The economic slowdown claimed another victim today as the National Chicken Council announced that the National Chicken Cooking Contest will be suspended indefinitely after 48 competitions over 60 years.
“The National Chicken Cooking Contest has been one of the country’s premiere competitive cooking events, but the economic realities facing our industry required us to take a hard look at all our programs, and unfortunately the Contest has been suspended,” said NCC President George Watts.
NCC continues to promote chicken, encourage greater consumption, and educate consumers about the advantages of chicken through other programs, Watts said. The Food Media Seminar that has been co-sponsored by NCC and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association is unaffected by the announcement and will continue to be held, he said.
“We appreciate the efforts of the state associations, companies and volunteers who have hosted and run the contest in past years,” he said. “And we appreciate the creativity of the thousands of home cooks who have submitted recipes and those who have been selected to compete in the Cookoff itself. They have shown tremendous imagination and skill, and we hope they will keep on cooking.”
The National Chicken Cooking Contest traces its origin to a cookoff held in connection with the Delmarva Poultry Festival in 1949. The contest was held every year under the sponsorship of Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc., and grew over the years until it was taken over by the National Chicken Council in 1971.
The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association has also been a co-sponsor of the event. The contest went from an annual to biennial schedule in 1983.
For many years, the contest culminated in a National Cook-Off in which contestants representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia cooked their dishes at individual mini-kitchens in a convention hall, with a grand prize that went as high as $100,000 from 2003 to 2007. The event rotated among cities in major chicken-producing states. The last cook-off, held in San Antonio, Texas, on May 2, adopted a regional format in which nine contestants from specified regions of the country competed.
The last winner was Brigitte Nguyen of Lexington, Kentucky, who won $50,000 for her “Chinese Chicken Burgers with Rainbow Sesame Slaw.” Her recipe and others from the 48th contest and previous contests remain available at the web site www.chickencookingcontest.com
The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens. Member companies of NCC account for approximately 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.