National Convention Agenda


Monday, July 25

  • General Session
  • AM Breakouts
  • Awards Luncheon
  • PM Breakouts
  • Welcome Reception

Tuesday, July 26

  • General Session
  • Tradeshow

Wednesday, July 27

  • General Session
  • AM Breakouts
  • Lunch on Own
  • PM Breakouts

Thursday, July 28

  • General Session
  • AM Breakouts
  • Lunch
  • PM Breakouts
  • President’s Gala Dinner


A Conversation with Pastry Chef Amaury Guichon

Amaury Guichon

Join award-winning pastry chef Amaury Guichon, founder of the Pastry Academy in Las Vegas and host of the wildly popular “School of Chocolate” on Netflix, as he shares his insights during this Q&A session. Author of The Art of Flavor, Chef Amaury has become a social media sensation with tens of millions of fans across Instagram, Facebook, and Tik-Tok, who watch his “how to”/“behind the scenes” videos on advanced chocolate and pastry work, and his very creative edible sculptures. Born in Cannes in the 1990s and growing up in the Haute-Savoie region of France, Chef Amaury completed his apprenticeships, started competing in pastry and showpiece competitions, was a contestant on the French reality cooking series “Who will be the next best pastry chef?” (Qui sera le prochain grand pâtissier?), and was an Executive Chef in Paris by the age of 21 before immigrating to the USA. Chef Amaury will share his tips for chefs and culinary students during this intimate conversation. Get ready—he has led quite an accomplished and inspirational career already and is just getting started!

Acquired Taste: The Art of Foraging

Alan Bergo

From mushroom hunting to sourcing wild grains and greens and beyond! By combining modern culinary techniques, cultural traditions and science, Chef Alan Bergo, “The Forager Chef,” will share how studying the botanical relations of foods has completely changed how he thinks about flavors. Discover more about plant families, the flavors they share, and how to utilize wild and flavorful ingredients. From his unique uses of ingredients such as ramp leaf soy sauce to Korean acorn jelly, from hickory nut milk to green walnut molasses, you may never look at some of the ingredients you cook with (or the outdoors) the same way again!

Cutting Edge Concepts: Sous-Vide Kitchens of Tomorrow

A.J. Schaller

The future is now! There is no doubt that sous-vide cookery is no longer just a trend but has revolutionized how we cook. Join Chef AJ Schaller from CREA (the Culinary Research Education Academy) an expert on cutting-edge sous vide applications and techniques, such as cryoconcentration and natural functional properties for this exciting presentation. Whether you make your own or incorporate it into your menus, sous-vide techniques continue to be a long-term solution for today’s foodservice challenges and during this session learn the science and benefits of this cooking process. Discover how applying sous-vide into your operations will improve consistency, shelf life, customizability, and speed of service while reducing food waste, labor costs, food costs, and kitchen footprints.

Plant-Based: Innovation, Not Limitation

Ron DeSantis, CMC, & Matt Jackson

Join Ron DeSantis, CMC, and Chef Matt Jackson as they team up to reimagine dishes through the principles of sustainability, profitability, and creativity and accessible substitutions without compromising flavor. As Vegetarian, Vegan and “Flexitarian” cuisine advocates they will share techniques for recipe development, which requires innovation, thought and attention to flavors and cooking methods. Better for our planet, better for your health and better for your bottom line; the featured chefs will showcase how both modern and classical techniques can be utilized to create memorable plates that both increase sales and diner satisfaction.

Cooking Without Borders…or Food Waste!

Anita Lo

Join Michelin-starred chef and “Iron Chef America” and “Top Chef Masters” contestant Anita Lo as she shares recipes from one of her books, SoLo. Drawing from her years spent cooking around the world, and her extensive travels, chef will share how globally inspired dishes can be interpreted for both restaurant service and more casual events. This presentation will include her preparation of Avocado and Sunchoke Ochazuke and will highlight the importance of reducing food waste as an important philosophy for our industry. This exciting and educational demonstration will also showcase how we as chefs can reinterpret classic dishes and flavors with renewed interest for your upcoming menus and events.

