After an 11-month journey, fifteen chefs out of more than 100 from Business Dining, Healthcare, Sports and Entertainment, Leisure and Education (Higher Ed and K-12) categories competed in five teams of three in the Aramark Culinary Excellence (ACE) Competition National Finals at its global headquarters in Philadelphia November 20, 2019.
Allan Wambaa, Executive Chef at pacificwild Catering at Oregon Convention Center along with Executive Chef Stephen Aheimer of FirstEnergy Stadium and District Executive Chef Richard Grab of Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC District took home bragging rights, along with the ACE Copper Pot and a $10K donation from the Aramark Charitable Fund to support its community partners.
The fierce daylong culinary challenge concluded with an evening awards ceremony, honoring all the national finalists and recognizing their culinary achievement.
Chefs were given 30 minutes to create a menu, 4 hours for allotted cooking/service time, and 30 minutes for clean-up. The winning team of chefs will successfully prepare and present a four-course menu, utilizing a mystery basket of 16 fresh, seasonal ingredients, as well as demonstrate mastery of cooking technique.
The Sports and Entertainment team's victorious menu included, Pheasant Ravioli, Butternut Squash Puree, Seared Black Bass & Sous Vide Gambas and Chocolate Almond Coconut Macaroon Bar. Their hard work in the kitchen also benefitted Back On My Feet, a non-profit that combats homelessness through the power of running and community, with the $10K donation. In the spirit of friendly competition, all of the other teams earned a $5K donation for their non-profit partner, also from the Aramark Charitable Fund. Those organizations and the teams they partnered with are: Boys & Girls Clubs of America (Business Dining); Hope Center for College, Community and Justice (Education); Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (Healthcare Hospitality); and National Park Foundation (Leisure).
Congratulations to Chef Wambaa, pacificwild, and everyone involved in making the first-ever ACE awards a sweet and savory success!