ACF Student Team Championships: The History

Since 1992, the competition has molded students into young professionals. It has put to test the many skills learned in the classroom and, most importantly, inspired young culinarians to dream big and work tirelessly to achieve their goals.

Competitors learn valuable skills, from time management to working on a team, that carry them into successful careers. One of the main goals of the competition is to raise the standards of culinary excellence and professionalism. For over 20 years now, ACF’s young chefs-in-training have risen to the challenge, and each year they continue to heighten expectations.

Did You Know?

  • The ACF Student Team Championship was first held at the 1991 ACF Southeast Regional Conference in Tampa, Fla.
  • The first national championship that included all four regions took place in 1993 in Orlando, Fla.
  • With 10 wins, the Central Region has earned the most national titles of any ACF region.
  • In the original competition format, teams were challenged to produce 12 servings of a four-course meal using a mystery basket of ingredients. Today’s format, which requires teams to prepare a classical dish as part of their menu, was introduced in 2007.
  • The first official competition guidelines were unveiled during the 1998 ACF National Convention in Anaheim, Calif.

Why Compete?

Students compete for many reasons, whether to improve their skills, challenge themselves or for the camaraderie that comes with being on a team. Here, past competitors and judges share their reasons:

“Competitions are not about winning medals-they are about learning and improving yourself and, in each competition, doing better than you did before.”
—Renee Satama, past National Junior Member chairperson

“There is always value in competing, win or lose. The first goal for a competitor should be to learn and to do your best. If you set out to do this, you are guaranteed success. Success may not be a win, but you undoubtedly will improve your skills. Listen to the judges’ criticism constructively, because they are trying to share ways you can improve.”
—JohnMichael Lynch, 2008 ACF Student Chef of the Year; 2008 and 2010 student team competitor

“It’s not all about winning medals and going home with first place. It’s about education. Pass on the knowledge you gain from competing to others who didn’t have the opportunity to do so.”
—Reimund Pitz, CEC, CCE, AAC, past ACF national president; ACF-approved culinary judge

“Perhaps for some people, competitions are simply a way to accumulate awards and accolades, but the true value of student culinary competition lies in the self-discipline and self-confidence we gain from constantly striving to improve ourselves as future chefs.”
—Diane Dougherty, 1997 and 1998 student team competitor

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