Registration and Rules

Are you thinking about entering the Chicago’s Best Baker Contest? We’d love to have you come and be part of this event! Here are some things you’ll need to know.

If something isn't covered here feel free to check our FAQ.

Registration is required.

You’ll need to register here before September 29, 2018

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The competitors will be announced on October 3 on our website.


  • Cake
  • Pie - Sweet or Savory
  • Cookies
  • Pastry - Sweet or Savory
  • Bread - Sweet or Savory
  • International Baked Goods
  • Showstopper


  1. Entry Fee: $10 per contestant. Entry Fees are non-refundable.
  2. Entry Limits: 1 entry per division.
  3. Eligible Exhibitors: Open to adult Chicago residents, ages 18 and over as of October 1, 2018.
  4. Entries must be “Home-Made”. No “Commercially-Made” entries are allowed in this competition.* Any entries found to be “Commercially Made” will be disqualified and awards revoked, even if the entry has already been judged.
  5. Entries must have been prepared/made by the contestant in whose name they are entered.
  6. One Batch, One Entry: Only a single entry may be submitted from any prepared batch. Entries from a prepared batch may not be entered into more than one division.
    1. *Entries must be “Made from Scratch,” and NOT “Commercially Prepared Products.” “Commercially Prepared Products” may be used as an ingredient as long as they are not apparent as the finished product. For example, a pudding mix may not be submitted as a pudding or pie filling, but may be used as an ingredient in cupcake batter.

      Entry Requirements

      1. Time Limit Requirement: Entries must arrive fresh the morning of judging between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. (Shipping of baked goods is not recommended.)
      2. Quantity Requirements:
        1. Cakes – One whole cake, 8-10 inch or whole standard loaf
        2. Pies - One whole pie, 8-10 inch
        3. Pastries – Six pastries
        4. Breads — One whole standard loaf
        5. Cookies – 18 cookies
        6. Show Stopper – One whole item, must be at least 14 inches tall and contain 3 separate edible design elements.
      3. Container Requirements: Due to limited storage space please be considerate and do not use oversized plates, cake boards, etc. Containers and plates will not be returned. Disposable containers are recommended.
      4. Perishables Requirement: For food safety reasons, all entries must be stable at room temperature for at least 2 hours.
      5. Ingredients List: On a 3-inch x 5-inch card or piece of paper, provide a complete list of all ingredients used in entry preparation. Be specific, for example: butter (unsalted or salted), oil (vegetable, canola, olive, etc.), flour (all-purpose, cake, bread), etc., and all spices and flavorings used in the entry. Use a separate card for each entry. Do not put your name on your ingredients list. Bring the list with you when you deliver your entry for judging. Lists are used by Judges during judging and to avoid allergens.


      1. Late delivery of entry
      2. Hair or foreign object found on the entry
      3. Ineligible entries
      4. Failure to follow the “Made from Scratch” rule
      5. Perishable entry arriving at a temperature deemed unsafe for consumption by Judges. All entries are stored at room temperature.
      6. Entry does not meet quantity requirements

      No Award

      The following conditions will result in “No Award”.

      1. Hair or foreign object found in entry
      2. Product considered by judges to be unsafe to taste
      3. Product entered in the wrong Division

      What Are The Judges Looking For?

      Bread Show - 100 points possible

      Judging Criteria
      • Flavor - 30 Taste and aroma, sweet, nutty, blended
      • Texture - 25 No streaks or close grain, size and uniformity of cell walls, elasticity
      • General Appearance - 15 Shape, proper dome, smoothness, crust color
      • Lightness - 15
      • Crust - 15 Thickness, quality, crispness, tenderness and uniformity
      • Breads: Any type of bread using yeast, chemical leavening, or a culture, including sourdough breads.

      Cake Show - 100 points possible

      Judging Criteria
      • Flavor - 35 Delicate and pleasing, natural flavor of ingredients
      • Appearance - 30 Crust - color, texture, and depth Frosting/glaze - glossy, not granular, soft, not sticky, suitable flavor. Filling - if appropriate- minimum 1/4 inch, fluffy, good flavor blend with cake.
      • Texture - 25
      • Crumb - 10

      Pie Show - 100 points possible

      Judging Criteria
      • Crust - 45 (Flavor – 15 Texture - 30)
      • Filling - 30 (Flavor - 15 Texture - 15)
      • Appearance - 25 (Color - 10, Shape - 10 Overall - 5)

      Cookie Show - 100 points possible

      Judging Criteria
      • Appearance - 40 (Uniformity - 20 Color - 20)
      • Crumb (Texture) - 30
      • Flavor - 30

      Pastry Show - 100 points possible

      Judging Criteria
      • Crust - 40 (Flavor - 15 Texture - 25)
      • Appearance - 25 (Color - 10, Shape - 10 Overall - 5)
      • Filling - 20 (Flavor - 10 Consistency - 10)
      • Topping - 15

      Show Stopper Show - 100 points possible

      Judging Criteria
      • Must be over 14 inches tall and include at least 3 separate design elements
      • Overall Design - 30
      • Neatness/Skill - 30
      • Technique - 25
      • Originality - 15

      Anyone entering five or more divisions will be entered to win Best Overall Baker. The winner will be crowned Chicago’s Best Baker.