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NC Junior Chef

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. 

NC Junior Chef Competition Website


About NC Jr. Chef Competition

For the North Carolina Jr. Chef Competition, teams of 2-4 high school students (grades 9-12) create a recipe for a school lunch entrée that -

  • adheres to National School Lunch Program guidelines,
  • includes at least two North Carolina-grown ingredients and one USDA Foods item, and
  • meets student taste preferences.

Teams are evaluated and recognized for their ability -

  • to work as members of a team, and
  • to demonstrate skills in recipe development, food preparation and safety, marketing, public presentation, organization, and local food systems knowledge.

Student members of the first, second, and third-place teams at the state and regional level are offered scholarships to attend Sullivan University in Kentucky. 

NC Jr. Chef Competition

Contest and Cook-off Details

Part 1: Recipe Contest

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 FCS teachers/FCCLA advisers 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.

Part 2: 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 judges.

How to participate in the competition?  Who is eligible? Teams of 2-4 high school students (grades 9-12) currently enrolled in North Carolina Career and Technical Education Culinary Arts and Hospitality, Food and Nutrition, or Food Science and Technology courses.

Thrive NC Jr Chef

NC Jr. Chef Impacts

NC Jr. Chef teams competed and placed in the Southeast Jr. Chef Competition in both 2019 (1st place) and 2021 (2nd place), winning full tuition to attend Sullivan University. The North Carolina Jr. Chef Competition affords students an opportunity to apply lessons learned in the classroom to a real-world application in creating recipes for school meals. The 6-serving recipes will be converted into quantity recipes for School Nutrition Programs.

The teams have been able to build and enhance leadership skills through not only the competition but also through presentations at Thrive NC, the School Nutrition Association of North Carolina Annual Conference, NC Career and Technical Education Conference, and the Farm to School of North Carolina Summit.