By Kimberly Brock Brown, CEPC, CCA, AAC

Kimberly Brock Brown

All I can say about the 2022 ACF National Convention is: WOW!

It was SO INCREDIBLE to see such a huge and diverse group of people! There were so many budding chefs and students, veteran ACF members and chefs, plenty of newcomers and even those who haven’t been to convention in a while. It was amazing to have real conversations with and talk with membership—to hear people’s questions, comments and concerns. I’m already excited for next year’s convention in New Orleans!

The lineup of speakers was out of this world! Everyone had the same “problem”: There are so many great sessions, how do I pick between these two or three because I can’t get to them all? Some of my favorite presenters were Chef Elizabeth Falkner all day, and our closing keynote, Chef Jeff Henderson, whose speech garnered a standing ovation and moved us (and him) to tears! The two students he brought with him from his nonprofit, Chef Jeff Project, and introduced during the session had a truly life-changing experience, he told me after the event—so much so that he wants to get his students more involved in ACF! Read more about Chef Henderson and his nonprofit, Chef Jeff Project on page 42.

It’s back-to-school time—not just for our culinary educators and students, but for all of us, too. The networking and learning don’t have to stop after convention. So many people ask me, “What does ACF have to offer besides certification and education?” I tell them, “So much!” How else can you meet people in your field from other parts of the country and even the world? How else can you stay connected and know who’s hiring and what’s trending and what’s not? The opportunities for us to exchange ideas and network with others is something that makes ACF truly special. I love the saying, “Who you know gets you in the door; what you know keeps you there.” ACF, of course, offers both.

That said, let’s keep on connecting and learning! Let’s learn more about diversity, equity and inclusion (p. 18). Let’s learn about trending Latin-fusion styles (p. 20) and about must-have pastry tools (p. 46) (I can’t live without my 12-inch serrated knife). Finally, let’s learn how to feed our populations better. People have made a bigger jump toward healthier lifestyles in the past two years, likely because of the pandemic. Many of us want to eat what’s good for our bodies. As chefs, it’s our job to figure out the best ways to prepare that food so we can keep our customer base (and ourselves!) healthy, happy and satisfied.

I’m ready to finally, finally get more back to normal and plan ahead for events and gatherings. That includes competitions. Already I’m seeing an uptick in interest, and we can’t wait to announce some exciting new changes we’re making for this year and next year heading into the 2023 ACF National Convention in NOLA. More info coming soon!

In the meantime, let’s keep that awesome, post-convention mojo going!


Let’s go!

Kimberly Brock Brown, CEPC, CCA, AAC
National President, American Culinary Federation

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