The Laurel Highlands chapter had the honor of hosting the United staes Culinary Olympic team at the Westmoreland County Community College. This was such a rewarding experience for the students, staff, chapter members, and community. The team prepared the "restaurant of Nations" dinner for our guests as a practice run in preparation for the olympics. The olympics will take place in Germany in February of 2024.
Chef Susan Notter, CEPC held a blown and pulled sugar demonstration at the Westmoreland County Community College. Chef is the pastry coach of the USA Culinary Olympic Team and was a member of the team in 2019. Chef asked our chapter member, Philisity Varndell to help with the demonstrtations.
The ACFLHC hosted a chili cook off at WCCC on March 6th 2023. Chapter members displayed their best chili for tasting. Guests were able to sample each chili and had the opportunity to vote for their favorite. Our judges included, Chef Tim Fetter, Dr. Paul Currie, and Chef Bruno Marroncelli. Gregory Nemchick took 1st place and received fans choice award. Justin Chisholm received 2nd place, and Chef Jennifer McKelvey received 3rd. Congratulations!
The Laurel Highlands chapter teamed up with the Pittsburgh chapter for the ACF summer picnic. This years theme was Texas BBQ. Thank you to all of the members that made this picnic a success!
During our February Meeting, Chef William Racin CEPC demonstrated the making of molded chocolates.
Owners Matt and Mandy educated our group on the history of mead, the different varieties, how it is produced, and where they get their honey. The thorough presentation was very educational to all that attended. Following the presentation, we were able to taste a number of their different products, and many purchsed a few bottles to take home.
Special thatnks to Carol Baier, Regis Holden, and the Board and Officers of the Pittsburgh Chapter for making this event a success. We already plan on making this a joint picnic every year moving forward!
On May 29th, Nancy Thorne of the Westmoreland County Beekeepers Association hosted us at her home to do a presentation on Beekeeping.
Nancy has been keeping bees for 5 years and has 6 hives. We learned about how to start beekeeping and the process from start to finish up through harvesting honey. We also tasted different varieties of honey with cheeses and breads.
We were even featured in the ACF's National Culinary Review September/October 2018 Issue!
Our newest sponsor, Smithfield Foodservice, hosted a presentation on global BBQ. Chapter Vice President, Scott Schmucker, EdD, CEC, CCE prepared three recipes for all to try including Laos Grilled Pork Kabobs, Costillas De Tejas (Texas Ribs), and Pork Belly Skewers in Anticucherra Sauce. Although we forgot to pull the names for the raffle, we picked them afterwards and the winners are:
Joe Weaver, CEC - Yeti Tumbler
Dianne Palmieri - BBQ Set
Deya Hess - Student Membership
Gabriella Maurizio - Student Membership
We will be in touch with the winners soon!
Choice of Soup of the Day or House Salad
Thyme Crusted Pork Tenderloin, Apple Pomegranate Cornbread Stuffing, Ruby Port Reduction, Sautéed Winter Greens
Soy Maple Glazed Faroe Island Salmon, Coconut Ginger Sushi Rice Cakes, Kimchi
Gorgonzola Crusted Petite Filet of Beef, Wild Mushroom Spinach Risotto, Grilled Asparagus, Demi Glace
A Special Housemade Doughnut Dessert
On September 25, Chris Parker, Corporate Chef for Mercer Culinary, spoke about knife construction, maintenance, and sharpening during the hour-long seminar at WCCC on September 25. Mercer is a family owned company focused on supplying culinary students and professional chefs with their products. All Mercer knives are NSF rated and are available on Amazon, Webstraurant Store, and Penn Fixture in the strip district.
For our first meeting back from the summer, we visited a new farm in our region. Morris Organic Farm is a USDA Certified Organic Pick-Your-Own-Produce Farm located in Irwin. Our Secretary, Carol
Baier visited the farm and thought it would be a great idea for a meeting to take it outside and learn about organic farming.
Randy Morris was a great host and showed us around the farm and went into detail about organic vs. conventional farming and it's health benefits. We also picked our own produce to take home.
Chef Moore (left) was given the highest award that ACFLHC presents. Cindy Komarinski nominated Chef Moore saying the following:
"I would like to nominate Chef Matt Moore from Nemacolin Woodlands as the ACF Laurel Highlands Chapter Chef of the Year.
