After a highly successful event in Dallas in 2019, the World Food Championships (WFC), a high-stakes food competition, is returning to Big D for its 2021 throwdown. ABC News called WFC the “Olympics of Food,” and the three-day event will bring excitement and opportunities for competitors, tasters and spectators alike.
More than 1,500 chefs are expected to battle it out for cash prizes in 10 categories Nov. 5-7 at Fair Park. Winning a category can mean $10,000 or more, not to mention the chance to appear on well-known food shows and a shot at becoming the next hot celebrity chef.
For those who prefer to remain spectators in the world of food sports, tickets to the event will offer plenty of live cookoff action and more than 20 tasting opportunities like BBQ Ranch and the Hall of Taste. Premium tasting events will include a Brunch Bar with all your favorite brunch beverages and Bourb’N’Que with barbecued ribs and bourbon.
Opening rounds of the WFC competitions require entrants to create a signature dish and a specified structured dish. The top 10 then compete in an “Infusion” round using a specific food product.
Category opening rounds will be held live on Friday (Sandwich, Soup and Seafood), Saturday (Bacon, Steak, Dessert and Chef) and Sunday (Recipe, BBQ and Burger). Ticketholders will also be able to watch ancillary competitions like the Beefer Challenge, in which competitors in the Steak category prepare their entries using The Beefer, a German-made, top-down searing grill that cooks meat at 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Other competitions include the Fire Woman event, which involves four award-winning female pitmasters going head-to-head with teams of zero (that’s right, no help) to create a winning plate of barbecue. Another fun contest, the Biscuits & Jampionships will be hosted by Donna Collins of the Dallas-area company The Jelly Queens.
In order to compete at WFC, chefs, home cooks and competition teams had to qualify at official preliminary events held all across the country and in other countries, too. Most of the qualifying contests have already been held, but there’s one coming to Dallas in September if you’d like to win a golden ticket to enter the WFC Bacon Championships.
(Sept. 1 Update: Texas Ale Project’s Somethin’ Bacon event has been canceled. Per organizers “due to the state of the local food & beverage industry, entrant participation was low due to staffing levels.”)
Texas Ale Project will host “Somethin’ Bacon” on Sept. 18, and like the WFC event in November, it will be just as much fun for spectators as it is for the contestants.
Those with an eye on the golden ticket will prepare their signature bacon dish to serve to the judges, but they’ll also bring along sample-sized portions for a people’s choice competition. Prizes will be awarded for the people’s choice and for best booth decoration, and the judge’s choice will win prizes and move on to the WFC competition in November.
After the winners are announced, the party will continue with a food truck, live music and of course, great brews from Texas Ale Project. Tickets ($15-30) that include food samples and competitor registration ($50) for Somethin’ Bacon are both available now on Eventbrite.
Judges for WFC events must be trained on the organization’s E.A.T.™ method in order to give consistent scores to the dishes they taste. A certifying class ($50) will be offered on Nov. 4 at Fair Park for anyone interested in learning how to score the execution, appearance and taste of any dish.
At a recent event, the HOT(el) Chef Throwdown, presented by Dallas College and the Hotel Association of North Texas, I joined WFC’s CEO Mike McCloud as a judge. McCloud gave me a quick personal tutorial on the E.A.T.™ method, and together with Dallas College’s Steve DeShazo we scored the dishes of several Dallas hotel chefs and awarded golden tickets to the qualifying teams.
Chef teams from Fairmont Dallas, Omni Dallas, Virgin Hotels Dallas, Hyatt Regency Dallas and O’Reilly Hospitality Management will advance to the WFC Chef Competition in November. Joseph Graffeo, executive chef of Asador at Renaissance Dallas will also compete at WFC after nabbing the top score at the throwdown with his team’s Honey Chipotle Shrimp and Smoked Gouda Grits.
Once certified, you can apply for judging spots at WFC preliminary and national events. All the slots for this year’s big event are already filled, but with hundreds of qualifying events each year, chances are you’ll get to judge some amazingly tasty food.
Tickets for the main event are available now, and there are a number of ticketing options, so here’s what you need to know.
Kids 10 and under don’t need a ticket, so this can be a fun and affordable family event. General admission tickets are $15 per day or $40 for the weekend and include the Hall of Taste, BBQ Ranch, WFC’s Family Fun Zone, live music and chef demos. The Granny Grilling Challenge on Saturday and the Fire Woman Challenge on Sunday are also included.
Brunch Bar tickets for Saturday or Sunday are $15 and include general admission, so choose these tickets over general admission if you plan to check out the fabulous brunch sips. The same goes for the BOURB’N’QUE tickets on Saturday, which are $30 and also include general admission.
For true foodies, VIP Passes ($85 for a day pass and $185 for the weekend) include a separate entrance to the main event, a private cash bar, TV screens to keep up to date on all of the action, complimentary chef demos and sampling, featured cocktails and refreshments, and more.
Visit the World Food Championships website for all the details of this upcoming flavor fest, and to get your tickets for this fun foodie experience.