The American Academy of Chefs American Academy of Chefs Culinary Hall of Fame™

The founding of the American Academy of Chefs Culinary Hall of Fame™ was inspired in 1988 by then Academy Chair Jon Greenwalt at the ACF National Convention in Las Vegas.

“The Culinary Hall of Fame was unanimously accepted by the Academy members. Its concept is to honor those men and women who, because of their outstanding attributes, have won the respect and love of their professional guild. Therefore, they are so honored by their peers as a positive reflection to all those in this profession who seek achievement!” —Hermann G. Rusch

2015 American Academy of Chefs Culinary Hall of Fame™ Inductees

John Minniti, CCE, AAC, HBOT, HOF, chair of the American Academy of Chefs Culinary Hall of Fame™, is pleased to announce the following inductees for 2015:

Willie Lewis

Willie Lewis’, CEC, AAC, culinary career took him from his home state of Florida to New Jersey, where he retired from corporate executive chef of Romanelli’s By the Sea, Longport, New Jersey. His experience includes historic The Claridge Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey, as assistant executive chef, 1981–1991, and executive chef from 1991–2001. He is a thirty-year member of ACF Professional Chefs Association of South Jersey and has held several leadership positions in the chapter including president for two terms. In 1998, he was chapter Chef of the Year and a chapter Chef Professional Award recipient in 1997. He received a President’s Medallion in 2007. Lewis has spent the last 40 years as a community servant and activist. He dedicates much of his time to participating in fundraisers and other charitable events for the Chef & Child Foundation, Somers Point Historical Society and United Way. He hopes to be an inspiration to other young culinary professionals. Through persistence, he believes one can accomplish any goal or dream as he is living proof.

Jesse Mercado

Jesse Mercado, CEC, AAC, of Harwood Heights, Illinois, has been a member of the American Culinary Federation since 1958 and a fellow of the American Academy of Chefs for over 45 years. Mercado has been elected to several local and national leadership positions within ACF. He served as president of ACF Chicago Chefs de Cuisine and holds memberships in many other industry associations, including Catering Executives Club of America, International Food Service Executives Association and Les Amis d’Escoffier Society of Chicago. He has held various positions in the foodservice industry, including chef/owner of several foodservice operations and restaurants. Mercado has received several professional awards including President’s Medallion in 2008. He has received gold and silver medals in both ACF and The National Restaurant Association culinary competitions.

Bill Sy

Bill Sy, CEC, AAC, of Chandler, Arizona, is academic director of culinary arts and baking and pastry arts at The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Tucson, Tucson, Arizona. Sy has worked in the culinary field since 1973 and is a Chinese master chef. For more than a decade, he was owner/executive chef of Anna Kao’s Restaurant, Pittsburgh. In 1990, he moved to Arizona to work as general manager and executive chef at China Gate in Mesa. In 1996, he entered the education side of the industry when he joined the staff at The Art Institute of Phoenix as executive vice president and dean of education. Sy has received numerous awards, including ACF Chefs Association of Southern Arizona Tucson’s Chef of the Year, Chef Educator of the Year and Chef Professionalism awards. He has published more than 45 articles and has judged more than a dozen culinary competitions. He holds a master’s degree in management and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, and a bachelor’s degree in adult education and journalism from National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan.

Willie Lewis

Enzo “Frank” Gronda, CEC, AAC, (posthumously) started his culinary career while serving in the Korean War. After service, he attended The Culinary Institute of America now in Hyde Park, New York. Gronda spent 30 years as senior department head of culinary arts at E. C. Goodwin Technical School, New Britain, Connecticut. In 1955, he helped found the Connecticut Chefs Association, where he served as president and then chairman of the board. Through the Connecticut Chefs Association, Gronda was instrumental in raising money for several charities, including The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, and culinary scholarships. He was president of the Les Amis d’Escoffier Society’s Connecticut chapter for many years. At the time of his passing, he had been married to Joan Gronda for sixty years. Together they have five children and 11 grandchildren, six of whom are in the culinary field.

Willie Lewis

Salvatore J. Campagna, CEC, HAAC, was owner/executive chef of Salvatore’s, San Carlos, California. He served for 20 years as the San Francisco 49ers’ food consultant and chef; wine editor for The Culinarian, the official publication of the Chefs Association of the Pacific Coast; and culinary apprenticeship committee chair for San Mateo County, California. Campagna received the AAC Western Regional Chair’s Award in 2005, ACF President’s Medallion in 2007 and Lawrence A. Conti, CEC, AAC, HOF, Chair’s Achievement Award in 2014. He is a two-term past president of ACF San Francisco Chapter. He is an active member of Les Toques Blanches, Chaine des Rotisseurs, Knights of the Vine, Society of Wine Educators, Disciples of Auguste Escoffier and the San Francisco Chapter Endowment Fund for Culinary Scholarships in his name.