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

2016 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 2016:

Robert Forquer

Robert M. Forquer, CEC®, AAC® (posthumous)

ACF Conemaugh Valley Chefs Association
Sponsored by: Thomas J. Macrina, CEC®, CCA®, AAC®
Robert M. Forquer, CEC, AAC became a Certified Executive Chef in 1993 and was inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Chefs in 2002. An active member of the ACF Conemaugh Valley Culinary Association, he was elected chapter president 1991-1994 and again in 2010-2016. He received chapter Chef of the Year award in 1992, and the President’s Medallion in 2010. He won the 2013 Northeast Regional Herman G. Rusch Chef’s Achievement Award. Born and raised in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Forquer spent 34 years of his foodservice career at the Sunnehanna Country Club in Johnstown. In 2005, choosing to move into a chef educator role, he became culinary arts instructor at Commonwealth Technical Institute at the Hiram G. Andres Center, Johnstown, until his retirement in 2012. Forquer passed away on January 13th, 2016. His widow, Deborah Forquer, was unable to attend the awards ceremony on July 17th, 2016; the Hall of Fame medal was accepted on her behalf by Thomas Macrina, American Culinary Federation National President.

Wolfgang Geckeler

Wolfgang D. Geckeler, CEC®, AAC®

ACF Professional Chefs Association of South Jersey
Sponsored by: David Goldstein, President, ACF Professional Chefs Association of South Jersey; Willie Lewis, AAC®, HOF
Wolfgang D. Geckeler, CEC, AAC, was inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Chefs in 1988. He completed his apprenticeship in Germany, was sponsored for emigration to the United States and within four months was drafted into the U.S. Army. Following his tour in Vietnam from 1967-68 he returned to the United States and the restaurant business. Geckeler returned to the Armed Forces in 2002, when he was corporate chef with the Marine Corps Community Services in Okinawa, Japan, for eight years, overseeing 13 full service restaurants and clubs on 7 Marine Corps bases. He was accepted into the Honorable Order of the Golden Toque in 2006. He is known for his charity work for veterans and the homeless; and was a founding member of “Chefs With a Mission” in Southern New Jersey. He is also very active with the Atlantic City Rescue Mission and their Hearts & Souls Heart Healthy Soup Program. Geckeler received ACF Presidential Medallions in 1997 and 2014.

Walter Leible

Walter W. Leible, CMC®, AAC®

ACF Chef’s Association of Arizona, Inc.
Sponsored by: Carlton Brooks, CEPC®, CCE®, AAC®; Raimund W. Hofmeister, CMC®, AAC®
Walter W. Leible, CMC, AAC, has been a senior culinary instructor/assistant professor at The Art Institute of Phoenix, Arizona, for nearly 20 years. Leible is one of 68 Certified Master Chefs (CMC) in the U.S. Following an apprenticeship in Germany, Leible worked in some of the finest hotels, resorts, country clubs, cruise ships and restaurants in Germany, Sweden, England, Canada and finally the United States. Leible participated in the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA), commonly known as the “culinary Olympics”, first as a member of the ACF Western Region Culinary Team USA in 1988 and then as the team manager in 1992. He has received numerous gold and silver medals in both ACF-sanctioned and international competitions. From 1999 to 2001, Leible was president of ACF Chef’s Association of Arizona, Inc. and was named chapter Chef of the Year in 1989 and 1999. His many accomplishments include chapter Culinarian of the Year, 2001 and 2002; Antonin Carême Medal in 2007; ACF President’s Medallion in 2010; chapter Educator of the Year, 2014; and the Hermann G. Rusch Chef’s Achievement award in 2014. He is a member of La Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs and the German Chefs Association.

Louis Venezia

Louis Venezia, CEC®, AAC®

ACF of Greater Buffalo New York
Sponsored by: Mark G. Wright, CEC®, AAC®
Louis Venezia, CEC, AAC, entered the foodservice industry in Buffalo, New York, following his World War II military service. For over 30 years, Venezia and his wife, Phyllis, co-owned and operated three popular fine dining restaurants in the western New York area. An active member of the ACF Greater Buffalo New York chapter since 1988, he served on their board of directors, co-chaired the Buffalo Northeast Regional conference and was certification and nomination chairman. He was presented with the chapter Chef of the Year in 1995, ACF President’s Medallion in 2003 as well as chapter chef of the year in 1995.