A Note From ACI’s Executive Chef

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Hello ACI family.

I feel honored, yet again, to have the opportunity to update you on all-things-Arizona-Culinary in this newsletter. We have plenty of things going on to talk about, but perhaps that can wait.

For this month’s installment, I find myself in a period of reflection. As many of you probably know, ACI recently had the privilege of working with the Roca Brothers from El Cellar de Can Roca, which was voted 2015 best restaurant in the WORLD, and is located in Girona, Spain. Every year for the last 3 years the Roca Brothers have partnered with BBVA Compass Bank to embark on a World Tour and bring their food, through a series of “pop-up dinners”, to a select few cities around the world. This year, one of those select cities happened to be Phoenix, Arizona, and the chosen venue was the Four Seasons Resort in North Scottsdale.

In each of the cities the Brothers visit, they try to partner with a local culinary school to find student volunteers to help them prepare these amazing meals. Fortunately during their planning stages they found Arizona Culinary Institute. I was honored that from their initial contact with the school, Chef Wilson gave me free reign to pursue this opportunity with all of my enthusiasm. To make a very long story as short as possible, through many months of planning, emails, phone calls, scheming, and dreaming, we were able to provide 10 very capable student volunteers to work with the staff of El Cellar de Can Roca.

The road certainly was not always smooth. Even the student selection process was difficult. 27 students applied for the opportunity and we were limited to only 10 spaces. I wish we could have sent everyone, but unfortunately we could not. All of the students selected were thrilled. Some of the students that we were unable to select were very understanding, and some took it a little more personally. Those were difficult conversations, especially since I hate to disappoint anyone.

There were even a few tense moments within our instructor team. All of us wanted to be a part of it, but we were very limited in how many people we were allowed to send…sometimes there is such a thing as too much help. Because of my involvement from day 1, I was able to join our students every day, but the rest of the instructor team was only able to participate in a limited capacity, which caused a little friction as well. But nothing great is ever achieved easily.

As a “thank-you” for providing the brothers with our 10 student volunteers, they offered to do a master class at the school for our current students and any alumni that wanted to partake. The master class provided the opportunity for any students or instructors that were unable to be involved in the preparation of the pop-up dinners to still have some interaction with the Roca Brothers.

When the dust settled, 100 ACI staff, students, and alumni packed the Du Jour dining room for a 2 hour master class with Joan and Jordi Roca…an experience that still seems surreal to me. 10 ACI student volunteers spent 11 days working long hours beside the Roca Brothers and their staff from El Cellar de Can Roca to put out 3 nights of amazing meals to 100 lucky guests each night. The fact that ACI was able to be a part of this is still something I am struggling to wrap my head around. Of all the cities and all the culinary schools in the world, the chefs of one of the best restaurants in the entire world found their way to us. We were a part of something that so many people around the world would have given anything to be a part of. It was so much bigger than I ever expected. I find myself very grateful for having played a part in it. I am grateful to the Roca Brothers and the staff of El Cellar de Can Roca, to BBVA Compass Bank sponsoring the tour, to all of ACI’s amazing students for volunteering their time and wanting to be a part of this amazing experience, to the staff of ACI for working together to pull this off, and to our school President, Chef Wilson, for letting me pursue this opportunity for the school.

In the end, like so many great moments, despite the long road to planning this experience, it was over in the blink of an eye. I hope it left as big of an impression on everyone who was able to be a part of it as it did on me. I feel very lucky to be the Executive Chef of our wonderful school, and to have the opportunity to help generate experiences like this for the ACI family. In closing I would simply encourage all of you to keep pushing, never give up, and realize that there is no ceiling to what you are capable of. There is a whole other level of culinary arts out there, above and beyond what we see every day, and the greatest restaurants in the world are always on the lookout for that next young cook to mentor. Cheers.

Christopher Wolf, CCC, CSW, CCE, CPI

Executive Chef, Arizona Culinary Institute

A Note From ACI’s Executive Chef June-2016

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ACI News Letter:  June 2016

From the Chef Christopher Wolf, ccc, cce, csw, cpi

Hello from Arizona Culinary Institute! I hope you’re having a wonderful June thus far.  We are preparing for our summer shutdown which will happen over the week of the 4th of July. The office will be open during normal business hours during most of the week, but there will be no classes in session.

