The American Culinary Federation is the professional organization of chefs, cooks, bakers and pastry chefs. Our local chapter has 90 members and includes chefs from the Tri-City, Thumb and Flint areas. We raise funds for childhood nutrition education, charities that provide food for children and give culinary school scholarships for local students. All this in addition to providing further culinary education for our members.
There are 20,000 ACF members in 200 chapters nationwide and our local chapter has won the honor of “National Chapter of the Year” twice.
The American Culinary Federation Professional Chefs’ Hot Food Competition & Tasting is the finale event of Zehnder’s Snowfest. It is always held on the Monday following Snowfest weekend. Proceeds support the Saginaw East Side Soup Kitchen “After School Meal Program”. This is the 28th year we will be doing a competition.
Each year we host this culinary competition where 18 -22 of the best chefs in our area compete for trophies, cash and bragging rights. Don’t go out to eat on January 28th – all the area chefs are competing at Zehnder’s! Additionally, we invite the high school culinary arts students from the Tuscola Tech Center in Caro and Saginaw Career Center to help us with our Grand Buffet Tables.
We usually have 400-500 paid guests – that’s still comfortable given that we use Zehnder’s Main Dining Room and the Town Hall Dining Room in the Lower Level.
This year’s theme is: Happy Chinese New Year – “The Year of the Pig”. There are three categories of food items the chefs can select for competition:
Seafood – Shrimp and Catfish
Pork – Pork Butts & Pork Bellies
Chicken – Chicken Breasts or Chicken Thighs
Once the chefs select an item, they must prepare 400 sample-sized portions of their original recipe for the paid guests and four full-sized plates that will be judged. These judged plates look like something on “Iron Chef”. Our event is like being a part of the Food Network competitions you see on TV. If you like trying new foods and are a Food Network “food junkie” our event is a MUST SEE! Dress for the evening is casual, although some folks do dress up or dress based on the evening’s theme.
Prior to the 6 p.m. opening of the doors to the public, the recipes are judged by certified chefs; noted local food experts and local celebrities like Art Lewis and Johnny Burke. First, second and third prize awards are given in each of the three categories. The chefs also decorate their individual food display tables based on the theme. Prizes are given for best decorating using culinary artistry like ice carving, vegetable carving and other culinary techniques just like you see on the Food Channel.
Guests enter the dining rooms at 6 p.m. and can taste all of the chef’s original recipes plus the Grand Buffet tables prepared by culinary students. It’s pretty much a walk-around event with very limited seating. We want everyone to experience all the chef’s wonderful recipes.
Paid guests vote on the “People’s Choice Award” – selecting the chef they feel has the best tasting and most original food.
Entertainment is part of the night. We have live entertainment by “The Burdons” from Bay City in the Main Dining Room and Todd Payne DJ in Lower Level, Townhall Room.
Tickets are only $30 per person. Call Zehnder’s Guest Services at (989) 652-0450 for tickets.