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HUNCH Culinary Challenge Finals

Thursday, April 20, 2023
9:00 am
–12:30 pm
*Included in General Admission

Challenge theme: Hearty ethnic soup or stew

Ever wondered what astronauts eat in space and how those recipes are developed? Every year, NASA HUNCH (High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware) issues a challenge to 33 high schools around the U.S. to develop new recipes that are delicious and can sustain astronauts in space. The winning entree will be processed by the NASA Johnson Space Center Food Lab and sent up to the International Space Station (ISS) to fuel astronauts as they perform critical missions in space. All competitors’ culinary creations account for NASA’s food processing procedure and nutritional requirements.  

On April 20, all Space Center Houston visitors are invited to cheer on student groups in the finals of the HUNCH Culinary Challenge. Watch as students compete in real time to craft meals for astronauts that are living and working on the ISS! Special guest judges from NASA and the food industry will be on hand to choose the winning dish.

Special guest judges

Chef Joshua Weissman

Chef, creator, speaker and New York Times #1 bestselling author

Chef Evelyn Garcia

Chef and co-owner of KIN HTX and JUN by KIN, Finalist of Bravo TV’s Top Chef Season 19

Chef Chris Williams

Chef and owner of Lucille’s, 2022 James Beard Award Finalist for Outstanding Restaurateur

Dr. Anne McBride

Vice President of Programs, The James Beard Foundation


Access to watch this event is included with general admission for April 20. Members receive free general admission. Not yet a Space Center Houston member? Become a member now and receive discounts on tickets to special events, free general admission and more.

Plan your visit

  • This event takes place in The Food Lab at Space Center Houston.
  • Interested in trying a winning dish from previous years? From April 17-25, The Food Lab will offer a special dish for purchase inspired by the 2020 HUNCH Culinary Challenge winner from Hewitt Trussville, AL. Enjoy freshly prepared chicken tagine with Israeli couscous, vadouvan curry spiced vegetables and scallion naan bread.
  • Parking Information
  • Space Center Houston Map

About the HUNCH Culinary Challenge

There are 33 different high schools nationwide that participate in this annual challenge, issued by NASA HUNCH (High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware). The aim of the HUNCH Culinary Challenge is to develop food items for the astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Each year the challenge is focused on a different theme. Using this theme, students at partner high schools in the U.S. are tasked with creating dishes that adhere to NASA food processing procedures and nutritional requirements so that their dishes meet the standards of the NASA Johnson Space Center Food Lab. This challenge engages a wider range of students and illustrates how aerospace research encompasses fields outside of traditional STEM fields. The HUNCH Culinary Challenge also provides an opportunity for students to learn about researching and presenting their work in a professional environment.

The process begins when high schools receive the theme for the year so students can begin developing their recipes. Next, student groups’ entries are submitted to their local center for a taste competition with different food industry professionals and personnel from the center. After those preliminary culinary competitions, student teams with the highest scores from across the country are invited to Johnson Space Center for the final competition, where their work will be judged by Food Lab personnel, industry professionals, the ISS program office, and NASA astronauts for quality, taste, their work on the research paper, and presentation video. The winning entree will be processed by the Johnson Space Center Food Lab and sent up to the station to fuel astronauts as they perform critical missions in space.

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