The American Academy of Chefs About AAC

The History of American Academy of Chefs

The idea of creating an honor society for the ACF was considered for many years before it was ever officially presented to the officers and members in 1948. There was much discussion and a debate ensued. No action was taken until August 18, 1952.

Pierre Berard, HOF of Washington, D.C., chaired a roundtable discussion on the proposal. Chef Berard proposed the appointment of a study group to closely examine the task of establishing fundamentals, ethics and standards for the establishment of an American Academy of Chefs within the framework of the American Culinary Federation.

On November 12, 1952, during the third annual National Convention of the ACF, the newly elected National President, Paul Laesecke, AAC®, HOF of Pittsburgh, called for renewed discussion of the proposal. President Laesecke posed the question: “What will be the main purpose of the Academy of Chefs?” After much discussion, a meeting was called for later that month for the purpose of writing the bylaws and organizing the Academy.

In 1954 Pierre Berard, HOF, the ACF National President, sent a letter to the Board of Governors convening in New York City asking for the establishment of the American Academy of Chefs. President Berard also requested U.S. Representative H.D. Warburton to introduce a bill to charter the American Academy of Chefs. The bill, H.R. 9324, failed to get out of committee. President Berard reported to the ACF membership that the formation of a chefs’ honor society would have to be done by the chefs.

At the ACF National Convention held in Pittsburgh in 1955, the delegates voted to establish the American Academy of Chefs.

Peter Berrini, AAC®, HOF delegate from Boston, was charged with the responsibility of organizing the Academy. He was elected as the first Chairman of the Academy, and he held that office until his election to the office of ACF National President in 1959. At this time, the Academy boasted a membership of 37.

Walter Wingberg, AAC®, of Florida was elected Academy Chairman after Chef Berrini, AAC® and Joseph Donon, AAC®, HOF ACF National Secretary, was elected Secretary/Treasurer of the Academy Serving 1960-1965

In 1961, Walter Wingberg, AAC®, designed the first Academy medal, but because of its heavy weight, it was not well received by the membership. Also, in 1961, at the ACF National Convention, Orby Anderson, CEC®, HOF was elected National President, followed by Willy O. Rossel, AAC®, HOF of Dallas, who served as National President from 1963 until 1965.

In 1965, John L. Bandera of Chicago was elected ACF National President, Paul Laesecke, AAC®, HOF, was elected Academy Chairman and Otto Spielbichler, AAC®, was elected Secretary/Treasurer of the Academy from 1965-1971 and the Academy continued to grow.

Chef Laesecke, AAC®, HOF, designed a new medal (the one currently in use) which was smaller than the first design, it weighed less, was made of a better-quality alloy and designed to be worn around the neck on a ribbon. The medal was cast in Germany while Chef Laesecke was in Frankfurt serving as a judge for the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung also known as the International Culinary “Olympics.”

Chef Laesecke, AAC®, HOF, was at this time corporate chef for the H.J. Heinz Company and traveled extensively throughout the world. “I am proud to wear the medal of the American Academy of Chefs® at all culinary events throughout the world,” Chef Laesecke stated. “It gives me the chance to talk about the high standards of our profession in the United States and to speak about the Academy.”

In retrospect, the pioneering work of Pierre Berard, HOF, Joseph Donon, AAC®, HOF, Peter Berrini, AAC®, HOF, Walter Wingberg, AAC® and Paul Laesecke, AAC®, HOF, paid off through the creation of a strong, viable and honored society, the American Academy of Chefs®.

Succeeding Paul Laesecke, AAC®, HOF, as Academy chairman was Anthony Bartolotta, AAC®, HOF, from 1971-1977.

Our next Academy Chairman was U. Max Behr, CEC®, AAC®, HOF, from 1977 to 1981 Chairman

In 1981, Rene Roncari, AAC®, HOF, was elected Chairman, a position he held for four years along with Jon Greenwalt, CEC®, AAC®, HOF, Secretary/Treasurer. 1981-1985

Jon Greenwalt, CEC®, AAC®, HOF, was elected Chair and Lawrence A. Conti, CEC®, AAC®, HOF was elected as Secretary/Treasurer serving 1985-1989.

