Press Release

Selection for 2004 ACF USA Culinary Team Is Under Way

St. Augustine, Fla., November 18, 2001—It has begun. Seventy chefs have thrown their toques in the ring to compete for the opportunity of a lifetime—2004 ACF USA Culinary Team. Applications for the 2004 Team came flying in as soon as the announcement was made. These talented chefs felt that they have what it takes to become part of something special—a winning team.

Photo of Edward Leonard
Edward Leonard, CMC, AAC

Who will lead this winning team? Edward G. Leonard, CMC, AAC. In addition to his tremendous duties as current ACF National President and co-owner of one of Chicago’s most exclusive Italian restaurants, Cantaré, Chef Leonard plans to continue his gold-winning management of the ACF USA Culinary Team through the 2004 Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung or IKA, commonly referred to as the International Culinary Olympics. Under his skillful guidance, the American team dominated several categories in the IKA held in Erfurt, Germany, in October 2000 and ultimately brought home the gold—six times. The 2000 ACF USA Culinary Team also took gold medals in many of the preliminary competitions leading up to the IKA.

How does one go about becoming a member of the prestigious ACF USA Culinary Team? It starts with paperwork, of course. Each applicant must complete a lengthy application process. The application requires a list of all previous competition experience and the results of those competitions along with a professional experience résumé. Last, and most importantly, the applicants must submit a statement that illustrates their passion for cooking, their desire to elevate themselves and their culinary skills, and finally, their commitment to becoming a winner.

Becoming a winning team in the culinary arts arena requires time—time devoted to practice and time devoted to preliminary competitions and travel. Each member of the team must be present for all practices in order for the teamwork to build. In Chef Leonard’s world, teamwork is another word for “flawless execution.”

Chef Leonard has evaluated every tryout application. Of the original 70 to apply, only 40 chefs have been selected for invitation to the tryouts. For the convenience of the competitors and to offer culinary programs an extraordinary marketing-public relations opportunity, four regional sites were chosen for these phenomenal events.

Tryout Competition Sites and Dates
Location Date Region
Elgin Community College, Chicago, IL February 12–13, 2002 Central
The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY February 16–17, 2002 Northeast
Johnson & Wales University, Denver, CO March 2–3, 2002 Western
Sullivan University, Louisville, KY March 11–12, 2002 Southeast

The tryouts will result in paring down the competitors into a group of finalists. The finalists will then compete in May 2002 at the National Restaurant Show (NRA) held in Chicago, for one of 10 slots on 2004 ACF USA Culinary Team. There will be five national members, four regional members, and one alternate.

What happens after the final tryout competition? Following the final tryout competition at the NRA Show, Chef Leonard along with his trusted coaches—Charles Carroll, CEC, AAC; Keith Coughenour; and Thomas Vaccaro, CEPC—will determine who among the final competitors has the passion, tenacity, integrity, and skill to become part of ACF’s and the nation’s finest. Once the final decisions are made, the newly formed 2004 ACF USA Culinary Team will meet several times to practice for their first preliminary competition. In late 2002, in 2003, and early in 2004, the Team will compete nationally and internationally to hone their competition skills and continue building teamwork and trust.

# # #

The American Culinary Federation, Inc., a professional, not-for-profit organization for chefs and cooks, was founded in 1929 in New York City by three chefs organizations: the Societe Culinare Philanthropique, the Vatel Club, and the Chefs Association of America. The principal goal of the founding chefs remains true to the ACF today—to promote the professional image of American chefs worldwide through education among culinarians at all levels, from apprentices to the most accomplished Certified Master Chefs.