25 Chefs Compete for Spot on Renowned ACF Culinary Team USA


Twenty-five chefs have been selected to try out for the first phase of a two-stage process that takes place at the Denver and Charlotte, North Carolina, campuses of Johnson & Wales University in July. T with the ultimate goal is of securing one of six positions on the American Culinary Federation Culinary Team USA.

ACF Culinary Team USA, sponsored by Johnson & Wales University and Unilever Food Solutions, is the official representative team of the U.S. in major international culinary competitions, including the 2016 Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA), commonly referred to as the “culinary Olympics,” in Erfurt, Germany. The 25 chefs vying for a spot on the internationally acclaimed six-member team had to pass a rigorous review in which their application, resume, biography, competition experience, work history, and other qualifications were evaluated.

The first phase of the two-stage tryouts is the cold-food segment, which takes place June 1–2 at Johnson & Wales’ Denver campus and June 15–16 at Johnson & Wales’ Charlotte campus. The candidates will have 17 hours to prepare, plate, and present their dishes according to the guidelines.

“I am looking forward to the tryouts, as we have some extremely talented chefs competing for the six coveted spots on the national team. The candidates will need to be at the top of their game,” says Joseph Leonardi, CEC, ACF Culinary Team USA manager and executive chef. “The kitchen facilities at Johnson & Wales are state of the art, so I expect nothing less than perfection from the candidates if they are to proceed to the second phase of the tryouts, hot food, in the coming months.”

Each chef competing at the tryouts must display a high level of craftsmanship based on solid classical cooking principles and a variety of cooking disciplines incorporating current and modern trends in presentation, technique, and taste. In addition to skill set, personality, teamwork, and attitude, other factors are considered when selecting the final team members. Elimination before the second tryout, hot food, is possible if a chef does not possess the necessary talent, traits, and ability to excel and work cohesively in a team setting. 

Judging the tryouts with Leonardi are the following ACF-approved culinary competition judges: Darrin Aoyama, CEPC, executive pastry chef, River Oaks Country Club, Houston; Timothy Bucci, CEC, CCE, CHE, associate professor, Joliet Junior College, Joliet, Illinois; Joachim Buchner, CMC, executive chef, Chevy Chase Club, Chevy Chase, Maryland.; Dan Hugelier, CMC, professor of culinary arts, Schoolcraft College, Livonia, Michigan; Patricia Nash, CEPC, executive pastry chef, MotorCity Casino Hotel, Detroit; Timothy Prefontaine, CEC, executive chef, The Fort Worth Club, Fort Worth, Texas; and J. Kevin Walker, CMC, AAC, executive chef, The Vintage Club, Indian Wells, California. 

The chefs selected to try out June 1–June 2 at Johnson & Wales University, Denver, are as follows:

·         Joseph Albertelli, executive chef, Westchester Country Club, Rye, New York.; Chefs Association of Westchester and Lower Connecticut

·         Elijah Dalager, CCC, corporate executive sous chef, Red Lion Hotel at the Park, Spokane, Washington; ACF Chefs de Cuisine of the Inland Northwest

·         Aaron Haga, CCC, chef tournant, The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colorado.; ACF Pikes Peak Chapter Inc.

·         Cher Harris, CEPC, executive pastry chef, The Hotel Hershey, Hershey, Pennsylvania; ACF Harrisburg Chapter

·         Robert Meitzer, CEC, AAC, executive chef, Red Rocks Country Club, Morrison, Colorado; ACF Colorado Chefs Association

·         Adam Munroe, chef de cuisine, The Country Club, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts; ACF Epicurean Club of Boston

·         Timothy Oltz, sous chef, The Statler Hotel, Ithaca, New York; ACF New York Wine Country Chefs

·         Woojay Poynter, CSC, assistant professor, Oregon Coast Culinary Institute, Coos Bay, Oregon; ACF Bay Area Chefs Association of Oregon

·         John Reed, CEC, CCA, ACE, owner, Customized Culinary Solutions, Skokie, Illinois; ACF Windy City Professional Culinarians Inc.

The chefs selected to try out June 14–16 at Johnson & Wales University, Charlotte, are as follows:

·         Brian Campbell, CEC, CCE, senior instructor, Johnson & Wales University, Charlotte, North Carolina; ACF North Carolina Chapter

·         George Castaneda, executive chef, Sodexo, Franklin, Tennessee

·         Shawn Culp, CEC, culinary arts instructor, The Art Institute Pittsburgh, Bridgeville, Pennsylvania; ACF Pittsburgh Chapter

·         Charles Gardiner, CEC, sous chef, Inn on Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina, ACF North Carolina Chapter

·         Ben Grupe, sous chef, Old Warson Country Club, St. Louis; Chefs de Cuisine Association of St. Louis Inc.

·         Jason Hall, CMC, executive chef, Hammock Dunes Club, Palm Coast, Florida; ACF St. Augustine Chapter

·         Marvin Herrera, CEC, executive chef, Augusta Country Club, Augusta, Georgia; ACF Blue Ridge Chefs Association

·         Scott Howard, culinary arts director, Athens Technical College, Athens, Georgia; Classic City Chefs & Cooks Association

·         Julia Julian, CWPC, CC, culinary baking and pastry instructor, Madison Area Technical College, Madison, Wisconsin; ACF Mad City Chapter

·         Alison Murphy, executive pastry chef, The Vintage Club, Indian Wells, California; ACF national member

·         Andreas Proisl, CEPC, executive pastry chef, Isleworth Country Club, Windermere, Florida; ACF Central Florida Chapter

·         Matthew Seasock, CEC, executive sous chef, The Fort Worth Club, Fort Worth, Texas, ACF national member

·         Sean Sennet, executive chef, River Hills Country Club, Lake Wylie, South Carolina; ACF North Carolina Chapter

·         Corey Siegel, CC, rounds cook, The Greenbrier, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia; ACF of Greater Buffalo New York

·         Ashley VanHulle, baker, MotorCity Casino Hotel, Detroit     

·         Pamela Williams, CEC, ACE, senior chef instructor, The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; Ft. Lauderdale ACF, Inc.



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