The Art, Science & Research of Cooking

Thomas Griffiths, CMC

Being a successful chef is as much art as it is science and requires a combination of culinary and job training, as well as a deep understanding of the science of food. During this presentation, Thomas Griffiths, CMC, will discuss how all chefs can benefit from knowing how to research food trends, to how to create the gold standard from manufacturing to menu development. From recipe ideation to scalable recipes, learn techniques that will guide your recipe and food product development by understanding how taste profiles and how proper formulations can drive innovation in your recipes and menus, whether in a restaurant kitchen or high-volume food production environment.

Focus on Food Allergens: Gluten-Free Baking Techniques

Chrissy Jensen, CEPC

Did you know that studies show that about 30% of Americans are now deliberately avoiding gluten in their diets? The demand for allergen friendly baked goods is certainly “on the rise” and the global gluten-free food market is predicted to grow to $8.3 billion by 2025! Join Chrissy Jensen, CEPC, the first and only ACF Certified Executive Pastry Chef to earn the certification with a 100% gluten-free practical exam menu, as she shares her best practices. Chef Jensen will demonstrate and discuss how her family’s restaurant, The Dotted Lime, has been able to remove the negative stigma of gluten free food and serve up delicious baked goods and menu items. Discover how you can create delicious breads and pastries, that are indistinguishable from their glutenny counterparts. Chef will share how you can add new, delicious and craveable, gluten-free items to your baking repertoire, that will attract new business and satisfy even the most discerning sweet tooth.

Welcome to the Future…of Farm to Table

Farmer Lee Jones & Jamie Simpson

As chefs, why does having an increased knowledge and appreciation of vegetables, plant centric cookery techniques, and an understanding of the movement toward sustainability in foodservice matter? Join Farmer Lee Jones, once dubbed “the Willy Wonka of chlorophyll” by Chef Jose Andres, and acclaimed Chef Jamie Simpson from The Culinary Vegetable Institute for an inspirational presentation on the latest on plant-forward cuisine and trends. From farm to future, discover how one of the most significant culinary trends and is changing the way chefs think about menus, flavor development, and creative plating. Farmer Lee and Chef Jamie will discuss cutting edge techniques the benefits of a plant-forward menu, how to eat with the season, and will demonstrate how to make the vegetable the star of the plate.

Have Your Cake & Eat It Too: Essential Vegan Desserts

Fran Costigan

The day of the ubiquitous vegan fruit and sorbet plate is long gone. During this session we’ll learn unapologetically delicious, indulgent modern vegan desserts that are suitable for everyone, whether dietary considerations are an issue or not. According to Chef Fran Costigan, the “Queen of Vegan Desserts,” now everyone with a real sweet tooth, including those who are lactose intolerant, dairy free, reducing cholesterol, or simply prefer healthy, natural ingredients without sacrificing taste, truly can have their cake…and eat it, too. During this session, Chef Fran Costigan will demonstrate her breakthrough dessert, and still her most requested cake: The Ganache Glazed Chocolate Torte to Live For. Chef will also discuss vegan pastry trends, how to select ingredients, share her pastry tips, and will clearly define this exponentially growing category of dessert so that you’ll be prepared to add new and inspired vegan desserts to your menus.

Spotlight on Spirits: Bourbon, From Grain to Glass

Paula Jones

What exactly is the difference between Bourbon, Rye and Whiskey? Bourbon is a distinctive beverage, aged in charred oak containers, has gained popularity in recent years, though proper pairing and utilization of this spirit still remains a mystery to many Chefs. Bourbon is technically a variety of American Whiskey, distilled from a mash made primarily with corn, and although 95% of the world’s bourbon supply originates from Kentucky, it can actually be produced anywhere in the United States. Join Executive Bourbon Steward, food writer and recipe developer, Paula Jones, for an insightful presentation and tasting that will educate you on how to identify the key characteristics of aroma, palate and finish. Learn how Bourbon is typically characterized by flavors of vanilla, oak, caramel and spices, and during this session you’ll discover the how flavors are created by each distiller’s preferences on the use of grains, aging, and proof. Paula will guide you through an immersive tasting and flavor exercise that will take us on a journey to Kentucky, where we’ll learn more about the distillation process to food pairing.

