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American Culinary Federation Guide to Competitions

ISBN: 978-0-471-72338-7
224 pages
September 2005, ©2006
American Culinary Federation Guide to Competitions (047172338X) cover image


More than a book of rules and regulations, American Culinary Federation Guide to Competitions provides an insider’s look at culinary competitions, endorsed by the American Culinary Federation (ACF) and written by longtime member and leading force on the ACF Culinary Team USA, Edward Leonard. Highly illustrative coverage gives readers insights, hints, and expert techniques to help them achieve winning results at hot, cold, specialty, and sponsor competitions.

American Culinary Federation Guide to Competitions features a full-color insert of competitive food displays and dozens of illustrations outlining plate and buffet presentation to supplement exceptional coverage of every step of competing, including:

  • The application process
  • Practice and preparation
  • Presentation
  • Culinary techniques and fundamentals
  • Culinary strategy for hot food competitions
  • The market basket
  • Judging
  • Hosting a show
  • Pastry displays
  • Rules, guidelines, and categories
  • The international arena
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Table of Contents






Table of Contents.

1. Why culinary competitions.

2. On culinary competitions today.

Types of competitions.

Traditional Cold.

The mystery basket.

Contemporary Hot food.

Recipe Competitions.

3. Philosophy of competitions and advice..

4. The application process.

Items to look for before the commitment.

Helpful hints when submitting the recipe..

The Picture.

Standing out.

Sample Application.

5. Practice and Preparation.

Skills and Attribute Inventory.

Action Plans.

6. Presentation.

Questions answered.

Check list.

Presentations in context.

7. Culinary Techniques and Fundamentals.


Craftsmanship in slicing.


General Guidelines.

General Guidelines Pastry.

What to concentrate on.

What to Avoid.

8. Culinary Strategy for Hot Food Competitions.

Menu, Plate and Platter Development.

Elements of Flavors.

Conceptual Design.

About Food.

Kitchen Confidence & Professionalism.

A Review of Cooking methods.

9. The Market Basket.



The Process.

Attacking the basket and sample baskets.

Competition Items to review.

Sample Score Sheets.

Chef Ed's Helpful Insights.

10. Judges.


Becoming a judge.


Apprentice Judge Critique.

What the competitor should expect.


Commitment letter.

Scoring & Assessments.

The Critique.

Tips from Chef Leonard.

11. Hosting a Show.


Time Line.



Requirements for Hot Food.

Legal Forms.

12. Pastry Displays.

Some insight by Chef Thomas Vaccaro CEPC.

ACF Culinary Team USA Pastry Coach.

13. Rules, Guidelines and Categories.

Categories and Procedures.

Traditional Cold.

Traditional Hot Food.

Community Kitchens.

Edible Cold and Pastry Competitions.

Ice carving.

Contemporary Competitions.

Sample Score Sheets.

14. The International Arena.

15. Motivational quotes.




Recommending reading from the Chef.

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Author Information

AMERICAN CULINARY FEDERATION (ACF) is a professional, not-for-profit organization for chefs and cooks. The mission of ACF is "to make a positive difference for culinarians through education, apprenticeship, and certification, while creating a fraternal bond of respect and integrity among culinarians everywhere."

EDWARD G. LEONARD, CMC, is Captain and Team Manager of the ACF Culinary Team USA. He is also the President of the American Culinary Federation and Executive Chef at the Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York.

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The Wiley Advantage

  • Packed with the tools chefs and students need for making a grand showing at any competition, stateside or abroad
  • Includes key foundation recipes, clear guidelines, and scoring sheet samples, as well as insights and hints from experienced judges
  • Endorsed by the American Culinary Federation, the nation's largest cooks federation with over 21,000 members
  • Four color insert featuring 20 color photos of hot and cold food displays from ACF sanctioned competitions
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