In 1989 Lawrence A. Conti, CEC®, AAC®, HOF, was elected the Chairman and served with Harry H. Hoffstadt, CEC®, AAC®, HOF as Secretary/Treasurer from 1989 until 1993. Richard Bosnjak, CEC®, AAC®, HOF, past ACF President was elected Chair in 1993 along with Hartmut Handke, CMC®, AAC®, as Secretary/Treasurer serving from 1993-1995

In 1995, Bert P. Cutino, CEC®, AAC®, HOF, HBOT, was elected as Chairman with Dieter C. Preiser, CEC®, AAC®, being elected as Secretary/Treasurer. Secretary/Treasurer Preiser resigned the position after one year in order to accept the post of ACF National Treasurer, since one cannot hold both positions concurrently. At this time in 1996, there was a special election to fill the remainder of the term of Secretary/Treasurer. Joseph Amendola, CEPC®, CCE®, AAC®, HOF, held this position until 1997 when Fritz H. Sonnenschmidt, CMC®, AAC®, HOF was elected Secretary/Treasurer along with the unanimous vote by the membership to re-elect Bert P. Cutino, CEC®, AAC®, HOF, HBOT, to another two-year term as Chairman serving as chairman from 1995-1999.

Fritz H. Sonnenschmidt, CMC®, AAC®, HOF, was elected as Chairman for the next 4 years, 1999-2003, along with John Minniti, CCE®, AAC®, HOF, HBOT serving as National Vice Chair. During this period some importation changes took place such as; the position of Secretary/Treasurer was changed to National Vice Chair and the National Vice Chair became a voting members of the Board of Governors The Chairman’s title was changed to Chair, the members of the AAC were now recognized as Fellows of the Academy and annual dues were eliminated.

In 2003 John A. Minniti, CCE®, AAC®, HOF, HBOT was elected and stepped into the role of AAC Chair with Thomas J. Macrina, CEC®, CCA®, AAC®, HBOT, as his National Vice Chair for the years 2003-2007. Thomas J. Macrina, CEC®, CCA®, AAC®, HBOT, was elected as the AAC Chair for 2007-2011, with Stafford T. DeCambra, CEC®, CCE®, CCA®, AAC®, as National Vice Chair. Then in 2011, Thomas J. Macrina, CEC®, CCA®, AAC®, HBOT was elected the ACF National President.

Stafford T. DeCambra, CEC®, CCE®, CCA®, AAC®, was elected as the AAC Chair from 2011-2015 and Mark G. Wright, CEC®, AAC®, the National Vice Chair. In 2015, Stafford DeCambra, CEC®, CCE®, CCA®, AAC®, was elected the ACF National President.

Mark G. Wright, CEC®, AAC®, was elected as AAC Chair from 2015-2019 with Americo S. DiFronzo, CEC®, CCA®, AAC®, serving as National Vice Chair. In 2019 the title of National Vice Chair was changed to Vice Chair. Also, in 2019, Mark G. Wright, CEC®, AAC®, was elected as ACF National Secretary.

In 2019 Americo S. DiFronzo, CEC®, CCA®, AAC®, was elected AAC Chair with Joe G. Aiello, CEC®, AAC®, HOF serving as AAC Vice Chair.

The Symbolic Representation of Our Colors

We are proud that the founders of this honor society used the red, white and blue colors of our country to epitomize the Academy. The beautiful gold medallion of Chef Augie represents the honor of achievement at the highest. We are especially pleased that these beautiful colors can parable our profession with the following meanings:

  • Red represents the passion of the culinary profession in its art and creativity!
  • White represents the purity of our profession through our toque and uniform and projects the image of high standards!
  • Blue represents loyalty, dedication and steadfast leadership qualities that reflect support of the education of our future culinarians!