If you’ve been paying attention you’ve noticed that details have been released concerning our partnership with the Roca Brothers coming up this August. In case you missed it, the Roca Brothers run a restaurant in Girona, Spain called El Cellar de Can Roca. In 2015 it was voted Best Restaurant in the World. They are coming to Arizona for a series of events, and they have asked ACI to help them out with some student volunteers.  In exchange for our help, they will be doing a Master Class at ACI on Tuesday, August 16th.  The class is free to students and alumni of Arizona Culinary, but we do have to cap the class at about 100 people.  So, if you’re interested in attending, please contact Chef Wolf at the school to let us know you’re coming.  It is unlikely that this will happen again, so don’t miss the chance!

We’ve also recently announced that we will be working with the Wynn Las Vegas as a potential internship and employment site for our students.  We are very excited to be in a position to send qualified candidates to this world-class resort.  If you think that an internship or a career in Las Vegas is something you’d like to pursue, again, please contact Chef Wolf at the school for information about the process.

The ACF National Convention is coming to Arizona this year, and they need volunteers to help with this massive event.  The ACF National Convention will have something for everyone, including educational seminars, product information, and endless networking opportunities.  If you’d like to volunteer your time for the event, we can put you in touch with the right people.  It is sure to be an amazing event, and volunteering your time gets you inside to all of the action!  Contact the school for more details.

Last week we had the opportunity to work with 5 other Chefs from around Arizona, and 6 Arizona winemakers, to serve 6 courses to 200 people for a charity dinner at the Tilted Earth Festival up in Cottonwood, Arizona.  It was a blast!  3 ACI instructors along with 11 wonderful student volunteers acted as the glue to hold this enormous event together.  We were involved in a little bit of everything, and it was great.  The feedback from the guests about our students was truly amazing.  I never get tired of hearing people rave about our students, and now we have established several more employment opportunities for our students in Northern Arizona.  Great job everyone!

Lastly, I wanted to announce that the ACI Modernist Cooking Club will be on hiatus for the month of June, but we will return with a vengeance in July.  We will be starting a new set of AM and PM students in Basics when we return from summer break, and that seems like the perfect opportunity to relaunch the club.  Old members, new members, and anyone else interested, are all welcome!

Keep it cool out there in the heat folks.  Those kitchens can get pretty hot in the summer.  Stay hydrated, take care of yourself, and stay in touch!

Chef Wolf

A NOTE FROM ACI’S EXECUTIVE CHEF APRIL 2016

Wolf

April 2016

 

Hello ACI family.  I wanted to take a moment to say “thank you”.  I am currently not teaching a class, which has given me plenty of time to catch up on all of my other Executive Chef-type-duties around here.  It’s also given me the time to sit back and watch…to see…to listen…to hear…and I’ve noticed a lot.  I am so proud of the school I work for today.  I love our instructors, I love our program, and I love what we are.  We have some amazing students in this building right now, from all over the place, in all shapes and sizes, different ages and backgrounds, each one unique.

There is so much energy here and a really wonderful vibe.  I don’t think I’ve ever been as proud of who we are as a school as I am right now.  I’ve been working at ACI for 10 years now, which I really can’t believe.  I’ve seen students, and instructors, come and go.  I’ve learned a lot…about cooking, about teaching, about myself.  I’ve met so many amazing people in this building.  I have watched good cooks become great cooks.  I have seen students with enough talent to go out there and achieve more than I ever could.  I guess what I’m trying to say is this:  I’m sitting here on this computer, the office is empty, the building is quiet, and I’m just feeling thankful for all of you.

If you’re reading this you must be connected to ACI in some way, so I’m thankful for you and whatever part you’ve played in the history of this school.  For this month, all I want to say to every Chef that’s ever worked here, and more importantly, to every student that has ever chosen ACI for their culinary education:  thank you.  Have a great month!

