Topics & Perspectives

I was a Judge at the World Food Championships, Taking a Bite Out of Food Sport

The World Food Championship is the largest culinary competition on the planet, and it happened right here in Dallas this past October.

This multi-day culinary competition showcased some of the world’s finest cooking masters, all of whom competed for recognition, fame, and fortune. The event gives home cooks, experienced chefs, and professional cook teams from all walks of life a chance to win a share of the largest prize purse in the Food Sports Industry.

How did I get the opportunity to be a judge for this major Food Sport action? I took the “Licensed to E.A.T.” course that earned me Gold Card certification and credentials to judge in the Ultimate Food Fight!

You might ask – is that a real event? Yes, it is very real. And delicious.

What did I do to become a certified E.A.T. Food Judge?

When I found out the World Food Championships were coming to Dallas, I knew this was something I wanted to experience first-hand. What better way than by being a judge? Becoming a judge required that I become E.A.T. certified through classroom instruction.

The Certified E.A.T. Method Class

The kitchen classroom experience is hosted by a certified Food Sport professional who takes groups of “would be” judges through proprietary E.A.T. Methodology to prepare them for food judging.

Our class of potential judges was a combination of foodies, professional cooks, home cooks, recent competitors, and food-lovers. The class culminated in the actual judging of fruit pies — can you say, “Mmmm, mmmm good”?

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Cuban Sandwich Judges sample in the structured sandwich catagory in the opening round

E.A.T. stands for Execution, Appearance and Taste

Each of these categories are judged from 1 to 10.

To start, Appearance weighs 15% of the score and is the first task the judges undertake. A full-sized plate is brought out, and it is judged only on Appearance. The question that the judge needs to ask, “Does this dish look like its description, and does it look appetizing?”

Next comes Execution, which weighs 35% of the score. To judge execution, you need to know what the cook intended. The judge describes the dish from the Table Captain, and, after examining the plate, judges score several factors, including: Does it use the featured ingredients? Do the ingredients complement each other? Was it prepared well?

The last and most critical scoring criteria is Taste, which accounts for 50% of the score.  Given the level of competition, the dish has to taste incredible to score high. The judges need to consider such questions as, “Do the flavors work well together?” “Does the creation have a good texture?” “Do I want to take another bite?”

After learning these and many other methodologies, I proudly completed the class. With my Gold Card certification in hand, I was ready to put my new-found knowledge where my mouth is.

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Table of 5 judges are evaluating and scoring a competitors structured “filled cookie” entryI was honored to serve as a judge for four of the 10 categories in the opening round competitions for Recipe, Sandwich, Dessert, and Barbeque. I took my job as a judge very seriously, keeping all the essential elements of food judging at the forefront: judging fairly and consistently. All competitors work very hard on their entries and deserve the judges’ attention and objectivity.

The 8th Annual World Food Championships crowned 10 category champions, each of whom won $10,000. It attracted 1,400 cooks from 42 states and 15 countries.

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Competitors prepare for battle in the world’s largest outdoor kitchen

Final foodie feelings

Being a judge in the World Food Championships was an exhilarating experience!

I was a part of the world’s most prominent foodie tribe, enveloped in a giant hug of foodie friendliness. All competitors, cheferees, and judges are volunteers, and to say that we are a “food passionate” bunch of folks is an understatement. I met judges that traveled on their own dime from all over the United States to be a part of this enthusiastic, all-embracing, spirited community of people. I hope I get an opportunity to be a judge at another WFC event someday, and, when I do, I know I will be surrounded by like-minded people who love good food and the excitement of competition.

Are you interested in becoming an E.A.T. certified food judge or competing in the World Food Championships? Visit to learn more.

Disclosure: I was a guest of mmacreative, the producers of the World Food Championships – this article has not been reviewed, and the opinions are my own.  


Sharon Kurtz

Sharon Kurtz is a freelance writer and photographer. Her passion is travel, telling stories, and tussling with her four-legged friends. As a baby boomer who loves adventure, she welcomes opportunities to share stories of people, places, food, and flavors around the corner or around the world. A regular contributor to fyi50+ Magazine, she's published 200 articles in various digital and print publications. Austin, Texas, is home with her husband and three spoiled dogs when not searching out new adventures. You can follow her travels on Instagram and Facebook.

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