2017 Alum Named Among Top 10 Best Young US Chefs

By: Lauren Loeffler Filed under: Culinary

August 1, 2017

Francesca Rufo, a 2017 Bachelor of Science in Culinary Management and 2017 Associate of Science in Baking and Pastry graduate of The Art Institute of California—San Diego, a campus of Argosy University, has been selected as one of only 10 US semi-finalists for this year’s San Pellegrino Young Chef competition.

The San Pellegrino Young Chef competition includes 210 semi-finalists from around the world. Each of these talented young chefs was carefully selected, with judges assessing the ingredients, skill, genius, beauty, and message of every individual’s signature dish. As a semi-finalist, Rufo will now go head-to-head with her US peers, as another group of renowned chefs must sample her signature dish and judge it against her competitors’ dishes. 

The winning chef from each of the 21 semi-final competitions being held around the world will advance to the final international leg of the competition in Milan in June 2018. There, he or she will have the chance to be crowned the best young chef in the world.

As a chef, Rufo draws much of her culinary inspiration from her experiences growing up in her grandmother’s kitchen as well as her Japanese heritage. At a young age, under the instruction of her grandmother, Rufo learned how to clean calamari and create gyoza from scratch. Today, despite her professional culinary training, she insists that her grandmother’s original gyoza recipe is still the best she's ever encountered.

In 2013, Rufo enrolled at Ai California—San Diego, straight out of high school, to pursue her culinary degree. During a baking pastry class, instructor Chef Tina Luu announced an externship opportunity with Chef Bernard Guillas and The Marine Room. After extensive research on the acclaimed chef and restaurant, Rufo decided to apply. She got the job, working there throughout the rest of her time in school. After Rufo graduated from Ai California—San Diego, The Marine Room hired her on as a line cook. When the San Pellegrino Young Chef competition opened, her peers at The Marine Room encouraged her to enter because of her excellent work ethic and attitude. In the future, Rufo hopes to travel throughout Asia and eventually incorporate more Asian cuisine into her work in fine dining.

While at Ai California—San Diego, Rufo was a member of the ACF (American Culinary Federation) Jr. Hot Food Competition team, and she has earned multiple medals through ACF Culinary Competitions. She holds fond memories of her time at Ai California—San Diego, most especially the lessons she learned from her instructors that have been invaluable as she pursues both her culinary professional and personal goals. Her advice to current culinary students is simple: be on time, be fast, and be efficient.

All of us at The Art Institutes congratulate Chef Rufo and wish her luck on the next stage of competition!

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Francesca Rufo

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