Friday, February 26, 2010

Wrap-up of the 12th Annual FENI Educators Summit

Despite bitter winter temperatures, nearly 200 chef-educators flocked to Chicago Feb. 12 to 15 for the 12th Annual Foodservice Educators Network International (FENI) Educators Summit, hosted at the Hotel Allegro and Kendall College. Between the Master Classes, special guest speakers, networking sessions and sponsored events, the FENI Summit provided opportunities for educators to share with their peers and gather new ideas to bring back to their schools. Be sure to check out our Web site at www.fenisummit.com for event images, sponsor and partner links, as well as information on FENI award winners and the Poster Board Presentations.

(l to r) Chef Charlie Trotter receives an honorary medallion from FENI executive director Daniel von Rabenau

Among this year's FENI Summit highlights, on Sunday, Feb. 14, guest speaker and famed chef/restaurateur Charlie Trotter discussed leadership in the kitchen and beyond, as well as the responsibilities and merits of opting for a career in customer service before a roomful of attendees. Below are some notable quotes from his 45-minute speech.
"Leadership is not about leading other people. It's about leading yourself."

"We must be able to articulate these ideas and move these things forward. We are always students."

"Food is not the most important part of the experience. Service is more important than food."

"You'll either serve people or be served for the rest of your life. I'd rather serve people because it's much more interesting to be on the giving end."

During the conference, FENI also recognized several culinary educators for their tireless efforts toward bettering the field of culinary education.

FENI executive director Daniel von Rabenau with Excellence in Culinary Education award winner Chef Christopher Koetke, dean of the School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College, Chicago (photo credit: Eric Futran)

FENI presented its inaugural award for Excellence in Culinary Education to Christopher Koetke, dean of the School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College in Chicago. Following an exhaustive evaluation by judges representing various facets of the foodservice industry, this award, which will become annual beginning this year, honors extraordinary accomplishment and leadership within the foodservice-educator community, as well as overall impact on the field of culinary education. Chef Koetke's influence extends beyond the classroom to serve the foodservice industry as a whole. In addition to unparalleled commitment to helping other educators reach their fullest potential, he is an inspiration to students and has demonstrated true leadership in positioning Kendall College in Chicago as one of the premier culinary-arts programs in the nation. Koetke has taught at The School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College since January 1998. He was named associate dean of the culinary school in 2002 and dean in 2005. Certified by the ACF as an executive chef and culinary educator, Koetke is a board member of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Foundation Accrediting Commission, the Illinois Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, Slow Food Chicago and the International Foodservice Editorial Council, as well as a founding board member of the Greater Midwestern Foodways Alliance. He is also the host of the Midwest Emmy-nominated cooking show, "Let's Dish," on the Live Well HD television network. Last year with his co-author, he released The Culinary Professional, a comprehensive introductory high-school culinary-arts textbook. In 2009, he was named Cooking Teacher of the Year by the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP). Chef Koetke also presented a speech on the future of culinary education to FENI attendees Feb. 15.

FENI executive director Daniel von Rabenau with Secondary Educator of the Year award winner Chef Ana Plana, culinary arts teacher, Maritime and Science Technology (MAST) Academy, Key Biscayne, Fla. (photo credit: Eric Futran)

The 2010 FENI Secondary Educator of the Year is Ana Plana. Chef Plana is a culinary arts teacher at Maritime and Science Technology (MAST) Academy in Key Biscayne, Fla., and has taught 9th through 12th graders at MAST Academy since 2007. As the school's only food-production and event-planning instructor, she not only teaches during class time, but also heads up a variety of school and student events to offer students real front- and back-of-house experience and the chance to showcase their work. As a former board member of Les Dames d'Escoffier International, Plana uses her experience and contacts from the catering and event planning industry to arrange internship opportunities, guest speakers and financial support for her students and for the school. A sponsor of Women of Tomorrow for the past two years, Plana acts as a mentor to the young women at MAST, ensuring they have strong female role models when they begin their careers. Last year, she received a grant from Slow Food to plant an edible garden at the school, which will be used to teach students to appreciate and understand organic gardening.

FENI executive director Daniel von Rabenau with Postsecondary Educator of the Year Chef Rolando Robledo, assistant professor of culinary arts, Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I. (photo credit: Eric Futran)

The 2010 FENI Postsecondary Educator of the Year is Rolando Robledo. Chef Robledo has been assistant professor of culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., for the past six years and uses prior foodservice industry experience at restaurants such as The French Laundry, Rain and Aquavit to inspire and motivate students. While at Johnson & Wales, he earned a master of arts in teaching and received certification as an executive chef from the ACF. In 2007, Robledo won the Faculty Recognition Award for best educator in the college of culinary arts--the only award voted on by Johnson & Wales students. An advocate for sustainability, Robledo has led the Green Collaborative at Johnson & Wales as faculty adviser, helping students incorporate environmentalism and sustainability into their lives and work.

FENI executive director Daniel von Rabenau with FENI medallion honoree Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer, French Pastry School, Chicago (photo credit: Eric Futran)

Also honored at this year's FENI Educators Summit for his continued dedication to FENI over the years was Jacquy Pfeiffer of the French Pastry School. Chef Pfeiffer was presented a medallion that symbolizes his creative and continuous efforts to enhance the quality of culinary education. Pfeiffer founded the French Pastry School with S├ębastien Canonne, MOF, to fill the need for a premier international institution of pastry arts education, based on superb instruction, superior equipment and top-quality ingredients. The French Pastry School's team of award-winning instructors has grown to a faculty of eleven, including a Master Baker, Master Cake Artists and Pastry World Champions--several of whom also taught baking and pastry Master Classes at this Year's FENI Summit.

For more information about the FENI Summit, visit www.fenisummit.com. And be sure to mark your calendars: The 13th annual FENI Summit for professional culinary development will be held Feb. 19 to 21, 2011, in Chicago. Visit www.fenisummit.com and read upcoming issues of Chef Educator Today magazine for updates as we continue to develop next year's program.

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