Chef of the Year Nominee: William Racin, CEPC

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Testimonial from Chef Andrea Schrenk, CEPC, CCE, AAC

Dear ACF Pittsburgh Chapter Membership,

It is with great excitement that I write on behalf of Chef Will Racin, Certified Executive Pastry Chef, who is a candidate for the 2018 ACF Pittsburgh Chef of the Year award.

Chef Racin currently oversees the expansive pastry kitchen at one of our nation’s most exclusive private clubs, the Duquesne Club, located in downtown Pittsburgh. This coveted position is available only to the crème de la crème of the baking and pastry field and Chef Racin has repeatedly proven why he is such an asset to the club, and also the ACF Pittsburgh Chapter and City of Pittsburgh.

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, Chef Racin began his career at the Aurora Golf and Country Club (Ohio) beginning in the pantry and eventually transitioning to the hot line. At this point Chef decided to make the change to the pastry kitchen due to his desire to follow the precise nature of baking and patisserie. Chef Racin worked at several boutique and five diamond establishments in Ohio and Tennessee before accepting an offer to join Chef Keith Coughenour and the Duquesne Club Team in 2009. Since then Chef Racin has worked tirelessly at his craft while giving back to the industry he loves. Whether conducting chocolate or patisserie seminars for the ACF Pittsburgh Chapter, creating an interactive pastry extravaganza for a Chaîne des Rôtisseur Midwest dinner or patiently assembling gingerbread houses with dozens of children, Chef always says “yes’ and goes the extra mile towards providing excellence and outstanding guest service.

We all know the pursuit of excellence is not an easy road. It requires many hours of practice, developing strategies, extreme focus and dedication to one’s profession. It is evident that Chef has certainly fulfilled this criteria and much more when presented with his impressive list of accomplishments. Among his many industry honors, Chef Racin has amassed an array of ACF medals and within the past two years, has impressively won the Midwest Chaîne des Rôtisseur Professional Pastry Chef competition, and garnered both ACF Northeastern Pastry Chef of the Year and ACF National Pastry Chef of the Year Awards…Wow!

Chef Racin exemplifies the characteristics necessary to succeed at such a high level within our industry, with one of his motto’s being: “One should always work harder than the person to your right or to your left”. He also makes a point of never saying “no” to a request, knowing that a true professional will find a way to “make it happen”.

 Chef Racin is a role model and mentor to the many aspiring pastry professionals, of all ages, who work alongside him in the famous Duquesne Club kitchens, as well as those that attend our chapter meetings. Most importantly, Chef Racin is a man of character with a strong ethical code. He is extremely humble, never tooting his own horn, but allowing the quality of his work and longevity of his staff to speak for his leadership qualities. Chef Racin consistently makes time in his busy schedule for the ACF Pittsburgh Chapter, is easily approachable and always gives credit to others, especially his wife Taryn and fellow colleagues, for his many professional successes. These attributes along with his amazing professional accomplishments make Chef Will Racin an excellent and worthy candidate for our highest honor…ACF Pittsburgh Chapter Chef of the Year.

Fraternally yours,

Andrea Carros Schrenk CEPC, CCE, AAC

CHEF WILLIAM RACIN BIOGRAPHY

Pastry Chef, Will Racin, has been with the Duquesne Club since April 2009.  He was hired as the Assistant Pastry Chef and was promoted in 2012 to the Executive Pastry Chef.  Will’s hometown is in Mantua, Ohio.  He had ties to Pittsburgh long before he ever got a job here.  Will and Jack Lambert, Pittsburgh Steeler, both attended the same high school, Crestwood High, but of course, they attended the school at different times. 

Will’s first job was at the Aurora Golf and Country Club in Ohio.  Will was following in the footsteps of his brothers who also worked at the Country Club.  Will started out in the Pantry, then Garde Manger then he was to go to the hotline but diverted to studying the science of desserts.  Will liked the fact that baking is a tricky trade--recipes need followed and precision is key.  Plus “Pastry chefs were more in demand as there is approximately 1 pastry chef to every 7 savory cooks”.  He attended the Culinary Institute of America, St. Helena, California.  After he graduated, he worked at the Barn At Walden Aurora, OH. Then moving to Nashville TN, he worked at the Provence Breads & Café and the Hermitage Hotel which is a 5 star/5 Diamond hotel.   Will met many people along his career path and a fellow chef had met Chef Coughenour.  It was mentioned to Will that the Duquesne Club would be perfect for his next position as the Pastry Chef. His friend made mention of the elite presentation and attention to detail that the club and Chef Coughenour provided. With that said, Will and his wife, Taryn, moved to Pittsburgh.  Not only was it a good fit for Will but for his wife as well as she worked for American Eagle, who have corporate offices in the Pittsburgh area.

Will has been at the Club for 8 years and the most unusual event he experienced was the Chaine des Rotisseurs dinner.  “The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is an International Association of Gastronomy now established in over 80 countries bringing together enthusiasts who share the same values of quality, fine dining, the encouragement of the culinary arts and the pleasures of the table.”   This was a busy day for everyone, especially Will, as he was not only preparing the assorted breads and Intermezzo but creating the after dinner Kitchen dessert event.  On top of that, earlier in the morning, he had to compete in a professional regional Pastry Chef competition. The goal of Chaine competitions is “to encourage and promote the culinary expertise of young Chefs Rôtisseurs in the tradition of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs by exposing them to a competitive environment with their peers.”  Congratulations to Will as he was the Midwest Regional Winner!  Another day that Will said was unusual, and on the other end of the spectrum, was when he saw Gene Simmons, singer of the rock band KISS, walk through the kitchen.  Mr. Simmons was here for a speaker series.  There are always exciting things happening here at the Club.

Back in 2012, Will and the Pastry Department started to make chocolates in all kinds of flavors, dark, milk and white.  They filled the decadent chocolates with either ganache or jam.  Members continue to rave about the chocolate and it has become a big hit for the club.  Will recently came back from the trip of a lifetime. An all-expenses paid trip to Switzerland! He got an opportunity to visit a few of the factories that partner with Albert Uster Imports, one of our chocolate purveyors based out of Maryland.  While there, Will attended a masterclass with famed Felchlin Corporate Pastry chef Stephan Iten.  It was an experience as they participated in sensory exercises, chocolate tasting, factory tours and recipe development.  Will learned a lot from that trip and will be using some of the new techniques he was taught at the Club.

Will says he tries to leave a lasting impression in everything he does.  He has some life advice to give and states “One should always work harder than the person to your right or to your left”.  Will also says he “never says no to anything”.  Will enjoys making the members happy and he has created many wedding cakes for them among other things.  He recalls making a Boston college logo cake for Mr. Chris McMann. It was for his son who was attending the college at that time. He also does a lot of Penn State logos for member’s children that are heading off to college.  Will says he does some Pitt logos too but that Penn State out beats Pitt here at the Club.   Sorry to any Pitt fans out there!

The Pastry Department at the Duquesne Club is known for its hard work, expertise and delectable goodies.  We are glad to have Will on our management team as he is the icing on the cake! 

In July of 2018 Will competed in New Orleans against 3 other individuals for the Title for Pastry Chef of the Year through the American Culinary Federation. Fortunately, he received the title and has been helping to develop young cooks to pursue the same goal.