From The President
Happy Spring! I am very excited sitting in my office at the Detroit Golf Club listening to the ping of golf clubs hitting freshly opened balls as I write this. Walking up to the clubhouse this morning seeing the ground crew getting the course ready for play and knowing that Tigers opening day is within site. Now, if only the Red Wings would get healthy and make the playoffs again all will be right.
I want to first let everyone know that Randy Smith, Stacy Sloan and I went to visit Chef Leopold and he is indeed getting stronger and he definitely has not lost his humor. Chef told us the food is not bad in the rehab facility but under seasoned, he then said "but I am working with the chef." Could you imagine the pressure the chef is now under daily? It would be like final exams three times a day! I did stop at Whole Foods on the way and brought him some nice pink Himalayan sea salt and organic black pepper to get him through. I also snuck a slice of Mimolette cheese that he quickly hid from the nurses. Chef then told us a story of his brother, a cheese maker in Switzerland and the 200 pound cheese blocks he would make and have to turn daily. Chef Leopold - keep up the hard work so you can get back to Steve and Rocky's and "make it to the perch on time."
March was a great month for the Michigan Chefs de Cuisine Association. At the regional competition in Little Rock Arkansas, Andrew Sayes, CEC, executive chef at the Townsend Hotel finished in first place earning the title of "Central Region Chef of the Year" and a high Silver Medal in the process. Chef Drew will now represent MCCA and the central region in the National Chef of the Year competition in Orlando this July. I'm sure Chef Drew will be practicing to take his performance skills even higher taking the feedback he received from the judges to give himself a strong shot at the overall title working to improve up to a Gold Medal performance. We would again like to mention the support we received from Gordon Food Service and others that established special scholarship and sponsorships that helped us extend funds to support all those that competed and will continue to compete. We all wish Chef Drew the best for the Nationals.
Our Pastry Chef of the Year candidate Amy Knoles, pastry chef at the Country Club of Detroit earned a silver medal and second place in the Central Region Pastry Chef of the Year competition. Eric Voigt, executive pastry chef at Big Rock Chop House also competed in the same category and earned a high bronze medal and third place over all. Both had really strong performances and great dishes for presentations. Each had minor difficulties and challenges that kept them from finishing in the top spot, but were both highly encouraged to not give up and come back again. Their futures are very bright and they are just scratching the surface on competitions and now are getting the bug to compete again, especially with all of the positive encouragement they received on their potential.
Finally the student team from Culinary Institute of Michigan of Baker College at Port Huron, in their inaugural competition, earned a silver medal in what turned out to be very tough competition. The central region was full of talent, perhaps the best in the nation. 10 total teams competed. Seven teams earned silver medals, two earned bronze medals and one team was awarded a certificate. Kevin Enright, CEC, CCE, AAC, culinary program director at Oakland Community College was there to observe and said, "This is very strong competition at the student level unlike any other region. The Central Region has historically been the strongest in the nation for student competition and this year was no exception. It only exemplifies the high standards that have been set in the region over the years."
In the end, the team from Metropolitan Community College, Omaha, Nebraska prevailed and won the competition and the rights to represent the Central Region at the ACF National Conference in Orlando. Chef Enright said, "What's really important to take away from this is that this team from Nebraska has competed for 15 years and according to their director has never even previously 'sniffed' at a medal, let alone the championship." Tenacity over all of these years has paid off. Kyle Richardson, CEC, CCE, AAC, ACF's central region VP said, "The level of student competition is absolutely amazing and gets better each year. It's getting to the point now where some of our students could easily compete at the professional level and give the seasoned chefs a run for their money!" Thomas Recinella, CEC, ACE, AAC, CIM Port Huron program director and COURSES Restaurant executive chef said "Having the CIM Port Huron team win the state championship and go on to take a silver medal at the regional on their first time out is an exceptional result. I expect many of the students involved will meet again in competition during their careers." Chef Recinella should know. Besides being one of the most respected national judges for student competitions, he has guided several teams to national championships in the past and is excited about the opportunity to do that again now that he's back in Michigan.
A small group of us will be traveling this month to the ChefConnect: Indianapolis conference for seminars, meetings and awards dinners where I'm sure the association and local Chef's will be recognized for achievements throughout this past year. Chapter members Steven Grostick, US Foods, food fanatic chef and Jeremy Abbey, CEC, CEPC, CCE, CCA, associate director of culinary, Dorsey Culinary Academy at the Waterford-Pontiac campus will each teach a seminar on the second day of the conference, so if you will be attending lets support both with great attendance. Chef Jeremy is also up for the Central Region Educator of the Year award.
Aprils' meeting will be held at the Sysco Detroit office in Canton and will be a meeting not to miss. It has been quite a while since we have visited Sysco but they have been a great partner with the Michigan Chefs de Cuisine over many years. Certified Angus Beef® Science of the Sizzle will be the educational portion of the evening presented by Jeffrey Stefani, Corporate Chef for Sysco Detroit. Please consider coming early. Sysco will be offering full facility tours from 4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. and then some special hands on training on smoked meats from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in their test kitchen prior to the start of the regular meeting.
Don't forget tickets will go on sale soon for our annual Take Me Out to the Ballgame and Tailgate on June 2nd at the Detroit Athletic Club and Comerica Park. The Tigers will be taking on the Oakland Athletics. And, of course this event is always extremely popular and well done each year by our host Kevin Brennan, CEC, AAC and his excellent staff.
By the way, speaking of the Chef of the Year competitions, we are looking forward to this years' Chef of the Year Annual Awards Gala that will be hosted by Chef Drew at the Townsend Hotel on Monday, September 21, 2015 with the Annual Golf Outing being held at Forest Lake Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, hosted by long time MCCA member, Executive Chef Rich King. Both properties are real gems and it's a genuine privilege for the ACF MCCA to have the opportunity to experience another great series of events at two of Michigan's greatest and exclusive locations. Mark your calendar now and plan for this date as it's sure to be another sell out. We will soon be announcing all of the details for this year as well as sending out the nomination forms for all of the different categories of competition so watch the newsletter, web site and social media channels for more information. Have a safe and busy Spring!
Chef Brian Henson