From Chef AJ Hurst – 2016 World Food Championship

Shortly after accepting a position at The Lone Girl, our new Chef AJ Hurst attended the World Food Championships in Orange Beach, Alabama.  We asked AJ to share his experience with our Lone Girl audience – enjoy!

The World Food Championships have been around for five years.  This was my third year participating.  There are ten different categories – the Bacon World Championships was my category this year.

About The Competition

There are four total rounds of cooking.  The first three rounds have themes and guidelines to follow. Each round requires five tasting portions and one visual plate for judging.  All of the cooking takes place in the Kitchen Arena, which is fifty kitchens set up under a tent outside.  There is a time limit for each round, rounds 1 and 2 are one hour each, Round 3 is two hours, and the Final Round is four hours.  Top prize for each category $10,000, grand champion price $100,000.







Round 1 – Structured Build

This year’s structured round was cornbread, everyone had to use cornbread somehow in their dish.  I embraced the concept of corn bread and did a goat cheese, bacon, and sage infused cornbread.  I then cut out the center and filled it with maple whipped sweet potatoes and a bourbon bacon caramel sauce.  This was garnished with crispy bacon, goat cheese, fresh sage leaves and more caramel sauce.






Round 2 – Signature Dish

I went with a Asian ramen bowl for this round.  The noodles were tossed in a bacon and unagi broth with toasted sesame seeds, minced bacon and chives.  With the ramen there was also, nori, crispy bacon, soft poached egg, pickled cucumbers, dragon fruit, papaya, mango, baby cilantro and flower petals.








So Far, So Good!

Following the Round 1 and 2 dishes, I had earned 5th place.  Only the top 10 people are invited back to cook in the third round.  If I were to manage a first place finish in Round 3, I’d receive the honor of cooking in a fourth round against the other 9 first place finishers from their categories, similar to the structure of a dog show. Back to the kitchen!









Round 3 – Secret Ingredient

My third round secret ingredient was chocolate.  I made a dark chocolate cake with a candied bacon and caramel filling.  I covered the cake in a chocolate ganache, garnished it with candied bacon, sea salt, Chantilly cream, fresh berries and pulled sugar glass.







Personal Best!

When all was said and done I finished in fourth place.  But since I made it through to the Top 10 I received an automatic invite back for next year’s contest, a 7″ santuko knife, and a cash prize of $1000.  This fourth place finish is my personal best in 3 years of competing.  Not too bad.










For more information about the 2016 World Food Championships, visit their website or Facebook page.