A dinner and program honoring members of the American Culinary Federation took place recently at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, ending with South Point chef George Bailey being named the 2014 Chef of the Year.
Nominated along with Bailey, a recipient of the President’s Medallion for dedication to ACF Chefs of Las Vegas, was Gary Brant, an ACF national and local chapter member for more than 20 years. Brant is an adjunct professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Members of the federation vote for a member whose culinary expertise and exemplary dedication have enhanced the image of the chef and the ACF Chefs of Las Vegas. Names of candidates from the general membership are submitted to a selection committee made up of former Chef of the Year winners and the ACF Chefs Las Vegas board of directors who screen and rank the candidates.
The chefs and their dinner guests arrived at The Smith Center to enjoy the event’s cocktail reception where all socialized over hors d’oeuvres in the Grand Lobby. The dinner took place on the top floor where guests were seated at tables decorated by Enchanted Florist.
Corporate executive chef Patrick Simon, director of culinary operations at Culinary Arts of Las Vegas, prepared an outstanding dinner beginning with scallops on pancetta with cucumber gelee and lemon sauce. The next course was a salad of burrata and roast beef on arugula with candied walnuts and honey Dijon vinaigrette. The fish course was lemongrass ginger glazed arctic cobia with Asian pear chutney. The entree was braised beef short rib and tenderloin of beef accompanied by Yukon gold horseradish smashed potatoes, wild mushroom treasure purse, summer pea puree and cabernet demi-glace. Each course was served with selected wines donated by Southern Wine &Spirits of Nevada. Dessert was a sampler plate of orange chocolate mousse and popping ganache, a fresh fruit tart, and caramel, raspberry and mango coulis.
The event’s master of ceremonies was chef Phillip Pinkney. Recognition was given to last year’s Chef of the Year, chef Adrian Hill from Sam’s Town. The chairman of the ACF board, chef Tom Rosenberger, joined Pinkney in presenting the President’s Award to Lorri Davidson. An Honorary ACF Life Membership was given to Sue Lednicky for her work and dedication to the Chefs for Kids program and gala. The 2014 winner for Associate of the Year was Lance Cranford of Desert Gold Food Company.
There were four nominees for 2014 Student Culinarian of the Year: Angela Armstrong of the College of Southern Nevada; Albert Chen of CSN; Sharon Hauht of CSN; and Jessica Iannotti, a student of the International Culinary School at The Art Institute, who was the winner.
Special recognition went to John A. Rees of Sysco. Rees is a chairman of ACF Chefs LV Associates advisory board. Previous Chefs of the Year attending were Michael Ty, Claude Lambertz, Jean Hertzman, Tom Rosenberger, John Metcalfe, Steve Soltz, Christopher Johns, Dennis Lambertz, Adrian Hill and Patrick Simon.
Special thanks went to Bake Mark, Desert Worldwide Produce, Enchanted Florist, Get Fresh Produce, Mikuni Wild Harvest, Open Blue, Outwest Meats, Southern Wine &Spirits, Sysco and US Foods.
Enjoying the evening were Joan Soltz, Helen Lambertz, Mary Lambertz, Micha Calton, Tina Guthre, Tina Guinta, Melissa and Dave Simmons, Michael Whitesides, Chris Sanderson, Carolyn Leontos, Nancy Justice, Lou Ann Johns, Peter Levos, Rick Albright and Richard Schneider.
In attendance were Gissur Gudmundsson, president of the World Association of Chefs and a member of the Honorable Order of the Golden Toque, a fraternal organization of accomplished culinarians, and Golden Toque members Helen Merkle, Andy Antico, John Zehnder and Brian Frick.