ACF United: Stafford’s Fireside Chat 04/18/2020

A message from ACF National President Stafford DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC

Human Condition


Photo courtesy of Chef Frank Leake, CCC, CCE, AAC / Chef-Action, LLC
Another week of change, to what is known as the human condition… characteristics and events that compose our existence as human beings, things common to most of our lives and inevitable to everyone. Easter, Passover and Sedar during 2020, are now behind us. These are traditionally a period of time spent with large gatherings, with families and friends, to partake in the collective rituals that are customary this time of year. However, this year, we celebrated in isolation, so unlike, any other time that we’ve known, without face to face gatherings. Thanks to technology and options like Zoom and FaceTime, we’ve been able to connect with those closest to us, from around the world. As human beings, we are natural survivors. What we look for in each other and expect from those who lead, is truth and hope, for a better future. It’s important to remain connected, especially during troubled times. We will continue a period of renewal and resurgence by staying in touch, and technology will assist us in that quest.

Today I write to you with messages of truth, hope and a better future. Things to ponder, things to remember, things to put to work. In 1965, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best, with just three words in his famous speech, “We Shall Overcome.” So many years later, those words still live within us, now together, during a different, difficult time, we must put those words to work, as we look forward to a better future.

Have you thought about how quickly time passes? These past days, weeks and months feel as if they have been years in passing. 525,600 minutes… the lyrics from a song:

“Five-hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes. Five-hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear.
Five-hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure, Measure a year?
In daylights? In sunsets? In midnights? In cups of coffee?
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife?
How do you measure, Measure a year?”
-Lyrics from “Seasons of Love”, the production of “RENT” on Broadway.

How do you measure time? Will that be different with what you’ve learned these past months, in the weeks and months ahead? Will we collectively have a new sense of urgency? Will we have renewed focus? Ponder these things as we move forward together and stay ahead of this disease that will continue trying to break our spirit, to break that human condition. Together, we have the power to survive and succeed, far into the future.


Next I want to share this amazing YouTube video. A strong message of motivation and hope, a serious look from around the world… and on a personal note… approximately 1 minute, 23 seconds into the video, there is a shot from Waikiki beach in Hawaii… an illuminated heart visible from the outside of a hotel. It was nightfall and guest rooms were lit, from inside, to form the shape of a heart, viewable outside of the hotel, from the beach… HOPE!

“250 filmmakers tell 1 pandemic story. This is #choosehopestory Born from a feeling of isolation and a fierce desire to find purpose in the face of helplessness, #ChooseHopeStory is the collective effort of over 250 filmmakers across the globe to share stories of compassion and unity amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

The Future

unnamedPicture courtesy of Chef Stafford DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC

What’s next? The inevitable question that we all keep asking. This picture is first step of that answer. What’s next is about what this group of children best represents. They are the present and the future of mankind. We need to reevaluate that question and the potential answers for all of them. It will be what they talk about, it will become our legacies… the footprint of what we leave behind for them. We owe it to the world to ban together as a formidable force, with common goals and targets in mind. These children will inherit our world, both the good and the bad. It is our responsibility to provide them with the best opportunities, so as they reach adulthood, they are engaged through positive leadership, enhancing their abilities to become the creative minds to develop a world beyond its current existence. Visualize the moment these children will be shoulder to shoulder again while playing and while working in future kitchens as adults. Visualize all of us, making that happen once again, very soon.

The Immediate Future

Today, I bring you good news, about an initiative that has been in the making for the past three weeks. (The official announcement will be forthcoming on the ACF website, by email and on a separate website.) Through the volunteer efforts of a Chefs Council, made up of four ACF members… Chef Ferdinand Metz, Chef Frank Leake, Chef Chris Donato and myself, Chef DeCambra and in collaboration with ACF Staff and Directors… a new assistance relief fund has been established. It is with great honor that the Chefs Council introduces to you “The Ferdinand Metz/American Culinary Federation (ACF) Relief Fund.”

We owe a debt of gratitude and thanks, to Chef Ferdinand Metz, for his selflessness and generosity, as the founding donor of the Fund and member of the Chefs Council. “The Ferdinand Metz/American Culinary Federation (ACF) Relief Fund, is established to provide timely financial assistance to chefs, cooks, culinarians and foodservice workers across America, experiencing hardship in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.” Resources and application information will be available on the ACF website.

Simultaneously a GoFundMeCharity site will be launched for donations to the fund. “Organizations and individuals that have relied on the foodservice industry for their successes, are called upon to assist in supporting members of our community, suffering during this unprecedented crisis. If our industry is to recover from this devastating virus, we need to ensure that our industry partners receive financial support to sustain themselves and their families, enabling them to remain significant members of the culinary community… Our goal for the first phase of fundraising is $5M.

“Life is full of change. The good passes… but so does the bad. Nothing remains the same in this unstable world. Not a single element of anything… physical or mental… is the same today as it was yesterday”
-Ano Ano the Seed, by Kristen Zambucka

Stafford DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC
National President, American Culinary Federation