Sive’s aunts watched their niece compete,
and said her maternal grandmother, who
had been a home economics teacher,
would be proud. She cooked with a calm,
confident manner, keeping her kitchen
clean and organized.
Aaron Guajardo III, third from left, is congratulated on his Student Chef of the Year award
by representatives of Custom Culinary, Inc., the award’s sponsor, left to right: Scott Gilbert,
CEC, AAC, director of culinary; Mike Speranza, CEC, corporate executive chef; Jordi Gallego,
corporate executive chef; Michael Minor, CEC, AAC, culinary ambassador; Rick Eppers,
corporate chef, Hopco Food Service Marketing; Baranidharan Pacha, corporate executive
chef; and Michael Smith, CEC, AAC, corporate executive chef.
Schwock’s girlfriend from Asheville-
Buncombe Technical Community College
in Asheville, who also cooks with him
at Cherokee Town and Country Club in
Atlanta, was there to support him. He
continues to work at the club with J. Kevin
Walker, CMC, AAC, executive chef, having
interned there during school.
Guajardo’s crowd was the largest, and
included his mom, brother and cousins, and
students from Joliet Junior College (JJC).
Guajardo also competed as a member of
the JJC team in the Student Team National
Championship, which was coached by
Timothy Bucci, CEC, CCE, CHE, CCJ, a
member of ACF Culinary Team USA, and
Kyle Richardson, CEC, CCE, CHE, AAC,
Central Region vice president.
Guajardo’s meticulous organization and
intense passion were evident to judges
and audience alike. Lead judge Thomas
Recinella, CEC, AAC, no stranger to
student competition, complimented all the
students, calling them “excellent, competent
chosen to compete for Student Chef of the
Year, it was the reworking and practice of
everything they had done together to get to
the finals that perfected his performance.
“A lot of my peers are just as talented as I
am, but I happened to meet all the criteria,”
he says. “Also, Chef Richardson had his eye
on me since I apprenticed for the student
team. Preparation meets opportunity.”
Guajardo had worked as a lab assistant for
entry-level classes, as well as apprenticing
with the JJC 2010 hot-food team. He
also assisted Bucci in the ACF Culinary
National Team USA tryouts. “Chef Bucci
has selflessly offered his knowledge of
competition and solid cooking fundamentals,
which is unparalleled,” says Guajardo. “When
writing my menu for Student Chef of the
Year, I wanted to show the judges as much
technique as I could in two cohesive courses.
I also pulled inspiration from our successes
at regionals and Team USA’s success in
Luxembourg [at the Villeroy & Boch Culinary
World Cup in November 2010].”
summer. “It is important that students see
that the fundamental methods, techniques
and terminology are the keys to success in
the culinary arts,” he says. “This competition
was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for
me. I was driven to push myself to a higher
level of professionalism and refinement and
show my dedication to this profession”.
When asked about his future plans, he
says, “At the moment, I simply want to find
a job with a chef who will help continue
my education. I know I would like to keep
competing, because becoming an ACF
judge is one of my goals”.
Surely, one day, he will join the ranks of
those in the long, white lab coats, advising
future students who aspire to the same
success that Guajardo has earned as ACF’s
2011 Student Chef of the Year.
Linda Rosner, CEC, is president of ACF Windy
City Professional Culinarians Inc., Chicago.
But it was Guajardo, a recent JJC graduate,
who took the title. He challenged himself,
putting up plates exploding with color. He
credited his inspiration to his peers on
the Student Team National Championship
team, saying that while he was the one
It was evident that Guajardo was driven to
excellence through practice, discipline and
determination, as well as his passion for his
chosen career. As a result, he has much
to share with culinary students who might
aspire to the success he has enjoyed this
The 2011 Student Chef of the Year award is
sponsored by Custom Culinary, Inc.