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Official Rules

Cheferee -- 26173445_1738029402896168_4214285848041456015_o_0.jpgWFC constantly strives to create level and fair playing field for all competitors. Each year, contest rules are thoroughly reviewed by WFC staff and the WFC Ambassador team. Sometimes rules are added. Sometimes rules are abolished. Sometimes rules just need a little more clarification. But, never are rules taken lightly. WFC Cheferees make sure of that!         

As you study these rules, should you have a question or need more clarification, please feel free to send us a message through our official facebook champ chat page!


  1. A competitor is defined as a head cook. Head cooks must be 18 years of age at the time of the competition. Head cooks may NOT judge any category or compete in multiple category competitions at the World Food Championships (WFC). People’s choice or other ancillary challenges are not considered category competitions. Also, a judge may not compete nor assist another competitor as a sous chef even if it’s in a category they are not judging.

  2. Competitors (head cooks) may have assistants during the competition period. Assistants are not considered competitors and are not eligible to win. A team, head cook plus assistant(s), MUST fit within the individually designated competition space and may not perform duties outside of this area. Head cooks are responsible for the actions of their assistants and may be disqualified for the actions or violations of an assistant. A head cook can have anyone assist them, AS LONG AS THEY ARE NOT AN ACTIVE COMPETITOR OR JUDGE IN THE TOURNAMENT. Once a competitor has been eliminated from the tournament, a head cook who is still competing CAN seek the assistance of that competitor as a sous chef, provided that all other rules herein are followed.

    1. At no time can a head cook have more than two (2) sous chefs or assistants in Kitchen Arena. (This is for the safety of all and an orderly cooking environment that does not interrupt other head cooks, especially during the turn-in window).

    2. If a head cook has more than two (2) sous chefs or assistants, a tap-out, tap-in process will be allowed, but only under the supervision and approval of a Cheferee.

    3. A sous chef or assistant cannot assist more than one (1) head cook during an active competition when the two head cooks are competing against each other. For example, the sous chef or assistant could not assist more than one (1) head cook in the Burger Opening Round, but could assist a different head cook in another category or a Final Round.

  3. To ensure competitor fairness, as well as the judges’ safety, all cooks will be required to submit an abbreviated recipe for both their Signature and Structured dishes. The recipes need to include the following: Recipe Title, Brief Description and List of Ingredients. Recipes do not need to include instructions for recreating the dish. Competitors must submit their recipes through WFC’s online competitor portal. Once recipes are submitted, competitors will be expected to produce that dish. Recipes must be submitted NO LATER THAN 30 DAYS PRIOR TO THE DATE OF THE FIRST COMPETITION. WFC Judges will have access to the abbreviated recipes upon request. NOTE: To ensure no complications with your recipe submissions, it is recommended best practice to upload your recipes/ingredients to a USB/thumb drive to keep on hand with you as a backup measure.

  4. Competitors advancing to the Category Finals must submit a complete recipe, which MUST consist of the following: Recipe Title, Brief Description, List of Ingredients with Measurements and FULL Instructions. All recipes must be submitted through WFC’s online competitor portal by 11:59 PM CDT, the day prior to their competition start time. More details will be given to these competitors onsite at the event. NOTE: To ensure no complications with your recipe submissions, it is recommended best practice to upload your recipes/ingredients to a USB/thumb drive to keep on hand with you as a backup measure.

  5. All competitor entries must be original recipes and not the property rights of any third party.

  6. Competitors are not required to recreate any entry that allowed them to win qualification into the World Food Championships. However, many competitors use a winning qualifier recipe as their Signature Dish.

  7. The use of sponsored products is a requirement if stated by WFC’s competition chart and process. When stated, such products MUST be used and cannot be replaced by products of a competitive nature.

  8. Golden Tickets for qualifying and no-cost entries for champions, can NOT be transferred to another person. If a winner of these benefits chooses not to participate, the no-cost entry is forfeited and/or the Golden Ticket will be transferred by WFC officials only to a runner-up (reserve grand, or second place) of the qualifying event, if applicable.

  9. Competitors can enter and win multiple qualifiers to the WFC. However, if the winning prize of a qualifier includes an entry fee to WFC or a travel stipend, it can only be won and claimed by one (1) competitor. Therefore, any competitor who wins multiple contests with stipends will have to choose which category or qualifier he/she wants to represent, thus receiving the appropriate and relative stipend. The remaining stipends from the unchosen qualifier victory(ies) will be transferred to the next highest placing contestant of that event.

    1. If the category in which a Golden Ticket winner has qualified is full, the head cook may choose another category to compete in as long as competition spots are still available.

