VCA Apprentices In NYC
VCA News - A Bite Out of the Big Apple

VCA Apprentices Recall Their Experience of the ACF Signature Series ChefConnect: NYC

February 26 through March 1, 2017

By Wes Tutson, Chris Kuykendall, Andy McInnes, and Pete Skoufatos

Wesley Tutson: Our trip to NYC was one experience that I think will go down in the books. We were all so enthralled to have the opportunity to go and experience this major city, immerse ourselves in the ACF conference and the culture of the city itself. Chef Travis and the apprentices worked our tails off this year raising money at the Market Square Farmers Market, with those funds we were able to gain this experience. We feel as a whole this experience has shown us a world of food and culture in a different way and have been truly humbled by the experienced.

The whole trip was amazing. Honestly, there wasn't any time I was not full of excitement. Bourbon and cheddar tasting classes to modern pate choux applications and dessert plating there was a wide variety of classes to choose from. Our trip to 11 Madison Park really showed me a team of culinarians and front of house staff that understand thinking outside of the box. It challenged my concept of what service means and will always have an impact on my career and future.

Christopher Kuykendall: This trip was my first time being in NYC, as a whole it was a very rewarding experience. Traversing the city whether on the train or by walking was a very humbling experience. It was also very interesting to see the mesh of cultures that coexist within a city so big. Some of the classes were very intricate and offered easy solutions for some really stellar precise techniques. My favorite had to be the modern pate choux the class offered some really easy products to create some unique pastry items. And the dinner really topped it off for me, to see such a simple menu executed to such perfection really inspired me to keep it simple but serve it elegant.

Pete Skoufatos Jr.: This experience gave me a feeling like no other, so much diversity and talent all around you. The classes I attended at the conference offered so much insight and knowledge about not only the current culinary trends but also a twist on classic or traditional techniques. The two classes I enjoyed the most would be the Bourbon and Cheddar tasting and the Dessert plating class. I felt that those two classes taught me a lot of new information that I am confident will help me in the future. The amount of opportunity that was offered to us at this conference was absolutely astonishing. I was given the amazing opportunity to sit and have dinner with the Southeast Regional President of the ACF, Chef Michael Deihl, along with a few of his colleagues and 5 ACF members from other chapters. I will never forget this experience and cannot wait for my next ACF conference.

Andy McInnes: I think an important part of growing up and learning new parts of our industry is seeing all the possibilities that are before us. We saw so many different facets of the culinary beast we are all trying to be successful in. Three star Michelin service, a banquet kitchen trained for up to 20,000 people, as well as just the influence of the diverse food in New York. The classes being offered were interesting and educational. It was an amazing opportunity to open doors and really start to plant roots into this industry. It not only sparked my creative brain but also had me very invested in the business aspect of the food industry. I was able to connect with colleagues and peers with varying experience level, which helped expand my horizons. Our trip to New York City is one that I will never forget, but I has also made me more ambitious than ever. I know what we are all capable of and I am excited, and honored, to be able to grow and explore with this group of culinarians. There are big things on the horizon for the apprentices, be prepared for it!

Overall I think that this was a very constructive trip and it offered us a lot of ways to seek out inspiration in its most basic form. The classes offered some very different ideas and some intriguing topics we bring back still racking our brains. While the dinner at 11 Madison offered an experience that could inspire the most docile chef. It really captivated the simple elegance that can be brought to a dish. The culture of the city also allowed us a welcoming reception and the city always had an adventure to be had when the classes were done. This will be an experience we will never forget and we hope that moving forward we can take this knowledge and help our junior apprentice' to achieve the same experience while they are in this program.

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