Sincerely,

Chef Christopher Wolf, ccc, cce, cpi, csw
Arizona Culinary Institute, Executive Chef

A NOTE FROM ACI’S EXECUTIVE CHEF FEBRUARY 2016

February 2016
From Chef Christopher Wolf, ccc, cce, cpi, csw and ACI’s Executive Chef

Hello cooks, chefs, culinarians, wine connoisseurs, and foodies. It’s time for one of our monthly updates again!
After issuing student surveys, having a town-hall style meeting for students to voice opinions, and a lot of planning, the ACI Modernist Cooking Club has gotten the green light to move forward! Our first meetings will be Thursday, February 25, from 2:30pm-4:30pm, and Saturday, February 27, from 8am until noon. The Thursday meeting is a planning and prepping meeting, while the Saturday meeting is more of a workshop. The club is open to students (both past and present) and instructors. This is a student driven club, made by YOU for YOU, and the success or failure of the club will be entirely dependent on YOU! There is an annual fee of $25/year to join the club, and that gets you into as many meetings for that calendar year as you like. We have created a Facebook page for the club to help with communication, so just search for ACI Modernist Cooking Club, and ask to join.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/632814066856283/

Our next Open House is on Saturday, March 12th. We will have all the usual tours and instructor interactions, and the extra-curricular class is the Molecular Gastronomy class with me, Chef Wolf. We’ll do all the fun stuff: spheres, caviar, liquid nitrogen, powders, foams, froths, sous vide! It’s always a great time, we learn a ton, and everyone leaves getting their money’s worth. If you want to sign up, call the school and reserve your space. The class is currently about half-full, so hurry, because we won’t offer the class again until the second half of 2016!

For the second year in a row we will be heading out to Tonopah Rob’s Vegetable Farm on Saturday, March 19th, to help Rob with another farm fundraiser dinner. About half of the teaching staff is volunteering their time to cook out on the farm. We’ll be pulling produce directly from the farm and cooking a wonderful meal for his guests. If you want to get involved, contact me at the school and I’ll let you know how you can help. Volunteers are welcome to join us while we cook on the farm…we had a BLAST last year!
Lastly, Du Jour is open for dinner service for about 4 more weeks, so don’t miss the chance to dine with us at night…use that student discount! As always, thanks for making ACI a part of your career and a part of your life. Remember, we’re always here to help. Have a great month!

Chef Wolf

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A NOTE FROM ACI’S EXECUTIVE CHEF OCTOBER 2015

IMG_8918October was a wonderful month. ACI organized/participated-in several events to give back to the community. The “No Kid Hungry” charity bake sale was a hit. Our baking staff, and several student volunteers, did a killer job, and the goodies were wonderful (as always). We raised a nice chunk of change to donate to the cause.

Also, the Chef Humphrey memorial 5k fun run/walk was a hit as well. We had about 40 participants, and also raised a nice sum of money to help ACI students in financial need. The vibe and the energy of the event were so positive that we are planning on a bigger and better event next year.

On October 17th, most of the staff went up to Page Spring Cellars to cook for a charity dinner at the winery. We paired up with PSC owner Eric Glomski to put on the event in the winery’s barrel room. It was pretty fantastic. It was great food, great wine, and great company, all to raise money to help others.

Coming up on November 10th, ACI alumni Chef Justin Olsen will be joining us at the school for a food and beer pairing dinner in Du Jour. Chef Olsen’s resume is full of great experience, and he’ll be bringing that knowledge back to the school for this special occasion event. The menu and the beers look great…..I’m hungry just thinking about it. Oh yeah, and it’s only 30 bucks. That’s crazy. Get over to our website and register TODAY!
register

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Later in November, the Arizona Coalition for Military Families will be back on campus to keep us trained and up to date to maintain our Arizona Veteran Supportive Campus certification. Twice a year the ACMF joins us on campus and we spend time listening and learning to make sure we are ready and equipped to handle the needs of our military veteran students. We care (a lot) and we want to make sure that we are offering the best experience possible to all of our students, no matter what their background is.

The pulse on the campus is strong right now, and the campus is full of excited culinarians. I’m always proud to be associated with the school, but the energy is even better than usual these days. Don’t be left out of the fun. Make sure you stay in touch with us to get involved in any way you want. Keep on cooking my friends…..

Chef Christopher Wolf, CCC, CEC, CSW, CPI.