Foodlink hosts 2023 ACF Chef of the Year Cookoff - Foodlink Inc

Foodlink hosts 2023 ACF Chef of the Year Cookoff


Congratulations to Chris Januzzi for winning this year’s COTY competition!

The mystery protein revealed just before the competition was double the fun … flounder/fluke AND pork belly!

Januzzi prepared a delicious dish that included Sauteed Fluke, Zucchini and Sweet Potato Latke, Chickpea Pork Belly Ragu, with Charred Shallot and Lemon Butter.


The American Culinary Federation Rochester Chapter (ACFR) has partnered with Foodlink once again to hold the ACFR 2023 Chef of the Year (COTY) Cookoff on Monday, Nov. 13. The event will be held in the Foodlink Community Kitchen from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The program features grazing stations followed by the COTY competition Cookoff with local radio celebrity, Dino Kay, as emcee and ending with the announcement of the 2023 COTY.

The event is free and open to the public. Registration is required for admission, as attendance will be limited. The deadline to register is Friday, November 10. For event details and to register, visit

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.

Competing in this year’s Cookoff are:

  • Chris Januzzi, CEC. Chef/Partner, Birdhouse Brewery; Culinary Instructor, MCC Hospitality Program, ACFROC Board Member (pictured on the left)
  • David Kasper, CEC, CCA, ACFROC President, ACF Certification Evaluator, ACF Site Evaluator, Executive Chef at The Summit at Brighton, Rochester Presbyterian Home Culinary Consultant/Servsafe Instructor, Culinary advisory board member at MCC (pictured on the right)

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

At 6:30 p.m., emcee Dino Kay will kick off the competition in the Foodlink Community Kitchen. There, the competitors will each have a station and ingredients available for them to cook their entrées. The chefs will prepare a full dinner entrée with protein, starch, and vegetable components. The competition begins with Brian Mattice, 2022 COTY winner and Culinary Instructor at Wayne Finger Lakes BOCES, revealing the secret protein he has chosen. The competing chefs then have 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 ends with the chefs stepping back from their stations and presenting to the judges, who have 20 minutes to score the dishes and determine the next COTY.

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

The evening ends with the announcement of the 2023 ACF Rochester COTY and plans for the Awards Dinner in 2024, when COTY Brian Mattice will turn over the COTY trophy to the 2023 winner.

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