preSideNT’S meSSaGe by Stafford DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC
Aloha! Last year at 2017 Cook.Craft.
Create., your new board of directors was
sworn in. Thank you for electing us to serve
you. We recently renewed our commitment
to sharing fellowship and leadership at
2018 Cook.Craft.Create. in New Orleans.
This is an exciting time for our
organization. We are poised to execute
an ambitious mission that will require
commitment from everyone. It is not
enough for us to be relevant to culinary
professionals now. We must build for future
generations. Are you ready to commit to
reinvigorating and revitalizing ACF?
We need to retain our core
membership, but we also need to attract
new members. To do that, we must look
outward—to the cooks in the kitchens
where we work and the students in the
schools where we teach. Let’s talk about
ACF with fellow attendees at events.
That’s our future—those new faces—
and recruitment needs to be an ongoing
priority for every member.
We are doing several things to spur
new growth, including a chef-to-chef
recruitment program that began Aug. 1.
Recruit a new or recently lapsed
professional member and ACF will reward
you. Your knowledge about and passion
for ACF makes you our best salespeople.
To help bring in new members, we
need to continue to improve the value
of ACF membership by providing the
benefits that are most important to you.
We conducted a membership survey in
2017, and many of you provided feedback.
We listened, and the board of directors and
national office staff are making changes
to existing programs based on your input.
For example, we now offer some content
in Spanish, and this fall, we will have
the CEC and CFC exams translated into
Spanish, as well.
We will increase grassroots marketing
to chapters so that they can leverage their
relationships in the local community.
And, it’s time that the national culinary
community knows about us and what
we do. To that end, we hope you plan
to celebrate Childhood Nutrition Day,
Oct. 16, and International Chefs Day,
Oct. 20. Let’s work together and host
awareness events around the globe.
We will once again offer grants to
support chefs who participate. For
more information, go to www.acfchefs.
org/CND, #InternationalChefsDay or
You also told us that the physical
and mental health of our members needs
ACF’s attention. For years, too many of us
have struggled to find access to affordable
healthcare, so ACF created a new member
benefit that provides access to health
insurance. The recent suicide of one of our
own, Anthony Bourdain, brought home a
simple truth: Many chefs lead extremely
stressful lives. You’ve shared your concern
with us and we are listening.
You’ve asked us to be more involved
in advocacy. There are things happening
in our world that demand our attention:
making workforce training relevant,
preventing food waste, improving food
quality, promoting diversity in our
profession, and eliminating harassment
and discrimination. Our workplaces look
far different today than they did back in
1929 when ACF was founded. We must
be ready to welcome a new generation of
chefs who are different from us, and the
only way we can do this is by focusing on
diversity and inclusion.
We continue to actively recruit 18- to
25-year-olds, and we can all play a part.
Extend a hand to the young chefs who
work with you and invite them to chapter
meetings or an event. Consider sponsoring
their chapter dues or paying a registration
fee. Introduce them to your colleagues
and show them the value of networking.
Hire a young chef. Mentor a student chef.
Personally invest your time in a young
chef as someone once did for you.
Giving back and mentoring have been
on my mind lately. I recently attended the
national conventions of SkillsUSA and
Family, Careers and Community Leaders
of America. What an impressive display of
culinary talent from high school students,
and what a proud moment to see so many
of you giving these young culinarians
a head start. SkillsUSA has aligned its
culinary competitions to meet the criteria
of ACF’s new entry-level CFC credential.
For the inaugural year, I am happy to
report that 12 secondary students out of
46 scored high enough to earn the CFC, as
did several postsecondary students.
My personal pledge and commitment
is to leave things better than I found them,
and I ask for your support. Please reach out
to your board members with your ideas and
observations. Our goal is to create an open,
honest environment where we can have
candid conversations and share our input to
make our organization better.
I look forward to speaking with each
of you as we build ACF’s future. We are
a family, and together, we can “be the
change.” Are you ready to commit? Aloha!
are you ready To CommiT?
CON TAC T S TAFFORD DECAMBRA A T SDECAMBRA@ACFCHEFS.NET