Competition Cooking Tests if Chefs Have The Chops

May 31, 2021
Andre Natera

From new technologies and changing food trends to supply chains and innovative concepts, the restaurant industry is everchanging. Host Andre Natera shares kitchens, plates and stories with food and beverage superstars, preparing a new dish and offering valuable insights from the front lines of the culinary industry.


On this episode of MarketScale’s Run the Pass, host and Executive Chef Andre Natera brought in Patrick Mitchell to talk about the American Culinary Federation, the mindset that goes into competitions, how to get into food challenges, and the certifications for chefs.

Mitchell is an “Executive Chef/Culinary Advisor for Ben E. Keith Foods based in Ft. Worth, Texas. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America with 41 years experience in the industry. Patrick is an American Culinary Federation Certified Culinary Judge and a member of the American Academy of Chefs since 2005; in 2004, he was awarded the ACF’s Chef Professionalism award.”

“Usually, these judges and chairs at the competitions are more than willing to help someone understand what’s going so someone can get into it.” – Patrick Mitchell

He started competing in 1979 while he was transitioning to culinary school. He got the bug, so to speak. Thirty-eight years ago, he ended up in Dallas with a team competing in the Culinary Olympics. Then it went international. In 2016, he competed for U.S. Chef of the Year and won. This qualified him for the international level, where he competed in the Global Chef’s Challenge in Kuala Lumpur in 2018.

After competing for all these years, he pivoted into coaching. Now, when he talks to chefs that want to compete, he asks them what they want to do. Then find a competition, go and observe and talk to the folks running the show.

“Usually, these judges and chairs at the competitions are more than willing to help someone understand what’s going so someone can get into it,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell believes that certification under the ACF is important for chefs. The certifications allow chefs to be able to show that they have met specific standards when it comes to cooking. Everything from how to make specific cuts to sanitation is included in the certification process, so when a chef moves and wants a new job, the hiring manager will know they can fulfill specific skills.

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