  10. WFC reserves the right to enter into exclusive agreements with events that allow them to become the only WFC qualifying event in a state, province and/or country. This means WFC will not permit registration from a competitor who falls outside the guidelines of our exclusive event agreements. A list of all qualifiers with potential exclusive rights can be found at

  11. The WFC Registration Period will be open from February 1st to October 1st. Payment MUST be made at the time of registration. Unpaid registrations will be deleted from the registration system. Registration refund requests must be completed by August 15th to receive a full refund minus a $10 processing fee. All requests for refunds after August 15th are subject to full forfeiture. Please note that your refund request and cancellation does not include travel and/or hotel accommodations. Those cancellations must be made separately.

  12. Any competitor who has claimed a spot at the World Food Championships through a completed registration is expected to be present and to compete at the event. If a competitor fails to appear at the Main Event without giving WFC advance written notice of at least three (3) days (and therefore leaving an open spot in the competition), that competitor will be marked DNA (Did Not Appear). Competitors with a DNA designation will not be eligible to compete in WFC for a period of three (3) years following the most recent designation.

  13. On-site registration is required for all competitors. Official registration dates and times will be released in competitor packets prior to the event.

  14. Competitor entries and recipes cannot be marked or designated in any way that uniquely identifies to the judges who has submitted the entry. WFC officials will make discretionary decisions to enforce this rule. As a general guideline, when determining if your presentation is self-identifying, err on the side of caution. No recipe titles, list of ingredients, or descriptions. No logos. No initials. No smiley faces. No messaging. No country or state flags that could identify a competitor. No team or restaurant names in recipes. No identifying a cause that could influence a judge’s decision.

  15. All competition entries must be prepared onsite during the competition period. No pre-chopping of ingredients is allowed. No mise en place is allowed. No previously cooked or prepared entries will be accepted; for example, homemade sauces should be prepared on-site. Pre-packaged material/products that constitute an ingredient are okay. All pre-packaged material/products should come in ORIGINAL, UNOPENED packaging from the store from which it was purchased. An original package is defined as an unopened bottle, package or container that has been purchased from a reputable source. All labels, branding, jar lids and seals must be intact. If there are any questions about packaging or the origins of a product by the Cheferees, a receipt will be required. It will be the responsibility of the competitor to have all receipts present at the competition. The validity of prepackaged or precooked ingredients is the responsibility of the competitor and must be confirmed prior to competing. If a competitor is in doubt about an ingredient he/she has brought, they should bring the ingredient with them to the cook’s meeting, prior to the start of the competition where a Cheferee will inspect. If, for any reason, a Cheferee believes a product is unsafe for consumption, it will be removed. All decisions by the head Cheferee and Organizing Committee are final. All competitors will be subject to an ingredients inspection by a WFC official or Cheferee prior to the cook time beginning. The purpose of these rules is to ensure the safety of judges as well as fairness to all competitors.

    1. All competitors, prior to the official start of a cook time, will be subject to a random ingredient check by a WFC official or Cheferee. If violations are found, a point deduction per infraction will be applied to the team’s overall score as a penalty. Please reference 2019 Infractions at the end of this document.

    2. All head cooks must have receipts available for review by a Cheferee. Receipts must identify the reputable source and item purchased. Failure to provide a receipt may result in removal of the material/products and/or a point deduction. Please reference 2019 Infractions at the end of this document.

  16. Any and all fresh meat, fish or seafood brought to the championships must be packaged in a USDA approved facility with a proper USDA stamp. All fresh meat, fish or seafood must be stored at the required temperature prior to cooking. Individual cuts of meat must be purchased as is, not broken down from a large cut of meat and repackaged by the competitor. In all cases, all fresh meat, fish and seafood are subject to inspection to make sure it is safe for consumption and that it has not been marinated or seasoned prior to the competition round. This does not, however, extend to processed meat (such as deli-cut meat, canned salmon, etc). These items must be purchased from a store and brought to the event in its original unopened packaging (as defined in Rule 15, 15a and 15b). No active cooking of meat by the competitor is permitted outside of the competition space or cooking time frame.

  17. Entries may include any combination of ingredients, sauces, toppings and/or decor/garnishes. Every key food component must be placed together as a unified judging portion on the presentation dish, as well as represented appropriately in the sampling dishes. If a component to an entry, such as a sauce or condiment, exists outside of the presentation dish or sampling portions, it will not be judged. Garnish or decor is not considered by judges when using the E.A.T.™ methodology.

