Rules: 2019 Black Box Finals


  • Finalists will begin individually in 5 minute intervals.
  • Black Box ingredients are revealed at the workstation at the beginning of each Finalist’s designated start time.
  • Once the Black Box is revealed, Finalists have 30 minutes to create a clear and concise work plan and menu; note paper and pens are provided.
  • During the work plan time, finalists are required to write a short menu description for their main course and dessert, which will be collected and presented to the judges with each dish.
  • After the work plan time is complete, each Finalist is given 30 minutes for station set up.
  • During station set up, Finalists are not permitted to touch or weigh out any pantry ingredients; except salt, pepper, and oil.
  • Heating work surfaces and/or boiling water, gathering ice, is permitted during station set up.
  • Finalists begin their cook time immediately following the station set up and will be given 2 hours to complete four identical main course dishes.
  • The competition will have a “hard stop” rule, however, there will be a 60 second “grace period” on either side of their designated finish time.
  • Plates finished prior to the 60 seconds will not be picked up and taken to the judges until the designated time.
  • If Finalists exceed the 60 second grace time following their designated finish time, they will be asked to stop working and the plates will be picked up and presented to the judges as they are.
  • Finalists have an additional 45 minutes, immediately following the main course cook time, to complete four identical dessert dishes.
  • Finalists are permitted to prep for dessert at any time during their main course cook time and are not restricted to only using the additional 45 mins for dessert prep.
  • The timing for the dessert course will follow the same “hard stop” rule as the main course with the 60 second “grace period” on either side of their designated finish time.


  • Four identical main course plates and four identical dessert plates must be completed within the given time frame.
  • The plates must be consistent with the work plan and recipe that each finalist submits prior to beginning their station set up.
  • Main course plates must represent a balanced à la carte-sized portion with inclusion of the following:
    120 grams of the mandatory protein which will be revealed in the black box, one starch, two vegetable components and one sauce.
  • Dessert dish must represent an à la carte-sized portion.


  • Each finalist must utilize all ingredients provided in the Black Box, between the main course or dessert course.
  • The Black box will consist of approximately five to eight ingredients.
  • The common pantry will be listed on the website prior to the competition and will be the only ingredients available for the finalists’ use, aside from the Black Box.
  • Each finalist will have a portioned amount of the Black Box ingredients at their work station, which will not have to be shared with the other finalists.
  • The common pantry will be shared between all finalists and will be located in an area convenient to everyone.
  • Finalists are not permitted to bring any outside ingredients.
  • Finalists are not permitted to bring any prepared food to the competition. Any transgression of this rule will result in immediate disqualification.
  • Finalists must exercise discretion when retrieving ingredients from the pantry, and only take what is needed for their dish, being cautious of food waste.


  • Each finalist will be provided a kitchen assistant to act as a runner/dishwasher.
  • The assistant is there to help gather food items or equipment, and to assist with washing dishes or equipment.
  • The assistant may not be involved in any food preparation and/or plating.
  • The assistant is permitted to weigh out ingredients.
  • Finalists are expected to treat assistants with leadership and respect.


  • Each workstation will be set with specific individual equipment and is identical for each finalist.
  • Shared equipment will be in a location convenient to all finalists and is to be kept by the finalist only for the amount of time that it is needed.
  • Equipment must be cleaned and put back after each use, so other finalists have access to it.
  • Personal equipment, being brought from outside, must be pre-approved through email prior to the competition day, or that which is already listed in the rules.
  • Equipment that has not been pre-approved may be confiscated.
  • 12-inch rimless white plates and 12-inch white coupe bowls will be supplied for plating.
  • Each finalist will only have access to four plates and fours bowls unless they request to have all plates or all bowls, prior to the competition.
  • Outside plates or dishware are not permitted for plating, however are allowed for use during the preparation of the dish.
  • During competition, no devices with internet access are not permitted. If a timer or calculator is needed please bring a personal one.
  • Personal recipe books are permitted.
  • PLEASE REFER TO EQUIPMENT LIST FOR SPECIFICS. Note that most standard equipment will be permitted. For example, plastic wrap, tin foil, pastry scraper, parchment etc are not listed however will most definitely be permitted. If you have any concerns or need clarification please inquire.


  • Creative use of ingredients
  • Taste and presentation of food
  • Technical ability
  • Cleanliness of work and kitchen etiquette
  • Leadership and demeanor towards kitchen assistant
  • Adherence to the recipe and work plan submitted with the application
  • Judging will be conducted as a “blind tasting”
  • All dishes that enter the tasting room will be marked with a number and remain anonymous