Why I’d go back: a first-time ACF National Convention attendee shares his experience


By John Bartimole

Although ACF Chef Aaron Bruck, CEC, has been a member for several years and participates in his chapter in Detroit (ACF Michigan Chefs de Cuisine Association), this year was the first time he made a trip to the ACF National Convention (this year in 2023 in New Orleans). As an industry veteran who has worked in numerous environments from hotels to restaurants to his current position at University of Michigan Dining, you’d think there wouldn’t be much new for him to learn. But he says quite the contrary. We spoke to Chef Bruck about what his first ACF convention experience was like and how it has helped him with his work in the kitchen since.

image2Q: What made you want to attend the conference for the first time this year?

A: My executive chef (ACF Chef Frank Turchan, CEC), asked if I wanted to go and I said, “Yeah, I want to see it.” I’d never been to one; I just never really had the time. I wanted to go to this one just to experience it.

Q: What did you enjoy most about it?

A: It was inspiring. Some of the sessions were helpful to find solutions. It helped you think about what you’re going through and what you’re juggling, though you still have to keep going and keep a positive face for your employees. It wasn’t like just looking at PowerPoints; you actually got involved with the classroom. You met other people and it was very engaging.

I also liked the chef from Disney (Stefan Riemer, pastry culinary director). He talked about his product, how he did the truffle, and how he got all the cocoa beans he wanted to use and traveled the world to find the best solution for it. It empowered people who really didn’t have much chocolate experience and helped them evolve. The research was also really good. Everybody has different ways of doing things and it just had a lot of variety of how to get information, what works, what doesn’t. I think that was very inspiring.

Q: Did you meet anyone that you plan to stay in touch with?

A: Yes, a couple of people. I connected with them on LinkedIn so I wouldn’t lose that contact and I wouldn’t forget about it. With opening school back up and being a part of that, I didn’t want to lose that connection and communicated with them by messenger to keep that going.

Q: What would you tell someone thinking about going to the conference next year?

A: Definitely go. You’ll get reinspired, like a rebirth. You look at what everybody else is doing and kind of rekindle your fire, what you’re doing, and look at different solutions to make your work day easier as far as recipe development or even team building. Finding out how other chefs or managers actually organize themselves for a big event or just day to day I feel is really important.

Join us in 2024 in Phoenix! Click here to learn more about the ACF National Convention in July.