By Stafford DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC

Stafford DeCambra

This has been a challenging year, and it’s far from over. First, the world came face-to-face with a pandemic that hit our industry hard and continues to put the world in crisis mode. Now, we are facing one of the most important civil rights issues this country has seen in more than 50 years.

I shared three weekly messages regarding my views in support of equity and racial issues. I thank you for the positive feedback, as well as for the criticisms. As I said in my final message: “I now hand over the torch to all of you… begin talking, begin listening, but above all begin hearing each other.”

It’s not enough to simply say that we at ACF do not tolerate racism, discrimination or injustice. We have to reflect, process and evolve— including making important changes to our programming, communication, leadership and content—in order to grow as an organization and help our members grow as well. We remain committed to listening to you, our members, as well as to the Black community and people of color in our society.

Having had to cancel our in-person convention and switch to a digital format this year, we felt there was no better time than now to showcase the diversity of our membership while also focusing on educating about cuisines, cultures and traditions from here and around the globe. The theme for the ACF Virtual Convention, to be held Aug. 3-5, is “Around The World in 80 Plates,” and we have an exciting lineup of keynote speakers and presenters—recruited by ACF team members in just a couple months—who represent a wide array of culinary knowledge. Even if many of us are currently out of work or have had to pivot significantly in the last few months, as chefs, we never have to—and should not—stop learning. Personally, I am incredibly excited to tune into all the sessions that the virtual convention will offer so I can keep learning and growing myself.

The global theme continues with this issue’s content, which was originally scheduled for the May-June issue before we chose to shift gears to focus on special coverage of COVID-19. The timing, however, is perfect as we shift gears yet again to hone in on what makes the ACF membership—and all chefs around the world—such a special group: the rainbow of different cultures, heritages, backgrounds, skill sets and tastes that we choose to share with the greater public on a daily basis.

At this moment, there is much to be said about who we are as humanity, as chefs and as an organization, and who we should strive to become. Diversity, inclusiveness, equality, core values, humility, respect for others, both personally and professionally, must continue to be among the positive attributes which define us. Standing proud, we must never rest on our laurels, and we must continue raising the bar on our guiding standards and philosophies.

A few guiding excerpts and reminders to us all...
... “I will place honor, fairness, cooperation and consideration first...”
... “I will keep all comments professional and respectful...”
... “I will protect all members from the use of unfair means, unnecessary risks and unethical behavior...”
... “I will support the success, growth, and future of my colleagues and this great federation.” -The Culinarian’s Code
... “I acknowledge that “no person is an island” and realize that we must stand together for the betterment of our profession and of our daily lives.” -Oath of the AAC

Be the Change!


Stafford T. DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC
National President
American Culinary Federation

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