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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

Introduction xiii

Acknowledgments xv

1 Why Culinary Competitions? 1

The Growth of Culinary Competitions 1

Brief History of Culinary Competitions 3

Going for the Gold 3

The ACF’s Role in Culinary Competitions 4

2 Culinary Competitions Today 7

Hot and Cold Competitions 9

Competing in the Cold 9

Some Like It Hot 10

Types of Competitions 11

The Mystery Basket 11

Contemporary Events 11

Team Competitions 12

Specialty Competitions 12

Conclusion 13

3 Philosophy of Culinary Competitions 15

Words to Cook By 16

Commit to Growth 18

Focus on Learning, Not Winning 19

Define Your Competition Cuisine 20

Conclusion 21

4 The Application Process 23

You Have to Get in It to Win It: Filling Out an Application Properly 24

Submitting Your Recipe 26

Submitting Pictures of Your Dish 27

Submitting Yourself 28

Conclusion 30

Appendix 4-1 Example Application 30

5 Practice and Preparation 45

Conducting a Skills and Attributes Inventory 45

Formulating an Action Plan 46

Three Phases of an Action Plan 48

Practicing and Soliciting Feedback 48

Conclusion 52

6 Presentation 53

Understanding the Importance of Presentation in Culinary Competitions 54

Learning to Present 54

Garnishing: Putting the Finishing Touch on Presentation 56

Functional Garnishes 56

Nonfunctional Garnishes 56

Understanding the Context of Food Presentation 57

Food Selection 58

Balance 58

Color 58

Cooking Method 59

Shape 59

Texture 59

Seasonings 59

Layout 60

Conclusion 63

7 Culinary Techniques and Fundamentals in Garde Manger and Pastry 65

Fine-Tuning the Craft 66

Crafting in the Cold: Slicing and Glazing 66

Slicing the Right Way 67

Glazing 72

Keeping Your Eye on the Prize 80

In General 80

The Meat of the Matter 81

All the Trimmings—Vegetables, Garnishes, Dressings 81

Up at the Plate—Arrangements and Decorations 81

Just Desserts 82

Centerpieces for Dessert Platters 85

Conclusion 87

8 Strategies for Success in Hot Food Competitions 89

Developing a Menu 90

Exercise 1: Three-Course Luncheon Menu 93

Exercise 2: Building a Plate around a Main Item 102

Making It Taste Good: The Importance of Flavor 103

Adding the Final Strategy: Setting Up the Kitchen 106

Game Plan 106

Mise en Place 107

Cooking 107

Service 107

Conclusion 108

9 Taking the Mystery Basket Challenge 109

Preparing for the Unknown 110

How the Mystery Basket Works 110

Procedure 111

The Facilities 111

Attacking the Basket 113

And You’re Off 114

Exercise: Mystery Basket Number One 115

Conclusion: Competition Review Session 115

Presentation 116

Creativity 116

Workmanship/Craftsmanship 117

Appendix 9-1 Sample Score Sheets 118

10 Judging and Scoring 123

Becoming a Judge 124

Selection Procedure 127

Other Forms of Procedure 131

Competition Scoring 133

The Score 133

Culinary Awards 139

The Critique 139

Conclusion 141

11 Hosting an ACF Competition 143

Proper Care of Judges 145

Behind the Scenes of an ACF Culinary Competition 146

Application Procedure 146

Culinary Competition Timeline 150

Competition Organizational Structure 151

Insurance and Legal Forms 153

Conclusion 154

12 Building a Pastry Display 155

13 Rules and Guidelines for ACF Competitions 159

Traditional Competition Categories 160

Category A: Cooking, Professional and Student 160

Category B: Cooking, Professional and Student (Hot Food Presented Cold) 160

Category C: Patisserie/Confectionery, Professional and Student 161

Category D: Showpieces 161

Category E: Team Buffet 162

Category F: Hot Food Competition 162

Category G: Edible Cold Food 165

Category H: Ice Carving 167

Category K: Practical and Contemporary Hot Food Cooking 170

Category P: Practical and Contemporary Patisserie 172

Category S: Practical—Skill-Based 175

Scoring 175

14 International Culinary Competitions 183

Setting the Standard 186

Having a Game Plan 186

Conclusion 187

Epilogue 189

Glossary 193

Index 197

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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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