Meet the ACF’s 2019 Chef Educator of the Year candidates


We’re counting down the weeks until ACF National Convention: Orlando with an in-depth introduction to each of our award candidates. Next up: the chefs competing for Chef Educator of the Year! Visit to see the full schedule.

Not registered yet? Call us at (800) 624-9458 to speak with an events team member now. Onsite registration will also be available.

If you can’t make it this year, we’ll have coverage of all the competitions streaming live on Facebook, and don’t forget to register for Conference On-Demand to see recorded sessions of all our Main Stage speakers!

Southeast: John Schopp, CEC, CEPC, CCE, CCA, AAC

Schopp AAC1 jpeg

John Schopp, CEC, CEPC, CCE, CCA, AAC is a full time culinary arts instructor at Virginia Western Community College. He is also the president of Center Stage Catering, Inc. as well as the Chef for Victor Wooten’s Center for Music and Nature outside of Nashville.

As a working Chef, business owner and culinary educator, Schopp is heavily involved in the culinary community, including grade school, high school, magnet school, home schooled students as well as his ACF accredited culinary program, providing educational demos, workshops, and mentorship.

In addition, he is also heavily involved with our community charities, helping to raise funds and awareness for numerous causes including, human trafficking, childhood hunger, service animals, homeless shelters, medical diets for post-surgery patients, chronic disease, local symphony, art museum, children’s museum, science museum and local farmers markets to name a few. On average, his efforts total approximately 40 hours per month.

  • ACF National Certification Commission – Chair elect
  • ACF National Practical Exam subcommittee – past Chair
  • ACF National Certification Evaluator Mentor
  • ACF National CMC exam 2017 – Administration team
  • ACF National Certification Commission – Certification refresher webinar (voice over)
  • ACF National Certification Commission – Pearson prep courses 2017
  • ACF National – Cutting Edge Award #25 – 2016
  • ACF Young Chefs Club – Mentor
  • ACF SWVA chapter President 2017/2019
  • ACF SWVA chapter of the ACF – Education/Certification Chair 2011/2017
  • ACF SWVA chapter Pastry Chef of the Year 2015 and 2016
  • ACF SWVA chapter Educator of the Year 2016
  • ACF SWVA chapter of the ACF – Practical exam administrator
  • Virginia Western Community College – J Andrew Archer Award for Excellence in Teaching – 2016
  • City Magazine – Contributing writer, 2010-present
  • Filmed three cooking videos to be used in the classroom to support the pilot “Food for Thought” program, introducing farming to table for 5th graders.
  • Sizzle Magazine – “By Degrees,” summer 2014 & 2018 articles
  • Skills USA Virginia 2012, 2013, 2014 – Commercial Baking Chair State of VA
  • Pro Start VA State competition 2016 – Pastry evaluator
  • Food Network’s “Halloween Baking Championship” Season 2
  • Creative Virginia – filmed an hour-long documentary on sugar sculpture aired in 2018
  • Al Pollard Memorial Foundation – Board Member
  • Rockledge Derby Gala – Board Member

Schopp believes that a successful ACF chapter is one that is active within our community and must be both inclusive and welcoming to culinarians of all levels. His calling is to share his experiences and expertise with his community by providing, facilitating, and/or supporting education at all levels of our industry.

Central: Joanna Bryant, CCC, CCE

Joanna Bryant

Joanna Bryant, CCC, CCE is a native of Denison, Texas, a town about 70 miles north of Dallas on the border of Oklahoma. She is the Executive Chef and Lead Chef Instructor at Grayson College where she wears many hats for the program.

She received a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Babson College concentrating in entrepreneurship and finance. She then received her Associates Degree of Occupational Studies in Culinary Arts from the California Culinary Academy- Le Cordon Bleu, San Francisco. She also received an Executive Masters in Hospitality Administration from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

Bryant has kitchen experience in fine dining, casual dining, buffets, and catering in San Francisco, Dallas, and Denison. She is an ACF Certified Culinary Educator and Certified Chef de Cuisine, a voting professional member of the Dallas Chapter of the Texas Chef’s Association, a current ACF member, certified through the NRAEF ManageFirst Program, and ServSafe Food Manager, Proctor and Instructor certified.

