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!

ACF National Award Winners 2018

The honor of an American Culinary Federation (ACF) award proves skill, knowledge and professionalism in the culinary industry and can further your recognition as a qualified chef. These awards represent the highest honors ACF can bestow.

Here is a full list of all the 2018 award winners, presented at the ACF National Convention and Show in New Orleans July 15-19.

Achievement of Excellence (6)
•Canadian Food & Wine Institute Craig Youdale, Dean
•Phillip M’s Fine Dining Louis Chatham, CEC, AAC, Chef
•USC Hospitality Division Kris Slinger, Asst VP
•Mercury Chophouse Zack Moutaouakil, Owner
•Atlantis Casino Resort Spa Chira Pagidi, Director Food & Bev

President’s Medallion (23)
•Kent Andersen, CEC, CCA (#2)
•Guy Lott, HAAC (#18)
•Michael Rigberg, CEC, CCA, AAC (#3)
•Frank Leake, CCC, CCE, AAC (#24)
•Jerold Marcellus, CCC, CCE, HAAC (#4)
•Michael Thrash, CEC, CCA (#6)
•George O’Palenick, CEC, CCE, AAC (#7)
•Chris Dwyer, CEC, CCA, AAC (#8)
•Peter Spear, CEC (#9)
•Thomas Hunt, CEC, AAC (#10)
•Carlton Brooks, CEPC, CCE, AAC (#11)
•Brian Peffley, CEPC, CCE, AAC (#12)
•Jill Bosich, CEC, CCE, AAC (#13)
•Mark Wright, CEC, AAC (#15)
•Louis Perrotte, CEC, AAC, HOF (#16)
•Bobby Moghaddam, CEC, CCE, AAC (#17)
•Jill Mora (#19)
•Sarah Mallard, CC (#20)
•Melody Money, CEC, AAC (#21)
•Dr. Eloise Fernandez, CEC, CCE, AAC (#22)
•Cynthia Monroe, CC (#23)
•Kathleen Mancini, HAAC (#14)
•Basil Kimbrew (#5)
•Guy Lott, HAAC (#18)
•Michael Rigberg, CEC, CCA, AAC (#3)
•Frank Leake, CCC, CCE, AAC (#24)

Chapter of the Year
•ACF Southwestern Virginia Chapter

Region of the Year
•Southeast

A World of Thanks
•ACF New Orleans Chapter (host chapter)

Industry Partnership Award
•Libbey

Hermann G Rusch Chef’s Achievement Award
•Wolfgang Geckeler, CEC, AAC, HOF

National Chef Educator of the Year
•Leonard Bailey, CEC

National Student Team of the Year
•Fox Valley Technical College – Gold Medals

National Student Chef of the Year
•Julio Chavez – Gold Medal

National Pastry Chef of the Year
•William Racin, CEPC – Silver Medal

National Chef of the Year
•Todd Leonard, CEC – Silver Medal

Dr. L.J. Minor Chef Professionalism Award
•Kevin Brennan, CEC, AAC

Baron H. Galand Culinary Knowledge Bowl National Champions
•Utah Valley University Culinary Arts Institute

Spirit of Aloha Award
•Meg Trout
•Brian Lorge, HAAC
•Eric Ernest, CEC, CCA
•Jason Ziobrowski, CEC
•Eric “The Trainer” Fleishman
•Team Hawaii
•Robert Phillips, CEC, CCA, AAC

What to do if you’re not going to Cook. Craft. Create. this year

French Quarter architecture by Zack Smith

French Quarter architecture by Zack Smith

We get it. There are tons of totally understandable reasons that might keep you from attending Cook. Craft. Create. ACF National Convention & Show this year. Whatever it was that kept you away from New Orleans, we’re here to help you manage your FOMO. Here are some ways to make sure you don’t miss all the action:

  • Follow us on Facebook. This is the number-one thing you can do to catch all the Convention action from afar, as the ACF Facebook page is the designated hub for everything our social media team will be sharing throughout the week. They’ll be streaming the keynote addresses and competitions on Facebook Live, posting pics and videos and updating our Facebook Story all day, every day. Make sure you check our page each morning for the live-streaming schedule and tune in throughout the day.
  • Every morning starting Monday, we’ll send out an email to members recapping the previous day’s events. The email will include a short video with photos and clips so you can see what everybody was wearing and eating, hear choice quotes from important speakers and pick out your friends’ faces. You’ll also be able to watch the video on our YouTube Channel.
  • Follow ACF on other social media networks, too. Our favorite pictures will go up on Instagram and the most newsworthy bites will go to Twitter and LinkedIn. Every evening we’ll post a few choice photos from the day on all networks, too.
  • Keep your eye on the hashtag #ACFinNOLA across all social media channels. We hope to see some great photos and commentary from attendees! (If you’re reading this and you’re attending Convention, add that tag to all your posts!)
  • Sign up to receive The Culinary Insider, our bi-weekly email newsletter. It hits inboxes on the Monday after Convention is over and will include the names and photos of all the award and competition winners.
  • Subscribe to The National Culinary Review. The next issue will have in-depth recaps of everything that went on during ACF’s week in the Big Easy. If you’re a member, you already have a digital subscription, and print subscriptions are also available.

