Friday, November 20, 2009

The Secchia Institute presents leadership award to APPCA's Wallace

First-year GRCC culinary-arts students flank APPCA's Candy Wallace (holding her Leadership Award) and chef-instructor Audrey Heckwolf, who will teach the new personal/private-chef elective that launches at The Secchia Institute in Grand Rapids in January 2010.

Candy Wallace, founder and executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), was honored by The Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC), Grand Rapids, Mich., with the culinary-arts program's 2009 Leadership Award on Nov. 9.

The award, which acknowledges Wallace's pioneering contributions to identifying, building and promoting the emerging career paths of personal and private chef, was founded by GRCC's Hospitality Education Department in 1990 as the Distinguished Fellow Award. Past recipients include television cooking personalities and authors Martin Yan and Graham Kerr as well as foodservice-industry luminaries and celebrity chefs from abroad.

Wallace visited The Secchia Institute to deliver an overview on career opportunities for aspiring personal and private chefs to approximately 100 culinary-arts students. The presentation coincided with the institute's unveiling of a new elective focusing on personal and private cooking and business operations for interested students pursuing an associate degree in culinary arts and culinary management.

"It was important to us to recognize Chef Wallace for her life's work in developing comprehensive training materials for those who want to pursue the career paths of personal and private chef," says Randy Sahajdack, director of The Secchia Institute. "We are witnessing tremendous interest among both students who are considering a profession in food as well as established professionals in other fields who desire a life change. I'm amazed at how much meaningful, helpful information has been created by Chef Wallace that we will not have to create, ourselves, to meet growing demand. She is truly the leader in this emerging industry."

The new, seven-week personal/private-chef elective to be offered in the final quarter of the degree program launches with the January 2010 term. The course will be taught by chef-instructor Audrey Heckwolf, who was a private chef for a prominent Grand Rapids family for more than six years before joining GRCC in 2006 as assistant professor for advanced tableservice through the school's public fine-dining restaurant, The Heritage. In her current role, Heckwolf oversees evening service for the award-winning restaurant and teaches service to students enrolled in GRCC's culinary- and hospitality-degree programs offered through The Secchia Institute.

Much of the elective's instruction will come from The Professional Personal Chef: the Business of Doing Business as a Personal Chef (John Wiley & Sons, 2008), the first definitive textbook for prospective personal chefs, written by Wallace and chef-instructor Gregory C. Forte, CEC, CCE, of Daytona State College in Daytona Beach, Fla. Secchia Institute graduates who have successfully completed the elective will receive a certificate from APPCA and be eligible for full membership in the organization, affording them access to a wealth of business-building resources that include proprietary Personal Chef Office business-management software and online community forums linking successful personal and private chefs nationwide. Additionally, for graduates who launch personal-chef businesses, APPCA will promote them through its online Find a Personal Chef function.

Wallace founded the American Personal Chef Association in 1996 as the first significant national effort to recognize the impact of personal chefs on Americans' evolving lifestyles and to provide career and management training to those who aspire to become personal chefs with their own businesses. She forged the positioning of personal chefs as culinary professionals, culminating in 2002 with a formal partnership with the American Culinary Federation to award certification to qualified personal chefs. The following year, she was honored with the International Association of Culinary Professionals' Entrepreneur of the Year Award. In 2006, Wallace earned additional industry accolades by formally acknowledging the contributions of private chefs to American society and addressing their specific professional needs by restructuring her organization to become the American Personal & Private Chef Association.