Bryant is the current and two-time Grayson College Minnie Piper Stevens Professor Nominee, the Julia Child Fund at the Boston Foundation Independent Study Grant recipient for 2015, and an Athena Award Young Professional Award Nominee in 2014. She has also received awards from the American Association of University Women, a Leavey Award for Free Enterprise Education, and is a current Texoma Top 40 under 40 winner. Bryant is also the current Texas Chefs Association Educator of the Year.

Bryant currently runs Six Ninety One Restaurant at Grayson College (named in the top three fine dining restaurants in Texoma) and the Butterfly Café at Wild Berry Farm in Sadler, TX. She serves as the T.I.P.S.S. (Top Innovative Professionals of Service and Spirits) Grayson College Club Advisor and serves as the culinary arts advisor. Bryant is also the culinary arts practicum coordinator and leads her team for ACFEF programmatic accreditation.

Bryant is the mentor and coach for Grayson College’s Baron H. Galand Knowledge Bowl Team (Gold medal – Regionals 2018), the Texas ACF student culinary team (Bronze medal – Regionals 2018), and will also coach Sarah Dilling at regionals this year (ACF Young Chef of the Month, January 2018, and current Texas Student Culinarian of the Year). Bryant and her competition team are funded 100% through their own fundraising efforts.

Bryant is also a member of Grayson College’s Faculty Association and has served as the Chair of the Professional Development Fund Committee for three years. She is also a member of the TCCTA (Texas Community College Teacher’s Association).

Northeast: Scott Steiner CCE, AAC

Scott Steiner Photo

If you ask a chef what made them want to be a chef, the most common response is reflecting back to cooking with family members as a child. Like many others, the story of Scott Steiner begins in the same spot.

At the age of 4 years old, he remembers watching his aunt and grandmother making frosting roses and building wedding cakes. As he grew older they began to let him help. He remembers making Christmas cookies and Thanksgiving dinner with his aunt, baked beans and wilted lettuce with his German grandfather and animal shaped molded Jell-O with his mother. He grew very passionate about food preparation and knew before the age of 10, that he would pursue a career in the foodservice industry.

Raised in an Irish Catholic neighborhood, the norm was to go to private school. He attended St. Thomas Aquinas Elementary school at the end of his street in South Buffalo, New York. The inner city schools were a little rough around the edges and his parents did what they had to to pay tuition. When 8th grade hit, it was time to pick a high school. All of his friends were going to one of the snooty private high schools in the neighborhood, but Steiner had heard about a culinary program offered at a Buffalo Public Vocational High School. It was located on the bad side of the city and the only way there was the city metro bus. His parents really didn’t want him to go there, and neither did the administrative team at his private school.

Steiner remembers all of his friends getting acceptance letters to their high school of choice, but the principal withheld his letter of acceptance to the vocational school for several days. She finally called Steiner down to the office and reluctantly handed him the acceptance letter while trying to convince him to attend a Catholic high school. When Steiner got the news he was on cloud nine. A new chapter was about to begin.

Attending Emerson Vocational High School was an amazing experience for Steiner. For half of the day, he was able to prepare food. The students were responsible for feeding the student body and the faculty, and they did many catering functions as well. Steiner remembers excelling in the culinary program and as a freshman, he was asked to participate in many of the upper class extra catering functions.

Steiner had a profound respect for his chef instructors and began to think that one day becoming a culinary teacher would be the best job in the world. Like many high school students, Steiner desperately wanted a vehicle. He applied for a job at a very busy local Irish bar/restaurant and began washing dishes. Before he knew it, he was prepping, then working the line. When he graduated high school, a chef that Steiner worked with at the restaurant left to take a position at The Buffalo Club, a very prestigious and historical city club in downtown Buffalo. A few weeks later he gave Steiner a call and told him about a pantry position that was open at the club. He gave him the chef’s phone number and asked him to set up an interview. Shortly after, Steiner was hired.

It wasn’t long before Steiner started to work his way up the ladder. After working there for several years Steiner’s father was granted 100% disability from his time spent in the U.S. Army and the Vietnam War. Steiner was informed that his father’s Veteran’s benefits would cover his college education in full. Steiner knew he wanted to work in the foodservice industry, but had to pick a college program to begin. His culinary skills were already strong, so entering a culinary program did not make a lot of sense to him. He remembered how much respect he had for his culinary teachers in high school and a lightbulb went off. He was going to school to become a culinary arts teacher.

