While television food competitions like Top Chef, Hell's Kitchen, and Chopped can be fun to watch, the most prestigious food competition is widely believed to be the Bocuse d'Or, held every other year in Lyon, France.
The 2013 contest was held just this week, and the team from the United States finished a respectable 7th in the field of teams from all over the world. Check out the NPR story on this year's U.S. team and how they trained here.
Whether you aspire to participate in such a competition someday, or just like to read about how cooking contests work, the library has some items to get you started.
Andrew Friedman's 2009 account of the American team's training and how they fared in competition is called Knives at Dawn: The American Quest for Culinary Glory at the Legendary Bocuse d'Or Competition.
Books and cookbooks about other cooking competitions include:
Cookoff: Recipe Fever in America, Amy Sutherland
Talking with My Mouth Full: My Life as a Professional Eater, Gail Simmons (Top Chef judge)
Cook Fight: 2 Cooks, 12 Challenges, 125 Recipes: An Epic Battle for Kitchen Dominance, Julia Moskin & Kim Severson
There are also numerous cookbooks available by people who made names for themselves on cooking shows, as well as their hosts and guest judges!
If you'd rather watch folks compete than read about here, here are some DVDs to check out:
Hell's Kitchen (seasons 1-3)
Top Chef (seasons 4 & 5)
Are you hungry yet?