Are you ready to commit?

Stafford DeCambra

By Stafford DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC

Aloha! Last year at 2017 Cook.Craft. Create., your new board of directors was sworn in. Thank you for electing us to serve you. We recently renewed our commitment to sharing fellowship and leadership at 2018 Cook.Craft.Create. in New Orleans.

This is an exciting time for our organization. We are poised to execute an ambitious mission that will require commitment from everyone. It is not enough for us to be relevant to culinary professionals now. We must build for future generations. Are you ready to commit to reinvigorating and revitalizing ACF?

We need to retain our core membership, but we also need to attract new members. To do that, we must look outward—to the cooks in the kitchens where we work and the students in the schools where we teach. Let’s talk about ACF with fellow attendees at events. That’s our future—those new faces— and recruitment needs to be an ongoing priority for every member.

We are doing several things to spur new growth, including a chef-to-chef recruitment program that began Aug. 1. Recruit a new or recently lapsed professional member and ACF will reward you. Your knowledge about and passion for ACF makes you our best salespeople.

To help bring in new members, we need to continue to improve the value of ACF membership by providing the benefits that are most important to you. We conducted a membership survey in 2017, and many of you provided feedback. We listened, and the board of directors and national office staff are making changes to existing programs based on your input. For example, we now offer some content in Spanish, and this fall, we will have the CEC and CFC exams translated into Spanish, as well.

We will increase grassroots marketing to chapters so that they can leverage their relationships in the local community. And, it’s time that the national culinary community knows about us and what we do. To that end, we hope you plan to celebrate Childhood Nutrition Day, Oct. 16, and International Chefs Day, Oct. 20. Let’s work together and host awareness events around the globe. We will once again offer grants to support chefs who participate. For more information, go to www.acfchefs. org/CND, #InternationalChefsDay or #ChildhoodNutritionDay.

You also told us that the physical and mental health of our members needs ACF’s attention. For years, too many of us have struggled to find access to affordable healthcare, so ACF created a new member benefit that provides access to health insurance. The recent suicide of one of our own, Anthony Bourdain, brought home a simple truth: Many chefs lead extremely stressful lives. You’ve shared your concern with us and we are listening.

You’ve asked us to be more involved in advocacy. There are things happening in our world that demand our attention: making workforce training relevant, preventing food waste, improving food quality, promoting diversity in our profession, and eliminating harassment and discrimination. Our workplaces look far different today than they did back in 1929 when ACF was founded. We must be ready to welcome a new generation of chefs who are different from us, and the only way we can do this is by focusing on diversity and inclusion.

We continue to actively recruit 18- to 25-year-olds, and we can all play a part. Extend a hand to the young chefs who work with you and invite them to chapter meetings or an event. Consider sponsoring their chapter dues or paying a registration fee. Introduce them to your colleagues and show them the value of networking. Hire a young chef. Mentor a student chef. Personally invest your time in a young chef as someone once did for you.

Giving back and mentoring have been on my mind lately. I recently attended the national conventions of SkillsUSA and Family, Careers and Community Leaders of America. What an impressive display of culinary talent from high school students, and what a proud moment to see so many of you giving these young culinarians a head start. SkillsUSA has aligned its culinary competitions to meet the criteria of ACF’s new entry-level CFC credential. For the inaugural year, I am happy to report that 12 secondary students out of 46 scored high enough to earn the CFC, as did several postsecondary students.

My personal pledge and commitment is to leave things better than I found them, and I ask for your support. Please reach out to your board members with your ideas and observations. Our goal is to create an open, honest environment where we can have candid conversations and share our input to make our organization better.

I look forward to speaking with each of you as we build ACF’s future. We are a family, and together, we can “be the change.” Are you ready to commit? Aloha!

Click here to see this message in Spanish | Haga clic aquí para ver este mensaje en Español