If you’re addicted to Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, Chopped and every other cooking competition on TV, you’ll want to set aside November 7-10 to attend the World Food Championships. The free festival will feature about 400 competitors from across the country in a series of cooking competitions at the Fremont Street Experience and on Fremont Street. Participants range from home cooks to professionally trained chefs battling it out in categories that include barbecue, chili, bacon, sandwiches and dessert. There’s more than $300,000 in prize money up for grabs, the chance to be seen on an upcoming six-episode cable series about the battles and, of course, serious bragging rights.
“These are résumé-builders for these folks,” says Food Network’s Ben Vaughn, who will host the events. “If you become a finalist, or even place in the top 20, there’s serious credibility there.” For Las Vegas foodies, it’s just a chance to get outside and hang out with like-minded people.
“We just want everybody in the area to come down, hang out and party,” Vaughn says. “You’re going to be partying next to some really great food folks. This year’s [judging] panel and the folks who are involved are just outstanding. It’ll be a blast for the locals to taste what the competitors are cooking.” To that end, several stations will sell food from some of the competitors. And of course, if you have your eye on the creations of a chef who isn’t represented at those stations, Vaughn says you shouldn’t be shy about asking: “Hey, I’ve talked a burger out of somebody before!”