Big changes are coming soon to We Are Chefs

Get ready for a brand new We Are Chefs in 2019! In the next few days, this old blog will disappear and be replaced with a new and improved WeAreChefs.com. All of your favorite content will still be there, but we’ll be adding even more great stuff and the whole site will have an updated look with easier navigation to the articles you love from NCR and Sizzle.

As a part of this change, we will be switching over to a new WordPress blog. If you receive notifications about new posts, you’ll stop receiving them once the site switches over. To ensure you don’t miss a thing, please click here to sign up for the VIP We Are Chefs email list and we will let you know as soon as the new blog is up and running!

Check Out the Winners of the ACFEF’s Gingerbread House Competition

by Heather Henderson

Last month, the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation (ACFEF) and William Racin, CEPC®, ACF’s 2018 Pastry Chef of the Year, held the inaugural Gingerbread House Challenge, inviting teams of students from accredited Baking & Pastry Arts programs around the country to battle for the best gingerbread house. This year’s theme was “Winter Wonderland”.

After careful review of many beautiful submissions, two winning teams were chosen, each receiving a prize of $250 towards their Baking and Pastry programs! 

The Winter Wonderland Village built by students from Lebanon County Career and Technology Center was the secondary school winner and the model of the Seattle Children’s Hospital built by students from The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Seattle was the post-secondary winner. 


Lebanon County Career and Technology Center

The village built by the Lebanon County students consists of 20 houses and a church, totaling over 200 pounds of gingerbread and 100 pounds of royal icing.


Lebanon County Career and Technology Center

Lebanon County Career and Technology Center Gingerbread Recipe
2 lbs. Sugar
6 lbs. Honey
14 oz. Sweetex
9 lbs. bread flour
1/2 oz. ginger
2 oz. cinnamon
4 oz. baking powder
8 eggs
2 oz. water

The students made this recipe five times to have enough gingerbread to build their whole village!


Lebanon County Career and Technology Center

The team from the Art Institute of Seattle took 38 hours to complete their gingerbread hospital, on which they put their own winter wonderland twist.


The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Seattle

Unlike the real thing, their gingerbread hospital has an open roof that reveals a Christmas party happening inside the building.

The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Seattle

The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Seattle Gingerbread Recipe
2 c. corn syrup
1½ c. brown sugar
1 ¼ c. butter
9 c. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt

Along with royal icing made of egg whites and powdered sugar.

The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Seattle

Congratulations to the winners! We are already looking forward to next year’s competition!

The ACF’s Publications are Getting an Upgrade

by Jocelyn Tolbert

More than 15,000 ACF member chefs and subscribers read The National Culinary Review (NCR), the ACF’s bi-monthly magazine delivering timely information on food, beverage and menu trends, management/lifestyle issues, health and professional development, in one of its two forms: a print magazine and a digital one. 

Thousands of readers also visit Sizzle, our quarterly digital publication for culinary students, every month on its website and app.

If you’re one of those readers, you may have noticed that those publications are not available online as usual.

While the magazines disappearing from their respective websites at this time isn’t ideal, it’s all part of new beginnings for NCR, Sizzle and We Are Chefs that we’re so excited to be able to tell you about now.

Firstly, in January 2019, the print version of NCR is getting a complete redesign. These updates will bring the 87-year-old print magazine more in line with its contemporaries — a modern look, updated branding and refreshed editorial focus.

The biggest changes, however, are happening in the digital realm. Currently, digital subscribers flip through the pages of Sizzle and NCR as if they were looking at a physical print publication. Members have said this “digital magazine” format isn’t an ideal reading experience, and current web trends tell the same story.

So, beginning with the January/February issue, the online version of NCR will be presented like any other web content — readable right in the browser of your smartphone, tablet or computer. Readers will be able to easily share articles on social media and interact with the magazine like never before. 

Everything will merge here on wearechefs.com — which is also getting a new, fresh face, video, social media integration and more. Sizzle will be updated more regularly. All publications will offer more diverse opportunities for readers to be a part of the conversation.

A subscription will still be required to read most NCR articles. It’s our hope that the value of that subscription will only increase with these exciting changes.

While this transformation is being implemented, both NCR and Sizzle are still available to read in PDF format. Log in to the member portal to read NCR online, or visit this link to read the most recent issues of Sizzle.

Please pardon our dust while these changes take place. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us by emailing pr [at] acfchefs.net.

ACF Members Serve Up Comfort During Hurricane Relief Efforts

 by Kenya McCullum

Whenever there’s a hurricane, like Hurricane Florence that hit the Carolinas last month, people around the country will see news images of torrential rainfall, bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway as people evacuate to safety, and trees fighting — and often succumbing to — rough winds. But what they usually don’t see is what happens next — what Geoff Blount, ACF Myrtle Beach President, describes as “flooding of Biblical proportions” that is caused when the waters of five rivers all converge and move in their direction.

“People saw the devastation from a hurricane,” he says. “What hit us here was not a hurricane; what hit us here was all the floods from the hurricane that was North of us.”

