We Are Chefs

Meet the Central & Western Region Culinary Salon Competitors

Toques off to the ACF’s Central and Western Regional Culinary Salon competitors! This year’s competition takes place Feb. 3-5 at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Illinois, ahead of the ChefConnect: Chicago Central/Western Regional Conference, Feb. 5-7, at the Hilton Chicago. Keynote speakers include Chef Costa Magoulas, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC; Pastry Chef Casey Shiller, CEPC, CCE, AAC; and Chef Christopher Hill.

REGISTER FOR CHEFCONNECT: CHICAGO

The competitors are facing off for a chance to represent their region in the national competition held at Cook. Craft. Create. National Convention & Show, Orlando, July 9-13. The regional winners receive round-trip airfare to Convention, a five-night stay at the Convention hotel and full Convention registration.

ACF regional culinary salon competitions are part of ACF’s Signature Series, which provides educational and networking opportunities through ChefConnect events and competitions for culinary industry professionals and students. ACF believes that competitions play a vital role in the development of the culinary craft by testing chefs’ and students’ knowledge and skills in a competitive format. To learn more about ACF competitions, eligibility and rules, visit www.acfchefs.org/competitions.

Root for your favorite chefs and keep up with the action by following ACF on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

Student Team of the Year Competition

Sponsored by Vitamix

The skills phase Competition begins Friday, Feb. 3 at 5:15 p.m. (CST) and the cooking competition begins Saturday, Feb. 4 at 6:00 a.m. (CST).

Student teams participate in a two-part competition. In the skills phase, team members will compete in a relay-style format with 80 minutes to complete all four skills. Teams will have a 15-minute setup window and a 10-minute clean-up window. In the cooking phase, the assigned protein is Filets de Sole Lady Egmont. Teams have 20 minutes to set-up, 75 minutes to cook and prepare, 15 minutes for window service and 20 minutes to clean-up.

Central Region Student Team Competitors

Pulaski Tech Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute, North Little Rock, Arkansas
ACF Central Arkansas Cooks Association

Pictured: Spencer Freyaldenhoven, Drew McLain, King Joseph, Jeremiah Mesker, Alex Smith, James McAfee, CEC (coach) and Mitch Berlin, CEC (coach).

Joliet Junior College, Joliet, Illinois
ACF Louis Joliet Chapter

Pictured: Ryan Clemente, Josh Durkiewicz, Hector Gonzalez, Michael Rodriguez and Emma Prucha. Coach: Paul Bringas, CEC.

Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas
ACF Greater Kansas City Chefs Association

Pictured: Elijah Luck, Terry Ng’Endo, Kayla Cupp, Baylie Hannah and TJ Frieling. Coach: Felix Sturmer.

Culinary Institute of Michigan, Port Huron, Michigan
ACF Michigan Chefs de Cuisine Assoc.

Pictured: Angela Mejia, Jordan Holley, Jamie Cook, Cody Herman and Amber Beckem. Coach: Paula Recinella

St. Louis, Missouri
ACF Chefs de Cuisine Association of St. Louis Inc.

Pictured: (front row) Sarah Bailey, Tim Polacek and Derek Kaliszewski; (back row) Scott Scheible (coach), Nick Wenz, Nick Norton and Brian Bernstein (coach).

Metropolitan Community College, Omaha, Nebraska
ACF Prof Chefs & Culinarians of the Heartland

Pictured: Moses Sorilla, Sandy Bingle, Brian Young (coach), Cathy Curtis, CPC (manager), Collin Werner, Justin Tran, Brian O’Malley (coach) and Ally Peralta-Amador.

North Dakota State College of Science, Wahpeton, North Dakota
ACF Red River Valley Chefs Association

Pictured: Jared Wick, Cassie Witt, Taisyn St. Claire, Lexi Meuchel and Joe Bruner. Coach: Kyle Armitage.

Grayson College, Denison, Texas
Texas Chefs Association

Pictured: Diana Larkins, Juan Orocio, Sam Hester, Nick Haas and Savannah Chaco’n. Coach: Joanna Bryant.

Fox Valley Technical College, Appleton, Wisconsin
ACF Fox Valley Chapter

Pictured: Hannah Winistorfer, Morgan Vanden Langenberg, Brennan Danielski, Kurtis Konrad and Kirk Reilly. Coaches: Ryan Schroeder, CEC, AAC, and Richard Williams, CEC.

Western Region Student Team Competitors

Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa, California
ACF Orange Empire Chefs & Professional Cooks Association

Pictured: Bill Barber, CEC (coach/manager), Kristin Friedersdorf, Henry Hernandez, Anthony Bonneville, Annette Alvarado and Lauren Lopez

Pueblo Community College, Pueblo, Colorado
ACF Pikes Peak Chapter, Inc.

