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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 Amabassador. Sometimes rules are added. Somtimes 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!

Ammendements to existing rules are added to the end of the list of rules. Be sure to review the entire list.

  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. 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 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 2 sous chefs or assistants in the 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 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. (This rule has been updated. See 2018 Amended Rules #38-39 below) 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, List of Ingredients, and a Brief Description of the dish. Recipes do not need to include instructions for recreating the dish. Competitors should 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 11:59PM Oct. 31 of the competition year. WFC Judges will have access to the abbreviated recipes upon request. PLEASE NOTE: Competitors advancing to the Category Finals must submit a separate recipe card for their infused ingredient recipe prior to competition start time. More details will be given to these competitors onsite, at the event. ALSO NOTE: To ensure no complications with your recipe card 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. 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.

  5. 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 competitor. Therefore, any competitor who wins multiple contests with stipends, the competitor 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

  6. 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:

  7. WFC has decided to extend its onsite Registration period. Registration for all contestants will remain open Tuesday through Friday of the primary competition week; however, all contestants must register 24 hours in advance of the start of their official category cook's meeting.

  8. A competitor’s entries must be original recipes and not the property rights of any third party.

  9. 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.

  10. 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 flags. No team or restaurant names in recipes.

  11. 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. However, all pre-packaged material/products must come in original packaging from the store from which it was purchased. The validity of prepackaged or precooked ingredients is the responsibility of the competitor and must be confirmed prior to competing. All competitors will be subject to a meat/ingredients inspection by a WFC official or Cheferee prior to the cook time beginning.

    1. All head cooks, prior to the official start of a cook time, will be subject to a random ingredient check by a Cheferee. This is to insure that the no pre-cooking/prep rule has been followed. If violations are found, a point deduction to the team’s overall score will be applied as a penalty. (Our Ambassador Council is currently determining a fair and appropriate point deduction system.)

  12. 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 EAT methodology.

    1. No beverage or paired drinks will be allowed with an entry, unless a specific Structured Build requires it.

  13. All opening round Contestants will be required to create five (5) sampling portions during their category opening round.

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

  15. WFC has decided that preferential seating will be given to judges who are certified in the Food Champ Judging process, or any other recognized judging certification class. WFC also reserves the right to seat separate judges between turn-ins of the opening rounds.

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

  17. The Final Table for 2018 will consist of five (5) judges. As a result, Final Table contestants will be required to create five (5) sampling portions, in addition to their presentation dish, for the Final Table. All category champions must create a dish that clearly represents their category.

  18. 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 or 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.

  19. Each year’s category Champions earn an automatic qualification into the tournament for the next five 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.

  20. If a particular 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 18 and 19, while receiving a one-time right to choose another competition category.

  21. Any World Food Champion (1st place finisher at the Final Table) wins a five-year Automatic Qualification AND a no cost entry into the tournament for five successive years. World Food Champions can select any category they want during their five-year qualified period.

  22. The 2018 WFC Registration Period will be open from February 1 – October 1, 2018. 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 Wednesday, August 15, 2018, to receive a full refund minus a $10 processing fee. All requests for refunds after August 15 are subject to full forfeiture, depending on ability of the next qualified contestant to take the vacated spot. Please note that your refund request and cancellation does not include travel and/or hotel accommodations. Those cancellations must be made separately.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. For the security, integrity and safety of transferring each dish during the judging process, WFC has created the following rule as it relates to elevation and stemware: No artificial or custom made elevation devices or pedestals will be allowed. Only commercially available, manufactured plateware, tableware and stemware will be acceptable for dish containment. If commercially available, manufactured plateware, tableware and stemware is used for elevation, the bottom of any food being presented as part of the dish cannot be elevated more than 3” 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 may not elevate the presented food more than 1". Garnish/decor will not be eaten nor judged. 

  26. No part of an entry will be allowed to extend beyond 3 inches off the turn-in platter. (This is similar to the 3” elevation rule, to protect against unstable conditions and/or unfair advantage in Appearance.)

  27. 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.

  28. 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. All WFC decisions are final.

2018 Rule Amendments - These rules supersede and replace any conflicting rules previously stated:

  1. Head cooks MUST attend the mandatory cook’s meeting. Other team members may not serve as proxy. Absence of the head cook from the cook’s meeting will result in a three (3) point deduction from the team’s overall score.

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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 primary dish and all 10 samples on one platter, that will be allowed. (See extension and elevation rules for legal plating policy.)

  5. 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. Both trays do not have to be set down simultaneously; however, they do need to be turned in at generally the same time.

  6. Any and all meat brought to the championship must be fresh and vacuum sealed. We recommend that it comes in an original store container. But in all cases, it is 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, smoked turkey leg, canned salmon…) These items must be purchased from a store and brought to the event in its original packaging. No active cooking of meat by the competitor is permitted outside of the competition space or cooking time frame.

  7. 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.

  8. Through the course of the competition, immediate family members (spouses, brothers, sisters, fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, grandparents and grandchildren) may compete individually in opposing categories and even win separate categories. However, multiple members of the same family may not be represented at the Final Table unless they are on ONE 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.

  9. 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 notice of at least (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 (3) three years following the most recent designation.

  10. 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, List of Ingredients, and a Brief Description of the dish. Recipes do not need to include instructions for recreating the dish. Competitors should 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 11:59 PM PST OCTOBER 5TH of the competition year. WFC Judges will have access to the abbreviated recipes upon request.

  11. Competitors advancing to the Category Finals must submit a complete recipe, which MUST consist of the following: Title, Brief Description, List of Ingredients and FULL instructions. All recipes must be submitted through WFC’s online competitor portal by 11:59 PM CST 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.

  12. WFC has now 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 amount of points deducted, or if a team disqualification is necessary.

For a print friendlly version of these rules, click here.