Acclaimed chefs and food experts will gather at Cook. Craft. Create. ACF National Convention & Show in Orlando, Florida, July 30-Aug. 3 for a five-day event that includes hands-on workshops, cooking demonstrations and presentations, culinary competitions and a two-day trade show.
Featured chefs and foodservice experts from across the U.S. will discuss culinary trends, sustainable cooking and other topics at this year’s convention. They include:
Norman Van Aken, chef/founder, Norman’s, Orlando
John Byrne, Food Fanatics chef, US Foods
John DiSessa, CEC, general manager, food and nutrition, Boston Children’s Hospital
Pat LaFrieda, third-generation meat purveyor and burger guru/owner, Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors
Hari Pulapaka, CEC, co-owner/executive chef, Cress, Deland, Florida
Dawn Sweeney, president/CEO, National Restaurant Association (NRA)
Jack Witherspoon, 15-year-old chef and cookbook author
Cook. Craft. Create., hosted by ACF Central Florida Chapter, will take place the World Center Marriott, Orlando. The convention is open to the public and on-site registration is available for each day. Single day badges for non-members are $200 and include breakfast. Foodservice professionals and culinarians, 16 years or older, interested in attending only the tradeshow can purchase a day badge for $25.
Chefs Outreach to the Community, July 30, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
This event is an opportunity for chefs to share culinary knowledge, nutrition information and offer hands-on demonstrations to children from low-income families in the Orlando community. The outreach event features activity stations where children will learn about whole grains, fruits and vegetables, healthy snacks and drinks. Chefs run each action station and work directly with kids toteach nutrition and cooking.
Let’s Talk About Beef Sourcing Panel, July 31, 4:15-5:15 p.m.
This panel discussion will examine the current state of beef buying for the U.S. foodservice industry. How chefs and foodservice operations source meat has become an important topic in the culinary industry. The details of meat sourcing and buying have changed in the last 10 years from the farm and butcher shop to the chef and ultimately the consumer. Panelists include Pat LaFrieda, Alexes McLaughlin, from Heritage Foods USA, and Hari Pulapaka and will discuss the big questions surrounding sourcing and sustainable beef to provide insight on these topics for chefs.
Trade Show and Culinary Competitions
Sponsors and exhibitors will share the latest innovations in food, equipment and services at the two-day trade show. The trade show is open Aug. 1, noon-5 p.m. and Aug. 2, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. ACF national competitions take place on the show floor Saturday, Aug. 1, starting at 8 a.m., and Sunday, Aug. 2, starting at 9:30 a.m.
Educational Seminars and Demonstrations, July 31-Aug. 3
Chefs and foodservice professionals will give culinary presentations and demonstrations at the convention based on their interests and areas of expertise. A snapshot of the convention is below and a full schedule can be found at
Thursday, July 30
- 10 a.m.-4 p.m.: Learn how to make small-batch wild yeast bread from scratch in the hands-on workshop Wild Yeasts, Modern Breads presented by Michael Kalanty, CEPC, CCE, artisan bread instructor and author of “How to Bake Bread.”
- 1-4 p.m.: Learn how to create spectacular fruit carvings in the hands-on workshop Fruit Carving Sculpture with The Fruit Carving Ninja, Patrick O’ Brien.
Friday, July 31
- 8:15 a.m.-noon: General Session 1 includes keynote speaker Dawn Sweeney, HAAC, president, NRA, and demonstrations by Jack Witherspoon, 15-year-old chef/author, John Byrne, Food Fanatics chef, US Foods, and Steven Jilleba, CMC, CCE, AAC, corporate executive chef, Unilever Food Solutions.
- 2:45-3:45 p.m.: Learn how chefs pair cider with food in Cider House Rules with Gregory Schnorr, culinary arts instructor, Walla Walla Community College, and organic farmer.
- 3:45-4:15 p.m.: Meet the Author & Book Signing with Jack Witherspoon, 15-year-old author of “Twist It Up”, a cookbook featuring kid-friendly recipes.Part of the cookbook’s proceeds benefit pediatric cancer research.
- 4:15-5:15 p.m.: Demands of customers are changing rapidly. Changing Demands: What Change Drivers are in our Kitchens presented by Scott McCurdy, Western region corporate chef/product trainer, US Foods, will take a look at statistics on this topic and offer creative ideas to help today’s operator address the current landscape.
Saturday, Aug. 1
- 8-9 a.m.: Colombia: Not Just Great Coffee isa demonstration on how Colombian food is versatile, rich, full of flavor, colorful and comforting by Andres Marin, CEC, assistant professor/curriculum coordinator, Community College of Philadelphia, and chef instructor, The Art Institute of Philadelphia.
- 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m.: Four student teams and a U.S. military student team compete for the ACFStudent Team National Championship, sponsored by Vitamix® Corporation.
- 9:15-10:15 a.m.: Health on the Menu, presented by Lisa Carlson MS, RDN, nutrition manager, Unilever Food Solutions, and Betsy Craig, CEO/founder, MenuTrinfo, will help make sense of menu labeling and share tips and tricks to navigate the regulations.
- 9:15-10:15 a.m.: Explore umami, the culinary river connecting Eastern and Western cuisines with Ana Kinkaid, executive editor, Your Culinary World, during Umami Alchemy: The Hidden River Connecting East/West Cuisine.
- 1:30-5 p.m.: Four teams of students test their food knowledge in the Baron H. Galand Culinary Knowledge Bowl, sponsored by American Technical Publishers and US Foods.
- 2:15-5 p.m.: Four aspiring chefs compete for the title of ACF Student Chef of the Year and $1,000, sponsored by Custom Culinary, Inc.
Sunday, Aug. 2
- 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.: Four chefs compete for the title of ACF Pastry Chef of the Year and $5,000, sponsored by Plugrá® European-Style Butter.
- 9:45-10:45 a.m.: Robert Johnson, Food Fanatics chef/division chef will present Smoking Gun: The Next Level, a look into the unique kitchen gadget, The Smoking Gun, with emphasis on standard applications and trendy flavor infusions.
- 9:45-10:45 a.m.: John DiSessa, CEC, general manager, food and nutrition, Boston’s Children’s Hospital, will discuss the hospital’s transformational journey of Wellness-Innovation-Nutrition in the marketplace and how to utilize tactics for community wellness during How Hospital Chefs Can Support Community Wellness.
- 11:45 a.m.-2:30 p.m.: Four chefs compete for the title of U.S.A.’s Chef of the Year and $5,000, sponsored by Unilever Food Solutions.
- 3-4 p.m.: SWEET! Healthier and Cost Effective Dessert Options with Kimberly Brock Brown, CEPC, CCA, AAC, will cover the idea of cross utilization to save on food costs and the importance of finding ways to satisfy the diverse diets of customers with delicious and healthy dessert options as the keys to success.
Monday, Aug. 3
- 8:15-11:30 a.m.:: General Session 2 includes presenters Mark Eggerding, HAAC, US Foods; Ho-Ching Chang and Jian-Fa Shih, Taiwanese master chefs; and Andre H. Setiono, CC, finalist on Top Chef Indonesia.
- 1-2 p.m.: Join master canardiers for a demonstration of the traditional Duck Press.
- 2:15-3:15 p.m.: Enjoy a Cheese and Beer Pairing with Sarah Hill, culinary manager, cheese education and training, Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
- 6:30-9 p.m.: The convention ends with the President’s Grand Ball, a formal dinner event where national awards are presented.
Press passes are available to members of the media for the convention and culinary competitions. Follow convention happenings on Twitter @ACFChefs, #CookCraftCreate or on Facebook atwww.Facebook.com/ACFChefs.