LAS VEGAS — One of the largest American Culinary Federation (ACF) National Conventions in more than a decade is being celebrated by 1,500 chefs and foodservice executives in Las Vegas this week, from July 21 to 25, at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas hotel and casino.
The event’s theme of professional certification spotlights accreditation development, educational seminars, cooking demonstrations and a tradeshow; it also covers the latest trends and techniques, competitions and more.
Celebrity chefs on the docket this year include Ming Tsai of Blue Ginger in Wellesley Mass.; Rick Moonen of RM Seafood in Las Vegas; and Farmer Lee Jones of The Chef’s Garden in Huron, Ohio.
So far, the event has seen the introduction of a professional development marketing initiative for individual members, ACF chapters and ACF as an organization. Natalie Judd, president, Big Voice Communications in New Haven Conn., conducted two jam-packed workshops on the subject, one on personal branding and a the second on a new “Certification Toolkit” for the newly certified chef and his/her chapter.
Judd explained that thinking of yourself and your business/employer as a ‘brand’ is essential in today’s fast-changing communications environment. To do that, build a consistent “good story” based on honest facts, using many channels to reinforce your brand. The challenge? Building and protecting an organization’s brand has grown in complexity as the Internet and social media have shifted power from the organization to the consumer. So, brand development starts with understanding who and where your marketplace is, establishing goals and a strategic framework to reach them and then executing the communication strategies that fit your company’s core values to build an internal consensus and influence external audiences.
Meanwhile, the ACF “Certification Tool Kit” includes draft announcements and press releases and integrates your news with the ACF brand to benefit both parties.
Many Canadian chefs join ACF border chapters to secure access to 14 levels of professional certification designations. Some 50 to 60 attend the national and four and regional ACF conferences for this purpose. ACF certifications, each requiring specific qualifications, are based on a candidate’s work and educational experience as cooking professionals, personal cooking professionals, baking and pastry professionals, culinary administrators and culinary educators. ACF’s 14 certification designations and requirements are posted at acfchefs.org.
The national conference continues through to the President’s Grand Ball on Thursday, July 15.