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.

Details and logistics for the N.C. Jr. Chef Competition are below. 

For questions about the North Carolina Junior Chef Competition, contact Tracey Bates, School Nutrition Specialist at

Contest Details & Logistics

Tab/Accordion Items

Recipe Contest

How to participate in the competition?  Who is eligible? Teams of 2-4 high school students (grades 9-12) currently enrolled in a North Carolina public school that participates in the National School Lunch Program can participate.

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 Adult Team Supervisor which is a North Carolina public school educator (i.e., Ag, Family and Consumer Sciences, Math, or Science teacher) or School Nutrition administrator 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.  

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 evaluators.

Important Dates Action Step
January 5, 2024
(by 4:30 pm)

***See "Files" section below to locate and download forms and documents.***

Teams must submit: 

The NC Jr. Chef Competition Application includes team information, recipe ingredients and instructions, nutrient analysis, and cost analysis. 

January 22, 2024 Based on a review of applications and recipes, up to 8 finalist teams will be selected to compete in the virtual cook-off phase of the competition. Teams will be notified regarding finalist selections.
February 19, 2024
(by 4:30 pm) 

Using the Finalist Submission Form, finalist teams will submit their final application with recipe, recipe photo, work plan, and link to an unedited recipe preparation video.

March 11 or 12, 2024 Teams will be scheduled for a brief virtual live interview with a panel of evaluators.
March 13, 2024 Finalist teams will be recognized and the competition results will be announced.
April 25, 2024
(by 4:30 pm)
NCJCC first place team must submit all required materials for the Southeast Jr. Chef Competition
May 9-10, 2024 NCJCC first place team competes in the Southeast Jr. Chef Competition