Chef Moore is an outstanding chef and mentor to aspiring culinarians and an inspiration to all in the culinary industry. He continually recruits and hires individuals to join the ACF Laurel Highlands Chapter Apprenticeship Program which he supports as a Supervising Chef at Nemacolin Woodlands. He hires at least 10 individuals a year and not only oversees their OJT, he meets with them regularly, takes them on numerous educational opportunities such as trips to the Chef's Garden, to the ACF Northeast Conference every year, and many many more activities. He exhibits professionalism in all that he undertakes and exemplifies the criteria for ACF Laurel Highlands Chapter Chef of the Year. It is without hesitation that I make this recommendation."
Chapter President, Tim Fetter, was pleased to give Chef Baier her 2nd consecutive President's Award for always going above and beyond to serve the Chapter at any given time. Chef Baier is the first one to have her hand up anytime help is needed and is an extremely valuable asset to our organization.
Chef Manfred Sander was presented with the Legacy Award for his decades of service to the ACFLHC. He was one of the founding members in 1972 and has been involved ever since. He has served in some capacity almost the entire 45 years! He has let us know that this will be his last term on the Board of Directors and he is excited to make way for a younger generation of chefs to take over and help the chapter flourish. Congrats Chef Sander!
Thanks to Chef Sandro Marcato and his team for a wonderful dinner at Seven Springs Mountain Resort! Also a special thanks goes out to all of our awardees, attendees, and the Board of Directors for the planning of the dinner, as well as all that donated baskets for the Chinese raffle. Chef Moore has already agreed to host our Awards Dinner next year at Nemacolin Woodlands!
On March 14th at 6:00 in the Ampitheather in Commisioners Hall at WCCC, Tenuta Torciano Winery from Italy hosted a Wine Tasting School. They presented their best products in a vertical tasting of wines, oils and balsamic vinegar. They explained the protocol of the glass, how to recognize the aromas, how to pair wines and foods, and many other interesting secrets…
Spicy Coconut Crab Soup
Our meeting on October 25th was held at the Clubhouse at Redstone Highlands in North Huntingdon.
We had a brief general meeting to go over Chapter business, and there was a presentation about a wonderful program that Redstone is doing. "Recipe for Success" is a partnership through Redstone and Goodwill where they train high school students with special needs in our field. The eventual outcome is that these individuals are able to obtain an entry level job in the industry upon program completion. 1 CEH was earned for attendance.
Jennifer Posgay, CEC, CCA and her team also be served a terrific dinner.
Arcadian Harvest Greens, Candied Pecans, Dried Cranberries, Shaved Red Onion, Chevre, with Roasted Beet Vinaigrette
Choice of Entrée
Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apple Pan Jus Lie, Roasted Sweet Corn Cake, and Orange Glazed Asparagus
Seared Salmon with Onion Jam, Roasted Sweet Corn Cake, and Orange Glazed Asparagus
Warm Granny Smith Apple Galette with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Caramel
Lauri Jones, executive Director of Operations at Seven Springs Mountain Resort, presented a seminar about the importance of customer service within the travel and tourism industry. A major goal for any facility that deals with guests should be to create customer loyalty. It is much more cost effective to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones. Employees can accomplish this by having an exemplary attitude, exceeding customer expectations, understanding customer concerns, and being passionate about the services they provide.
Mrs. Jones also talked about the power of social media. Since most of us turn to the internet to find information on products, services, and businesses, it is essential that businesses are proactive in reviewing the information that is available to their existing and potential customers. Looking at reviews and surveys of services rendered can provide invaluable feedback. Sharing this information with employees will allow them to see what is working and what needs to be improved. Since employees are the key to great customer service, keeping them motivated through information sharing, reward programs, and positive feedback helps to develop a great customer service atmosphere.
We were treated to a five course meal with Bobby Fry and Christian Bosco doing the cooking and Jim Bosco and Carol Baier doing the serving. Great weather, great food, and great conversations!
Thanks for all that attended our dinner on May 24th at 6:30pm at Four Seasons Brewing in Latrobe, PA. The dinner featured a 4 course Latin themed dinner by
our Vice President, Ray Flowers, CEC, of Sun Dawg Cafe. Mark Pavlik, Head Brewer gave us an overview of their operation and the brewing process. Chef Flowers also discussed the methodology of beer
and food pairings.