Add this staging experience to your resume ASAP

Certified Master Chefs® need you.

The inaugural ACF Certified Master Chef® Dine Around takes place during Cook. Craft. Create. ACF National Convention and Show. It’s a dinner which features a group of CMC®s — including Helmut Holzer, Daryl Shular, Joseph Leonardi, Shawn Loving, Jason Hall and Kevin Walker — preparing items like pan seared duck breast, beluga lentil and mushroom salad, summer corn puree with avocado crema, beef goulash with dumplings, BBQ pork cheek and honey thyme waffle with foie gras-cognac ice cream. They’ll also be sharing experiences, ideas and wisdom with attendees throughout the evening.

To do all this, they’re going to need some help. That’s where you come in.

Registered Convention attendees can sign up to stage during the event, and each CMC® will choose one professional and one student to assist him. It’s an opportunity work alongside one of the world’s just 67 Certified Master Chefs® — one of the most prestigious (and difficult to obtain) ACF chef certifications.

Sign up at this link to be considered. Register by June 29 at 4 p.m. EST, and if selected, you will be notified and contacted by one of the CMC®s by July 2.

And if you’re just interested in attending the CMC® Dine Around, it’s on Wednesday, July 18 and tickets are $125 a person. Add this event when you register online or email registration@acfchefs.net to add-on to your existing registration.

6 Cool Things You Can Learn at Cook. Craft. Create.

by Jocelyn Tolbert

There’s so much going on at Cook. Craft. Create. ACF National Convention and Show this year, it can be hard to choose what to do each day. We were honestly hard-pressed to pick just six activities for this article. But we think the following list illustrates the broad selection of really awesome stuff you can learn in New Orleans July 15-19.

1. How to take a decent photo of your food.

On Thursday, Susan Bourgoin of Visual Cuisines Inc. shares the golden rule of food photography (“Never front-light your food,” she says) and more tips for taking a good shot for your restaurant’s Instagram feed. She’ll also teach attendees how to know when to hire a professional food photographer — like, when this photo is going to go on a billboard. Don’t DIY that one.

French Quarter by Paul Broussard

French Quarter, by Paul Broussard

2. The culinary (and cocktail) history of New Orleans’ famous French Quarter.

Two offsite walking tours, one on Sunday and one on Tuesday, reveal the culinary and cocktail history of the French Quarter. Belly up to the oldest stand-up bar in the country, find out where the Grasshopper was invented, get the real scoop on absinthe, hear the stories of various restaurant family dynasties, learn recipes old and new, visit restaurants that pre-date the American Civil War and discover hidden gems where locals have been imbibing for centuries. Samples are provided along the way, of course.

Mississippi River Delta and sediment plume, NASA images

Mississippi River Delta and sediment plume

3. The parallels between the Mississippi and Mekong Deltas.

Chef David Chang pointed out the parallels between the Mississippi and Mekong Deltas in the “Shrimp and Crawfish” episode of his Netflix show Ugly Delicious. It’s no wonder the culinary history of these two places so far apart has intertwined. In his talk “Curry and Courtbouillon,” Michael Gulotta, Chef/Partner of MOPHO Group/Delta Group, delves into these fascinating parallels, touching on hand ground shellfish curries and roux-based spicy fish stews.

4. How to follow the flow without losing who you are.

Incorporating new culinary techniques and trends while still holding on to your roots can be tough. In Chef Toya Boudy’s Thursday talk, she discusses how to stay true to yourself while at the same time adapting to the current food landscape. Attendees will learn how to deal with change and ways to market themselves more effectively, too.

Truffles, by David Leggett

5. How to hand-roll a truffle.

Making a truffle — a seemingly simple dessert of chocolate and cream — can be tricky. Chef Jacquelyn Lopez, Executive Pastry Chef at Royal Sonesta, hosts a demo on the Art of Chocolate to teach attendees how to put together a small show-stopping showpiece and hand-roll the perfect chocolate truffles.

Pterois antennata, by Christian Mehlführer

Pterois antennata, by Christian Mehlführer

6. How chefs can help solve the problem of invasive species.

Lionfish are native to the Indo-Pacific, but are currently thriving along the southeast coast of the United States, in the Caribbean and parts of the Gulf of Mexico. Though they’re not sure how it happened exactly, experts speculate that people have been dumping them from home aquariums into the Atlantic for decades. Chef Tenney Flynn, a vocal advocate for the eradication of lionfish, provides a history of the invasive species and some culinary solutions to eradicate the issue. He’ll teach attendees how to butcher the spiny fish and prepare it in several different recipes.