Student Chef Cook-Off

The Division of Food, Nutrition and Wellness, also known as “Fresh for Florida Kids," is searching for student chefs for the 2015-2016 school year. Students in grades 4-12 can enter their original, healthy snack recipe using a fresh fruit or vegetable grown in Florida for a chance to compete at a regional cook-off and win prizes. 

Note: The contest entry period has ended. Representatives from the department will be in touch with selected finalists. Please send inquires to


Entry Requirements

Recipes must meet the following criteria:

  • Contains at least one fresh fruit or fresh vegetable grown in Florida ( See below for list of eligible products.)
  • Has clear directions and makes four snack servings
  • Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less
  • Is creative and original in nature
  • Has readily available ingredients (those that can be purchased in a typical supermarket)
  • Promotes good nutrition/is healthy ( See below for tips to make your recipe healthy.)
  • Does not use brand name of ingredients

To be eligible, entries must be completed and received in the format designated below:

  • The entry must be an original recipe.
  • Entries must be submitted with a photo of a completed serving.
  • Limit one entry per region per person.
  • The recipe entry must be created solely by a child in 4th-12th grade living in the state of Florida during the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Entries must be received by midnight (12 a.m. ET) on September 13, 2015.


Qualifying Round

All entries will be divided into grade groups of 4th-5th; 6th-8th; 9th-12th.

Recipes are judged based on nutrition, presentation/appeal and originality. There will be three (3) qualifying round winners chosen for each age group per region (9 per region, 54 total). Contest winners will be notified by email and the winning entries will be exhibited online.

The 54 qualifying round winners will be invited to cook their recipe for a panel of judges in a Regional Round Cook-Off at their region’s Publix Aprons™ Cooking School. 

  • Tampa: Central/West – October 3, 2015
  • Orlando: Central – October 10, 2015
  • Sarasota: West – October 17, 2015
  • Boca Raton: South – October 24, 2015
  • Tallahassee: Northwest – November 7, 2015
  • Jacksonville: Northeast – November 14, 2015

Regional Round Cook-Off

Regional Round Cook-Off qualifiers will have 45 minutes to prepare each recipe as written in their submission. All Regional Round Cook-Off dishes are judged based on taste, originality, presentation/appeal and technique. The prepared dishes will be reviewed and scored by a panel of judges, and all decisions made by the panel are final.

The first-place winners in the 9th-12th grade group at each Regional Round Cook-Off will be invited to a State Finale Cook-Off for the chance to be named the Fresh for Florida Kids Student Chef.

All students who compete at a Regional Round Cook-Off will receive prizes. See the list of prizes below.

State Finale Cook-Off

A cook-off for all six first-place 9th-12th grade students will be held at a separate event at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida, on February 6, 2016.

State Finale Cook-Off dishes will be judged based on taste, originality, presentation/appeal and technique. Students will have 45 minutes to prepare each recipe as written in their submission. The prepared dishes will be reviewed and scored by a panel of judges, and all decisions made by the panel are final. 

How to Enter

All submissions will be made online at this website. A digital photo must be uploaded as a jpeg (1MB max). No person may be in the photo. A detailed list of ingredients in standard U.S. measurements, number of servings and directions on how to complete the dish must be included. Enter the cook-off now.


Everyone who competes at a Regional Round Cook-Off wins prizes.

  • First-place winners receive a $100 gift card, a Publix gift basket and a certificate for a Publix Aprons™ Cooking School class.
  • Second-place winners receive a $75 gift card and a certificate for a Publix Aprons™ Cooking School class.
  • Third-place winners receive a $50 gift card and a certificate for a Publix Aprons™ Cooking School class.

First-place 9th-12th grade winners will receive hotel accommodations for one night's stay in Tampa, Florida, to attend the State Finale Cook-Off at the Florida State Fairgrounds. The winner will receive a $500 gift card and title of the Fresh for Florida Kids Student Chef for 2015-2016.

Fruits and Vegetables from Florida

There are plenty of fruits and vegetables grown in Florida. Choose at least one of the products listed below to include in your recipe and get cooking.

  • Avocado
  • Beet
  • Bell Pepper
  • Black-Eyed Pea
  • Blueberry
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carambola (Star fruit)
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Coconut
  • Collard Green
  • Cucumber
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Guava
  • Kohlrabi
  • Kumquat
  • Lettuce
  • Lima Beans
  • Lime
  • Mango
  • Mushroom
  • Nectarine
  • Okra
  • Onion
  • Orange
  • Papaya
  • Passion Fruit
  • Plum
  • Potato
  • Pumpkin
  • Radish
  • Satsuma
  • Snap Bean
  • Spinach
  • Strawberry
  • Summer Squash
  • Sweet Corn
  • Sweet Pea
  • Sweet Potato
  • Tangerine
  • Tomato
  • Turnip
  • Watermelon
  • Winter Squash

Tips for Designing Your Recipe

Don’t forget – your recipe also needs to be healthy. Use some of the tips below to keep your snack healthy:

  • Snacks should not replace a meal. It is important to keep portion size in mind.
  • Snacks should include at least two food groups such as vegetables with hummus or low-fat yogurt with fruit.
  • Fruits and vegetables should make up a majority of your healthy snack; they provide the most nutrients for the fewest amount of calories.
  • If using foods from the grains group, choose whole grains such as whole-wheat flour, whole-grain bread, whole-wheat cereal, brown rice or quinoa instead of refined grain products such as white flour, sweetened cereals, white bread, chips, crackers, etc.
  • If using foods from the dairy group such as milk, yogurt or cheese in your recipe, choose either the fat-free or low-fat version. Whole milk, heavy cream, ice cream, regular cream cheese and sour cream, etc. should not be used.
  • Limit the amount of or do not use added sugars in your recipe. Examples of added sugars are white and brown sugar, any syrup, nectar or honey.
  • Try to limit the amount of fat in your recipe and choose healthy fats if possible. Healthy sources of fats include vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, peanut butter and avocados.
  • Consider baking, broiling or grilling food instead of frying. Skip or limit the breading on food to avoid extra calories.