How I Became a Certified Food Judge

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Some of the Yummy Desserts I Judged During the 2016 Wood Food Championships, Orange Beach, Ala.

Some of the Yummy Desserts I Judged During the 2016 Wood Food Championships, Orange Beach, Ala.

Have you heard how I became a card-carrying, certified E.A.T. food judge? Yes, it’s a real and delicious thing and this is how I became a certified food judge…

The Judge's View; World Food Championships Blogger Summit, Orange Beach, Ala., Nov. 7 - 9, 2016

The Judge’s View; World Food Championships Blogger Summit, Orange Beach, Ala., Nov. 7 – 9, 2016

I was a bit nervous and felt as though I was sitting behind bars at a zoo. Spectators watched my every move as I studied, sniffed and tasted plates holding desserts as miniature pieces of delicious art. This was my first task at judging and I did not want to screw up and did not want to look like an amateur.

“How does it taste?” One of the spectators shouted after I placed a spoonful of pecan goodness into my mouth.

Food Judge in the Making - World Food Championships Blogger Summit, Orange Beach, Ala., Nov. 7 - 9, 2016

Food Judge in the Making – World Food Championships Blogger Summit, Orange Beach, Ala., Nov. 7 – 9, 2016

Although a newbie, I take this food judging thing seriously and to preserve the integrity of food sports, I did not want to let the spectators know my thoughts about this and other desserts I was tasked at judging. I wanted to keep them in suspense of the results. However, I’ll share with you, it was mighty good and something I could have devoured in a second gulp but needed to save room for more judging.  In between sampling desserts, to maintain integrity, I cleansed my palate by eating a saltine cracker and sipping water provided.

Thanks to the World Food Championships, I am now an E.A.T. certified food judge. I earned certification in November 2016 while attending the World Food Championships 2016 Blogger Summit which was held before the 2016 World Food Championships in Orange Beach, Ala.

Mike McCloud, President/CEO of World Food Championships - Blogger Summit, Orange Beach, Ala., Nov. 7 - 9, 2016

Mike McCloud, President/CEO of World Food Championships – Blogger Summit, Orange Beach, Ala., Nov. 7 – 9, 2016

World Food Championships: Welcome to Food Sports
The World Food Championships was whipped up and founded by Mike McCloud who spent about a decade working for a marketing agency where he began noticing the growing popularity of food competitions such as best barbecue and best chili competitions. He recognized this was more than a fad and a legitimate sport and long story short, the World Food Championships sprouted in 2012.

Today, McCloud is CEO of World Food Championships which he says is “turning into the NASCAR of food.”

WFC provides a level playing field for competitors meaning a home cook has just as much a chance of taking home the grand prize as a professional chef does. With a prize purse of $350,000 and grand prize of $100,000, competition is fierce!

In 2016, there were nine categories ranging from burgers to sandwiches to desserts. There’s a winner in each category, following three rounds of competition, and a grand championship consisting of winners from each category. Four hundred thirty teams competed in 2015 representing 48 U.S. states and 14 countries.

Competitor from Tanzania (with Tanzania flag) Poses for a Photo at World Food Championships Blogger Summit, Orange Beach, Ala., Nov. 7 - 9, 2016.

Competitor from Tanzania (with Tanzania flag) Poses for a Photo at World Food Championships Blogger Summit, Orange Beach, Ala., Nov. 7 – 9, 2016.

How Does a Food Judge Rate Food?
Each food entry is judged on its own merit rather than against other entries, which is where E.A.T. Methodology comes into play. Entries are judged on:

  • Execution (do the results fit what the prepare said it is? 35 percent)
  • Appearance (how does it look? 15 percent)
  • Taste (does it taste like it should? 50 percent)

A 10-point scale is used with 1 being terrible, 10 being sensational and 5 being equivalent to fast/casual food. Points are tallied and the lowest score for each entrant is dropped. There are three rounds, one is structured (determined by WFC to display a cook’s skills), infused (using a specific ingredient) and signature (the cook’s specialty).

Desserts are assigned numbers so the judge does not know the name of the cook.

The Happy Egg Co. Was One of More than 80 Brands Supporting the World Food Championships, Orange Beach, Ala., Nov. 7 - 9, 2016

The Happy Egg Co. Was One of More than 80 Brands Supporting the World Food Championships, Orange Beach, Ala., Nov. 7 – 9, 2016

World Food Championships by the Numbers
A growing list of sponsors have taken note of the WFC’s influence. Last year, 82 companies/brands sponsored and/or supported the event such as The Happy Egg Co., Hormel Foods (such as Hormel Chili), Saucy Mama, Wampler’s Farm Sausage and Wickles Pickles. And, it’s proving to be an economic homerun for host communities. In 2015, WFC generated 591 articles with a reach of 794 million media impressions and $26.4 million in ad value.

The economic impact in Orange Beach is estimated at $3.5 – $5 million based on 430 teams and 1,400 competitors spending an estimated $800,000 while attending WFC – WOW! The World Food Championships has been held in Orlando but since 2015, Orange Beach has been home.

Food Judge in the Making - World Food Championships Blogger Summit, Orange Beach, Ala., Nov. 7 - 9, 2016

Food Judge in the Making – World Food Championships Blogger Summit, Orange Beach, Ala., Nov. 7 – 9, 2016

What Did I Need to Do to Become a Certified E.A.T. Food Judge?
Many bloggers attending the WFC were competing and while they prepared for their respective competitions, event organizers held a class for us non-competitors to become judges. It was about 2-hours long and the instructor was thorough in explaining WFC’s philosophy and what to look for, especially in being fair and he emphasized the importance of NOT changing your score and judge each entry on its own. Doing so maintains the integrity of the process.

Oh! Of course, there was food to taste and judge during the training – hamburgers from Nashville’s Burger Republic!  – followed by discussion to ensure everyone was on the same page in how to judge.

I'm a Card-Carrying, Certified Food Judge!

I’m a Card-Carrying, Certified Food Judge!

Becoming a Certified E.A.T. Food Judge at the World Food Championships
I have to say, I was honored to be one of the judges during the World Food Championships and hope the opportunity presents itself again. If you’re reading this and need a food judge in Southwest Florida, drop me a line! to

Interested in becoming a food judge or competing in the World Food Championships? Visit worldfoodchampionships.com to learn more.

Disclosure: I was a guest of the World Food Championships 2016 Bloggers Summit, this post has not been reviewed and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links in order to support my traveling habit, this blog and my special-needs dog

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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