February 18, 2019 - Anything Goes Layer Cake Competition at CCAC

At the February monthly meeting of the ACF Pittsburgh Chapter, we had 5 students enter the “Anything Goes” competition. The theme of the competition was Decorated layer cakes. Entering the competition were:

  • Kathleen Garland, Bidwell Training Center (Chocolate Strawberry Dream with Chocolate Ganache)

  • Richard Grabowski, Bidwell Training Center (Black Forest Cake)

  • Ian McVaugh, CCAC Culinary (Orange, Cardamom, Vanilla Layer Cake with Italian Buttercream)

  • Trang Nguyen, CCAC Culinary (Chocolate Carrot Cake with Italian Buttercream)

  • Rebekah Shumsky, CCAC Culinary (White Vanilla Almond Cake with Raspberries)

The competition was judged by Chefs Kodi Mikiewicz and Randy Herbe, along with the sponsor of this month’s competition - Cappi Hilyard from Dexter Cutlery - who provided the prizes for the winners.


Results of the competition:

1st Place - Trang Nguyen, CCAC Culinary - Chocolate Carrot Cake with Italian Buttercream
2nd Place - Ian McVaugh, CCAC Culinary - Orange, Cardamom, Vanilla Layer Cake with Italian Buttercream
3rd Place - Richard Grabowski, Bidwell Training Center - Black Forest Cake


January 28, 2019 - Chef Tom Macrina at the Pittsburgh Field Club

We’re started off 2019 with the January 28th meeting at the Field Club in Pittsburgh. The meeting was hosted by Exec Chef Paul O’Toole CEC, AAC.

Chef Tom Macrina CEC, AAC, past National President, presentated on the 2018 Villeroy & Boch Culinary World Cup Competition over the Thanksgiving holiday. As we were feasting on turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie the ACF National Culinary Olympic team was representing our organization and country in the World Competition during the EXPOGAST Trade Show in Luxembourg. The team competed against 29 other countries in this World chefs recognized event. The ACF has competed in the World Cup since 1982. This event is held every four (4) years and traditionally serves as the half-way point in the team’s journey to the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA), also known as the “Culinary Olympics” in Erfurt, Germany, which will take place in 2020.

Chef Reimund Pitz CEC, CCE, AAC team manager said, “The wisdom and experience of our leaders, combined with the skills and dedication or our team members and ACF’s heritage will be the key to success and position the U.S. for recognition among international peers”.

More than 750 chefs represented over 50 countries competed in both team and individual competitions during the five (5) day event. Along with the National Team, Regional Team, and Youth team from the culinary program at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. The regional team will compete against 45 regional teams and the Youth team will compete against 15 national junior teams.  

November 26, 2018 - Social Meeting at Bak'n in Warrendale

Our general meeting was held Monday, Nov. 26th. It was our end of the year social meeting. Prior to the festivities, we had to take care of our business and close the nominations for Chef of the Year. Chef Will Racin CEPC, Exec Pastry Chef at the Duquesne Club and Chef Brian Buskey ACFPC V.P. and Catering Chef at Bidwell Training Center are the two candidates. Chef Andrea Schrenk CEC, CCE, AAC spoke on Chef Racin’s behalf and I spoke for Chef Buskey. Both chefs are well deserving of this prestigious award. This will be a hard vote!

 Randy Tozzi, Exec Chef & owner of Bak’n Restaurant in Warrendale and Carnegie opened the doors and welcomed us as he always does, with plenty of great food, a lot of bacon, and Happy Hour priced drinks. Randy talked about his background and the road to developing Bak’n. We had a few visitors and a few friends we haven’t seen in a while join us which is always a great thing, with a total of 32-35 in attendance. The evening was pleasant, and everyone had a nice time.

November 11, 2018 - LIVE JAZZ BRUNCH

On Sunday, November 11, 2018, we hosted a live jazz brunch featuring the music of Mark Jackovic and Friends. The amazing menu included an egg station, salad station, bread station, sweets station, and carving station with Apple Cider Braised Sunday Ham and Bourbon Maple Glazed Angus Reserve 30 Day Aged Prime Rib. View the full menu here.

The event benefited ACFPC and our young culinarians. 

ACFPC would like to thank ACF member Donato Coluccio CEC, F&B Director, his staff at the Renaissance Hotel in Pittsburgh, and the Chaine des Rotisseurs for their gracious support. 

October 29, 2018 - McElhaney Farm, sponsored by the PA Beef Council

October General Meeting

When: Monday, October 29, 2018
Time: 4:00-8:00pm
Where: McElhaney Farm
             149 Pittsburgh Grade Road
             Hookstown, PA 15050

On Monday 29 Oct our monthly meeting was hosted at the McElhaney Family Farm in Hookstown.  Nichole Hockenberry, marketing director of The Pennsylvania Beef Council, sponsored the meeting. This is truly a family run farm. Everyone from grandparents, to grandchildren, aunts, and uncles work on the farm. The evening started with a short welcome from the McElhaney family, and we were then treated to a tractor ride and the workings of the farm were discussed. We learned how the herd is fed and watered and when they are moved to various areas of the farm to allow the grass to grow.  The farm is very efficient and recycles everything possible. Rainwater is collected in the same area as where the herd is fed. The manure is collected so it doesn’t run into the ecosystem and it is used for fertilizer.  The herd consists of 50 females & 50 calves as well as the bulls and cows for breeding. The total acreage of the farm is 100 acres, not big by western farm standards.