    1. Beverages or paired drinks can be used on the presentation dish as a garnish/decor; however, no beverage or paired drinks will be allowed on sample dishes being given to judges, unless a specified Structured Build requires it.

  18. For sanitary purposes and the health and safety of our judges, all entries, including samples, must be plated.

  19. All food must be placed on or in a solid dish that can be picked up with one hand. Lettuce beds, parchment paper, fruits and vegetables are not considered a dish but can all be placed on a dish. For the security, integrity and safety of transferring each dish during the judging process, the bottom of any food being presented as part of the dish cannot be elevated more than 3 inches above the platter. Garnish/decor is allowed and can be placed beneath or adjacent to the presented food. The intent of garnish/decor is to decorate and prevent slipping, not to elevate the dish. Garnish/decor will not be eaten nor judged. 

  20. No part of an entry, including but not limited to plateware, food, garnish/decor, will be allowed to extend beyond 3 inches off the edges of the turn-in platter. (This is similar to the 3-inch elevation rule, to protect against unstable conditions and/or unfair advantage in Appearance).

  21. World Food Championships will provide each competitor in Kitchen Arena a basic equipment/cooking package. A list of additional equipment that a competitor may bring can be found in the current year’s official competitor packet. If a piece of equipment is NOT on the list, you may NOT use it during your competition.

  22. All Opening Round competitors will be required to create one (1) presentation plate and five (5) sampling portions during their category Opening Round.

  23. All Top 10 competitors of a category will be required to create one (1) presentation dish and ten (10) sampling portions during their Category Finals. This will enable WFC to ensure that all Top 10 dishes are sampled and judged by all Top 10 judges.

  24. In the Top 10 process, competitors will be given two silver platters for the turn-in process.  However, if a competitor can legally place the presentation dish and all ten (10) samples on one platter, that will be allowed. However, both platters must be turned in with competitor’s entry. Competitors may place the second platter underneath. (See extension and elevation rules for legal plating policy.)

  25. Once numbered trays have been issued, each head cook is responsible for his/her tray. Any marked or altered tray must be replaced prior to turn-in or it will be disqualified.

  26. During the turn-in process, once a tray is set on the turn-in table, no adjustments or additions to that tray can be made. If two trays are being turned in (i.e, the Top 10 round), the same rule applies. Once both trays are down, they cannot be adjusted or tampered with by the competitor. CAUTION: a competitor is NOT finished with turn-in until BOTH trays are set down. So if one tray is still not on the table when the clock / turn-in window is closed, then the turn-in may be disqualified. It is the responsibility of the Head Cook to ensure their tray(s) are placed on the turn-in table before the clock expires. Both trays do not have to be set down simultaneously; however, they do need to be turned in at generally the same time. Competitors should account for media and other competitors in Kitchen Arena and are responsible for allowing adequate time to transport their trays for turn-ins. When transporting trays, competitors are responsible for keeping adequate distance from their trays to other competitors, media personnel, cheferees, etc. to ensure there is not a collision.

  27. Preferential seating will be given to judges who are E.A.T.™ certified in the Food Champ Judging process. WFC also reserves the right to seat separate judges between turn-ins of the Opening Rounds.

  28. Each year's categorical Top 10 finishers earn an automatic qualification to enter that same category in the next year event. This qualification does not include the entry fee, and it does not allow a top finisher to switch categories (unless otherwise stated by WFC policy). If a top finisher wants to enter a different category, then he/she must qualify for that category through the typical process of winning a qualifier. The deadline for any top finisher to re-enter the same category for which they have qualified is June 30th of the new competition year.

  29. Each year’s Category Champions earn an automatic qualification into the tournament for the next five (5) years in that same category. As a Champion, this rule also provides a no-cost entry for that Champion into the next year's tournament. To continue earning a no-cost entry throughout the five-year qualified period, the person would have to win the category each previous year.

  30. If a category is no longer represented at the WFC, then the Champion and the Top 10 finishers of that category will retain their same benefits as described in Rule 29 and 30, while receiving a one-time right to choose another competition category.

  31. Any World Food Champion (1st place finisher at the Final Table) earns a lifetime exemption into the tournament. For the first five (5) successive years, the World Food Champion will also earn a no-cost entry into the tournament. Beginning in year six, and each successive year thereafter, entry fees will not be waived. World Food Champions can select any category they want during their exemption period.

