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 acfchefs.org.
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.