The American Academy of Chefs About AAC

The History of American Academy of Chefs

The idea of creating an honor society for ACF was considered for many years before it was ever officially presented to the officers and members in 1948. There was much discussion and a debate ensued. No action was taken until August 18, 1952.

Pierre Berard of Washington, D.C., chaired a roundtable discussion on the proposal. Chef Berard proposed the appointment of a study group to closely examine the task of establishing fundamentals, ethics and standards for the establishment of an American Academy of Chefs within the framework of the American Culinary Federation.

On November 12, 1952, during the third annual National Convention of the ACF, the newly elected National President, Paul Laesecke of Pittsburgh, called for renewed discussion of the proposal. President Laesecke posed the question: “What will be the main purpose of the Academy of Chefs?” After much discussion, a meeting was called for later that month for the purpose of writing the bylaws and organizing the Academy.

In 1954 Pierre Berard, the ACF National President, sent a letter to the Board of Governors convening in New York City asking for the establishment of the Academy. President Berard also requested U.S. Representative H.D. Warburton to introduce a bill to charter the American Academy of Chefs. The bill, H.R. 9324, failed to get out of committee. President Berard reported to the ACF membership that the formation of a chefs’ honor society would have to be done by the chefs.

At the ACF National Convention held in Pittsburgh in 1955, the delegates voted to establish the American Academy of Chefs.

Peter Berrini, delegate from Boston, was charged with the responsibility of organizing the Academy. He was elected as the first Chair of the Academy, and he held that office until his election to the office of ACF National President in 1959. At this time, the Academy boasted a membership of 37.

Walter Wingberg of Florida was elected Academy Chair after Chef Berrini, and Joseph Donon, ACF National Secretary, was elected Secretary/Treasurer of the Academy.

In 1961, Walter Wingberg designed the first Academy medal, but because of its heavy weight, it was not well received by the membership.

Also in 1961, at the ACF National Convention, Orby Anderson was elected National President, followed by Willy Rossel of Dallas, who served as National President from 1963 until 1965.

In 1965, John Bandera of Chicago was elected ACF National President, Paul Laesecke was elected Academy Chair and Otto Spielbichler was elected Secretary/Treasurer of the Academy and it continued to grow.

Chef Laesecke designed a new medal (the one currently in use) which was smaller than the first design, weighed less, was made of a better quality alloy and designed to be worn around the neck on a ribbon. The medal was cast in Germany while Chef Laesecke was in Frankfurt serving as a judge for the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung or International Culinary “Olympics.”

Chef Laesecke was at this time corporate chef for the H.J. Heinz Company and traveled extensively throughout the world. “I am proud to wear the medal of the American Academy of Chefs at all culinary events throughout the world,” Chef Laesecke stated. “It gives me the chance to talk about the high standards of our profession in the United States and to speak about the Academy.”

In retrospect, the pioneering work of Pierre Berard, Joseph Donon, Peter Berrini, Walter Wingberg and Paul Laesecke paid off through the creation of a strong, viable and honored society, the American Academy of Chefs.

Succeeding Paul Laesecke as Academy chair was Anthony Bartolotta, and in 1977 he was followed by U. Max Behr, CEC.

In 1981, Rene Roncari was elected Chair, a position he held for four years until the election of Jon Greenwalt, CEC.

Chef Greenwalt had served the Academy as Secretary/Treasurer prior to becoming Chair; Lawrence Conti, CEC, was elected as Secretary/Treasurer also in 1985. In 1989 Lawrence Conti was elected to the Chairmanship and served until 1993. Harry Hoffstadt served as Secretary/Treasurer from 1989 until 1993.

Richard Bosnjak, CEC, past ACF President was elected Chair in 1993 along with Hartmut Handke, CMC, as Secretary/Treasurer.

In 1995, Bert Cutino, CEC, was elected as Chair with Dieter Preiser, CEC, being elected as Secretary/Treasurer. Secretary/Treasurer Preiser resigned the position after one year in order to accept the post of ACF National Treasurer, since one cannot hold both positions concurrently. At this time, there was a special election to fill the remainder of the term of Secretary/Treasurer. Joseph Amendola, CEPC, CCE, held this position until 1997 when Fritz Sonnenschmidt, CMC, was elected along with the unanimous vote by the membership to re-elect Bert Cutino, CEC, to another two year term as Chair.

The Symbolic Representation of Our Colors

We are proud that the founders of this honor society used the red, white and blue colors of our country to epitomize the Academy. The beautiful gold medallion of Chef Augie represents the honor of achievement at the highest. We are especially pleased that these beautiful colors can parable our profession with the following meanings:

  • Red represents the passion of the culinary profession in its art and creativity!
  • White represents the purity of our profession through our toque and uniform and projects the image of high standards!
  • Blue represents loyalty, dedication and steadfast leadership qualities that reflect support of the education of our future culinarians!