Foodlink Hosts ACF Rochester Chef of the Year Cookoff

The American Culinary Federation Rochester Chapter (ACFR) partnered with Foodlink on Monday, November 14 to host the ACFR 2022 Chef of the Year (COTY) Cookoff.

The event was held inside the Foodlink Community Kitchen. The program featured grazing stations followed by the COTY competition Cookoff with local radio celebrity, Dino Kay, as emcee and ended with the announcement of the 2022 COTY.

The COTY title is the highest honor ACF Rochester awards to a member chef. Contenders for the title are nominated by fellow ACFR members. To compete in the COTY Cookoff, which is the final round in the selection process, competitors must demonstrate fulfillment of a specific set of criteria relating to a nominee’s years and level of experience in the food & beverage industry or culinary education. Selection criteria also include contributions in support of ACF Rochester, its mission and initiatives, as well as service to the community.

This year, Chef Brian Mattice, PC1, CEC, CCA, Culinary Art Instructor, WFL BOCES and Chef Chris Januzzi, Chef/Partner, Birdhouse Brewery; Culinary Instructor, MCC Hospitality Program competed for the title.

The evening began with networking and tastings available from grazing stations provided by the Foodlink Career Fellowship culinary apprenticeship program, Monroe Community College Hospitality Program and Rochester Institute of Technology Dining Services.

Emcee, Dino Kay kicked off the competition in the Foodlink Community Kitchen where the competitors’ stations and the ingredient/pantry supplies were available for the two finalists. The chefs prepared a full dinner entrée with protein, starch, and vegetable components. The competition began with Sarah Kelsey, 2021 COTY winner and Executive Sous Chef at Cloverwood Senior Living, revealing the secret protein she had chosen … lobster!

The competing chefs then had 15 minutes to plan their dish using that protein, one hour to assemble their ingredients and prepare their dish, and five minutes to plate (four plates each, three for the judging and one for presentation to the audience.) The Cookoff ended with the chefs stepping back from their stations and presenting to the judges, who had 20 minutes to score the dishes and determine the next COTY.

The panel of five judges consisted of COTY Sarah Kelsey and former COTY title holders: Chefs Michael Macri, Sean Flaherty, Michael Speranza and John Venturo. The dishes were scored based on taste, presentation, use of secret protein, nutritional components, and the chef’s adherence to food safety rules in preparation.

The evening ended with the announcement of the 2022 ACF Rochester COTY and plans for the Award Dinner in 2023, when COTY Sarah Kelsey will turn over the COTY trophy to the 2022 winner.

The ACFR Chef of the Year 2022 was awarded to Chef Brian Mattice!

Chef Brian Mattice’s dish included:

  •  Butter poached lobster with a sherry cream sauce
  • Basmati quinoa blend carrot puree
  • Sautéed Swiss chard

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