ACF CULINARY TEAM USA
Playing to Win
John Oesch Photography
ACF Culinary National Team USA celebrates its two gold medals and third place
overall, left to right: Timothy Bucci, Timothy Prefontaine, Anthony “Ben” Grupe, Steven
Jilleba, Joseph Leonardi, Mark Morgan, James “Kevin” Storm and Eddie Tancredi.
ACF Culinary Team USA chefs celebrated
Thanksgiving this year by winning gold medals
in hot food and cold food at the Villeroy &
Boch Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg, Nov.
20-24. And, at the end of the day, the U.S. took
third place overall in the national category out
of 25 competing countries.
team members were given assignments and
coaches began to attend the practices to offer
skill refinement and critiques. Industry experts
were invited to share their beliefs of what
American chefs should showcase to the world.
The timing of Team USA’s first international
culinary challenge was significant, considering
that it was just a year ago that the team
lost its endorsement and funding as
ACF Culinary National Team USA. After
a few months of reorganizing and new
strategies, the team was back on track
with limited resources. Nonetheless, team
members would “play to win,” adopting this
as their motto, demonstrated by their level
of commitment to their families, employers,
team and being an American chef.
LET THE GAMES BEGIN
An advance logistics team arrived in
Luxembourg several days before the
event to ensure that all was in place.
When the team and remaining support
personnel arrived, it was time to shop
and begin preparations. Team members
overcame language barriers and learned
the differences in food products. Competing
in a foreign country might be an exciting
adventure, but it’s also a serious exercise in
Representing your country in an international
arena is a breath-holding, heart-pounding, hair-raising experience. It is a feeling that is both
overwhelming and addicting, judging from the
number of return competitors. At the awards
ceremony, the team celebrated its gold medals
and third-place standing in the world. Then,
they enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner: a simple
French meal of pâté, venison and fish. There
was no turkey, but there was definitely family,
a culinary family filled with gratitude for the
win, their craft, support of family, new friends
and the honor of being American chefs.
Faith Jennetta is pastry-arts instructor/
program coordinator at Technology Center of
DuPage, Addison, Ill., and a member of ACF
Windy City Professional Culinarians Inc.
The team’s first event was the hot-food
kitchen. Food and supplies were shuttled to
the exhibition center, where the team prepared
a three-course meal for 110 guests with 6 hours
of preparation and 3½ hours of service. It was
a long, exhilarating day, and pure adrenaline
pushed Team USA through the event without
a break. They were playing to win.
WINNING GAME PLAN
Team management gathered a support
network in the areas of finance, marketing,
travel, logistics and coaching/advising
to champion the team to success. Nine
practices were scheduled to get the
team ready in just five months, with eight
hosted at Johnson & Wales University
campuses throughout the country, and one
at Elgin Community College, Elgin, Ill. The
concept was to build a mutually beneficial
relationship between team and school, to
expose students to the team and plant
seeds for the future.
After a few hours sleep, team members
directed their focus to the cold-food
presentation, driven by passion and
dedication to keep working through the night.
Early in the morning, they returned to the
exhibition center to set up their displays. The
table design by Marcos Cruz focused solely
on the food and served as a clean, fresh
backdrop, accomplished by presenting the
food on risers covered with white spandex,
which made the food appear to float. It was
enhanced by an organic metal light sculpture
that pinpointed light on the food.
The initial practice sessions focused on
building team spirit, brainstorming concepts,
planning a menu and creating a cold-platter
design. As the concepts
began to take shape,
Be a Part of the TEAM. Be a Part of the HERITAGE. Be a Part of the JOURNEY.