Looking Forward

Stafford DeCambra

By Stafford DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC

When did the professional chef become a magician? I always hear from my fellow chefs that television, with its constant menu of competitions and unrealistic depictions of diva chefs who pull a lapin a la Bourguignonne out of a hat, has created a false impression of what it is we do every day.

While I agree to some extent — most chefs aren’t that dramatic — I would argue that television and the advent of the “celebrity” chef has simply revealed chefs as they really are: agents of transformation. Are you really a different chef from Chef Charles Scotto? Do you care less about the food you craft than our original CMCs? Are our international competitors less skilled than the chefs that were on the 1964 Culinary Team USA?

The answer, of course, is no. Professional chefs are magicians but our talents are not fly-by-night tricks and theatrical sleight of hand. Our successes are the results of decades of commitment to culinary excellence in technique, skills and training, both on our own, in schools and with excellent mentors.

This year, the American Culinary Federation turns 90 years old. And in 2019, I believe we are entering the best years of our organization’s history. These pages show us the ways we’ve grown over the years but also provide a peek into what’s next. Online learning, can't-miss events, better communication — you’ve asked for these and this year, the ACF will deliver them all.

It’s not a magic formula. In the next few years, we are going to take the things we have always done best — education, networking and events and add that ingredient that only ACF has — you, our member chefs — and we will transform into something new.

In 1929, our founders saw that as an association, the organization was more than the sum of its parts — the individual chefs. In 2019, we acknowledge and celebrate what we’ve learned. We are better together and that’s the magic of the American Culinary Federation.

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