Two Club Chefs Earn Top ACF Awards

William Racin, CEPC, of The Duquesne Club was named 2018 Pastry Chef of the Year at the American Culinary Federation’s National Convention, and Kevin Brennan, CEC, AAC, of the Detroit Athletic Club, received the Dr. L.J. Minor Chef Professionalism Award.

The best pastry chef in the nation, according to the American Culinary Federation (ACF), is William Racin, CEPC, Pastry Chef at The Duquesne Club, Pittsburgh, Pa. Racin received the 2018 ACF Pastry Chef of the Year award after winning a competition at Cook. Craft. Create. ACF National Convention & Show, held in New Orleans, July 15-19.

The ACF Pastry Chef of the Year award, sponsored this year by Plugrá European Style Butter and CÉMOI Chocolate, was established in 2004 and recognizes a pastry chef who displays a passion for the craft, has an accomplished reputation in the pastry field and has helped to educate others by sharing skills and knowledge. Four finalists competed at the national convention after first being nominated by colleagues and then winning their respective regional competitions.

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“The American Culinary Federation is pleased to recognize William Racin as our National Pastry Chef of the Year for 2018,” said ACF National President Stafford T. DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC. “Chef Racin has not only demonstrated considerable skill in the kitchen throughout the competition process this year, but also devoted significant energies to sharing his expertise throughout his career. We thank him for his dedication to advancing the craft of pastry and congratulate him on this exciting accomplishment.”

Pastry chefs had two hours and 30 minutes to prepare and serve three items representing the designated theme, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”: a cold-plated dessert featuring Iemon, buttermilk and plum, a signature cookie, and an edible showpiece at least two feet tall and composed 75 percent of either chocolate or sugar work. A panel of ACF-approved judges determined the winner.

Racin’s winning desserts included a pistachio cherry spritz cookie and a buttermilk plum crescent featuring cornmeal cake, buttermilk panna cotta, buttermilk lemon sherbet and plum gelée. His showpiece consisted of dark chocolate, white chocolate and pastillage.

Racin is a Certified Executive Pastry Chef® with the American Culinary Federation. He studied baking and pastry arts at The Culinary Institute of America and is a member of the ACF Pittsburgh Chapter. Prior to joining The Duquesne Club as its Executive Pastry Chef, he gained experience in the kitchens of The Country Inn at Walden, The Hermitage Hotel and Provence Breads & Cafe.

Kevin Brennan, CEC, AAC, Executive Chef of the Detroit Athletic Club (DAC), was also honored at the ACF event with the Dr. L.J. Minor Chef Professionalism Award for 2018.

The award, sponsored by Minor’s®, honors culinarians who help elevate the status of chefs and cooks in the U.S. The award celebrates the legacy of Dr. Minor, who led the charge to have chefs reclassified as professionals by the U.S. Department of Labor in 1976, and is presented to a chef who showcases the highest standard of professionalism through certification, continuing education and training, culinary competitions and community involvement.

For the first time since its inception, the 2018 national Dr. L. J. Minor Chef Professionalism Award was voted on by the entirety of the American Culinary Federation’s membership.

“Congratulations to Chef Brennan and to each of our regional winners,” said Rich Sandone, Director, Chef2Chef Sales, Minor’s®. “The gold standard of professionalism demonstrated by all four chefs is a tribute to Dr. Minor’s legacy and the highest ideals of the profession. We feel Kevin Brennan is an outstanding chef and are pleased to recognize him as an ambassador of culinary excellence based on the input of his peers.”

This is Brennan’s second time receiving the award; he was also honored as the Central region winner in 2013. Brennan is an accomplished culinary competitor, earning gold and silver medals in ACF-certified events throughout his career, and he was named ACF Chef of the Year in 1989 and 1999.

A member of the ACF Michigan Chefs de Cuisine chapter since 1984, Brennan has served on the organization’s board as president, vice president and treasurer, and as a member of the chapter’s Apprenticeship Committee. He graduated from Schoolcraft College’s culinary program in 1976 and gained experience in the kitchens of the Recess Club and Orchard Lake Country Club in Bloomfield Township, Mich. before joining the DAC as its Executive Chef in 1994.

Chef Brennan, along with the DAC’s Executive Sous Chef, Stephen Swasey, CEC, presented at C&RB’s Tenth Annual Chef to Chef Conference in Seattle, Wash. in March 2018, describing (and demonstrating dishes made for) the DAC culinary team’s preparation of a dinner at the James Beard House in New York City.