Grill-Off Contest

North Dakota 4-H BBQ Junior Grill Master’s Bootcamp and Chef for a day Grill-off

Are you ready to show off your culinary and food safety skills at the North Dakota 4-H Grill-off contest?

 The WHAT:

4-H’ers (11 to 18 years old) are invited to participate as a team in the North Dakota 4-H BBQ Junior Gill Master’s Bootcamp and Chef for a day Grill-off contest sponsored by the North Dakota Beef Commission. This event teaches youth the art and science of preparing beef in an outdoor setting. During the contest, participants cook a beef protein source on a grill, and are judged on their use of food safety methods and the taste of their dish. Participants will not only be assessed on their finished product, but also on their knowledge of their recipe and the nutritional factors of their dish. Check out the rules for the contest to get a better understanding of what the judges are looking for.

Teams: County teams (or combined counties) of three to four members. Each team may include a mentor (youth or adult volunteer, industry producer, parent, chef or food industry worker) who can help coach the team through preparation.

First place team members for the junior and senior division will receive a custom “BEEF It’s What’s for Dinner” Stainless Tumbler (junior 11-14; senior 15-18). For participating in the Chef for a Day 4-H Grill-off, 4-H’ers will receive an apron, complements of the ND Beef Commission.

 The WHY:

The inclusion of beef in young people’s diets and hands-on culinary learning has the potential to influence both health and life skills, both of which could contribute to the mission of 4-H, North Dakota’s state and national Beef Checkoff Program priorities. Hands-on cooking schools have been implemented successfully in North Dakota, but a grilling experience has not been included to date (Burdett & Garden-Robinson, 2015). Investing in young people by teaching the art and science of safely preparing beef in an outdoor setting can provide 4-H youth with life skills, food literacy, and lifestyle choices for healthy living and potentially, career development skills. The innovative North Dakota State University (NDSU) BBQ Junior Grill Master’s Bootcamp is an excellent vehicle for youth to sharpen not only culinary skills, but also citizenship skills as organizers, community supporters and leaders. As a result, young people can carry their experience into adulthood, influence family cooking techniques, gain grilling confidence, and become better agricultural ambassadors.

 The grilling bootcamp will introduce young participants (11 to 18 years old) in 4-H who may not be currently enrolled in beef/animal projects. This opportunity will provide experiences for those who do and do not own an animal or perhaps do not participate in 4-H animal projects. The bootcamp will offer education in food safety, teamwork, decision-making, and grilling methods, including smoking and grilling with gas and charcoal. Instructors will describe the merits of various beef cuts and explain how cooking temperatures, humidity and the composition of the meat from different animal primal cuts can affect the barbecuing process. Beef producers will directly participate in the bootcamp with the intent of fostering networking and mentorship opportunities with young bootcamp participants. This bootcamp program will follow the NDSU Extension Services 4-H Youth Development Program by incorporating a “learn-by-doing” teaching method to “make the best better.” Participants will learn about nutrition, the importance of food safety, patience and willingness to learn from mistakes and gain awareness of grilling techniques that influence red meat flavor such as utilizing rubs, marinades and seasonings.

A grilling contest like this teaches many life skills, such a knowing how to buy and prepare a meal safely and incorporating lean beef protein into the diet.

For questions, please contact Dr. Leigh Ann Skurupey, State 4-H Youth Development Specialist – Animal Sciences at or 701-231-6658.

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