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The contest is open for recipe submissions May 1 – June 15, 2023 for:

  • Professional restaurant chefs living in the United States
  • Students from accredited U.S.-based culinary schools
Competition Square Forkfull

The online 2023 Real California Cheese & Mac Challenge is a search for the most inventive dairy-centric takes on the classic cheese & mac comfort food dish. There are two rounds to the contest:


Chefs will submit a “recipe concept”. The entry form includes the following:

  1. The name of dish
  2. The primary ingredients (make sure to include all dairy ingredients)
  3. Two photographs:
    1. First, of the prepared dish prior to getting cooked
    2. The other photo should be of the cooked, finished dish
  4. A short description on why you chose your dairy ingredients? Please keep responses to 2-4 sentences.
  5. Briefly describe the dish. Please limit your write-up to a maximum of 250 words – here are a few suggestions on what you can include in the description:
    • Why is the recipe special and in your opinion, the winning dish?
    • Is there anything about the dish preparation you want to share, such as a specific element or step that is important to highlight for the judges?
    • Describe the flavors and why you like them.


Judges will review all recipe submissions and select six finalists. These winning chefs will be asked to send a detailed recipe, including all ingredients, with accurate measurements, and directions. For the sensory evaluation, a professional chef will prepare all recipes which will then be judged by culinary professionals. Evaluation criteria will be weighted toward the use of California dairy. Other judging criteria include: menu appeal, flavor and presentation. One grand prize winner will be selected.

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