SOURCE: World Food Championships

World Food Championships

December 08, 2016 11:37 ET

World Food Championships Celebrates 5th Anniversary with Largest Food Tournament in History

First Female "Home Cook" Wins the $100,000 Prize

ORANGE BEACH, AL --(Marketwired - December 08, 2016) - The dust has finally settled from the World Food Championships (WFC) -- the world's largest food tournament -- and the last person standing was a female "home cook" from Cissna Park, Illinois. Her ribeye steak, which was a first-time category at the five-year-old event, garnered her the top honors and more than $110,000 in cash and prizes.

The WFC, a series of food championships that has given birth to the term 'Food Sport', started in 2012 in Las Vegas. Its 5th Anniversary was held in Orange Beach, Alabama at The Wharf, where almost 1500 cheftestants convened for the culinary world's largest competition. For nearly a week, 419 teams from 48 states and 14 countries competed in a tournament-style process that required them to perfect three dishes -- or be eliminated. Ultimately, nine champions from BBQ, Bacon, Burger, Chili, Dessert, Recipe, Sandwich, Seafood and Steak won $10,000 each, which qualified them to face off at a Final Table challenge for the $100,000 grand prize.

"I am just a small home town girl who has owned and operated a convenience store for the past 33 years with my husband," said Kari Luke, who had competed in the contest once before in the dessert category. "I love to cook mainly because I love to make people happy with food!"

"Our annual tournament is proving not only to be a tough challenge, but it's giving culinary champions of all talent levels a fair and level playing field," commented Mike McCloud, WFC's President/CEO. "Home cooks, professional chefs and competition teams are winning their way here through key qualifiers, and they are proving that anyone can win Food Sport's biggest crown."

The tournament is a qualified invitational, meaning each contestant has to win his or her way into the food fight. This year saw many firsts in addition to its first female champion. Some of the highlights included a Kid's Invitational Cooking Challenge, a full Military Chef Challenge, and an International Top Honors award, all of which were captured on at least three TV shows for major cable networks.

Even though several reigning champions had returned to defend their crowns, not one made it through the challenges to achieve their respective category championships. That meant that nine new champions were featured at the Final Table showdown. In addition to Luke, the other 8 champions included:

  • World Seafood Champion - James Aptakin, Honolulu, HI
  • World Chili Champion - Liz Kraatz, Imperial, MO
  • World BBQ Champion - Luke Darnell, Bristow, VA
  • World Dessert Champion - Evette Rahman, Orlando, FL
  • World Recipe Champion - Anthony Serrano, Chandler, AZ
  • World Sandwich Champion - Mary Kay Lang, Woodstock, GA
  • World Burger Champion - Brad Halsten, Billings, MT
  • World Bacon Champion - Colleen Curley, Onsted, MI

WFC, which drew an estimated 20,000 spectators, would not have been possible without the title sponsor, the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Sports Commission. "The Orange Beach area, from its tourism board to its city and its residents, was incredibly supportive prior to and throughout our event," said McCloud. "We are thrilled to be associated with such a passionate, energized and supportive community."

But WFC also made it a point to give back to this community through two local outlets. One of those partnerships was with Operation Reconnect, an organization that brings military families together for vacations when a member returns from deployment. Through various events throughout the competition, approximately $11,000 was raised for Operation Reconnect. The second partnership dealt exclusively with making sure no food went to waste. WFC partnered with Feeding the Gulf Coast and donated over 12,000 pounds of fresh and canned food after the event. More information on the philanthropic reach of the event can be found here.

More than 80 different local and national sponsors also made this year's event possible. The 6th annual World Food Championships will be held from November 8-14, 2017 in the same location: The Wharf in Orange Beach, Ala. As always, the most up-to-date information can be found on the event's website ( Continue to check back for forthcoming information regarding the various television shows that were shot that the 2016 World Food Championships.

About Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism
Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism ( welcomes more than 6.1 million individuals to the Alabama Gulf Coast each year for family reunions, vacations, meetings and sporting events. Marked by its sugar-white sand beaches, deep-sea fishing and countless family attractions, the Orange Beach and Gulf Shores area is one of the world's leading beach destinations, annually attracting more than 5 million visitors. Centrally located along the Gulf Coast, and a short drive from airports in Pensacola, Fla. and Mobile, Ala., Orange Beach's lodging properties are ideal for beach-side access or inland retreats that are both convenient and affordable. A spectrum of local dining, upscale shopping, fishing, golf, nature and adventure-based excursions also contribute to a spectacular vacation, holiday or leisure experience.

About the World Food Championships
The World Food Championships is the largest competition in food sport, where champions of previous events convene for a chance at winning the ultimate food title and a share of more than $300,000 in cash and prizes. The World Food Championships platform ranges from live-event integration and activations to a robust multimedia platform that serves culinary stars, home cooks, brands and destinations. Following a tournament-style format across nine iconic food categories, the WFC culminates with a Final Table face-off where category champions brave potential elimination in front of a live audience and a discerning panel of culinary judges for the coveted $100,000 grand prize. In four years, WFC has awarded almost $1.5 million in prizes and money, spawned three cable TV series, garnered more than 5 billion media impressions and launched numerous professional careers for successful contestants. The 5th Anniversary of the Ultimate Food Fight took place in Orange Beach, Ala. this November 9-15. All scores from the 2016 World Food Championships can be found here: The World Food Championships is owned and produced by Nashville-based MMA Creative.

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