Modern Pastry Techniques: Nougat, Bonbons, Chocolate and Isomal

Jessica Quiet

Join Pastry Chef Jessica Quiet as she demonstrates the art of sweet confections. Chef Quiet, Executive Pastry Chef at The Lodge at Spruce Creek in Vermont, will showcase her recipes and preparation of sweet confections using a range of culinary mediums from chocolate to sugar. Learn the techniques for her Roasted Hazelnut Nougat Squares and Caledonia Raw Honey Bonbons which marry together inside of an isomalt capsule, accented with a white chocolate flower. You don't want to miss this presentation to learn how to create memorable and delicious treats with a modern twist to add to your upcoming menus, amenities and buffets.

Advanced Seafood Skills: Fish Aging & Fabrication Techniques

Mariya Russell

It’s widely thought that seafood is at its best when cooked fresh, straight out of the water, but does this lead to a better tasting dish? We’ve all heard about aging beef and curing pork before, however, fish is another protein that can be dry aged to enhance both texture, tenderness and add richness of flavor. Join Chef Mariya Russell, former Chef de Cuisine of Kumiko and the first black woman to receive a Michelin star, as she shares her seafood tips and techniques. By aging fish, the amino acid chains break down, reducing moisture, to intensify the umami flavor. Dry-aged fish can be enjoyed in raw preparations and due to its increased savouriness, the fish is able to be paired with stronger ingredients and animal fats in creating new dishes. During this demonstration, Chef Russell will share her tips and expertise on how to step up your fish game as she demonstrates skills that all chefs can utilize to improve their seafood dishes.

Cannabis Beverages - Demystifying Infusions, Pairings & Service

Andrew Freedman

Joining us from Canada, Andrew Freedman, “The Cannabis Sommelier,” will share his unique approach to pairing cannabis, food, wine and cocktails that he has used to present cannabis infused fine dining events across North America. During this educational session, learn the basics of understanding cannabis, basic cannabis infusions, how chefs are using cannabis service in restaurant and event settings, and the duty of care when serving cannabis infused meals and beverages. As the author of Terpenes for Well-Being, Andrew will also discuss the nuances of pairing, the future of cannabis events, as well as how foodservice professionals can get more involved in this growing sector of the hospitality industry.

Food Writing Tips & Pastry Tricks: How to Write a Bestselling Cookbook

Michael Zebrowski & Michael Mignano

This discussion is necessary for anyone who may be interested in writing a cookbook and wants to gain valuable insight for success. Join Chefs Michael Zebrowski, Chef Instructor at The Culinary Institute of America, and Michael Mignano, Executive Banquet Chef at The Pierre NYC, for an informative and dynamic look into the world of two famed pastry chefs sharing how they wrote a “modern day classic” regarded in the industry as one of the best pastry reference books. Moderated by Chef Chad Minton, learn how these chefs were able to complete their books and gain insider tips for publishing your future cookbook!

From the Streets of Guadalajara to Bengaluru: A Celebration of Cultures and Cuisines

Keith Sarasin & Ryan Manning

Join chefs, authors and friends Keith Sarasin and Ryan Manning who will share the stage as they take us on an exploration of the similarities and differences of two ancient cuisines. Learn why these two American chefs have dedicated their careers to each of these cuisines and where they gain inspiration for their new dishes. During this session the chefs will be taking a deep dive into the breads, tortillas, paratha, salsas and sauces that show the unique approaches to cooking of each unique cuisine. Discover how you can add new spices, flavors and influences into your new menu items, by using modern techniques, while respecting the traditions and flavors of these regions.

Food Photography: Chefs Behind The Lens

Alan “Battman” Batt

With one quick shot it’s now possible to transform a beautiful plate of food into a dazzling work of art. Join famed food photographer, Alan “Battman” Batt as he shares his techniques, tips and tricks on how to create the best pics of your dishes. A street photographer since the 1980s, “Battman” has focused on food ever since 2001, when he took his first food photo (Lamb Chops at Tribeca Grill) and discovered an awe of chefs’ artistry. Within a year, he had photographed the signature dishes of 21 of the best chefs in the city, from Marcus Samuelsson to Eric Ripert, and has since worked with over 700 chefs. During this session, be entertained by “Battman’s” wonderous stories, while you learn how you to take photos of your food with minimal photography knowledge and without any specialized equipment!

