The American Academy of Chefs 2021 American Academy of Chefs Award Recipients


AAC Chair’s Medal

Each year, the Chair’s Medal is bestowed upon an Academy Fellow who has demonstrated exemplary dedication and made outstanding contributions to the culinary profession. This individual has also maintained the highest standard of ideals of the AAC and has significantly and positively worked to ensure excellence among future culinarians.

John Kukucka

John Kukucka, AAC, is currently the Executive Chef at the Essex Golf and Country Club in Lasalle, Ontario, Canada. He is a graduate of George Brown College. Chef Kukucka was inducted into the American Academy of Chefs in 2011 and has been an ACF member since 1999. Chef Kukucka was the recipient of the AAC Chef Good Taste Award in 2013, the ACF President’s Medallion and the Cutting Edge Award in 2020.

Past Winners


Lawrence A. Conti, CEC, AAC, HOF, Chair’s Achievement Award

This award is given to a Fellow of the Academy who is not only dedicated to the American Academy of Chefs but also to the culinary profession. This individual must be an ACF member for a minimum of 35 years and be actively in the AAC and ACF, making the advancement of both organizations a personal priority. The person selected for this award will have achieved success in both business and culinary arts, and must have the respect of the AAC Fellows at large.

John Bogacki

John E. Bogacki, CEC, CCE, AAC, is employed at Westwood Country Club, and holds the position of Executive Chef Emeritus. He has served on the ACF Internal Audit Committee. In 2008, Chef Bogacki held the position of the ACF Junior Culinary Olympic Team Financial Manager. He was inducted into the American Academy of Chefs in 1992 and served as Central Regional Director from 2009–2015. Chef Bogacki was a founding member of the Chefs De Cuisine Association of St. Louis’ Junior Chapter and the St. Louis Chefs De Cuisine Education Foundation. Chef Bogacki received the AAC Central Region Chefs Chair Award in 2001, Good Taste Award in 2009, six AAC Service Awards and the ACF Presidential Medallion in 2008.

Past Winners


Joseph Amendola Award

The Joseph Amendola Award is presented to a pastry chef or master baker. The recipient has devoted his or her career to the profession and to the mentoring of young individuals who will be future pastry chefs.

Gloria Cabral

Gloria M. Cabral, CWPC, CCE, AAC, attended Bristol Community College’s Culinary Arts Program where she received a Certificate Degree in Culinary Arts, A.A.S., a B.S. in Baking and Pastry Arts from Johnson and Wales University, a Master’s in Education from Cambridge College and a Master’s in Science of Management from Eastern Nazarene College. Chef Cabral was inducted into the American Academy of Chefs in 2017. She is also an ACF Certification Evaluator. In 2018, Chef Cabral earned the position as the Culinary Arts Program Coordinator at Bristol Community College.

Past Winners


Lt. General John D. McLaughlin Award

The Lt. General John D. McLaughlin Award is presented each year to an individual of high honor, distinction and involvement in the culinary field. This award has been established in the memory of Lt. General John D. McLaughlin, who was instrumental in bringing professional recognition to the American executive chef.

Wolfgang Geckeler

Wolfgang D. Geckeler, CEC, AAC, HOF, an ACF certified executive chef since 1985, was inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Chefs in 1988, recipient of the AAC Service Pin in 2015 and is currently serving on the Culinary Hall of Fame Committee. He completed his apprenticeship in Germany, was sponsored for emigration to the U.S.A. and within four months was drafted into the U.S. Army. After service in Vietnam from 1967–1968 he returned to the restaurant business. From 2002–2010 when he was corporate chef with the Marine Corps Community Services in Okinawa, Japan, overseeing 13 full-service restaurants and clubs on seven Marine Corps bases. Chef Geckeler received ACF Presidential Medallions in 1997 and 2014 and the Hermann G. Rusch Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. He is an active member of the ACF Professional Chefs Association of South Jersey, and has held numerous positions since 1988, from certification chair to president and chairman, and is currently treasurer.

Past Winners


Chef Good Taste Award

The Chef Good Taste Award is designated for culinarians who are actively involved in furthering the chef’s greatest achievement, “taste,” and upholding the traditions of the classical cuisine.

Jean Hull, CCE, AAC

Jean W. Hull, CCE, AAC, is currently retired. She is a graduate of Michigan State University in Food Science. Chef Hull is an active member of the ACF Chef and Child program, serving as chair of her chapter’s Chef & Child Foundation committee from 2000–2015. Chef Hull has also been very active within her community supporting scholarships and education. She was inducted into the American Academy of Chefs in 2007. Chef Cabral was awarded the Western Region Hermann G. Rusch Chef’s Achievement Award in 2010 and the “Cutting Edge” Award by the ACF Western Region in 2013.

Past Winners


Sharing Culinary Traditions Award

One Academy Fellow is selected each year to receive the Sharing Culinary Traditions Award. This individual has demonstrated unwavering dedication to the education of future culinarians, thereby perpetuating the mission statement of our prestigious honor society and our profession.

Alan Romano

Alan L. Romano, CEC, CCE, AAC, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America with a degree in Culinary Arts and a degree in Hotel/Restaurant Management from Westchester Community College. For the past 19 years he has been the owner of Fire & Ice 1999 and has been a full-time Chef Instructor/Professor at Guilford Technical Community College. Chef Romano has been an ACF member since 1988 and was inducted into the American Academy of Chefs in 2002. Chef Romano has been the AAC Southeast Region Director since 2017. Chef Romano has been teaching Chef & Child classes every summer for the past 20+ years.

Past Winners