Delaware North conducted one of two American Culinary Federation chef certifications in the at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute last week. Six of Delaware North's chefs traveled from all over the country to prepare for their exam for chef de cuisine certification, which took place March 17.
Over the week, the chefs - Efren Gonzalez II, head chef at Wuksachi Lodge in the Sequoia and Kings Canyon; Sheamus O'Rork, sous chef at Teneya Lodge at Yosemite; Derek Neighbor, sous chef at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida; Christopher Dore, executive sous chef at Gideon Putnam in Saratoga Springs; Robert Gilbertson, sous chef at Teneya Lodge at Yosemite; and Brandon Bollenbacher, John Muir Lodge at Grant Grove - worked with NFCI faculty and students in preparation for the exam. Wednesday included a written test and Thursday culminated in a three-hour timed practical exam where chefs had to demonstrate advanced cooking techniques to a team of ACF evaluators. Among those present this week were Delaware North Corporate Chef Roland Henin, CMC, who is one of only 70 certified master chefs in the U.S., and Regional Executive Chef Pascal Beaute, who currently works at Kennedy Space Center.
All six chefs received a certificate of completion of coursework.
They said the week was "challenging."
"I have learned a lot from this experience and appreciate the mentorship of the faculty from the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute," Dore said.
Gonzalez stated, "The kitchens were well stocked, clean; the facility was top-notch; the chef instructors were a wealth of knowledge. It was great to come out to Niagara Falls to do this."
Beaute added, "We are very happy to partner with a local culinary institute, since Delaware North is a local company. These exams used to take place in Chicago, we are very happy to move them to the area and support local businesses and show support to future chefs in the area. I'm sure this is the first of many more partnerships to come."
Henin noted, "I've never seen such a great facility. The equipment is of great quality and the faculty and students of the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute have been very accommodating and have made all of the Delaware North chefs feel welcome and comfortable as they are taking their exams."
"Our students have really taken a lot away from this experience," said chef Mark Mistriner CEC, AAC, professor and chair of the business and hospitality division at Niagara Falls Culinary Institute and Niagara County Community College, "Chef Henin, who, as you may know, was a mentor to famed chef Thomas Keller, has a wealth of knowledge and a different perspective than what these students see here each day. It is great that our culinary students are able to learn from chef Henin and chef Beaute during these exams, as well as what we provide for them."
This week, 10 additional chefs will come to the NFCI for the certified sous chef exam, which takes place March 24. For both exams, the chefs will be working hands-on with NFCI faculty and students throughout the week. Also, regional executive chef Brian Sterner will be present from Delaware North to oversee the chefs taking the CSC exam.
Judging the exams from the American Culinary Federation: Chef Rebecca Formwalt CSC, CCE, AAC, has been educating aspiring young chefs in high school for more than 20 years; chef Mary Kiernan CCE, CCC, MBA, has worked for the division of nutrition food studies at Syracuse University for more than 15 years; chef Scott Steiner CCE, AAC, MSE, has been a chef instructor at NFCI since its doors opened in 2012. He previously worked as faculty at Erie 1 BOCES, as a chef at The Buffalo Club and is the past president of American Culinary Federation's Buffalo Chapter.
These are the first events in the growing relationship between Delaware North and NFCI.
Photos by Gina Beam, NCCC