By Kimberly Brock Brown, CEPC, CCA, AAC

Kimberly Brock Brown

Spring is about to be sprung!

There’s a lot going on this time of year: Women’s History Month and National Nutrition Month in March, as well as major holidays like Easter and Passover in April. And I’m super geared up for the ACF National Qualifier and other upcoming competitions!

This issue is special to me because it’s focused on students and something near and dear to my heart: teaching and mentoring the next generation of chefs. Check out the main feature (page 26) covering that topic: Hear from experienced chefs on what they’re doing to attract and retain talent, and from recent culinary grads on what they’re looking for in employers. Turn to p. 22 to read about the two ACF Student Chef of the Year Award winners from 2022, both of whom have gone on to land great jobs and start their careers. There’s also some coverage of the 2022 ACF Student Team of the Year (p. 31).

If you’ve never mentored a younger chef before, consider doing that now. Pick one or two chefs working with you who are true go-getters. There’s nothing more rewarding than sharing and imparting your knowledge and recipes with others. Ask your chefs what their plan is for two years from now, five years from now or longer. Also: This wasn’t as commonplace in the past, but I’m finding it helpful to cross-train staff so that people can learn different jobs in the kitchen and help each other out more—especially amid ongoing labor challenges. It also creates a culture of learning, growth and engagement.

Collaboration is key, whether it’s between teacher and student, chef and chef or organization and organization. That’s why I’ve been so focused on collaborating with other groups like the James Beard Foundation (JBF) to bring more awareness about ACF. Last month, I was incredibly honored to have the U.S. Department of State invite me to be a member of its new “Kitchen Cabinet” as part of the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership—an initiative developed with JBF to promote American cuisine and ingredients around the globe. In celebration, I traveled to Washington, D.C., with four members of the ACF Young Chefs Club, who helped prepare a meal for those in attendance. Food is the vehicle to bring people together, and this new program proves that!

The future truly is now: Being a leader is important, especially if we want ACF to spearhead the charge in helping not only our industry but also the people within it evolve. The legendary Dolly Parton had a great quote last year that I’m going to borrow: “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you are an excellent leader.”

Let’s go!

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

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