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American Culinary Federation Offers Invaluable Opportunities for BTC Students

Certified master chef and MBC board member Byron J. Bardy, BTC culinary director Cynthia Tuite, BTC Executive Director/ Senior Vice President Valerie Njie, catering chef Brian Buskey, culinary department administrative assistant Gina Hergenroeder, and culinary arts instructor Richard Panzera with the Outstanding Supporter of the Year Award at the ACF Pittsburgh Chapter 2018 Awards Gala. Photo courtesy of Valerie Njie.

Certified master chef and MBC board member Byron J. Bardy, BTC culinary director Cynthia Tuite, BTC Executive Director/Senior Vice President Valerie Njie, catering chef Brian Buskey, culinary department administrative assistant Gina Hergenroeder, and culinary arts instructor Richard Panzera with the Outstanding Supporter of the Year Award at the ACF Pittsburgh Chapter 2018 Awards Gala. Photo courtesy of Valerie Njie.

Partnerships with professional organizations provide Bidwell Training Center (BTC) students learning and network opportunities outside of the classroom, and there was no better example than at the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Pittsburgh Chapter 2018 Awards Gala.

The ACF promised a night filled with warm hospitality, fine dining, and tributes to those who promote the culinary profession. To say the least; they delivered.

Held on Sunday, March 11, 2018 at the St. Clair Country Club, BTC students stated that the things they most remembered about the gala were the accepting and welcoming atmosphere, the presentation of the exquisite six-course meal, the staff, and the club. It was a night where you could sit across the table from chefs who are pioneers in the culinary industry, instructors, executive directors, and students.

It is not uncommon for BTC staff and students and ACF members to be at the same event. The partnership between BTC and the ACF has provided an invaluable opportunity for students that is rarely experienced this early in the game. Throughout the years, BTC students have had the opportunity to attend monthly ACF meetings and Anything Goes Competitions—where they compete with other students around the Pittsburgh area. Their superior skills have resulted in first, second, or third place standings and awards. Monthly meetings offer a variety of demonstrations and educational lectures. Students are free to attend the meetings and competitions without being a member of the ACF and membership is offered at a discount.

Student involvement in ACF helps them gain a new perspective and enhances their ability to create new and exciting concepts. Richard Grabowski, a recent BTC graduate, was honored at the gala and received the William Foust Educational Scholarship Award. Grabowski won a $1,200 prize that paid for him to attend the Chef Connect Conference in Charlotte, NC and a student culinarian membership to the ACF Pittsburgh Chapter for one year. Valerie Njie, BTC executive director/senior vice president, was present to accept the ACF Outstanding Supporter of the Year Award on behalf of BTC.

Whether attending an awards gala, an Anything Goes Competition, or monthly meeting, students can walk out learning more than they walked in with. It is clear to see that the future of the culinary industry is in the students’ hands. The generosity and expertise that the chefs at BTC and the ACF give to the students will help guide the future of culinary cuisine and hospitality.