Slow Roasted Carne Asada Beef Taco with Pico, Queso Fresco, & Chimichurri
"Tequila Sunrise Salad"
Arugula with Orange Segments, Cumin Dusted Pepitas, Queso Fresco, and Tequila Agave Vinaigrette
Caribbean jerk Chicken with Coconut Jasmine Rice, Black Beans, Calypso Salsa and Rum Caramelized Plantains
Triple Chocolate Brownies with Chipotle, Agave, and Cinnamon
Our Certification Chair, Regis Holden, CEC, CCA, put on a very informative presentation on ACF Certification and Chef Patrick Conway and his team presented us with this menu:
Italian Deli Board
Strawberry Fresh Mozzarella Salad
Farfalle with Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Toasted Pine Nuts
Beef and Asparagus Roulade with Herb Glace
Deconstructed Brie Tiramisu
Our dinner meeting featured a captivating presentation by Paul Valerio of the Westmoreland Photographers Society (WPS). The focus was on taking the best possible photos using your smartphone. Following the presentation, dinner was served and all were encouraged to take photos of each course.
Hosting the dinner was another WPS member and talented photographer, and also owner of the Sunset Cafe, Anna Jo Noviello.
Menu - Courtesy of Chef Stephen Deems
Sweet Potato Cappelletti, Crab, Mushroom Consommé, Fried Parsley
Smoked Chicken Caramelle, Crispy Prosciutto, Kale, Root Vegetables, Brown Butter
Espresso, Chocolate, and Burnt Orange Manicotti, Ricotta, Fennel Créme Anglaise, Pickled Blackberry, Macadamia
House or Caesar Salad
Aged Sirloin, Faroe Island Salmon, or Stuffed Chicken Breast
S'mores Stack or Pecan Ball
Special thanks to Chad, Lauren, and Adam from Millie's Homemade Ice Cream for the great seminar at WCCC on Monday, October 19th. They shared how they made the decision to get into the ice cream business and how much it differs from the restaurant world. They brought samples of their Salted Caramel and Black Mission Fig Ice Creams and they were fantastic.
Like their Facebook page and learn more about them at http://www.millieshomemade.com/
And be on the lookout for their scoop shop in Lawrenceville this spring!
Helen's Famous Crab Bisque
Fin & Feather Salad - Arugula, Watercress, Fried Brie and Sherry Vinaigrette
Duet of Short Ribs with Sweet Potato Gnocchi and Scallops with Truffled White Beans
It was great to see some new faces and we hope to keep building on that fo future meetings and events. The Vallozzi's were great hosts and prepared and served a wonderful dinner.
Here was the menu:
A Prosecco and Shrimp Gathering
Angelhair Carbonara, Frittata Egg, Mushroom and Pancetta
Frisee, Shaved Fennel, Blood Orange, Red Onion, Picante’ Gorgonzola
and Toasted Pignoli with an Apricot Honey Vinaigrette
Tomato Roasted Pork Osso Bucco with Sweet Chile Risotto
Espresso Panna Cotta, Caramelized Bananas and Spiced Pecans
Smoked Pork Terrine, Pistachio, Stone House Red Poached Pears, Fennel
Paired with Stone House Red, Christian Klay Winery
Smoked Fayette County Lamb, House Gnocchi, Footprints Sweet Tomatoes
Paired with House Hard Lemonade
Smoked Chicken Burrito, Beans, Queso, Footprints Salsa
Paired with House Margarita, Lime
Smoked Brisket Point, Rub & Memphis, Grilled Apple Potatoes
Paired with Dale's Pale Ale, Oskar Blues c/o Dunbar Distributing
Smoked Peach Cobbler, Vanilla, Cream, Crumbles...Mason Jar
Paired with Honey Queen Braggot, Sam Adams
On October 24th, WCCC Alumni and this year's ACF Western Region Pastry Chef of the Year held a pastry arts demo for the students at WCCC. Chef Cwierz is a Pastry Sous Chef at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. He was also recently inducted into the WCCC Center for Culinary Arts and Hospitality Hall of Fame. To learn more about it, click here.
