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The Super Bowl is one of the more popular sporting events of the year, and, equally as important as the game is the food selection at Super Bowl parties.

Since fresh garlic is such a popular ingredient in the kitchen and can be incorporated into so many dishes, Christopher Ranch decided to combine the two, challenging California culinary students at three culinary schools -- the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles and the Art Institute of California in Orange County -- to enter the Garlic Gridiron Challenge by creating a garlic-infused original Super Bowl party recipe.

The Garlic Gridiron Challenge is one step in Christopher Ranch's efforts to establish relationships with culinary students and professors in order to raise awareness about the differences in fresh garlic varieties, glean insight about the culinary industry and bridge the divide between farmers and chefs.

In recipe applications for the Garlic Gridiron Challenge, students must use at least five cloves of Christopher Ranch's California heirloom garlic, which has proven more flavorful than Chinese garlic, according to sensory evaluations conducted by leading Chef Cary Neff. The garlic can be sliced, chopped, crushed, minced, roasted - whichever way students prefer. But Christopher Ranch is urging students to go beyond the traditional Super Bowl dishes, such as guacamole, seven-layer dip or wings and to be creative.

Three winners will be selected from all applicants, and the first-place student chef will receive $500, second place will be awarded $200 and third place will be allotted $100. Christopher Ranch also is contributing $200 for ingredient money, which can be added to prize money, should the schools choose.

Students have between Dec. 1 and Jan. 18 to submit recipes to the Garlic Gridiron Challenge. Culinary instructors will then conduct the first round of judging at their respective campuses and select three contestants to compete in the on-campus cooking competition, which will determine first-, second- and third-place winners. Christopher Ranch will assist culinary instructors in the second-round judging process, which will occur in late January or early February. Recipes will be evaluated for flavor (25 percent), innovation (25 percent), presentation (25 percent) and how the dish highlights the garlic (25 percent).

In honor of the Super Bowl theme, Garlic Gridiron Challenge winners will be announced during halftime of the Super Bowl Feb. 7 via Christopher Ranch's social media accounts, including Facebook, Twitter and the company's California Garlic Blog.