  32. Throughout the course of the competition, immediate family members (spouses, brothers, sisters, fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, grandparents and grandchildren) may compete individually in the same category or opposing categories through Opening Rounds and Top 10, and may even win separate categories. However, multiple members of the same family may not be represented at the Final Table unless they are on ONE (1) team. Therefore, if members of the same family should win in two different categories, the member who was announced first shall advance to the Final Table. The family member who wins the second category shall be awarded the prize purse for his/her first place finish in their category. However, the second highest scorer in that category will advance to the Final Table. Additionally, that second family member will then be allowed to compete with the first family member on the same team at the Final Table. The purpose of this rule is to prevent any possible collusion or appearance of collusion at the Final Table by family members representing multiple teams.

  33. Team/contestant branded apparel and signage is allowed in your team work stations and in your competitor area as long as it is not perceived as disruptive, offensive, concerning or conflicting by WFC officials and its sponsors. In such cases, WFC reserves the right to remove such signage or branding. An example of a team/contestant brand: "The Bacon Boys,” which may have a specific brand of Bacon visible on their clothing, which is allowed. However, if that bacon sponsor happens to conflict with WFC bacon sponsors, WFC reserves the right to prevent further signage from being displayed in the cooking area to protect the investment and relationship of our WFC sponsor.

  34. Corporate sponsorship of any contestant constitutes a Brand Team. Brand Teams must be approved by WFC Officials prior to the event. Furthermore, the use of WFC marks by any company for promotional purposes must also be approved by WFC's licensing team. An example of a brand team message that needs approval: "XYZ Corporation is proud to support Team XYZ in its quest to win WFC"...or any variation of such messaging that connects the Brand with WFC. This is an implied association and may conflict with existing sponsorships, so the WFC licensing team will manage appropriately to make sure all parties are satisfied and successful in their marketing endeavors. In most cases, this rule will require that Brand Teams must require an Elite Golden Ticket, unless they have won a Golden Ticket through an official Branded / WFC qualifier.

  35. Competitors must be courteous and respectful at all times. Competitors should never obstruct pathways within Kitchen Arena or interfere with another competitor’s turn-in. Doing so could result in a deduction of points for careless behavior.

  36. Violation of any of the foregoing rules can and may result in elimination from the tournament. There will be no refund of entry fees for any rules infraction.

  37. Head cooks MUST attend the mandatory cook’s meeting. Other team members may not serve as a proxy. Absence of the head cook from the cook’s meeting will result in a one (1) point deduction from the team’s overall score.

  38. WFC has implemented a Points Deduction process, administered by Cheferees and WFC Officials, to address any possible infractions to the rules herein. The severity of the infraction will determine the number of points deducted, or if a team disqualification is necessary. Please reference 2019 Infractions at the end of this document.

  39. All WFC decisions are final.


WFC has implemented a Points Deduction process, administered by Cheferees and WFC Officials, to address any possible infractions to the rules herein. The severity of the infraction will determine the number of points deducted or if a team disqualification is necessary. All necessary and authorized deductions will be subtracted from a team’s overall score from any particular category of competition in which the infraction occurred. For example, an infraction penalty during the Signature Round will result in a deduction from the overall Signature score of that team’s entry.

Infractions include, but are not limited to, the following:


  • Failure to use required sponsored products as stated by WFC’s competition chart and process.

  • Late turn-in of competitor’s dish in any round.

  • Interfering with another competitor’s turn-in.

  • Personal markings or competitor identification.

Point Deductions

  • Use of pre-marinated meat or pre-marinated food items. (3-point deduction per item)

  • Use of pre-cooked, pre-smoked or pre-made food items. (3-point deduction per item)

  • Use of prepared ingredients, including home brewed beers or any homemade alcoholic beverages. (3-point deduction per item)

  • Failure to submit complete recipes for Opening Rounds by September 18th at 11:59 PM PST of the competition year. (3-point deduction)

  • Failure to attend cook’s meeting. (1-point deduction)

  • Use of opened ingredients. (1-point deduction per item)

  • Inability to provide receipts upon request by a Cheferee. (1-point deduction per item)

  • Elevation or extension beyond 3 inches. (1-point deduction)

  • Failure to submit complete recipes for Top 10 Round by 11:59 PM CST the day prior to competition start time. (1-point deduction)

One-Year Suspension

  • Failure to appear at or follow through on a WFC, special-event commitment.

  • Withdrawing from competition later than September 1st.  Special circumstances will be considered.

  • Negative social media commentary involving any official WFC Sponsor.

Three-Year Suspension

  • Registering to compete and then failing to appear at the event without giving at least a three-day written notice. Special circumstances will be considered.

  • Any attempt to harm, threaten, disparage or interfere with WFC employees, officials, Cheferees, sponsors or committee members.

For a print-friendly version WFC's 2019 Infractions, click here.

For a print-friendly version of these rules, click here.