Why Does This Taste So Good?

Matt & Tia Raiford

Join CheFarmers Matthew and Tia Raiford for a culinary demonstration and conversation focusing on Companion Planting and Companion Cooking. Discover the effect that plants and animals have on each other while growing and how it plays out on the plate. Chef Matthew, the author of Bress ’n’ Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes, grew up on land that has sustained his family for seven generations: Gilliard Farms, a parcel of property in Georgia purchased by his great-great-great grandfather more than 150 years ago. Chef Tia’s exploration of food began at a young age while cooking alongside her mother and grandmother, both from Alabama. Together they will share their insights and philosophy on farming and take us on an exploration of how their blended history and family traditions have shaped their culinary points of view.

Chefs on TV: The Secrets of Getting Noticed on News

George Geary

Join chef and TV personality George Geary as he shares his fool-proof timeline for food segments and demonstrations for local or national televisioin stations. Chef Geary will cover all the details to set you up for success, from pitching and booking the segment to cleaning up the set afterward. Gain industry tips on how to write a script and learn the set “buzz” words like bumper shot, beauty or hero, swap-outs, and camera angles. All chefs should learn how to be a guest on the news or television, but how do you present when you only have 3–5 minutes of free airtime? Learn who and how to pitch a TV segment—explaining to the producer why they need your expertise for a segment. How can you chat with hosts while teaching TV show viewers something new? Find out during this session!

Chef Perspectives: Prioritizing Mental Wellness in Our Industry

Jeffrey Schlissel; Keith Sarasin; Jacquelynn Quinn; & Susanne Ebacher-Greer

Join your fellow ACF community members from across the country, as they unite to discuss the foodservice industry’s struggles with stress, mental health, addiction, substance abuse, self-abuse, eating disorders, and more. Moderated by ACF Palm Beach County Chefs Association Chapter President Jeffrey Schlissel, this important presentation includes perspectives from advocate chefs Keith Sarasin, Susanne Ebacher-Grier, Melinda Dorn and Jacquelynn Quinn, who have come forward to talk about issues which have affected them and our industry on a deep level. The conversations around improving our industry must be often and ongoing. During this panel, the chefs will share insights, resources, coping strategies as well as how they have adjusted their own work-life balance. Together, let’s shift our collective focus toward a new healthier lifestyle and provide more supportive working environments for all culinarians.

Seeking Excellence: Best Leadership Practices

Victor Gielisse, CMC, AAC, DBA

Join Victor Gielisse, CMC, AAC, DBA, Consulting Partner of The Culinary Institute of America’s Consulting Group, as he explores with you the key opportunity of leading people in a competitive food service and hospitality market driven by the challenges for chefs in creating and implementing high performing culinary teams. Explore the opportunities that chefs face and must understand in their business to determine what adds value and at what stage to initiate another point of differentiation to stay ahead of the competition by delivering new and real value creation for their organization and their team. Key learnings from this session include:

  • Understanding and improving upon your approach and leading momentum
  • Analyzing the value of extraordinary authenticity in leaders
  • The value of using strategy, structure and culture, for better outcomes
  • Exploring ideas that understand past results might not guarantee future success
  • Continue to explore effective leadership, mentor and coaching practices

The Future of Culinary Education

Pam Bedford, CCE, 2021 ACF Chef Educator of the Year; Marshall J. Shafkowitz; & Les Eckert, CEPC, CCE, AAC, MBA

From traditional culinary labs to online learning, apprenticeship, workforce development programs and beyond. Join the discussion as our panel of Chef Instructors from secondary and post-secondary programs across the US discuss the state of foodservice education and the challenges currently being experienced by students and programs. Moderated by 2021 ACF Chef Educator of the Year Pamela Bedford, CCE, the discussion will include best practices and innovative education solutions and new ways to utilize technology. During this session, educators can collaborate on how to best train students to be “job ready” and how curriculum, mentorship, certification and industry experiences can support the changing goals of the next generation of culinary professionals.

