PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE by Thomas Macrina, CEC, CCA, AAC
Thomas Macrina, CEC, CCA, AAC,
a Food Fanatic, product specialist
manager and executive chef with US
Foods, Bridgeport, New Jersey, has
served as ACF national president since
July 2013. As he prepares to step down
July 13, he sat down with NCR to talk
about the last four years.
Why did you decide to run for president?
To enact change and take ACF
forward so we could grow and prosper
as a professional organization. I knew
we had to serve members and potential
members on a new level. So much had
changed in the world since I joined ACF
nearly 40 years earlier—not only huge
advancements in technology, but attitudes
toward work/life balance and beliefs
about where foodservice is headed. I
looked forward to the challenge.
What surprises were there in the first
I soon came to realize that I couldn’t
really do what I wanted to, at least, not
right off the bat. And I was surprised that
so many people had personal agendas.
I could see where we should be headed,
and I had ideas about how to get there,
but I needed to take others on the journey
with me if we were going to succeed. I
was working with a board of directors
and the chairs of various commissions,
and we all had to recognize the
importance of compromise.
What skills/experiences are needed?
A good business sense is vital.
The business of being a membership
organization means that we must meet the
needs of our customers—the members.
It’s the same in foodservice. If you
don’t satisfy your customers, they’ll go
elsewhere to have their needs met. But
you can’t ignore the other factors that
go into running a business. There’s the
budget and day-to-day administration, as
well the look and feel of the organization.
Do we have a strong, compelling
message? Is our brand obvious to those
outside ACF? What, exactly, are we
“selling,” and what can we persuade
people to “buy?”
What’s a favorite accomplishment
from your two terms in office?
We changed the way the certification
commission operates to ensure that
everyone going through the certification
process is treated fairly and respectfully.
ACF certification has a 40-year history,
and 2015 was a turning point in starting
to create and develop new standards
for certification going forward. We
also improved ACF’s relationship with
Worldchefs. Every ACF member is also
a member of Worldchefs, and the two
organizations have a long shared history.
An ACF member recently served as
president, and several ACF members are, or
have been, involved in various capacities.
Today, through an agreement between
ACF and Worldchefs, ACF-certified chefs
can earn a globally recognized professional
certification. ACF certification is already
seen as the industry standard in the U.S.
and North America, and aligning it with the
Worldchefs certification adds international
recognition for the achievement of our
Who was your go-to person for advice?
I had conversations with past and
present ACF officeholders, as well as
with a wide range of industry leaders. I
have a huge respect for experience, and I
was willing to listen and get advice about
what works and what doesn’t. I wanted to
draw on the vast experience of those who
had led ACF in the past and learn from
their accomplishments and failures. With
industry leaders, I wanted to explore
how ACF could contribute to the bigger
foodservice picture. What did they see
as ACF’s role? What were our strengths
and weaknesses? How might ACF make
Talk about juggling your job, board
duties and family commitments.
It took a miracle—actually, a
series of miracles—and at times it was
extremely difficult. It’s impossible to be
everywhere at once, and I often had to
make hard choices. We want to be all
things to all people—there’s a little bit
of the superman/superwoman in all of
us. You choose the best of all possible
scenarios in a particular situation, and
trust that you made the right choice. You
also learn to cut yourself some slack, and
say no sometimes.
You had two terms as American
Academy of Chefs chair before
becoming president. How did that
It helped immensely, because the
two groups mirror each other in many
ways. AAC is like a mini ACF, run by a
board and relying on committees to work
in various areas of the academy. AAC is
also in the business of serving members.
I learned about the inner workings of the
AN HONOR TO SERVE
OPPOSITE FROM TOP: Thomas Macrina, left, with
2016 ACF Culinary Team USA. Cathy and Tom Macrina.