By Michael Ty, CEC, AAC
I’ve been an ACF member since late 1981/ early 1982, when I joined my local ACF chapter. What did ACF mean to me? Why did I want to join? The reasons are numerous, and I would like to share with you how important it is not only to be a member of ACF, but to join an organization that supports your profession.
Many ask, why should I join ACF and what can
ACF do for me. This, I believe, is the wrong
approach. Instead, we should be asking, what
can we contribute, and how can we improve on
making ACF the premier chefs organization.
ACF has given me the opportunity to network
with my fellow culinarians. This sounds
simple, but it is the most important aspect of
being a member of any organization. When
the culture of our chapter changed with the
evolution of open membership, it grew and
diversified with the inclusion of chefs in all
areas of the culinary arts. This gave all of us
more networking opportunities.
Our profession has also changed in the last
30 years, and so has our ACF membership as
a whole. The public perception of “chef” used
to be a person who worked in a restaurant,
hotel, country club or prestigious dining facility.
Today, there are numerous opportunities
for chefs in foodservice: supermarkets,
healthcare, colleges/universities, corporations
and schools, to name a few. And that brings
a richness of experience in all areas of our
profession into our local chapters and ACF.
One of the most rewarding reasons to
belong to ACF is the opportunity to share
knowledge. When I first joined, I was
impressed with the wealth of knowledge
that chefs in the local community shared
and the help they so willingly gave each
other. Sharing recipes and best practices
brought prominence to not only our chapter
but to the city where we lived and worked.
Another huge benefit of being a member was
the opportunity for us to get together and be
part of the local community. Branding has
always been important to any organization, but
community involvement allowed us to promote
our craft by giving back. There was also a bonus
for us as chefs. Being part of a charitable event
organized by our ACF chapter gave us prestige,
and also the opportunity to promote our food
operations and build on our guest base. It gave
us the best of both worlds when it came to
networking within our local community.
But despite all the above, there is a truly
compelling reason to join ACF that is
vital to the future of our profession: the
George Wong, CCC, left, executive chef,
Chop Stix, Brooklyn, N. Y., and Michael Ty
at the Asian Food “Feastival” held at the
Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel, Queens,
N. Y., Sept. 6.
nurturing of the next generation of cooks
and chefs. Back when I was in culinary
school, there was only a handful of culinary
programs across the U.S. Today, there are
more than 700 culinary programs offering
education in culinary arts. This means
that thousands of students graduate from
culinary arts programs each year, and
they need our help. This is where we can
contribute to the future of our profession—
by mentoring them during their early years.
Michael Ty met with staff at the
Indianapolis Marriott Hotel Aug. 31: front
row, left to right, Shannon Mitchell, Maria
Hernandez, Maria Ramirez, Maria Ortega,
Imelda Hernandez, Raul Magollanes,
Amber Naqvi, Thomas Mah, Roderick
White and William Price II; back row, left
to right, Robert Drake, Salvatore Serrito,
Charles Fox, Ty and Michael Vlasich CEC,
AAC, the hotel’s executive chef.
I am hopeful that in the near future we will
have a mentorship program to share with you.
It will be a model that every chapter can use
in its local community, and in some instances,
beyond. We’ve been talking about such a
program for many years, but now is the time
for us to implement a viable model that will
help us build our membership for the future.
We also need to work on our current
membership. I have said many times that
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