Meet the ACF Student Chef of the Year Competitors

After a year of preparation, practice and patience, five student chefs from across the nation will compete for the national 2017 title of ACF Student Chef of the Year. AFCWR2015 (217 of 234)

The Student Chef of the Year Award was established in 1987 by the late Baron H. Galand to help student members establish their position within ACF. This award recognizes an up-and-coming student who displays a high degree of professionalism, excellent culinary skills and a true passion for the culinary arts.

This year’s competitors are required to create four portions of a finished entree with duck. The duck must be fabricated in the competition kitchen and portioned into four servings. Each competitor will have 15 minutes to set up their kitchen, one hour to fabricate and cook their dish, 10 minutes to plate and 15 minutes to clean up.

Competitors will be evaluated by a distinguished panel of chefs who will serve as both kitchen and tasting judges. Students will be judged on organization, skill, overall work habits, doneness of the dishes and flavor.

Competitors will be judged against the following criteria:

  • Up to 20 points for organization, which includes sanitation and utilization of the ingredients
  • Up to 30 points for cooking skills and culinary techniques, which includes creativity, skills and craftsmanship, serving and portion size
  • Up to 50 points for taste, which is based on flavor and texture, ingredient compatibility and nutritional balance, and presentation

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Gabrielle C.G. Edrosa, CSC, Central Region Student Chef of the Year

Gabrielle C.G. Edrosa, CSC, is a morning prep and line cook at Lake Quivira Country Club, Lake Quivira, Kansas. At the 2017 Central/Western Region Culinary Salon held at Joliet Junior College, Joliet, Illinois, Edrosa earned a gold medal and the highest overall score. She is a member of the ACF Greater Kansas City Chefs Association. Edrosa recently earned her ACF certification as a Certified Sous Chef.

Edrosa’s winning dish featured quenelle of trout with truffle, apple wood smoked trout, and trout roasted with a duxelles crust.

“This title and opportunity is a stepping stone for much greater things to come as long as I continue to put all my effort into everything I do,” said Edrosa after winning Central Region Student Chef of the Year. “My family and close friends have supported me throughout this journey, but my coach Felix Sturmer, and the chef I work under, Michael Lamping, CEC, are the ones who have pushed me to be better at every practice. After getting a stable job, I plan to start my food writing career as soon as possible.”



Yudelka Torres, Northeast Region Student Chef of the Year

Yudelka Torres, student, Culinary Institute of New York at Monroe College, New Rochelle, New York, earned a silver medal and the highest overall score at the Northeast Region Culinary Salon at Culinary Institute of New York at Monroe College. She is a member of the ACF Long Island Chapter.

Torres’ winning dish featured a tasting of farmed Idaho Brook Trout comprising seared filet, braised baby fennel, olive oil poached tomatoes, tourné potato and “Caldeirada” sauce; trout in puff pastry with spinach and mushrooms with lemon emulsion; and tourt and bacon mousseline-stuffed shrimp, parmesan tuile and shrimp-flavored arborio purée.

“Being chosen to represent the Northeast Region is a huge honor. I thank my family for their unconditional and endless support and encouragement. One of my strongest supporters, coach and mentor is Chef Frank Costantino. I can never thank him enough for the guidance, leadership, and support he has given me,” said Torres. “I could not have gone through this process or made it this far without my backbone, Hip Torres. I could not have asked for a more dedicated and loving partner in crime. After graduation, I hope to study under talented chefs and learn as much as I can to build my knowledge and skillset. My long-term goal has always been to open my own restaurant named after my younger brother. People say that if you cook with love, people will feel that love through the food. My unconditional love is my brother, and I want people to feel the strength of my love through the food I create.”



Daniel Wernz, CC, Southeast Region Student Chef of the Year

Daniel Lee Wernz, CC, is a line cook at various Orlando restaurants and graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando. He earned a bronze medal at the Southeast Regional Culinary Salon held at Johnson & Wales University, Charlotte, North Carolina. He is a member of the ACF Central Florida Chapter. Wernz recently earned his ACF certification as a Certified Culinarian and plans to work toward earning an ACF certification as a Certified Pastry Chef.