Pictured: Anthony Molinari, Travis Vincent, Deb Harrison, Geoffrey Ryder and Irene Maes. Coach: Benjamin Bedard.

Kapiolani Community College, Honolulu
ACF Honolulu Chapter

Pictured: Sam Tam, Richard Lee, Sean Uyehara, Christian Rae Wong, Jeremy David and Kimberly Lim. Coach: Jason Peel.

Cascade Culinary Institute at Central Oregon Community College, Bend, Oregon
ACF Southern Oregon Chapter

Pictured: Damon Press, Dustin Christean, Kiana Rodriquez, George Vassaur and Andrea Pyne. Coaches: David Trask and Laura Hagen, CEPC.

Bellingham Technical College, Bellingham, Washington
ACF Washington State Chefs Association

Pictured: Nicholas Miller, Colby Warner, Tyler Hills, Mae Stephenson, Rumiko Apple and Michael Baldwin, CEC, AAC (coach).

Central Region Pastry Chef of the Year Competitors

Competition begins Sunday, Feb. 5 at 6:00 a.m. (CST)

Competitors must use passion fruit, mango and crème fraiche in their hot/warm dessert.  A cake component such as financier, pound cake, genoise, etc., must also be included and utilize unsalted Plugrá butter. Competitors have 15 minutes to set-up, 60 minutes to cook, 10 minutes to plate and 15 minutes to clean up.


Julia Julian, CEPC
Culinary and Baking/Pastry Instructor, Fox Valley Technical College
Appleton, Wisconsin
ACF Fox Valley Chapter


Melissa Menendez
Executive Pastry Chef, The Forest Club
Houston, Texas
Texas Chefs Association


Ben Robison, CEPC
Executive Pastry Chef/Chef de Cuisine, Local Kitchen and Bar
Ferndale, Michigan
ACF Michigan Chefs de Cuisine Association


Wendy Schay, CPC, CEPC
Baking Instructor, Pulaski Technical College, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute
Little Rock, Arkansas
ACF Central Arkansas Cooks Association

Western Region Pastry Chef of the Year Competitor


Dan Boman, CEPC
Chef Instructor, The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Phoenix
Phoenix
ACF Chefs Association of Arizona, Inc.

Central Region Student Chef of the Year Competitors

Competition begins Sunday, Feb. 5 at 6:00 a.m. (CST)

The assigned protein is trout. Competitors are to prepare two portions of each dish. Competitors have 15 minutes to set up, 60 minutes to fabricate and cook, 10 minutes to plate and 15 minutes to clean up.


Gabrielle Edrosa
Saute Cook, Lake Quivira Country Club
Lake Quivira, Kansas
ACF Greater Kansas City Chefs Association


Jose Fuentes, CC
Banquet Chef, Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club
Oklahoma City
ACF Culinary Arts Society of Oklahoma


Nicholas Lentz
Line Cook, Jake O’Connor’s Public House
Excelsior, Minnesota
ACF Minneapolis Chefs Chapter


Jeremiah Mesker
Baker, Mylo Coffee Co.
Little Rock, Arkansas
ACF CentralArkansas Cooks Association

Western Region Student Chef of the Year Competitors


Katie Barnes
University of Montana/Missoula College of Culinary Arts
Missoula, Montana
ACF Chefs de Cuisine of the Inland Northwest


Madeline Black
Utah Valley University Culinary Arts Institute
Orem, Utah
ACF Beehive Chefs Chapter Inc.


Mikaila Clausen
Pueblo Community College
Pueblo, Colorado
ACF Pikes Peak Chapter


Nathan Haritash
Oregon Coast Culinary Institute Southwestern Oregon
Coos Bay, Oregon
ACF Bay Area Chefs Association of Oregon

Central Region Chef of the Year Competitors

Competition begins Sunday, Feb. 5 at 9:15 a.m. (CST)

The assigned protein is a bone-in loin of lamb plus one other cut of lamb of the competitor’s choice. Competitors have 15 minutes to set up, 60 minutes to fabricate and cook, 10 minutes to plate and 15 minutes to clean up.


Alfredo Barrios, CEC, CCA
Executive Chef, The Flying L Guest Ranch
San Antonio, Texas
Texas Chefs Association


Mark Brown, CEC, CCA, AAC
Executive Chef, Oklahoma City Golf & Country Club
Oklahoma City
ACF Culinary Arts Society of Oklahoma


Rocky Dunnam, CEC
Executive Chef, Elizabeth Jane Bivins Culinary Center
Amarillo, Texas
ACF National Member


Christopher Johnson
Owner/Executive Chef, The Meeting House
Rochester, Michigan
ACF Michigan Chefs de Cuisine Association

Western Region Chef of the Year Competitor


Angus McIntosh, Jr., CEC
Chef de Partie, The French Laundry
Yountville, California
ACF Akron-Canton Area Cooks & Chefs Association