be selected and only 1 team from your facility will be selected.

6 portions. 5 portions will be served to our judges for tasting and the 6th portion will be for display and photographs.

We plan to notify all applicants at the beginning of June. 

No. No additional plug in heat sources are permitted, including sous vide equipment.

No, sous vide cooking is not permitted as a part of this competition.

There are 5 teams of 2, for a total of 10 competitors. 

Yes, both dry storage and refrigeration will be available the day prior to the competition. More instructions will be given to selected finalists.

1 hour to wash produce, arrange the space, boil water. No cutting of produce or other prep of ingredients will be permitted.

Market basket ingredients will be provided for you. Any additional ingredients must be picked up before the event.  Local grocery stores in Orlando will be provided. If you are shipping any products, shipping instructions will be given to you.

No, AHF will provide sanitation materials and access.

Each team will be given a speed rack with sheet trays that can be used to organize your materials.

Yes, the committee will keep that in consideration when selecting.

Please contact culinary@healthcarefoodservice.org, so we can provide you with what will be made available.

AHF will provide each team with the 11″ white plates.

We recommend using whatever your hospital uses or a commercial version. Please do not use an open source one from the Internet.

Applicants should use their own costs for the market basket ingredients.

Teams are required to showcase a minimum of two cooking methods to include any 2 of the following techniques: For moist; boil, simmer, steam, braise, stew and poach. For dry heat cooking methods; grill, sauté, roast, bake and fry

Get Excited!