By Kimberly Brock Brown, CEPC, CCA, AAC

Kimberly Brock Brown

Happy New Year! The theme for this year is growth!

We are firing on all cylinders! As I reported at my town hall meeting in December, we are seeing increases in membership numbers, chapter compliance, accreditations, certifications, sponsorships and even social media impressions. All of this is helping propel us toward the future. As we kick off 2023, let me share some things on my agenda that I’m excited about.

The Next Generation: ACF continues to focus on mentoring the next generation of chefs. We recently launched a new Young Chefs Club community on the Chef’s Table forum. It’s up to us members to extend a hand to emerging chefs and bridge the gap, just like others helped us along the way. On page 40, ACF Chef Ashten Garrett offers his perspective on this topic as an emerging professional and immediate past president of YCC (the current YCC President is Isaiah Gerrard).

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: It’s important to come together as an organization and learn from each other. Instead of thinking outside of the box, let’s bring all of our “boxes” together to determine the best steps to move ACF and the industry forward. February is a special month for me and many others; in honor of Black History Month, check out ACF Chef Jennifer Hill Booker’s article on how Africans and other groups have influenced what American barbecue looks like today (p. 16). This is just one example of the many contributions of ACF members to the culinary field.

New Competition Programming: This year, instead of multiple regional competitions, we are holding qualifying competitions in March at Johnson County Community College in Kansas. The top scorers in each category will go on to compete for ACF Chef of the Year, Pastry Chef of the Year, Student Team and other national awards at convention. This new format ensures that ACF is presenting the best of the best to the industry.

2023 Annual Convention and Continuing Education: We listened to the membership and cut out a day to put together a more compact, content-rich convention this year. Expect another amazing lineup of speakers! I am also making it my goal to pair younger chefs with these talented presenters so that young chefs can learn from the experience and offer a much-needed hand. Prior to the start of convention, we will be hosting a day of community service, and we’ll be kicking off the 2023 MasterCraft Summit Series with an educator summit, followed by additional summits this year covering cannabis, culinary nutrition and plant-based cooking to name a few.

Local Chapter and Leadership Support: We are here to support members who aspire to become leaders on the local, regional and national levels. Consider joining the Chapters Supporting Chapters work group to be a part of meetups and to learn about the resources and networking available. Four years ago, I never thought I would be running for ACF national president until someone encouraged me. If you’re thinking about getting more involved in ACF leadership positions, I encourage you to start off by learning the eligibility requirements. Our success really depends on your involvement. To quote Martin Luther King Jr., “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” What do you do to represent ACF? How are you helping us grow? That’s my challenge from me to you for 2023.

The future does not just happen. The future is something we create. And the future is now.

Let’s go!

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

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