video series to members, including The
Cooks Tour series. The Cooks Tour of
China was still being used in a class I
spoke to in November. That’s gratifying.
THIS MONTH WE TALK WITH KEITH KEOGH, CEC, AAC, WHO SERVED AS ACF NATIONAL PRESIDENT FROM 1991 TO 1993. HE IS EXECUTIVE
CHEF FOR TOTAL FOOD NETWORK, WINDERMERE, FLA.
It has been 20 years since you served
ACF as its national president. What
stands out in your mind today from
your time in office?
We established the state representative
system to drive national ACF programs
down to the local level. It also allowed
us to receive information from grassroots
members about what was important
to them and where they wanted the
federation to go.
What was satisfying about being
president, and what was challenging?
The most satisfying was the idea that
it was possible to make a difference.
Also, there were great friendships and
professional relationships formed that
remain strong to this day. The most
challenging was the art of effective and
concise communication—expressing an
idea in a way that created clarity rather
than confusion. I learned that a good
idea expressed without clarity has little
chance of going anywhere.
What could the federation do today
that will serve the foodservice
community in the future?
I think there is still a need for strong
apprenticeship programs. We need to get
our craft into the hands of those who have
a passion for it. Culinary schools continue
to expand and offer great services, but
the cost is prohibitive to some, and the
apprenticeship style of education is
extremely effective in our profession. This
would also help our industry, which needs
more soldiers in the kitchens to execute the
passion and ideas of chefs every day.
ACF Culinary Team USA tryouts evolved
to give every member in the country the
opportunity to try out for the national or
regional team. High scorers at regional
cold-food competitions qualified for the
finals at the NRA Show in Chicago, where
the high scorer from each region became
a national team member. Four regional
teams were selected from the next four
highest regional scorers and the highest
pastry scorer from each region. Tapping
into this broad spectrum of talent worked.
In its first competition, the national team
won the first of its two World Cups, giving
the U.S. three consecutive World Cups, a
feat not matched to this day.
What were your priorities as president
when it came to serving the members?
My goal was to make the federation
more accessible and approachable to the
local member. We understood that chefs
were members for different reasons,
and we worked on programs that would
appeal to the broader base. We continued
to work to brand the chef and ACF in
the minds of the general public.
We also need collaborations, such as
the former ACF/NRA Foundation,
which was made up of members from
many major foodservice associations
who shared the challenges and needs
of all and worked together on goals.
The foundation approach allowed us to
benchmark, discuss programs and raise
How did ACF try to impact the larger
foodservice community 20 years ago?
Our efforts were to bring national
programs to the local level. Programs
such as the “Drive for the Hard Drive,”
where Tyson Foods, Inc. helped chefs
get computers with coupons, is an
example. Computers in the kitchen
in1992 were pretty scarce. Uncle Ben’s,
Proctor & Gamble, Kraft Foods, Inc.,
Mondovi Winery and other major
sponsors committed funds to assist in this
outreach. I will always be grateful to those
companies that funded our ideas and goals.
What advice do you have for young
people coming into the profession
who might be interested in joining a
professional organization such as ACF?
ACF and WACS [World Association
of Chefs Societies] offer the greatest
network available to a chef. Through
the people you meet and contacts you
make, you can call a chef in any region
of the U.S. or the world and discuss
food and get answers to your questions.
We asked sponsors to develop posters
to include in The National Culinary
Review that members could hang in their
kitchens. I still see some of those posters
today. We also distributed our educational
Were you glad that you had the
experience of being president?
It was one of the greatest experiences of
my life. It developed knowledge and skills
in me that I have used every day since. But
the most valuable thing was—and is—the
friendships I continue to cherish today.