Bobby Fry with WCCC student Amy Keddie
The first ACFLHC seminar was held in September. Bobby Fry, owner of Bar Marco in the Strip District, and Livermore Bar in East Liberty, connected with audience members on matters of social media, communication skills, and marketing a business. When using social media, content is important. Bobby knows that paying attention to details is key. People like to see great photographs, read interesting stories, be updated on activities, and receive information that is genuine and thoughtful. When using multiple social media platforms, Bobby puts different content on each one. It takes time but it allows him to communicate with many people.
Bobby also spoke about the importance of connecting with the community. In October 2012, he met with Jamie Oliver and founded the Food Revolution Pittsburgh Cooking Club (FRPCC). A partnership was made with the Barack Obama Academy in East Liberty, and regular cooking clubs were launched every Tuesday after school. This organization is dedicated to empower communities to take ownership of their food choices. FRPCC provides access to culinary skills, industry experience, and the tools and resources necessary to sustain healthy lifestyles and communities. For more information visit: http://www.foodrevpgh.com/
The audience members thoroughly enjoyed Bobby's presentation. His advice for running a successful business included building a team of great people. It was apparent that Bobby has a great team and he enjoyed sharing their stories of success with everyone.
On March 24, 2014, the ACFLHC welcomed Jason Ziobrowski, CEC, to Westmoreland County Community College where he presented an educational seminar on whole grains. Jason aka Chef “Jay Z” is the corporate chef for the eastern region of InHarvest. He arrived early and worked with students and ACF members on ten dishes that showcased a product called “Sunrise Blend with Quinoa Flakes”. Recipes included doughnuts, a yogurt parfait, holiday stuffing, a veggie burger, sweet potato hash cakes, breakfast bars, porridge with toasted almonds, and a myriad of cold salads.
That afternoon Chef Jay Z imparted his expertise to a packed audience. He spoke about menu trends, tips and tricks for cooking whole grains, and how to lower food costs by incorporating grains into menu items. This was followed by a tasting of the items prepared that morning. Many attendees we surprised that whole grains could be combined with a wide range of ingredients and produce such tasty results. for more information on whole grains and recipes, you can visit www.indianharvest.com
Chef Anthony Todaro, CEC from RC Fine Foods, presented a seminar titled “Flavor vs. Sodium, How Can You Win?” He began his presentation by talking about the history of salt. Salt and history have been inextricably intertwined for millennia, with great importance placed on salt by many different races and cultures of people. The word “salary” was derived from the word “salt.” Salt was highly valued and its production was legally restricted in ancient times, so it was historically used as a method of trade and currency. The word “salad” also originated from “salt,” and began with the early Romans salting their leafy greens and vegetables.
We all need salt in our diet because sodium plays an essential role in the body’s functions. Salt helps maintain the fluid in our blood cells and is used to transmit information in our nerves and muscles. It is also used in the uptake of certain nutrients from our small intestines. The body cannot make salt and so we are reliant on food to ensure that we get the required intake.
The Center for Disease Control recommends a sodium intake of less than 2,300 milligrams per day for healthy individuals. RC Fine foods has developed “Umami Sensations” which are products that are lower in sodium and have a high flavor profile. Some of these powdered products include; kombu seaweed, champignon mushroom, mirepoix, red miso, and kokumi. Chef Anthony used a combination of RC’s Umami Sensations to change the flavor of a reduced sodium vegetable broth. Comments from the audience included, “It makes the broth taste meatier,” “It is more satisfying with the added powder,” “It almost tastes like a beef broth.” The demonstration showed how products, other than salt, can enhance the flavor of food.
RC Fine Foods also has gluten free and reduced sodium bases, sauces and gravy mixes. For a list of all their products visit: http://www.rcfinefoods.com/ . They also have a limited number of products on Amazon.
The seminar held on February 11, 2013 was about "la Cucina Italiana" or Italian cuisine. Simonetta Marafon was the featured speaker and is also a student pursuing a culinary degree at Westmoreland County Community College. She was born in Italy and came to the United States two years ago to immerse herself in American culture and follow her passion of culinary arts. She is currently an apprentice chef at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and one day hopes to be an executive chef at her own establishment.
It was interesting to learn how different the cuisines are from region to region or even from town to town. Italians possess a strong sense of localism, which is reflected in the foods that they produce. Each community has a distinctive way of making things like sausages, cheeses, wines, and even breads. Food and cultural heritage are tied closely together. Italians are very proud of their local gastronomic traditions.
