Let the Games Begin! Nation's Best Chefs Selected to Compete in 'International Culinary Olympics'

Today, ACF announced the nine winners whose performance at the 2002 National Restaurant Association Restaurant Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago earned them a coveted position on Team USA 2004.

Edward G. Leonard, certified master chef (CMC), president of ACF and manager of Team USA 2004, said that this year's competition was one of the best, and that Americans have reason to be proud of their team.

Exceptional chefs from every region of the country competed for this high honor. Not only were they all well-qualified, but each of them also wanted to represent the U.S. as a matter of national pride, said Chef Leonard. With so much talent, it was tough to narrow the field of finalists. In the end, we chose nine chefs who demonstrated an extraordinary level of skill, imagination and integrity that will serve the U.S. well in the 2004 'International Culinary Olympics'.

Members of ACF Culinary Team USA 2004 are as follows.

National Team USA includes:
* Joachim Buchner, CMC, Silver Spring, Md.
* Richard Rosendale, CC, White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.
* Daniel Scannell, CEC, Mendon, N.Y.
* Russell Scott, CMC, Tivoli, N.Y.
* Darrin Aoyama, Pearland, Texas, pastry chef

Regional Team USA includes:
* Scott Fetty, Pittsburgh, Pa.
* Craig Peterson, Birmingham, Ala.
* Kevin Zink, CCC, Pearland, Texas
* Patricia Nash, Ocean City, N.J., pastry chef

Jamie Keating, CCC, LaGrange, Ga., was chosen as the team alternate. James Decker, CEC, Columbus, Ohio, was chosen national sous chef and Diane Dougherty, CCC, Fairway, Kan. was selected regional sous chef.

According to Chef Leonard, the road to the final competition wasn't easy. Chef hopefuls had to compete in rigorous regional and national competitions. Of 70 applicants for Team USA 2004, only 40 were invited to compete regionally. From there, 14 finalists were chosen to compete for one of nine spots on Team USA 2004 during the three-day culinary competition in Chicago. The competition marked the culmination of an eight-month selection process.

Team USA 2004 finalists had to prepare dishes using ingredients from a mystery basket. Savory food finalists were asked to prepare three courses of 10 portions each in three-and-a-half hours, while pastry finalists prepared three plated desserts of 10 portions each in three hours. Entries were judged for taste, presentation, and creativity.

Under Chef Leonard's direction, Team USA 2004 will compete in a variety of national and international competitions over the next two years to perfect their ability to work as a team before heading to the International Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany, in 2004.

The world's most elite culinary event, the International Culinary Olympics, attracts chefs from all over the world every four years to compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in several categories for the title of World Champion.

The United States has participated in the competition since 1956. The 1960 team was voted World Champion, while the 1980, 1984 and 1988 U.S. team set a new record for the most consecutive gold medal wins.

About the International Culinary Olympics

International Culinary Olympics is the common name for the Internationale Kochkunst-Ausstellung (IKA) Quadrennial Culinary Competition. Founded in 1896, it brings together professional culinary teams from around the globe every four years to compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in several categories.

About the American Culinary Federation (ACF)

Founded in 1929, the American Culinary Federation (ACF) is the largest and most prestigious chefs' organization in the United States. ACF's goal is to make a positive difference for culinarians internationally through education, apprenticeship, and certification, while creating a fraternal bond of respect and integrity among culinarians everywhere. The ACF is also the official, sanctioned organization responsible for the selection and management of ACF Culinary Team USA, which represents the United States in the International Culinary Olympics. Visit http://www.acfchefs.org/ for more information.

About the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show

Celebrating its 83rd year, the Association's annual Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show is the largest single gathering of restaurant, foodservice and lodging professionals in North and South America. The show will be held May 18-21, 2002, at McCormick Place in Chicago. Each year, the show attracts more than 2,000 exhibitors and 75,000 attendees. For show information, visit http://www.restaurant.org/show .

The National Restaurant Association, founded in 1919, is the leading business association for the restaurant industry, which is comprised of 858,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a work force of 11.6 million employees — making it the cornerstone of the economy, career opportunities and community involvement. Along with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, the Association works to represent, educate and promote the rapidly growing industry. For more information, visit our Web site at http://www.restaurant.org/