4-H Outdoor Chef Project

Purdue Extension Food Safety Policy (revised 10/2020)
For Food Competitions: Fillings, frostings, glazes, and meringues are not permitted to contain cream cheese, sour cream, heavy cream, or whipped cream if they are not fully cooked/baked. These items are allowed as ingredients in food products IF the final product is cooked/baked. Additionally, raw milk, raw milk products or uncooked eggs/egg whites are not permitted. Eggs/egg whites that have been cooked to 160F (i.e. pasteurized or included as part of a batter and baked) are acceptable. No home- canned fruits,
vegetables, or meats are permitted as ingredients in food products. 
Fresh-cut, uncooked, fruits and/or vegetables are not permitted to be used in food products or used as garnishes for the product. Foods should be transported to the competition in a way that minimizes contamination and maintains the quality of the food (i.e. foods that are judged as frozen should remain frozen at all times).
Recipes must be provided that identifies all ingredients that were used in each part of the product. Any ingredient that could be a potential allergen must be clearly identified. Potential food allergens include, but are not limited to, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, soy and sesame.
Each food product must be labeled with the following information:
  • Name
  • Address of 4-H Member
  • Contact Information
  • Date the food product was made

Contestants should carefully wash their hands and make sure that their hands do not have any open cuts before preparing foods. If cuts are present, the wound should be bandaged and a single use food service glove worn on the hand during all stages of food production. Contestants should not be preparing food exhibits for competition within 48 hours of recovering from any illness. People experiencing symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and/or jaundice should not be allowed to prepare food.

Judges and individuals who will consume products from county and/or state competitions should be informed that they are at risk for foodborne illness since the established policy cannot guarantee that an
entry has been properly prepared or handled before, during or following the competition. The food products for competitions are home produced and processed and the production area is not inspected by the Indiana State Department of Health. Tasting of a food product is solely at the discretion of the judge and consumers. Judges are NOT to taste any home preserved foods such as low-acid or acidified foods like green beans, tomatoes or tomato products, jams/jellies/fruit preserves or fermented products produced in the home.

Baked food products may be from a boxed mix following the instructions, a boxed mix with added ingredients, or ingredients combined from scratch. Youth are to place their name, county and club on the bottom side of their plate, pan or other container and the official entry tag provided will be placed with the exhibit.
General Guidlines
  • Participants will supply their own materials. During workshops preceding the day of the project, a pre-project check list will be required as paperwork prior to the project date. The paperwork, submitted to the project leader, will indicate what type of cooking vessel(s) is/are to be used, what food(s) is/are to be prepared, how many prep tables the participant will need, if they are participating as an individual or team, any required special needs, if electrical outlets are needed, etc. The form is available from the project leader(s) and on the Outdoor Chef project page.
  • Cooking may be done using a gas grill, charcoal grill, open campfire or other approved open flame. Open campfires must be contained using a metal barrel, outdoor patio fireplace, etc. All grills and fires must be completely extinguished before leaving the exhibit area. Side burners, second grills/outdoor stoves, as well as other forms of “open flames” are allowed as necessary to complete the various components of the project.
  • All meat and food ingredients must be inspected by the project leader at time of check-in.
  • The meat brought for use in the project must be in an original, sealed package from the store or meat processing facility.
  • Meat cannot be pre-marinated and ground meat cannot be pre-mixed prior to check-in. See the fair catalog for the time available between when check-in begins and when food is to be presented for judging.
  • Following check-in, participant/participants may set up their area and may proceed with any and all processes except lighting the grill or any open flames.
  • The time to begin the check-in process will be determined by the fair board. See the fair catalog for the day and time. Grills, open flames and All other outdoor cooking conveyances are to be started 1 hour after the participant has checked in. The check-in time will be noted on the participants pre-project checklist. Any participant who lights their grill, open flame or outdoor cooking conveyance prior to 1 hour may be penalized with a deduction in points.
  • Participant/participants must inform the judge when they are ready to light the grill. Grill safety, including lighting, is part of the judging.
    • In the beginner category, a parent or project leader may assist participants in lighting the grill, fire, charcoal or other approved cooking conveyance to assure safety is maintained. After the lighting is completed, parents must move to a designated area for project viewing. Parents are not allowed into the kids cooking are, the ONLY exception being a participant who exhibits specific physical limitations and requires assistance
    • All other participant/participants must light their own grills
  • Participant/participants may receive assistance only from the project leader(s) during the competition. Parents are not allowed into the competition space for any participant except for those participants who exhibit specific physical limitations and require assistance.
  • A recipe card is to be submitted for every part of the exhibit.
  • The judges will walk around and observe the participant/participants during the competition. The judges are encouraged to talk with and question the participant/participants.
  • Regarding meat doneness: the participant/participants must be prepared to tell the judge how the meat is prepared (i.e.- well-done, rare, medium, etc.) It will then be judged accordingly.
  • All final products must be plated and served to the judge(s) as if they were being served in a restaurant.
  • Submit a completed record sheet at the time of project check-in.
  • 4-Hers are to complete the exhibit guidelines for their grade level category and are not to use guidelines listed above their grade level.
  • Outdoor chef project will be held outdoors. In the event of inclement weather, a contingency plan will be enacted and participants will be moved to a shelter. Participants are encouraged to be aware of the weather forecast on the day of the project and prepare accordingly. Participants may bring their own pop-up shelters to cook under.
Exhibit class guidelines

Beginner Exhibit Guidelines (Grades 3-5):

  • Prepare a serving for 2 people.
  • Choose one meat entrée from the following list – ground meat, steak, chop, breast, thigh, simple sandwich, pizza, or another item approved by the project leader at least 1 week prior to judging.
  • If a marinade, rub or sauce is used on the meat or entree, it must be store-bought. Homemade marinades, rubs or sauces may be used on side dishes.
  • Prepare 1 side dish with your entree. This side dish does not have to be cooked on the grill or open flame.
  • Presentation is part of the judging.

Intermediate Exhibit Guidelines (Grades 6-8):

  • Prepare a serving for at least two people.
  • Choose one meat entrée from the following list – roast, whole chicken, whole turkey breast, seafood or another item approved by the project leader at least 1 week prior to judging.
  • If a marinade, rub or sauce is to be used on the meat or entrée, it must be made from scratch by the participant. Store-bought marinades, rubs or sauces may be used on side dishes.
  • Prepare 1 side dish and 1 dessert, one of which must be cooked on the grill or open flame.
  • Presentation is part of the judging.

Advanced Exhibit Guidelines (Grades 9-12):

  • Prepare an outdoor dinner party for at least two people using a theme of your choice.
  • Decorate 1 card table or something of similar size. The decorated area for judging may be no larger than 10’x10’ or 100 ft.2.
  • The participant/participants must create an outdoor dinner party invitation and present it to the judge when the project is ready for judging.
  • Prepare one meat entrée of your choice.
  • May use any marinade, rub, or sauce- homemade, store bought or combination.
  • Prepare 2 side dishes cooked on the grill or open flame.
  • Prepare 1 salad side dish. This salad dish does not have to be cooked on the grill or open flame, but may be.
  • Prepare 1 dessert cooked on the grill or open flame.
  • Beverages may be either store purchased or made from scratch.
  • Presentation and decorations will be part of the judging.
  • Members enrolled in this project may exhibit as a two (2) member team. If one of the members is in grades 3-8, the team will exhibit the advanced requirements. No member exhibiting as part of a team may also exhibit as an individual. Members must inform the project leader at check-in if they plan to exhibit as a team.
  • Awards will be given in the advanced category for both individual exhibits and team exhibits.