The family also raises hay on neighboring farms. The hay is bailed, wrapped, and stored for cold weather use. Another interesting note is cattle do not spend any time indoors. They prefer is spend their days outside in all types of weather. The layers of fur don’t allow water or cold to affect them.

Following our hayride, a very nice buffet dinner was served. It featured braised brisket and BBQ beef, along with vegetables, salad, and desserts.

Dr. Sara Place, Ph. D. of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association gave a presentation explaining how many farms, especially smaller ones, are raising their cattle in a more healthy environment, and as we know, this leads to a much better product for us.

The last surprise of the night was a gift of 2 leather knife rolls donated to the ACFPC for our annual auction. The knife rolls were made by a former student of mine, Ryan Moore. Ryan is the owner and craftsman of Ram Leatherworks. Ryan is a graduate of WCCC and worked for Parkhurst dining until starting this venture. He also works with his fiancé Christine in a chocolate business she is developing. We wish both of them much success.

Tentative Schedule:

4:00 pm — 4:30 pm        Arrive at McElhaney Family Farm & Check-in and Registration

4:30 pm — 4:45 pm         Welcome & Get Acquainted with the Beef Checkoff, Nichole Hockenberry, PA Beef Council

4:45 pm — 5:45 pm        Farm Tour/Meet and Greet with McElhaney Family

5:45 pm — 6:30 pm        Dinner and Dessert at the McElhaney Family Farm

6:30 pm — 7:15 pm         Beef Industry Panel Discussion. Panel will include a Veterinarian, Producer, Beef Nutritionist.

7:15 pm— 7:45 pm          Chef Sharing- Sharing their experience with the value add of buying direct from PA Beef Producers & sharing the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) message, Martin Thomas CEC, Executive Chef, Sewickley Heights Golf Club

7:45pm—8:00pm             Wrap-up Discussion & Depart from Farm

August 27, 2018 - The Olive Tap

When: Monday, August 27, 2018
Time: 7:00pm
Where: The Olive Tap
             108 19th Street "in the Strip"
             Pittsburgh, PA 15222

On Monday, August 27, we held our general meeting at the Olive Tap in the Strip. We had a brief reception and discussion upstairs at a new restaurant called PA Market. The theme of the restaurant is similar to an incubator concept except established chefs will fill the small space to prepare their foods. Each will be different and there will also be a catering department as well. Executive Chef Chef Gaetano Ascione I.C.M.C. has a wide and varied background as well as being a Chef/Instructor at the CIA.

Hersh Petrocelly, owner of the Olive Tap, gave a presentation on the growing, production, and grading of olive oil and the production of balsamic vinegar. We tasted olive oils & balsamic vinegars from various countries and the U.S. He explained how the color of the oils influence the quality and flavor. And talked about the types of grapes used in the production of balsamic and what is truly an aged balsamic and how to prove its age. We had the opportunity to purchase these items as well. The presentation was very informative and enlightening.

At the beginning of the meeting, Chef Rikk Panzera introduced our new ACFPC Secretary, Alyssa Rose. Alyssa was welcomed by the Board and the attending members at the meeting. Alyssa is a cook at the Duquesne Club and comes highly recommended.

June 25, 2018 - Goat Rodeo Farms at Treesdale Golf & Country Club

This meeting featured a presentation by Goat Rodeo Farms and an Anything Goes Competition highlighting goat cheese hors d'oeuvres with cheese produced by Goat Rodeo Farms.

Goat Rodeo Farm and Dairy sponsored the June meeting. The Anything Goes Competition for the month of June focused on hors d’ oeuvre prepared with their goat cheese. Goat Rodeo Farm agreed to provide their fresh chevre goat cheese for the competition.  There were three competitors: Annamaria Esplen (Bidwell Training Center), Richard Grabowski (Bidwell Training Center), and Conner Capozoli (Duquesne Club). The competition was judged by Chefs John King and Johan Meinke who were joined by Steve Loevner, owner of Goat Rodeo Farm. Everyone did a very nice job. Annamaria won first place, Conner won second place, and Richard won third. Thank you to the judges and competitors.

I would like to thank Joe Conver, G.M. for hosting the meeting and Joe Elliot Exec. Chef for preparing a very nice Hors D’ Oeuvre tasting.

Competitors had the choice of what type of Hors d’ oeuvre they served. Contestants brought 2 dozen pieces on a serving tray to the meeting which were judged by senior members of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the ACF.  Hors d’ oeuvre were judged on overall appearance, flavor, and texture.

Meeting guests had a chance to sample the Hors d’ oeuvre after the entrants have been judged.

May 21, 2018 - Common Plea Catering, presentation by Keith Martin of Elysian Fields Farms

Our May general meeting was held on Monday the 21st at Common Plea Catering’s corporate offices on Penn Ave. Exec Chef Adam Gooch was kind enough to host the meeting, and he held nothing back. It was easy to see why Common Plea is one of the best caterers in Pittsburgh.  The facilities are newly renovated and have a show room on street level. They had stations set-up with hot and cold tastings along with freshly made ice cream.

Keith Martin, owner of Elysian Fields Farms gave a descriptive timeline of how their lambs go from the raising & feeding to how it reaches our tables. I must say the quality of their product is superior and this is backed by the best restaurants, hotels, and clubs in the country that use Elysian Fields Lamb. Keith also mentioned they will be starting a program with the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.