ACCEPTING THE CHALLENGE
THIS MONTH WE TALK WITH FERDINAND METZ, CMC, WGMC, AAC, HOF, WHO SERVED AS ACF NATIONAL PRESIDENT FROM 1979 TO 1983.
HE IS EXECUTIVE DEAN, LE CORDON BLEU SCHOOLS NORTH AMERICA, AND MANAGING PARTNER, MASTER CHEFS’ INSTITUTE.
As you look back nearly 30 years on
your term as ACF national president,
what stands out?
One important milestone was that we
established the first ACF national office
and hired the first ever executive director,
Edwin Brown, HAAC, HHOF. We started
a building fund with a raffle, with prizes
donated by ACF members. This effort,
led by Brown and Marga Bosnjak, helped
finance the acquisition. We acquired the
land, hired a contractor, and designed and
built the office.
Equally important were the nationally
implemented educational programs that
Brown, Jack Braun, CEC, AAC, HOF, and
I developed and piloted for ACF Pittsburgh
Chapter: Apprenticeship, Certification and
Master Chef Certification. These programs
have not only survived the past 30 years,
but have become the most important
initiatives that ACF has ever undertaken.
This was about the time when the culinary
profession and American cuisine began to
enjoying media attention, and we realized
that the educational programs were needed
to justify this newly found media and
Do you recall a particular challenge?
Securing the acceptance and success of
the Apprenticeship, Certification and
Master Chef Certification programs
was vital. We also had to find the funds
and resources to implement and sustain
the programs, which was helped by the
first U.S. Department of Labor grant of
$612,000 for the apprenticeship program.
This allowed us to hire six regional chef
coordinators and provide for their office
and travel expenses.
We took ACF Culinary Team USA to an
unprecedented three world championships
and one World Cup during and after my
time as president and/or team manager.
We made sure that the newly established
Master Chef program was not only equal
in quality to its European counterparts,
but became generally recognized as the
premier master chef program globally.
Why did you run for office?
It appeared a logical progression to follow
Richard Bosnjak, CEC, AAC, HOF, and
to stay the course that he had mapped out
for the federation. I also knew that Brown
would be the first national director and
that I could count on him to share the
workload with me and the board. Also, I
had finished a master’s degree in Business
Administration and was ready to take on
the challenges of guiding ACF through
one of its most difficult, but also one
of its most dynamic, periods of growth
in terms of membership and degree of
professionalism. I saw an opportunity to
make a difference for our profession.
What should be the mission of a
professional organization for chefs
It should serve the needs of its members
and charge reasonable dues, develop new
initiatives that promote the profession,
and provide upward mobility for its
members, as well as attract young people
to the culinary profession.
What could the federation do today
that will serve the foodservice
community in the future?
Establish networks and partnerships
with other industry associations to find
strength in numbers, share resources, and
promote the common causes that will
advance the standing of the foodservice/
hospitality industry on both a national
and global basis.
What opportunities do you see for
culinary students in the industry?
During my 21 years as president of The
Culinary Institute of America and in my
current role as executive dean for Le
Cordon Bleu Schools North America, I
see great opportunities for those students
who have the talents, energies, patience
and proper grounding in the fundamentals
of cooking. Today, some members of the
culinary profession have been elevated to
a status that rivals that of celebrities, and
we need to make sure that young people
understand the sacrifices, dedication and
perseverance it took to advance to that
level in our profession.
At the end of the day, what was
satisfying about the experience of
Being in a position where I had the
commitment and support of many
people, which made it possible to make a
difference for chefs and for the culinary
profession as a whole. Also, seeing
the initiatives and programs that we
developed survive the test of time and
continue to serve the ACF membership
well is extremely satisfying.