and community activities were part of
the team’s repertoire. Practice included a
minimum of four skills practices and three
menu practices each week. In preparation
for the national level of competition, team
members raised funds by preparing their
menu twice each week for paying guests.
How did you keep the team motivated?
Winning was important, but the mentality was
never, we are doing this to win. The mentality
was, we are going to produce some of the
best food in the world. During the journey, it
was our goal to expose the team to some of
the finest food preparations in the world.
How has competition contributed to
the educational experience?
Competition teaches you about limits and
how to push yourself to new heights. In
team competition, one’s ability to perform
as a team member is essential. The
team learns through trial and error. Team
members ask questions of themselves
that analyze work space, efficiency,
task execution and menu improvement.
Competition allows the team to think
and learn about food on a different level.
Cooking at this level of refinement and
precision gives team members a deeper
respect for product and technique.
Everything about competition prepares
students for the real world, and as a team,
they learn to embrace and understand
that. Competition teaches individuals about
humility. It is not easy to cook and then be
judged by a panel of seasoned chefs.
How did you cultivate a winning attitude
while working together as a team?
Delhi has fielded teams since 2000. I am
always reminded by my colleagues that
individual attitudes and how the team
meshes is one of the most important
elements to a successful team. One of the
team’s biggest motivations was to bring the
first national championship home to SUNY
Delhi, and they knew the only way they could
do this was to produce the best menu and
execute it at the highest level possible. In the
end, I think if a team is excited about what it
is doing and enjoys every step of the process,
it will win, no matter what the end result is.
At the end of the competition,
did you feel good about the
Whenever the team is competing, I turn into
a ball of nerves and can’t bear to watch. It
always feels as though we are behind, and
every minute feels like an eternity. In reality, I
know they are doing fine, but the thought of
the team not achieving its goals scares me. I
remember how it feels not to win the national
championship, and I didn’t want my students
to feel that disappointment. They understand
that, at the end of the day, we will always be
proud of their achievements, win or lose.
This is my first time coaching a team.
Thomas Recinella, CEC, AAC, team
The student team from ACF Chefs and
Cooks of the Catskill Mountains/SUNY
Delhi celebrates its 2010 Student Team
National Championship, left to right: James
Margiotta, coach; Victor Sommo, CEC,
coach; students Kenneth Liranzo, Joseph
Michaud, Sarah Thurgood (captain), Chase
Devine and Julie Hernandez; Thomas
Recinella, CEC, AAC, team manager; and
Tom Schreiber, HAAC, HHOF, president,
R.L. Schreiber, Inc.
manager, has fielded a team at Delhi since
2000. The joy felt in winning a national
championship is indescribable, and I can’t
imagine what it must feel like for Chef
Recinella. We are fortunate to have a great
team of coaches and, most importantly, a
talented group of students to make this
dream a reality.
Frank Leake, CCC, CCE, AAC, is a
professor of culinary arts at University of
Hawaii Kapi’olani Community College,
Honolulu. He co-coached the 2009 Student
Team National Championship team.
The 2010 Student Team National
Championship is sponsored by
R.L. Schreiber, Inc.