And people watching the national news also won’t see what Blount did to help those on the outskirts of Myrtle Beach who were in need of meals and comfort. Since the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach, where Blount teaches baking and pastry arts, was going to be closed, he decided to use the time — and the food delivery that the school received on the same day as the evacuation — to mobilize his students and area chefs to cook meals at ICI’s Conway campus. The meals were then distributed by the Salvation Army and the Red Cross.

International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach student volunteers pitching in to make 600 portions of chicken and rice bog. Photo by Geoff Blount

As soon as he put out a call for help on Facebook, the culinary community was quick to assist. Blount received food donations from several chefs, including ACF member Amy Sins of New Orleans, who is no stranger to the aftermath of hurricanes and the devastation they can cause.

“As someone who went through Katrina — eight feet of water in my house, about 12 in my garage, and a resident of the levee break on the 17th Street canal in New Orleans — I knew what was going to happen in the Carolinas if the flood water rises,” she says. “Food makes people feel better, so you always want to get a hot meal in the hands of someone in need. I’ve learned that during disaster situations, that is not easy. The logistics can be overwhelming. Everything from flooded streets, rising backwaters, relocation of shelters to the lack of running water and electricity.”

Loading meals being flown to North and South Carolina Hurricane Florence survivors. Photo by Jay Vise

In order to help make people in South Carolina feel better, Sins worked tirelessly with her network of professionals to cook 1,200 pounds of food in the Second Harvest Kitchen, and arranged to have it delivered by a private plane. This contribution, which Blount and his team were able to use to make 2,000 meals, included items such as hummus, shrimp creole, grits and butter beans. In addition, he received donations from other chefs including 10,000 cookies from the DoubleTree Hotel and 800 pounds of chicken from the ACF Triad chapter. When it was all said and done, over the course of 18 days, Blount and his team produced 15,400 meals that were given to evacuees, as well as the first responders, National Guardsmen, and police officers involved in the relief efforts.

And if given the chance, Blount and Sins would do it all over again.

“Things like this let you remember that there is something about our humanity that is still good,” Blount says. “We’re not all just looking out for ourselves, we are trying to look out for each other and help each other. Sometimes I know that’s in question, when people are just mean and rude, but then something like this happens and you see a community come together.”

Struggling to recruit new members? Try these six tips

 by Kenya McCullum

The ACF 90-Day Chef to Chef Challenge has entered its final month and you may be wondering what you can do to increase your chapter’s new member enrollments before the October 31 deadline.

ACF of Greater Buffalo New York, which is led by Chapter President Jacqueline Bamrick, has been extremely successful getting new people on board. Want to know how you can emulate their results? Bamrick, along with Mark Wright, the chapter’s Certification Chairman, provides some helpful recruitment tips below.

Give personal attention. When Wright and Bamrick talk to potential members, they start the conversation by calling them directly, or even stopping by to see them in person. As a result of this individualized attention, people’s interest in joining is piqued more than it might be if they were only contacted with an impersonal group email.

Stress the long-term benefits of membership. Once Wright does get the conversation started with potential members, he goes on to let them know how membership can be helpful for their career in the long term.

He explains his pitch this way: “I just say think about joining because you might need it someday since there’s a lot of jobs out there that require ACF certification. It might not seem like a lot right now, but down the line in ten years from now if you’re thinking about getting out of a hot, small kitchen and into a larger kitchen or corporation, that ACF certification or that ACF membership will go a long way.”

Invite prospective members to a chapter meeting. Bamrick says another reason the Buffalo chapter has been so successful at recruiting new members is because they encourage people to come to a meeting to see what the ACF community is like first-hand.

“Once they come to a chapter meeting, they see the enthusiasm, they see what we do for the community, and they always want to get involved,” she says. “We try to actually do a tangible type of involvement with them, not always talking to them.”

Tell your story. Why did you join the ACF? Why is membership so important to you? If you tell people your story, you not only get them interested in joining your chapter — you can also inspire them in their own career path.

“I joined because I wanted to get involved in something that I was very passionate about, which is culinary arts. I was a student at the time, and I also wanted to network and get certified. I achieved all that through my relationship with colleagues I met through the ACF,” Bamrick says. “Being a female role model [as] a chapter president, as well as being involved with the organization for 20 years, builds enthusiasm and interest when I represent the chapter.”

Avoid a hard sell. Although you want to be convincing when you speak to would-be members, you don’t want to annoy them and turn them off to joining your chapter entirely. Personally contacting people twice is enough to tell them how ACF membership can benefit them, as well as answer their questions, without becoming a nuisance.

Don’t forget quality. Boosting membership numbers is a great way to strengthen your chapter — but only if you recruit the right people. Bamrick suggests that while looking for new members, chapters should not sacrifice quality for quantity because in the long run, numbers alone won’t help your chapter or its members.

“I would say two really good, solid members are better than ten members that aren’t going to do anything whatsoever,” she says. “You won’t ever see them and they won’t support anything, so I would focus on the people you think are really going to make a difference, that are really going to commit. Focus on having that strength versus having just a few random people that aren’t going to be there when you need them.”