From July 9—13, more than 1,000 chefs and culinary professionals will convene in Orlando, Florida, for five days of hands-on workshops, live demonstrations and educational seminars on the latest industry trends at Cook. Craft. Create. ACF National Convention & Show. Attendees will experience live culinary competitions, a career fair with the top hospitality recruiters in the nation and a two-day trade show featuring cutting-edge innovations in food, equipment and hospitality services. 

The 2017 Cook. Craft. Create. schedule presents attendees with opportunities to observe acclaimed chefs in action during live demonstrations and national competitions, as well as learn a wide variety of new skills, including butchery, beekeeping and emerging global food trends. Conference-goers can explore burgeoning topics in foodservice, from the science of taste to millennial dining, with chefs and food experts who represent a broad range of culinary careers. Michael J. Wadiak, co-founder and COO of Blue Apron, and Orlando local Emily Ellyn, a chef and culinary educator who has been featured on “Food Network Star” and “Cupcake Wars,” are among the many featured presenters. 

“The ACF National Convention is the must-attend professional development event of the year to keep informed about emerging industry trends and position your company and yourself for success,” says ACF National president Thomas Macrina, CEC, CCA, AAC. “Networking with more than 1,000 fellow culinary professionals can produce immediate dividends and support personal and professional growth for years to come.”

Educational Seminars and Demonstrations

Attendees can choose from a diverse array of culinary subjects, from business development to the latest culinary menu trends and techniques.

Featured keynote speakers are listed below, and a full schedule can be found at

Monday, July 10—General Session 1

Emily Ellyn, Food Network-featured chef, culinary educator, Orlando local and pioneer of Retro Rad cooking, will address diversity in the professional kitchen and demonstrate a retro recipe makeover.

Francisco Migoya, head chef of Modernist Cuisine, the internationally renowned team of chefs and researchers who have written and produced “Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking” (2011), and most recently, “Modernist Bread” (2017), will discuss the innovative work that goes into his team’s research and development process, including fascinating discoveries about the history and future of bread.

Lorena Garcia, chef, philanthropist, restaurateur, TV personality and the first woman to be added to the “Wall of Culinary Titans” at the Venetian in Las Vegas will share her culinary experience that has taken her from Venezuela to Vegas and everywhere in between. Garcia will demonstrate how to transform classic dishes into show-stopping Latin Fusion cuisine.

Thursday, July 13—General Session 2

Mark Eggerding, vice president of brand activation at US Foods, will explore the science-based connection between food and music and how sound impacts our eating experience.

Matthew J. Wadiak, co-founder and COO of Blue Apron, will unpack Blue Apron’s mission to make cooking accessible to everyone. Known as Blue Apron’s “secret weapon,” this CIA-trained chef helped Blue Apron become a billion-dollar company in just two years.

Featured events include:

Chefs Outreach to the Community, Sunday, July 9, 9 a.m. —1:30 p.m.

ACF members participating in Chefs Outreach to the Community will prepare and serve lunch at Orlando Union Rescue Mission, one of Central Florida’s oldest and largest homeless service providers.

Trade Show,Tuesday, July 11, 12—5 p.m. and Wednesday, July 12, 12—4 p.m.

The ACF trade show floor features nonstop culinary action, with exhibitors demonstrating the latest innovations in foodservice.

National Culinary Competitions,Tuesday, July 11, 8:30 a.m.—3:30 p.m. and Wednesday, July 12, 12–4 p.m.

The best chefs in the nation compete for the coveted national titles of Chef of the Year and Pastry Chef of the Year. Students will compete in the Student Chef of the Year, Student Team National Championship and the Baron H. Galand Culinary Knowledge Bowl competitions. ACF Culinary Team USA 2020, the official representative for the U.S. in major international culinary competitions, will be holding live tryouts.

Cook. Craft. Create. will take place at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. 

Events, Industry News