This is a step-by-step plan for hosting a Real School Food Challenge. This guide provides tips and resources that can be customized for your own event. 

Hosting a Real School Food Challenge is Easy! 

All you have to do is: 

Choose Your Competitors 

  • Consider friends or family members that have a passion for cooking, a love of competition, or a connection to the school food cause to be your chef competitors. You’ll ideally want to have between two and four competitors for the challenge. Your competitors may also prefer to work in teams, which is great! The more, the merrier!
  • Once you’ve decided who you’re reaching out to, send a Competitor Ask Email to those people, explaining the goal of the event and what their participation would entail.
  • You’ll want to have your line up finalized at least one month prior to the event to give your competitors time to review the challenge guidelines and create their recipes (more on this in the “Competing” section).

Invite Your Guests

  • We recommend using the online ticketing platform Eventrbrite to plan your event and collect donations. To make it easy for you, we already have an account set up for you to use! Contact us for access. (If you’ve never used Eventrbrite before, this guide will show you how to create the event. And of course, if using an online ticketing platform isn’t for you, do what you’re comfortable with!)
  • Next step is inviting your guests!  We’ve written a sample invitation for you to use.  For help on setting up the invitations in Eventbrite, click here.
  • It’s a good idea to send your invites four to six weeks prior to the event. As the event draws nearer, you can send out reminder invites to those who have yet to RSVP. 

Get Ready - Prior to the Event

  • After your chef competitors have had some time to look over the competition guidelines, they might have some questions. You can set up a conference call or Google Hangout with the Chef Ann Foundation team for answers. We recommend having this call at least two weeks prior to the event to give your chefs enough time to plan out their recipes.
  • Thanks to our sponsor Whole Kids Foundation, Chef Ann Foundation will provide a $50 Whole Foods Market gift certificate to each of your competitors to help pay for the food for the event. Email us one month prior to the event and we will send you the gift cards to distribute!
  • Thanks to our sponsor Steelite International, we have Real School Food Aprons for your competitors to wear and a beautiful First Place Recipe award for you to give your competition winner. Contact Chef Ann Foundation at least one month prior to the event and we will send you these goodies!
  • Once your competitors have created their recipes, print out each entry so that you can display them at the event next to the competitors’ serving stations.
  • Print copies of the Real School Food Challenge Judging Sheets for your guests to use while tasting the recipes.
  • One-two days prior to the event send your guests an email reminding them to attend and letting them know what the evening has in store. Feel free to use this sample email.

Take the Challenge! - Day of the Event

  • Have your competitors arrive about an hour before the event starts to set up their stations. Depending on the size of your kitchen / event venue, we recommend that competitors pre-prepare the majority of their recipe at home, leaving final prep and assembly for the event.
  • Decide how much time you’ll be giving your competitors for final prep at the beginning of the evening. When we hosted our 3-hour event, we gave them 1 hour.
  • When the food is ready, explain the contest rules to your guests and give your competitors an opportunity to talk about their dish and what they learned about school food through this experience.
  • Have your guests sample each of the competitor’s dishes.
  • Once the guests have filled out their scorecards, tally up the results and announce the winner! Present them the prize plate and give all the competitors a big thank you for their participation!

Thank You!

Thank you so much for hosting this event on behalf of Chef Ann Foundation. We are truly inspired and invigorated by your support. To show our gratitude, we’d like to send you this hostess gift, courtesy of our sponsor Steelite International.

Event Host Gift

This Laguiole knife set comes from France and includes six 9 inch steak knives with inlaid ivory handles.