I hope your summer is going well. Even though we did not have a general meeting in July, it was still quite busy and exciting. First, July 14-19 I was in New Orleans at the ACF National Conference. What a great time! It was reported that this year was the largest National conference in 10 years! There was an added treat to the conference: The Chaine des Rotisseurs and the American Academy of Chefs joined forces and created the “Dinner of the Century”. The dinner was spearheaded by John Folse and was held at the Royal Sonessta Hotel in the French Quarter. It was a very nice dinner in a grand old hotel. The hotel is also home to Chef Folse's restaurant, R'evolution. We went to dinner there the next evening and had another great time!
The conference started with none other than Chef John Folse being the opening speaker. He discussed his humble beginnings living in a trapper’s cabin on the bayou in rural St James Parish and becoming one of the nation’s leading culinary entrepreneurs. He has taken his famous “Taste of Louisiana” around the world, from London to Hong Kong and from Moscow to the Vatican. His journey from harvesting food from the Louisiana’s swamp and staying true to who he is has made him sought after by five US Presidents as well as Pope John Paul II. He is also an author and has a local TV series. I did meet him, and we spoke for a few minutes. He truly is inspiring. In the 1990’s or early 2000’s, he was the ACF National President. During his presentation there was a slide of him at a podium and in the background was the ACFPC flag. He stopped by to visit and speak to the chapter.
The one highlight of the conference was the competitions, but the most important one was the Pastry Chef of the Year. William Racin CEPC of the Duquesne Club (with the help of his assistant Kodi Mikeiwicz) won the competition. To me, a mark of a true professional is making a complicated dish or centerpiece look simple. Congratulations to Will and Kodi for representing our chapter.
There were many other presentations, one by Masaharu Morimoto. He fabricated a 350# Tuna! It took him and his assistant to turn it! Some of the other seminars were Modern Filipino Sig Sig, a dish made pigs head, liver, and sour vinegar by Eric Ernest, CEC, CCA of USC Culinary Hospitality, Desserts & Pastries, redefined Dacquoise by Michael Mignano of the Pierre hotel. There were many competitions including professional teams, junior teams, individuals, as well as Knowledge Bowl. WCCC won a Silver medal and had a very good showing, holding strong throughout.
There were meetings to attend and of course the trade show. All and all it was a busy time but a good one.
Finally, there were 18 of us from Pittsburgh who went to a restaurant called DTB (Down the Bayou). The restaurant’s Chef John Hill and Pastry Chef Jessica Shoemaker are former students of Chef Inzinga’s, Chef Scott Schmucker, and myself. This was truly one of the best meals of the week. And of course, we also indulged in Coffee and Beignets at Café Du Mond.
The ACFPC Picnic was held on Sunday 20 July at Turner’s Dairy Farm. It was a joint picnic with the Laurel Highlands Chapter. About 60 – 70 family and friends attended. This was made possible through the work of Chef Brian Buskey. Thank you for all the hard work you did.
Our next meeting will be on August 27 at 7:00pm at The Olive Tap, 108 19th Street "in the Strip". More information will follow.
See you soon,
Rikk Panzera, CEC, CCE, AAC