Wernz’s winning dish featured baked maple trout topped with mousseline and herb crust; braised turnips; sautéed Swiss chard; roasted parmesan potatoes; and beurre citron.

“Earning the title Southeast Regional Student Chef of the Year means a lot. It’s proof of my hard work and dedication. I think representing the region is amazing and a true honor,” said Wernz. “My fiancé has been with me every step of the way. She’s been the taste tester for every practice, helped with dishes, cleaning, mise en place and listening to me ramble on and on with lists and ideas. My family has also been very supportive of me. The ACF Central Florida Chapter nominated me for the title and have supported and helped me along the way.  I plan to apply my CPC and take the introductory course for the Sommeliers. Within the next five years, I would like to be preparing for the next levels of each pathway, as well as looking for places to open my own restaurant.”



Madeline Black, Western Region Student Chef of the Year

Madeline Black, student, Utah Valley University Culinary Arts Institute, Orem, Utah,  earned a gold medal and the highest overall score at the 2016 Central/Western Region Culinary Salon held at Joliet Junior College, Joliet, Illinois. She is a member of the ACF Beehive Chefs Chapter Inc.

Black’s winning dish featured ruby red Utah rainbow trout, trout and shrimp pan fried cake, smoked trout belly, orange scented carrots and parsnip sauté, tomato-fennel compote and vegetable medley.

“As a young culinary student, winning this title for the Western Region is huge for both me and other culinary students. It shows that anyone with a passion and a drive to be successful can be, regardless of their age,” said Black. “My chef mentor, Chef Todd Leonard, has spent countless hours in the kitchen teaching me, helping me to develop my dish, and making sure I have everything to be successful often late into the night. I would not be where I am without my family who have been with me every step of my culinary journey, even when they don’t understand what a tourne is or think that a bechamel is type of dance. The biggest support through the stressful moments and the days that couldn’t have gone better is my Father in Heaven who has given me peace, joy and an extra push of motivation when I have needed it the most. I want to cook in some way, shape, or form for the rest of my life; there will always be more to learn and discover, that’s why I love this industry.”



PFC Huy Nguyen, Military Student Chef of the Year

Private First Class Huy Nguyen serves in the United States Army at Fort Drum, New York, as a culinary specialist. He was awarded 2017 All Armed Forces Junior Chef of the Year and will serve as an apprentice on the U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team, studying under a primary member. Nguyen earned a gold medal and highest overall score at the 42nd Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event at Fort Lee, Virginia.

His award-winning menu was a raspberry soufflé with a chocolate truffle center, powdered sugar dusting, a Victorian butter cookie with espresso anglaise sauce and macerated fruit and pistachio ice cream with a pistachio crumble.

“Earning the title of the Military Student Chef of the Year is still so unreal to me. It puts a lot of weight on my shoulders because I want to represent the military proudly for each and every branch,” said Nguyen. “I will do my best and give it all I got to represent not just the Army but every branch in the military. In the beginning I have had the help from SFC Michael Bogle. He was my team captain and my mentor. But my biggest support is my family, friends and my wife. My future plans and aspirations are to continue to compete and learn from all the great chefs around the world and to keep progressing and getting better at what I do. I want to keep moving forward and one day I hope to be able to work at the Pentagon and teach and pass on what I learn.”


To see the competition action, you can register for the full convention or get a trade show day pass.  View the ACF Flickr page for regional culinary salon photos and the highlights Website skyscraper ACF Cook. Craft. Create.from ChefConnect: Chicago and ChefConnect: NYC regional conferences. Download your favorite pictures and share them on social media by tagging #ACFChefs.

Follow the American Culinary Federation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get live updates of the national competitions, awards ceremonies and President’s Grand Ball Gala.

Want to be part of something great? Become a member! Visit our website to see what ACF is about and how we can help you excel in your career. ACF offers resources that include a list of ACF-accredited institutions to help you find the best culinary school, industry certifications that will set your resume apart from the rest and networking events to keep you ahead of the culinary curve.

Call us at (904) 824-4468 to speak with someone to learn more about the value of membership today.

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