By Thomas Macrina, CEC, CCA, AAC

Thomas  Macrina

As we move through these challenging times and watch as our industry has changed dramatically, it’s easy to feel down or stuck. While I have both good and bad days, I’ve tried my best to look at the silver lining: This is truly a chance to change, grow and improve.

Many of us have been forced to slow down (or speed up), shift quickly and rethink old strategies to find new ways to serve people. It’s no surprise ACF members are at the forefront of those changes, speedily transitioning to curbside delivery, launching grocery stores in hospital cafes, sending hot meals and care kits to the elderly and those in need, and even launching new foundations and programs to help raise money for others.

During this time of volatility in our society and industry, I couldn’t be more excited to come back on board as your president. Please know we as a board are working tirelessly to meet your needs by listening to your concerns, suggestions and feedback while growing and strengthening our organization. It is our goal to get us up to speed now while looking forward to 2021 and the possibilities in front of us. It may be hard to think ahead when every day can bring a new surprise, but I believe we have a bright future because our member base is made up of the best and brightest minds in our industry.

As an ACF member since the mid-1970s and former president from 2013 to 2017, many of you already know a little about me. But, as we have so many new members, I would like to briefly introduce myself. In addition to serving two terms as ACF president, I also served as ACF national secretary for one term, American Academy of Chefs chair for two terms and American Academy of Chefs vice chair for two terms. I also have served as an apprentice chair and as a competition judge and have helped with many international competitions. In 2004, I coached the ACF Youth Team, and have since been involved in other team competitions as a business manager. I’m also the chair of the ACF Educational Foundation.

My culinary career began after receiving my Associate of Science degree, with honors, from The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, New York, in 1976. I went on to serve as executive chef at a variety of resorts and hotels. In 2011, I joined US Foods as an executive chef/product specialist manager for the Philadelphia division and was selected in 2013 as a Food Fanatics Chef for the company, a position I still hold.

But enough about me. I want to extend a huge thank you to the ACF events team for their incredibly hard work in putting together the ACF’s first-ever virtual convention, all within just a matter of weeks. Based on the feedback I received from ACF member and non-member participants alike, the virtual convention was a success, and the sessions and speakers were stellar.

As I write this letter, ChefConnect: Nashville is set to be a hybrid event, with some in-person sessions (masks and social distancing required) as well as live-streaming for a virtual option. We are closely monitoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state guidelines in case we need to move to a more remote setup.

Either way, based on the success of the 2020 ACF Virtual Convention, we know our group has the capability to come together, even during challenging times, and continue to share ideas and best practices while making new connections and maintaining our longtime friendships. To register or learn more about the safety protocols we are implementing for the event, visit

Speaking of making connections, if you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to check out Chef ’s Table, ACF’s new online community forum, launched this summer. This forum was intended to be a tight-knit, private space for you, our members, so you can share ideas and talk to one another. Connectivity and community has always been a key component of ACF membership, but in today’s world, they are even more important.

As we move forward, feel free to continue to reach out to ACF and any and all board members, including me, with a call or email. We take our positions as board members extremely seriously because we know you elected us to lead as well as to serve you. Now is the time for new beginnings. Together, let’s continue to be agents of progress — not only for our organization, but for the industry at large.

Thomas “Tom” Macrina, CEC, CCA, AAC
National President
American Culinary Federation

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