Cooking contests offer pint-sized chefs chance to show off culinary chops


Having a cooking-themed kids’ birthday party? Don’t let those culinary concoctions go to waste! A number of Florida-based cooking contests give kids the chance to demonstrate their chops in the kitchen.

The Dairy Council of Florida, for example, is now accepting recipes for its fourth annual Gridiron Cooking Challenge. Open to elementary and middle school students statewide, the competition is part of “Fuel Up to Play 60,” an in-school nutrition and physical activity program launched by the National Dairy Council and NFL to help encourage today’s youth to lead healthier lives.

Elementary and middle school students in groups of four are encouraged to create and submit a healthy, original recipe that prominently features dairy products. The deadline for submissions is March 3, 2017.

The top four student teams in each Florida NFL market – represented by the Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars – will compete for the grand prize at the Gridiron Cooking Challenge as they cook their recipe onsite in less than 60 minutes. The students’ creations will be judged by a select group of distinguished professionals including NFL players, Florida Dairy Farmers, Fuel Up to Play 60 student ambassadors and health professionals.

The winning team in each NFL market will receive a prize pack for their school valued at up to $2,500. Each student on the team will also receive an iPad mini, among other prizes.

“Every year, we look forward to reviewing the new and creative ways students include dairy in their recipes,” said Michele Cooper, CEO of Florida Dairy Farmers, which supports the competition. “The Gridiron Cooking Challenge is a great opportunity for students to demonstrate the versatility and nutritional value of dairy products as we continue to encourage a healthy and active lifestyle.”

Recipe entry forms are available on the Florida Dairy Farmers website at and may be submitted via mail or email.

Fresh From Florida

For high-school chefs, the Fresh From Florida Student Chef Cook-Off offers budding gourmets the chance to create and prepare an original recipe using fresh Florida products, with the chance to have their creation served on cafeteria lines.

Selected students will prepare their recipe for a panel of judges at a regional cook-off. The winning student will be invited to serve as the sous chef for a professional chef at a future event.

The Northeast Florida regional event will be held March 4 in Jacksonville. For complete details on recipe requirements, judging details and more, visit