Meet the Southeast Region Culinary Salon Competitors

Toques off to the ACF’s Southeast Regional Culinary Salon competitors! This year’s competition takes place Jan. 13-14 at Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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

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

Southeast Chef of the Year Competitors

Competition begins Jan. 13 at 12:00 p.m.

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.

Chef Tyler Field, CEC, CCA
Executive Chef, The Club at Mediterra
Naples, Florida
ACF Caxambas Naples & Marco Island

Chef James Flack
Executive Chef, The King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort/ECHO
Saint Simons Island, Georgia
ACF Golden Isles of Georgia Chapter

Chef Bob Gallagher
Senior Vice President of Culinary, TR Fire Grill
Winter Park, Florida

Chef Drew Garms
Chef de Cuisine, The Palm Terrace Restaurant at The Everglades Club
Palm Beach, Florida
ACF Palm Beach County Chefs Association

Southeast Pastry Chef of the Year Competitors

Competition begins Jan. 13 at 8:00 a.m.

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 tor set-up, 60 minutes to cook, 10 minutes to plate and 15 minutes to clean up.

Chef Cicely Austin
Executive Pastry Chef, Aramark/Clemson University
Clemson, South Carolina
ACF Upstate South Carolina Chapter

Chef Joseph Cumm, CEPC
Executive Pastry Chef, Piedmont Station
Bristol, Virgina
ACF Greater Smoky Mountain Chapter

Southeast Student Chef of the Year Competitor

Competition begins Jan. 13 at 10:00 a.m.

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.

Chef Daniel Lee Wernz
Student Worker, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Orlando
Mims, Florida
ACF Central Florida Chapter

Southeast Student Team of the Year Competitors

Competition begins Jan. 14 at 9:00 a.m.

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 fifteen-minute setup window and a ten-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.

Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Asheville, North Carolina
ACF North Carolina Chapter

Pictured: Habiba Smallen, Jessica Olin, Nina Patterson, Emily Welch, Emma Wieber and Maxwell Theofrastous (student assistant).
Coaches: Chris Bugher, CEC, and Bronwen McCormick

Athens Technical College, Athens, Georgia,
ACF Augusta Chapter


Pictured: Hagen McNeill, Darlene Brand, Hillary Jones, Hannah McCutcheon, Brandon Webster and Casey Henry (not pictured).
Coach: Scott Howard

Keiser University, Sarasota, Florida
Sarasota Bay Chefs


Pictured: Sisavath Kiovilay, CEC, MBA, PhD (coach), Joseph VanHese, Khadijah Jones, Leroy Burton, Jr., Diana Palmer (alternate) and Robert Green.

Sullivan University, Louisville, Kentucky
ACF Kentucky Chapter


Pictured: Nancy Pifer (captain), Riley Frick, Cody Sadler, Jack Rosado, Timothy Agostinello (2nd alternate) and Breanna Baker (1st alternate)
Coaches: Robert Beighey, CEC, CCA, and Dave Wheatley, CEC

The ChefConnect: NYC Northeast/Southeast Regional Conference takes place Feb. 26-28 at the New York Hilton Midtown. Register by Jan. 20 to save $100 on the standard registration rate. Attendees who book a hotel at the Hilton Midtown by Jan. 31 receive a discounted rate of $165 (single/double) per night plus tax.