The American Culinary Federation Culinary National Team USA ranked fourth in the world overall and won two gold medals in the 24th Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA) International Culinary Exhibition, commonly known as the “culinary Olympics,” October 22 to 25, in Erfurt, Germany. Two of the ACF Culinary USA teams—national and youth—finished in the top 10, while the military team won four gold medals and two bronze medals, proving American cuisine is among the best in the world.

“The teams did a phenomenal job,” says American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Chairman Michael Ty, CEC, AAC. “I’ve been to several ‘culinary Olympics’ and this one topped them all from the starters to the desserts. These teams put their hearts and souls into it, and they represented the best of American cuisine.”

ACF National President Thomas Macrina, CEC, CCA, AAC, who was the business manager for the 2012 ACF Culinary National Team USA, knows firsthand the challenges of competing internationally.

“The national team displayed impeccable calm and courage under intense pressure,” he says. “They competed against the best chefs in the world and their coaching, discipline, teamwork and dedication to the craft is what earned the national team gold medals. The youth and military teams showed exceptional skill, and I couldn’t be more proud.”

ACF Culinary National Team USA’s interpretation of current American cuisine trends using American products earned the team gold medals in both cold-food presentation and the hot-food kitchen. The team placed fourth overall in the world among 30 national teams that competed. Singapore, Finland, and Switzerland placed first, second, and third, respectively.

ACF Culinary National Team USA members are:

Ben Grupe, team captain, executive chef, Elaia and Olio, St. Louis, Missouri

Joseph Albertelli, executive chef, Westchester Country Club, Rye, New York

George Castaneda, CEC, executive chef, Sodexo Corporate Services’ Healthways World Headquarters, Franklin, Tennessee

Andy Chlebana, CEPC, culinary arts/pastry professor, Joliet Junior College, Joliet, Illinois

Jason Hall, CMC, executive chef, Myers Park Country Club, Charlotte, North Carolina

Susan Notter, CEPC, pastry arts program director, The Pennsylvania School of Culinary Arts, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Matthew Seasock, CEC, executive chef, Northwood Club, Dallas, Texas

Corey Siegel, CEC, corporate executive chef, Electrolux Professional, Charlotte, North Carolina

Daniel Hugelier, CMC, team adviser, owner, WildSeason, Livonia, Michigan

Steve Jilleba, CMC, CCE, AAC, team business manager, senior corporate executive chef, Unilever Food Solutions, Lisle, Illinois

Joseph Leonardi, CEC, team manager, director of culinary operations, The Country Club, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

Timothy Prefontaine, CEC, team coach, executive chef, The Fort Worth Club, Fort Worth, Texas

“The team did a great job in overcoming the obstacles that come with competing internationally and the end result proved that,” says National Team USA Manager Joseph Leonardi, CEC. “We chose to prepare food that represents who we are as a country, food that we are proud of and is bountiful in America. It has been an honor to serve with this team.”

ACF Culinary Youth Team USA, all 25 years or younger, showed exceptional teamwork, vision and professionalism. The team was awarded silver medals for its edible buffet and hot-food kitchen. Overall, the youth team placed seventh out of 19 competing countries. Sweden, Switzerland, and Norway placed first, second, and third, respectively.

ACF Culinary Youth Team USA members are:

Jesus Olmedo, youth team captain, chef de tournant, The Country Club, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

Megan Bamford, pastry cook, Farmington Country Club, Charlottesville, Virginia

Anica Hosticka, apprentice, ACF South Bend Chefs and Cooks Apprenticeship Program, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana

Tracy Morris, assistant pastry chef, Chevy Chase Club, Chevy Chase, Maryland

Marco Olivares, executive chef, El Paso Country Club, El Paso, Texas

Lydia Ross, CSC, demi chef, Chevy Chase Club, Chevy Chase, Maryland

Shawn Culp, CEC, MBA, youth team coach, culinary arts department chair, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Stafford DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC, youth team manager, Atmore, Alabama

“This team has been training hard for years and when they got into that kitchen they proved they were ready to cook and never lost focus,” says Stafford DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC, youth team manager. “In both the hot-food kitchen and the edible buffet, we showcased a fall seasonal menu that represented the best of American regional cuisine.”

The military team, U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team (USACAT), earned four gold medals and one bronze in the regional cold-food competition ranking 18th out of 52 countries. Stockholm Culinary Team, Skåne Kulinar and Amber Alliance placed first, second and third, respectively. In addition, the team received a bronze medal in catering, earning 12th place out of 19 countries. Finland earned the top catering spot, followed by Sweden and Denmark, respectively.

United States Army Culinary Arts Team members are:

Master Chief Derrick Davenport, CEC, CEPC, CCE, MBA, team captain, U.S. Navy, Alexandria, Virginia

Chief Warrant Officer 3 J.D. Ward, CEC, U.S. Army, Richmond, Virginia

Staff Sgt. Kevin Arwood, CEC, U.S. Army, Aiea, Hawaii

Staff Sgt. Lagena Boggs, CC, CWPC, U.S. Army, Prince George, Virginia

Staff Sgt. John Densham, U.S. Army, Ft. Belvoir, Virginia

Staff Sgt. Sarah Deckert, CEC, U.S. Army, Beaverton, Oregon

Staff Sgt. Justin Gonzalez, CC, U.S. Army, Washington, D.C.

Sgt. Joseph Hale, CCC, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C.

Spc. Symone Harden, U.S. Army, Ft. Stewart, Georgia

Sgt. Erica Larsen, U.S. Army, Fayetteville, North Carolina

Spc. Sandra Quinones, U.S. Army, Tacoma, Washington

Staff Sgt. Marc Susa, U.S. Army, Oxon Hill, Maryland

Chief Petty Officer Matthew Susienka, CEC, U.S. Navy, Bristol, Wisconsin

Michael Matarazzo, CEC, team adviser, Charlottesville, Virginia

“The team prepared food at a high quality and successfully pushed through every hurdle,” says Chief Warrant Officer 3 J.D. Ward, CEC, USACAT manager. “The team outpaced their practice times and worked together to serve a seasonal menu that received a lot of positive feedback.”

More than 2,000 chefs representing 59 nations participated in the IKA team and individual competitions.

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