By René J. Marquis, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC
I am honored and humbled to be the first military chef to hold the esteemed position of ACF National President. It is an incredible privilege to represent the culinary professionals who have dedicated their lives to the art of cooking in the military, the civilian sector and beyond. Your support and confidence in my leadership motivate me to work tirelessly for the betterment of our profession.
First, a little about my background. At the age of 14, I began my career as a dishwasher at a small Chinese restaurant in Lewiston, Maine, working my way up to become a line cook. That’s where my fondness for the culinary arts began, and it led me to enroll in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park following high school.
After graduating, I worked at The Broadmoor in Colorado. As I prepared tableside meals for a distinguished U.S. Army general, he asked me to cook for him on a regular basis. This opportunity led to a long and successful career in the military spanning 21 years, during which I traveled to more than 55 countries and relocated 14 times in the U.S. I am fortunate to have trained numerous individuals who have gone on to become highly successful chefs in various branches of the military.
In my new role as president, I plan to champion culinary education, certifications and accreditations, ensuring that aspiring and young chefs have access to the knowledge, resources and mentorship they need to succeed. I will continue to support local communities through the Chef & Child Initiative and other programs for veterans and those in need. I also plan to continue to promote diversity and inclusion within our industry, creating a space where every chef feels valued and empowered to contribute—this is the foundation of Chefs Helping Chefs. In addition, I vow to work with our Board of Directors with integrity, transparency, compassion, an open ear and a deep love for the culinary arts.
My fellow chefs, I know that the road ahead may present obstacles and trials, but together, we are a formidable, resilient force. By embracing collaboration, supporting one another and nurturing the next generation of chefs, we will continue to elevate our craft and leave an indelible mark on the culinary landscape. But you must get involved. Success is an endeavor that requires us to seek it actively, to go out and claim it for ourselves. The ACF provides the perfect platform for us to do just that.
Lastly, I want to express my gratitude to the men and women who currently serve or have served in the military. Their selfless commitment inspires me, and I will strive to honor their service by upholding the highest standards of culinary excellence. A phrase that has become synonymous with the military and resonates deeply with me is “I’ve got your six.” It is a commitment to protect and stand by one another, regardless of our challenges.
Chefs, I got your six!
René J. Marquis, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC
National President, American Culinary Federation
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