Press Release

American Culinary Federation Unveils New Initiatives, Partnerships, Logo at National Convention

Making ACF certification more meaningful also a priority

Las Vegas, Nevada, July 25, 2002—Nearly 2,500 chefs, cooks and culinary educators gathered at the 2002 American Culinary Federation (ACF) National Convention in Las Vegas to learn from some of the culinary world’s masters, discuss food trends, and understand how the federation plans to raise quality standards in every professional kitchen in America.

At the convention general session, ACF President Edward Leonard, certified master chef (CMC), outlined the federation’s new five-year plan to increase educational, apprenticeship and certification opportunities, and build fraternal bonds among a larger, more diverse group of culinarians. Leonard also unveiled a new ACF logo to convey that the 73-year-old ACF is committed to meeting the changing needs and the new challenges of the profession.

“To keep making a positive difference, we must open our doors to all culinarians and join together around a common purpose,” said Leonard. “The ACF must work with other culinary organizations, strive for diversity, be financially responsible, and build stronger relationships with the culinary community, media and consumers. At the same time, we must never lose our focus on cooking and the culinary arts.”

In addition, Leonard sees a need to make ACF certification more meaningful to culinarians, foodservice employers and the American consumer. “ACF certification is not just a long list of initials. It stands for professionalism, training and quality assurance. It’s a priority to make ACF certification meaningful to the American marketplace,” he said.

Major initiatives announced by Leonard at the five-day convention included:

  • Partnerships were signed with the Retail Bakers Association and the American Personal Chefs Association, signifying that each organization recognizes the other’s certification levels.
  • Several ACF members were appointed to spearhead studies of the specialized needs of baking and pastry, Hispanic American and African American chefs so that the ACF can work toward greater diversity of its membership.
  • The ACF Certification program has been revamped to include practical testing at all levels. Now, to achieve executive chef certification, candidates must enter two cooking competitions.
  • To encourage all chefs and cooks to enter culinary competitions—not just to win medals but to practice their craft—the ACF has revised its competition process making it more feasible and affordable for culinarians at all levels to enter.
  • In a further effort to reach out to chefs, the Chef of the Year award is now open to both ACF and non-ACF members. Four regional candidates will compete in a cook-off at the national convention for the honor.

Several awards were also presented at the conference to chefs, educators and dining establishments excelling in their respective fields:

  • A new ACF Achievement of Culinary Excellence Award was established to honor American dining establishments that have achieved the highest levels of culinary excellence. The award was presented to six restaurants, The Sardine Factory, Monterey, Calif.; K Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, New Orleans, La.; Rudys’ 2900, Finksburg, Md.; Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant at Bittersweet Plantation, Donaldsonville, La.; The Colavita Center of Italian Food and Wine at the Culinary Institute of America; and Nob Hill at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nev.
  • 2002 ACF National Chef of the Year was awarded to Joseph Amendola, CEPC, CCE, AAC, of Orlando, Fla., where he is partner and senior vice president of Fessel International, a worldwide foodservice and hospitality consulting company. He was previously at the Culinary Institute of America for more than 40 years.
  • 2002 ACF Educator of the Year was awarded to Derek Spendlove, CEPC, CCE, AAC, chairman of baking and pastry arts at Sullivan University, Louisville, Ky.
  • 2002 ACF Leadership Award was given to Noel Cullen, Ed.D., CMC, AAC, posthumously. His son, Darragh Cullen received it on his behalf.
  • 2002 ACF Junior Member of the Year was awarded to Yvonne Westlake, a member of the ACF Philadelphia DVCA Chapter. She serves as a line cook and tournant at The Desmond Hotel and Conference Center in Malvern, Pa.

About the American Culinary Federation (ACF)
Founded in 1929, the American Culinary Federation is the largest and most prestigious chefs’ organization in the United States. ACF’s goal is to make a positive difference for culinarians internationally through education, apprenticeship, and certification, while creating a fraternal bond of respect and integrity among culinarians everywhere.

About the ACF Convention
The American Culinary Federation’s annual convention brings together chefs, cooks, culinary educators, and food industry representatives from across the country in a dynamic environment of competition, learning and professionalism. The 2002 ACF National Convention is being held July 21–25 at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and attracted approximately 2,500 ACF members, exhibitors, culinarians and trade show visitors. ACF 2003 National Convention will take place in Washington, D.C., July 24–29. For convention information for next year’s convention, visit

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Contact: Lisa R. Alessandro, APR
American Culinary Federation, Inc.
(800) 624-9458, ext. 103 or (904) 824-4468, ext. 103

Note: ACF’s online media room can be accessed at