If It Was Just About Cooking, It Would Be A Piece Of Cake

Wilo Benet

Award-winning chef, author, television personality and restaurateur William “Wilo” Benet did not close operations for a single day during the COVID-19 pandemic; however, he did pivot and reinvent his operations. In spite of many setbacks over the years, Chef Benet is proud to be the head of a growing culinary empire. Having found success after graduating from The CIA, Chef Wilo worked at some of New York City’s iconic restaurants before choosing to return home to Puerto Rico. Chef worked at the Governor’s Mansion before opening his world-renowned fine dining restaurant Pikayo and has been an ambassador for the food, flavors, cuisines and culture of the island. During this presentation, be inspired as Chef Wilo shares his insights on what it takes to remain current in the restaurant business, despite the impact of the past few years on our industry and state of mind. What skills are needed by chefs and leaders to be successful as a culinary entrepreneur, while serving your team and your community? Learn how being a chef extends beyond the kitchen and what life lessons must be considered to continue to grow as a professional and as a foodservice business leader during these difficult times and beyond.

Spotlight on American Cuisine: The Farm to Table Movement

Larry Forgione

Chef Larry Forgione, who has been called “The Godfather of American Cuisine,” has been a pioneer of United States cuisine for over 45 years. Since opening his restaurant, An American Place, in New York City in the 1980s, his influence has been felt in kitchens across the country, and his longtime philosophy is simple: to use seasonal, local ingredients. Credited with kicking off the movement we know as “Farm-to-Table,” Chef Forgione also developed The CIA’s American Food Studies/Farm to Table curriculum, has influenced countless chefs, and affected the American consciousness when it comes to food. During this exciting presentation, Chef Forgione, who has been honored by both The Culinary Institute of America and the James Beard Foundation as “Chef of the Year” will prepare seared Mount Lassen trout, sweet pea corn pudding, wild leek, morel mushroom and fava bean ragout.

World Cuisines Spotlight: A Taste of Haiti

Chris Viaud

Take a virtual trip to the Caribbean along with Chef Chris Viaud, 2022 James Beard Award semi-finalist for Emerging Chef, recent Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” Season 18 contestant and the Chef/Owner of Greenleaf and Ansanm. During this exciting presentation, learn more about the history, foods, culture and cuisine of Haiti. Chef Viaud will share insights on authentic Haitian cuisine and will share how he has translated his family’s recipes onto menus and pop-up dinners, as he demonstrates how your own heritage can be celebrated through the universal language of food. From plantains to pate, Chef Viaud will share his insights on his personal culinary point of view on Haitian dishes and how you can successfully translate your own favorite cultural specialties into a celebration of history and flavors to delight your diners.

Elevated Comfort Foods…With A Twist

Kevin Des Chenes

Join chef and author Kevin Des Chenes, who was named “Top Chef” by Las Vegas Food & Wine, as he shares his views on how to translate comfort foods into fine dining dishes. Chef will demonstrate his take on Scotch Eggs with fennel sausage, maple bourbon glaze and applewood smoked bacon as he shares tips on how you can take inspiration from familiar flavors and present them to “wow” your guests. Chef Kev will take us on a culinary journey as he shares his best practices for creating new favorites from classic dishes. Be inspired to put your own twist on reimagined dishes for your new menus and parties.

USACAT Military Chefs Present: Cold Food Techniques

MSG Deckert, MCPO Davenport, SFC Susa, CPO Hughes, & PO1 Andersen

Attention to detail, skill, precision and tradition are terms that we associate with the military, as well as for the armed services’ culinary teams and competitors. MSG Deckert, MCPO Davenport, SFC Susa, CPO Hughes, and PO1 Andersen, will present and underscore the US military’s Foodservice capabilities and will provide an overview of the operations and opportunities for military chefs and cooks. This presentation will feature a demonstration showcasing cold food skills and techniques. Learn how practice, mise en place, and an artful eye are all used by the chefs to create stunning dishes and platters, as the military chefs present tips and best practices for competitions. Presented by USACAT. The U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team (USACAT) is the U.S. National Military Culinary Team. USACAT competes at local, national and international culinary competitions and provides training and conducts demonstrations all over the country. The Commanding General, USAQMS appoints the team manager and members.