There was one problem. He didn’t know where to start or what program to enroll in. He got in his car and drove to Emerson to visit his former teachers. He asked them “Where does one go to college to become a culinary teacher?” They steered him in the right direction and he headed to Buffalo State College to enter the career and technical education bachelor’s degree program.

Steiner worked and went to college full time. He was very thankful to the management staff at the Buffalo Club who worked around his rigorous college schedule so he could continue to work full time hours while seeking his degree. Once he had completed his degree and obtained a teaching position, he continued to work part time hours at the Buffalo Club to keep himself involved and fresh for his students.

He was hired at the Erie One BOCES Harkness Career and Technical Center teaching culinary skills to 11th and 12th graders. It was at this time that Steiner was introduced to, and joined the ACF. Maintaining and succeeding living a very busy lifestyle, Steiner began to work on his graduate degree with a focus in occupational special education. This degree fit perfect because he had realized that while he was working with many high level students, he was also dealing with students with learning disabilities and emotional disturbances.

After completing his Master’s degree, he began to get very involved with the ACF. He ran for office, chaired two northeast regional conferences and coached the Buffalo Hot food team for eight years. He became certified and several years later even became a certification evaluator. He took his experience from the hot food team and began training his students for individual competitions.

Steiner is very proud to have taught many students who have won extremely healthy scholarships all over the country. He is very proud of his former student Corey Siegel who competed with Chef Richard Rosendale in the Bocuse d’Or and made it onto the ACF National Culinary Team. He had a student win the National Skills USA competition and also a student named the Johnson and Wales Student Chef of the Year.

Steiner became very confident not only as a chef but as an educator as well. After 10 years at the career center, Steiner joined the Niagara County Community College faculty in August of 2012 when the doors of the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute were opened. At the college, Steiner worked on getting the program accredited by the ACF.

He does many things outside of his job duties. He is in charge of a gingerbread competition every December and he runs an ACF-sanctioned competition and food salon at the end of each school year. After five years as a chef instructor, Steiner was promoted to an assistant professor. He was recently named the culinary arts program coordinator.

Part of Steiner’s duties are to review student learning outcomes and make sure assessment is being properly recorded. He works with a close-knit team of not only colleagues but longtime friends. All of the full time instructors at the culinary institute have worked together at one point or another in industry to find themselves teaching together many years later. Steiner is always looking for ways to update curriculum and keep the courses relevant and current. He brings with him many years of experience working with students at many different cognitive levels. He is very patient and always willing to help fellow teachers when they are faced with a challenging student experience. His job is challenging and ever-changing.

The latest initiative at the college is to have the academic program take over full operation of their fine dining restaurant that was previously operated by the college auxiliary services. In order to make this initiative work, the curriculum, the program and the operations of the restaurant will all need tweaking. Steiner is working on a game plan to set up an atmosphere that will foster learning and promote student success. Steiner is once again on to the next phase of his career and keeping himself busy as always.

Western: Rudy Kloeble, CEC


Rudy Kloeble, CEC was raised in a family of restaurateurs. He has been self employed most of his career, owning two restaurants. He has years of culinary learning and experience in Southern Germany.

Career History

  • Chef Instructor, The International Culinary School at the Art Institutes of California San Diego
  • Catering lead for Artful Chefs San Diego
  • Catering lead at San Diego Wine and Culinary Center, CA
  • Co-owner Chef Instructor, World Of Wellness Chiropractic, CA
  • Owner/Operator Rudy’s café, La Jolla Shores,CA
  • Ranch Manager Caterer for Crestwood Ranch Boulevard, CA
  • Owner/Executive Chef, Gasthaus zum Fischmeister
  • Chef De Partie, Colombi Hotel Freiburg Germany
  • Chef De Partie, Hotel Excelsior Munich Germany
  • Chef De Partie, Feinkost Kafer Munich Germany

Professional Achievements

  • Assisted in catering for the King of Spain, 350 guests which also gave him the unique opportunity to work with Gaston Lenôtre (one of the world’s most renowned pastry chefs) on the same day in 1985
  • Cooked for European Celebrities such as: Gunther Sachs, Thurn und Taxis, Karl Friedrich Flick, Prime Minister Helmut Kohl
  • Cooked for Musicians such as Freddie Mercury, Joe Jackson
  • 1 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze ACF competition medals