Tampa, FL

Tampa Bay Chefs Raise $10,000 For Students Through American Culinary Federation Initiative

Carlos Hernandez

The Tampa Bay chapter of the American Culinary Federation is celebrating a successful socially-distanced Scholarship fundraising dinner at the prestigious Bay Club on Sunday, March 21st. Chapter member Chefs created eighteen unique tasting plate menu items along with craft beer supplied by Stilt House Brewery, located in Palm Harbor, and specialty wines offered by CSM Distributing, LLC.

Guests were greeted by a sailboat ice carving provided by member Russell Samson of Artic Ice on the club patio overlooking Tampa Bay. The Chefs raised $10,000 through the support of the 100 guests who attended for student scholarships within the culinary field.




General Manager Julie Cortina of The Bay Club and her staff provided service and support throughout the evening. Cheney Brothers supported the fundraising event through their generous donations of food to the Chefs preparing the evenings fare.

Chapter President, Vanessa Marquis, CEC shared her thoughts on the event, “We will not let COVID stop us from serving the community. We want to make sure we can still provide scholarships to the local culinary students this year. I am just grateful that we sold out for this event and guests were comfortable enough to attend during these times.”


Participating Chefs included Vince Blancato, Chef and Child Foundation Chair, Peter Gambacorta – Chef/Owner Private Chef of Bay, Tom Favorin of Harvest Moon Seafood, Xiomara Mora-Riveria CC – Student Chapter President, Vanessa Marquis, CEC – R&D Chef at FSC, Rene Marquis, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC Corporate Chef of F Dick USA, Michael Thrash CEC, CCA, WCWC, Corporate Chef of Simplot, Carlos Cole – Executive Chef at The Bay Club, Rick Eppers – Personal Chef, Steve Afflixio, CEC, AAC Food Fanatics Chef US Foods Tampa, Sean Copeland – Corporate Chef at Welbilt, Gaston Merideth – Chef/Owner Gaston Culinary Services, Zach Crossman -Sous Chef at The Bay Club, Patrick Artz, CC -Culinary Educator, HCPS, Geoffrey Blanchette, CEC – Chef Owner of Blanchettes, ​Masik Mohamaed Amine Owner/Chef Mo’Rock’In Mediterranean Grill, Josh Gromalski –Sous Chef at The Bay Club, and Tim Nicholson – Chef/Owner The Menu Spring.

The mission of the ACF Tampa Chapter is “the advancement of the culinary profession and culinary awareness through education and certification of membership and close interaction with other local organizations. The chapter membership is composed of chefs, cooks, culinary educators, students, and purveyors from Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas Counties and the surrounding metro area.”

The primary outreach program is the ACF Educational Foundation’s Chef & Child Initiative, an ongoing program whereby our chapter chefs educate children and families in understanding proper nutrition by providing tools and resources for community-based programs led by American Culinary Federation chef members.

The American Culinary Federation, Inc. was founded in 1929 in New York City by three chefs’ organizations: the Société Culinaire Philanthropique, the Vatel Club, and the Chefs de Cuisine Association of America. In 1976, ACF changed the culinary industry by elevating the position of the executive chef from service status to the professional category in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Dictionary of Official Titles. The ACF 2021 National Convention is currently scheduled for August 2021 in Orlando, Florida at World Center Marriott.

In April, ACF Tampa Bay is planning on building a garden and cooking lunch to A Kid’s Place Tampa Bay. The foster children will plant their garden with them for a rewarding experience for everyone. As part of their Chef & Child and International Chefs Day campaign, ACF is preparing children for a healthy lifestyle.

During the pandemic, ACF Tampa Bay was part of the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program. They teamed up with Five Star Gourmet Foods and Metropolitan Ministries to be sure the boxes were placed into the hands of those who needed them. In a period of 15 weeks, ACF Tampa Bay distributed 21,600 meals for a total of 216,000 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables to the Tampa Bay community.

Find more information at acftampabay.com.

Photo Credit: ACF Tampa Bay

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I am a writer who covers a number of topics from food to politics and everything in between. Contact: carloshernandesu@gmail.com

Tampa, FL

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