While the Olympics in Rio has come to a close, the American Culinary Federation’s (ACF) chef teams are preparing for the “culinary Olympics” in Erfurt, Germany, October 22 to 25. ACF Culinary National Team USA, ACF Culinary Youth Team USA and United States Army Culinary Arts Team will represent the U.S. in the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA), commonly referred to as the “culinary Olympics.”

IKA is the largest international professional competition for chefs, cooks and pastry chefs. More than 2,000 chefs representing over 50 nations are expected to participate, turning the Erfurt exhibition halls into the largest restaurant in the world.

"These chefs have proven themselves extremely talented at their craft and represent the best in the industry," says ACF national president Thomas Macrina, CEC, CCA, AAC. "We are proud of their commitment to the profession, their dedication to the art of cooking and we hope that others are inspired by their depth of knowledge, hard work and creativity."

Preparation begins four years in advance. Chefs from across the nation compete in rigorous tryouts to earn a coveted spot on one of the U.S. teams. Each chef must demonstrate exceptional skills in hotfood and cold-food disciplines. Once the U.S. teams are assembled, the practice schedules are comprehensive and intense, including monthly sessions with practice days that can average 20 hours.

“These chefs have elevated cooking to an art form and have the ability to create breathtaking culinary masterpieces in an extremely limited amount of time. They share a fierce passion for competing and are focused on bringing home the gold,” says Joseph Leonardi, CEC, ACF Culinary Team USA manager.

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

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

Joseph Leonardi, CEC, team manager, executive chef, Somerset Club, Boston, Massachusetts

Daniel Hugelier, CMC, team advisor, owner, WildSeason, Livonia, Michigan

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

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, pastry cook, Chevy Chase Club, Chevy Chase, Maryland

Marco Olivares, executive sous 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

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

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