By Michael Ty, CEC, AAC
The FOUNDATION of Our Future
Over the past 10½ months, I have had the
opportunity to visit many secondary and
postsecondary institutions and events.
During these visits, we have talked about the
importance of these fine students and the fact
that they are our future. And we discussed how
vital it is to maintain our youth membership.
ACF has begun to invest in our students
by forming two ad hoc committees: Youth
Movement and Student Culinarian. We
will also be inviting the Senior Chefs
Committee, which has the ability to help
us find a solution to maintaining youth
membership, to join us as we work on
forging a foundation for our future.
As I have traveled over the past 35 years, there
has been a common denominator among all
the groups and individuals I have met: How do
we build on the foundation of our profession by
nurturing the men and women who will one day
take our places in the kitchen and in leadership
roles? Along with that, we all see a need to
stress the importance of mentors. I can attest,
as I know many of you can, to the importance
of mentors in any professional career.
with many key individuals with the National
Restaurant Association (NRA) Educational
Foundation and NRA President Dawn
Sweeney. We discussed the importance
of developing these young culinarians,
and how vital it is for our organizations to
work together. This month, I am a guest of
SKillsUSA for the second year. Last year, as
with the ProStart competition, I saw various
skills levels among the state champions.
Why is this, and is there anything we can
do to help students be more prepared
when they enter the competition arena?
Mentoring could play a big part.
Since the announcement of the Be Like
“Mike” contest, I have received several calls
and e-mails about this opportunity for a
student to shadow me during the national
convention and see what it takes to be a
leader. I have been encouraged to hear about
a number of students who are engaged and
interested in learning about the importance
of good leadership in their careers. Do they
have mentors? There are opportunities for all
of us to make a difference.
of our profession by networking with members
we don’t know well and making visitors feel
welcome. Imagine what this would mean to a
student or anyone else who might be unsure
of his or her place in the organization.
At the national convention, we will find out
some of the meanings of “the power of
connection,” and at the end of the day, it
is my hope that we all have a great time
developing relationships. Reach out to all
culinarians when you see them in Anaheim,
and network with them. Also, our national
convention is the perfect opportunity for us
to start mentoring our future culinarians.
Encourage your students and apprentices
to come to Anaheim. Ask your chapter to
sponsor at least one of them to attend and
be exposed to our organization.
The fact remains that as professionals,
leaders and members of this great federation,
we all need to be engaged with mentoring
our future. Let’s all set a goal to walk away
from this year’s national convention as a
mentor to one or two students.
So, how can we encourage each other to
get engaged and mentor young culinarians
and guide them in their careers? I know that
in many of our culinary programs, we have
dedicated chefs who teach the basics and
help students on their career paths. Some
of you have developed and nurtured many
fine students who have made you proud.
But what does it take to continue this when
they leave the educational system?
It’s understandable that when we attend
chapter events and regional conferences or
national convention, we enjoy catching up with
friends and colleagues. But what about those
we might not know or who are new to our
organization? We could all be better stewards
The Lorain County JVS ProStart Management
Team, representing Ohio, placed 4th at the
2010 National ProStart Invitational in Overland
Park, Kan., April 30-May 2. Left to right:
Maurina Driscoll, instructor, Cara Wingard,
Amanda Smith, Michael Ty, Sierra Hammel,
Megan Whitman and Michele Resek, mentor.
Recently, I watched the national ProStart
competition in Overland Park, Kan. I met