contest | Zehnder's of Frankenmuth

The American Culinary Federation is the professional organization of chefs, cooks, bakers and pastry chefs. Our local chapter has 90 members and includes chefs from the Tri-City, Thumb and Flint areas. We raise funds for childhood nutrition education, charities that provide food for children and give culinary school scholarships for local students. All this in addition to providing further culinary education for our members.

There are 20,000 ACF members in 200 chapters nationwide and our local chapter has won the honor of “National Chapter of the Year” twice.

The American Culinary Federation Professional Chefs’ Hot Food Competition & Tasting is the finale event of Zehnder’s Snowfest. It is always held on the Monday following Snowfest weekend. Proceeds support the Saginaw East Side Soup Kitchen “After School Meal Program”. This is the 28th year we will be doing a competition.

Each year we host this culinary competition where 18 -22 of the best chefs in our area compete for trophies, cash and bragging rights. Don’t go out to eat on January 28th – all the area chefs are competing at Zehnder’s! Additionally, we invite the high school culinary arts students from the Tuscola Tech Center in Caro and Saginaw Career Center to help us with our Grand Buffet Tables.

We usually have 400-500 paid guests – that’s still comfortable given that we use Zehnder’s Main Dining Room and the Town Hall Dining Room in the Lower Level.

This year’s theme is: Happy Chinese New Year – “The Year of the Pig”. There are three categories of food items the chefs can select for competition:

Seafood – Shrimp and Catfish
Pork – Pork Butts & Pork Bellies
Chicken – Chicken Breasts or Chicken Thighs

Once the chefs select an item, they must prepare 400 sample-sized portions of their original recipe for the paid guests and four full-sized plates that will be judged. These judged plates look like something on “Iron Chef”.  Our event is like being a part of the Food Network competitions you see on TV. If you like trying new foods and are a Food Network “food junkie” our event is a MUST SEE! Dress for the evening is casual, although some folks do dress up or dress based on the evening’s theme.

Prior to the 6 p.m. opening of the doors to the public, the recipes are judged by certified chefs; noted local food experts and local celebrities like Art Lewis and Johnny Burke. First, second and third prize awards are given in each of the three categories. The chefs also decorate their individual food display tables based on the theme. Prizes are given for best decorating using culinary artistry like ice carving, vegetable carving and other culinary techniques just like you see on the Food Channel.

Guests enter the dining rooms at 6 p.m. and can taste all of the chef’s original recipes plus the Grand Buffet tables prepared by culinary students. It’s pretty much a walk-around event with very limited seating. We want everyone to experience all the chef’s wonderful recipes.

Paid guests vote on the “People’s Choice Award” – selecting the chef they feel has the best tasting and most original food.

Entertainment is part of the night. We have live entertainment by “The Burdons” from Bay City in the Main Dining Room and Todd Payne DJ in Lower Level, Townhall Room.

Tickets are only $30 per person. Call Zehnder’s Guest Services at (989) 652-0450 for tickets.

January 28, 2019
Zehnder's Hot Food Competition

American Culinary Federation Professional Chef’s Hot Food Competition and Tasting – January 28, 2019

The American Culinary Federation is the professional organization of chefs, cooks, bakers and pastry chefs. Our local chapter has 90 members and includes chefs from the Tri-City, Thumb and Flint areas. We raise funds for childhood nutrition education, charities that provide food for children and give culinary school scholarships for […]
July 27, 2018
Why I Like Zehnder's Contest 2018

It’s Back: Tell us Why You Like Zehnder’s for a Chance to Win the Ultimate Zehnder’s Experience!

Zehnder’s is all about traditions and family and we want to know what you enjoy most about our restaurant, golf course, gift shop, bakery, or hotel and waterpark. Fill us in on your favorite traditions, moments or memories using words (no more than 100) to explain “Why I Like Zehnders.” […]
June 29, 2018
Drumstick Summer of Fun Contest - enter to win an Eat and Sleep package at Zehnder's Splash Village

Make it a #DrumstickSummer! You Could Win an Eat and Sleep package at Zehnder’s Splash Village…

It’s officially summer and we would love to be a part of your summer break adventures! Photograph Drumstick with you during your summer vacation and upload your photo below for a chance to win an Eat and Sleep package at Zehnder’s Splash Village for a family of four which includes […]
January 31, 2017

Zehnder’s Takes Home Top Honors at 25th American Culinary Federation’s Annual Hot Food Competition

[PHOTOS] Once again, Zehnder’s played host to the American Culinary Federation Professional Chefs 25th Annual Hot Food Competition. Culinary students and local chefs competed in the finale event of Zehnder’s Snowfest on January 30, 2017 within 4 categories – Beef, Poultry, Pork, Pastry and Food and Beer. This year’s event […]