St. Augustine, Fla., May 3, 2011—The American Culinary Federation (ACF), Inc., the largest association of professional chefs in North America, held its 2011 ACF Western Regional Conference at Talking Stick Resort, Scottsdale, Ariz., April 29-May 2, 2011. More than 25 chefs, students and chapters were honored at the conference, which was the last regional conference of the 2011 events series. Now all regional award finalists look ahead to the ACF National Convention in Dallas, July 22-26, 2011.

Hosted by ACF Chefs Association of Arizona, Inc., the ACF Wes""tern Regional Conference brought hundreds of chefs, cooks and foodservice professionals together for networking, competitions and professional development opportunities at cooking demonstrations, business seminars and a trade show. The American Academy of Chefs (AAC), ACF’s honor society, gave a $1,000 grant to the Western Region Student Team Regional Champions, ACF Bay Area Chefs Association of Oregon, to assist the team with expenses to travel to the national competition.

Here are the 2011 Western Region award winners who will compete against their regional counterparts in Dallas:

Chef of the Year, sponsored by Unilever Food Solutions

Todd Leonard, CEC, executive chef, Blue Lemon, American Fork, Utah; ACF Beehive Chefs Chapter Inc.

Pastry Chef of the Year, sponsored by Splenda®                

Paul John Padua, executive pastry chef, The Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite National Park, Calif.; Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts Inc.

Chef Educator of the Year

Bill Sy, CEC, CCE, academic director, The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Tucson, Tucson, Ariz.; ACF Chefs Association of Southern Arizona Tucson

Hermann G. Rusch Chef’s Achievement Award

Leif Benson, CEC, AAC, retired, Welches, Ore.; ACF Chefs de Cuisine Society of Oregon

Chef Professionalism Award, sponsored by Minor’s®

Anthony Danna, CEC, AAC, executive chef, Edgewood Downs Retirement, Beaverton, Ore.; ACF Chefs de Cuisine Society of Oregon

Student Chef of the Year, sponsored by Custom Culinary, Inc.

Ghil Medina, services journeyman/senior airman, U.S. Air Force, Hampton, Va.; Old Dominion ACF Chapter

Baron H. Galand Culinary Knowledge Bowl, sponsored by American Technical Publishers

Representing ACF Pikes Peak Chapter Inc., Colorado Springs, Colo.: Liberty Blechman, Katherine Conlon, Robin Flynn, Patrick Patterson and Debra Schmidt. Heidi Block and Leslie Bender are the team’s coaches.      

Student Team Regional Championship, sponsored by R.L. Schreiber, Inc.

Representing ACF Bay Area Chefs Association of Oregon, students at Oregon Coast Culinary Institute, Coos Bay, Ore.: Justin Clark, Mallory Crocker, Diana Jeffs, Reilly Meehan and Kimberly Ream. Randy Torres, CEC, is the team’s coach.

Paella, Please! sponsored by Riviana

Samuel Murillo, Glendale, Ariz.

The 2011 ACF Western Regional Conference award recipients listed below were recognized for their outstanding contributions to the culinary industry.

Chapter of the Year

ACF Pikes Peak Chapter, Inc., Colorado Springs, Colo.

Chapter Achievement Award

ACF Pikes Peak Chapter, Inc.

ACF Southern CA Inland Empire Chefs & Cooks Association, San Bernandino, Calif.

Cutting Edge Award

Donald Dickinson, CEC, CCA, AAC, culinary division director, Institute of Technology, Citrus Heights, Calif.; ACF California Capital Chefs Association

Walter Hawley, CEC, corporate executive chef, Nestlé Professional, Englewood, Colo.; ACF Colorado Chefs Association

Christopher Plemmons, CEC, AAC, chef-instructor, Olympic College Culinary Arts Institute, Bremerton, Wash.; ACF Washington State Chefs Association

Ricardo Santana, executive chef, Impressions Catering, Ontario, Calif.; ACF Southern CA Inland Empire Chefs & Cooks Association

ACF President’s Medallions

Franz Kubak, CEC, assistant professor/chef-instructor, Utah Valley University, Orem, Utah; ACF Beehive Chefs Chapter Inc.

Tony Parker, CEC, general manager, Eurest Dining Services, Kent, Wash.; ACF Washington State Chefs Association

James Wolters, CEC, AAC, executive chef, Manito Country Club, Spokane, Wash.; ACF Chefs de Cuisine of the Inland Northwest

Sponsors of the 2011 ACF Western Regional Conference and ACF national award sponsors are: American Technical Publishers; Arizona Beef Council; Barry Callebaut; Canada Cutlery Inc.; The Cheesecake Factory Bakery Inc.; China Mist; Custom Culinary, Inc.; Ecolab; Kingsburg Orchards; Koch Foods, Inc.; Mars Foodservice; McCormick For Chefs; MenuMax; MINOR’S®; NEWCHEF Fashion Inc.; New Mexico Department of Agriculture; QUALISOY; R.L. Schreiber, Inc.; Riviana Foods Inc.; Splenda®; Sysco; Tyson Food Service; Unilever Food Solutions; U.S. Foodservice; Valrhona;Vitamix Corp.; and the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. 

About the American Culinary Federation

The American Culinary Federation, Inc., established in 1929, is the premier professional organization for culinarians in North America. With more than 20,000 members spanning 225 chapters nationwide, ACF is the culinary leader in offering educational resources, training, apprenticeship and programmatic accreditation. In addition, ACF operates the most comprehensive certification program for chefs in the United States. ACF is home to ACF Culinary Team USA, the official representative for the United States in major international culinary competitions, and to the Chef & Child Foundation, founded in 1989 to promote proper nutrition in children and to combat childhood obesity. For more information, visit

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