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APCA Stresses Professional Standards at Summit

APCA Stresses Professional Standards at Summit

By Brent T. Frei, ACF director of marketing

The theme, “Driving the Industry: Setting the Standard,” lured culinarians to the sixth-annual Summit of the American Personal Chef Association and American Personal Chef Institute at the Town & Country Resort & Convention Center in San Diego, Aug. 14-16. The summit, led by APCA and APCI executive director Candy Wallace, hosted nearly 200 personal chefs. 

“That’s a pretty significant increase in attendance from our first summit six years ago,” Wallace said. “That first summit we had 20 attendees. We’ve come a long way since then.” Several postsecondary educators attended this year to learn how to integrate a college-level personal-chef-training curriculum, recently developed by APCI, into their programs.

Executive Director - Candy WallaceWalter Bronowitz, CCE, AAC, vice president of ACF’s Western Region, keynoted, describing how, three decades ago, ACF lobbied the U.S. government to define "chef" as a professional occupation, and how standards are critical to developing professionalism and prestige. ACF, Bronowitz said, established standards for professional chefs, and continues to protect and exalt those standards. Standards, once met, become inadequate, and a new level must be reached. The bar must always be raised, he said.

Brent T. Frei, director of marketing for ACF, followed Bronowitz with a presentation on the image of the professional chef, which ACF established nearly 75 years ago and continues to uphold for the industry.

APCA unveiled its Personal Chef International Code of Ethics ( at thesummit. Development of the code, which stresses care of clients’ property, professional conduct, and the choice of quality food ingredients, among other standards, began with Brian Boots, executive chef and owner of Elegance Ala Carte Personal Chef Service in Wilton Manors, Fla., and chairman of APCA’s ethics committee, at APCA’s 2002 Summit in Orlando.

Said APCA’s director of program development, Gordon Johnson, who announced the code to attendees this year, members of APCA are leaders in the personal-chef segment of industry “because they lead.”

“I thought back to the ACF National Conventions I have attended, and my private thoughts about how having all these people calling each other ‘Chef’ and wearing whites everywhere was kind, well... unnecessary,” said Johnson. “At some point before taking the stage I got thinking about what Chef Brian, Chef Walter, and Mr. Frei said, and this new perspective started setting in.

“We set standards which are destined to become inadequate because we ourselves will raise the bar as we meet them,” Johnson said.

“We have set standards for ourselves as an industry,” he continued. “With the Code of Ethics we have collectively set standards for ourselves as individuals--standards that, once met, will require revising and honing as we seek to continually improve. We have done this not for any competitive edge against other personal chefs or associations, but because we are in the process of creating ourselves, our image, and the foundation upon which that image is built. This is a process that will continue to grow and change and lay out a path for others--something not to be taken too lightly. The ‘Orlando Project’ will never be complete as long as we continually seek to be better than we are.”

APCA’s annual continuing-education Summit, designed to support the industry’s development of profitable, efficient business practices, this year offered a full and varied educational agenda that included workshops and seminars on better marketing one’s business, accommodating clients with food allergies, honing knife skills, developing and enhancing Web sites, and catering for personal-chef clients, among others. The ServSafe exam for certification was also offered. Preparing better, more flavorful and more wholesome and healthful food was the chief message of much of the educational programming, which was preceded by local farm tours and capped by a barbecue competition with proceeds donated to a local culinary-related charity.

Of particular note was a panel discussion on personal-chef certification, presided at by Bronowitz; Ira Michaelson, CCC, owner of Your Personal Gourmet in Palm Beach County, Fla., member of ACF Palm Beach County Chefs Association, and president of the Florida chapter of APCA; and Stephan Viao, CCP, representing the International Association of Culinary Professionals, whose own certification, Certified Culinary Professional, was recently made available to members of APCA. Approximately 30 culinarians interested in becoming certified as chefs attended the panel discussion, at which Bronowitz and Michaelson outlined the criteria and procedures for obtaining Personal Certified Chef and Personal Certified Executive Chef credentials through ACF.

Dane Mechlin, CEC, chef and owner of Nadine & Dane’s Personal Chef in Santa Clara, Calif., member of ACF National Chapter, and president of APCA’sNorthern California chapter, was named APCA’s inaugural Chef of the Year.

Next year’s APCA Summit will be held in Minneapolis, Aug. 26-28. For more information, contact APCA at (800) 644-8389 or visit

Article published in October issue of the National Culinary Review
The official magazine of the American Culinary Federation (ACF).

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