Italians prefer to eat local ingredients. They shop daily for fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and seafood, and breads. Large cities have outdoor markets where vendors bring the bounty of the countryside to urban cooks. Italians also eat seasonally. Wild mushrooms are harvested in the fall and strawberries are collected in early summer.
Some foods are regulated by the European Union and are given quality labels. Foods that are regulated vary between regions but examples include; prosciutto, mortadella, olive oil, cheeses, and wines. For a complete list visit: http://www.naturalmenteitaliano.it/flex/cm/pages/ServeBLOB.php/L/EN/IDPagina/24
Italy was also responsible for starting the Slow Food Movement in the 1980s. This organization is dedicated to nurturing local and regional cuisines. Some people claim that this movement began as a reaction to fast food companies and the opening of one such franchise (with golden arches) on the Spanish Steps in Rome, was the impetus.
There was a sampling of antipasto and olive oil after the seminar. The information that Simonetta presented left many people dreaming of the day when they can travel to taste the diverse regional cuisines that Italy has to offer.
The latest ACFLHC Seminar, A Taste of Puerto Rico, was held on January 28, 2013 and featured Aishah Rodriquez –Otero. Aishah was born and raised in Puerto Rico and is studying culinary arts and baking and pastry at Westmoreland County Community College. She is also a student ambassador.
A very informative presentation about the culture, history and local cuisine of Puerto Rico was followed by a question and answer session. Some interesting facts included:
The seminar concluded with a tasting of a traditional Puerto Rican dish called pastelón. This is a meat and plantain casserole that resembles lasagna. Aishah used boiled plantains, ground meat, sofrito, and cheese as the main ingredients. It had a rich texture and was well seasoned but not spicy. Many people commented on the use of the plantains and how versatile they are. The pastelón was a hit with the entire crowd and perhaps an influence on trying other dishes of the unique cuisine that Puerto Rico has to offer.
A raffle was also held during the seminar for the Knowledge Bowl Team for a stay at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort valued at $500. The winner was Diana Otero. Thanks to all that attended!
On October 16th, 2012 Steve Salvi, Chef/Owner of Fede Pasta in Irwin, PA, treated the attendees at WCCC to a fresh pasta seminar. He explained how he started his business, what kinds of products he makes, some tips for making fresh pasta, and even prepared samples for all to try.
Fede, which is Italian for faith, is an artisanal pasta company, which supplies products for restaurants and distributors in the Pittsburgh area. You can find him and his pasta at fedepasta.net, or you can find his products at Paragon Foods, Monteverde Produce, or Nappies Foodservice, as well as in restaurants like Salt of the Earth or Root 174.
Chef Steve explained how there are thousands or variations of fresh pastas and a big part of his business is customizing products for the buyer. He makes numerous short and long pastas as well as gnocchi and ravioli.
Some of his tips to making fresh pasta are always adjust the dough if needed due to humidity, never add oil when cooking (because the sauce won't stick), and always salt your water to taste (as salty as the sea).
The ACFLHC Seminar that was held on September 17, 2012, was well attended and very informative. Guest speaker, Mohammed Ghanem, who works for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Food Safety and Laboratory Services, spoke about the Food Code, also known as Chapter 46, and is available for viewing on the following link: http://www.pacode.com/secure/data/007/chapter46/007_0046.pdf
The purpose of the Food Code is to safeguard public health and ensure that consumers are provided food that is safe, unadulterated and honestly presented. It also sets standards for management and personnel, food operations and equipment and facilities; and provides for food facility plan review, licensing, registration, inspection and employee restriction.
After a PowerPoint presentation, Mr. Ghanem responded to questions posed by the audience. Interesting topics included; examples of exemptions from the licensing requirements for farmers market vendors, regulations for home food processors, and frozen dessert testing and licensing.
Mr. Ghanem concluded his presentation by sharing his experiences of which violations he encounters most often during site inspections. Common violations included bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods, food-contact surfaces not cleaned and sanitized, and failure to have license/certifications displayed properly.
For additional information on food safety visit; http://www.eatsafepa.com/
American Culinary Federation
Laurel Highlands Chapter
145 Pavilion Lane
Youngwood, PA 15697