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The History of Final Table: From Crowning the First World Champ to the Future of Food Sport


The History of Final Table: From Crowning the First World Champ to the Future of Food Sport

Seven years, 65 Category Champions, six World Food Champions and over $650,000 of prize money awarded –– it's no wonder why the World Food Championships’ (WFC) Final Table is one of the most anticipated culinary moments in Food Sport. This coming May, another class of Category Champions will travel to New Orleans, Louisiana to battle for the 7th Annual World Food Champion title and $100,000.

From 2012 to 2016, WFC held its Final Table Challenge at the end of the five-day cooking tournament. Past World Food Champions (Robert Butler, Dave Elliott, Ricardo Heredia, Loren Hill and Kari Luke) claimed their championship titles this way.

WFC’s Final Table started out as a winner-take-all challenge driven by a panel of culinary celebrity judges. The original competition format was designed to help introduce new cooking talent to prominent figures in the industry. In recent years, WFC has shifted the focus to the winners' being the real, future celebrities.

For the first time in 2017, ten finalists had months in between winning their category title at the Main Event before heading into the Final Table showdown. This new strategy not only allowed competitors a chance to prepare for the World Title battle royale, but it offered WFC a chance to promote them in their respective markets.

The 6th Annual Final Table Challenge was hosted at Brightwater –– a center for the study of food –– where the Category Champions battled it out in this state of the art facility in Bentonville, Arkansas. A panel of judges determined the winner based on WFC’s E.A.T™ Methodology and Lisa Gwatney took home the 2017 WFC title and $100,000 as the event’s first official home cook champion.

Unlike years past, the 7th Annual Final Table Challenge will no longer be a categorical challenge. It will now transition into an even tougher test of versatility, natural culinary ability and ingenuity. This year’s World Food Champion will be determined over the course of three challenges in New Orleans. Each round of competition will focus on cajun/creole or famous dishes in the French Quarter, including the opportunity to put the winning recipe on a menu at the oldest family-run restaurant in America.

“This change to our Final Table competition structure is the beginning of a challenge that is portable and exciting for the champs, judges and our host city each year,” said Mike McCloud, President and CEO of WFC. “We want the ten category champs to receive the accolades they deserve while highlighting a city’s culinary pedigree.”

The ten finalists for this year’s Final Table come from all types of culinary backgrounds -– home cooks to trained chefs to professional cook teams -–  including nine American states and one additional country, Germany.

The champions will face-off in three rounds of competition from May 18-19 to determine who will be crowned the 7th World Food Champion. The challenges will be hosted at the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute, known locally as NOCHI.

Stay tuned for more announcements about WFC, which will be making its Main Event debut in Dallas, Texas this year. To keep up with all WFC news, follow World Food Championships on Twitter (@WorldFoodChamp), and Facebook or Instagram (@WorldFoodChampionships).Click here to book your room for #WFC2019.

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