Atlanta Culinary Students to Compete for the 2018 Student Chef of the Year Award

By: Vivian Lett Filed under: Culinary

February 20, 2018

The American Culinary Federation, Inc. (ACF), a professional, organization for chefs and cooks, was founded in 1929 in New York City by three chefs’ organizations—the Société Culinaire Philanthropique, the Vatel Club and the Chefs de Cuisine Association of America. Since their inception, little has changed in their principal goals. The ACF is an organization based on promoting the professional image of American chefs worldwide through education of culinarians at all levels.

From February 23-25, the ACF will host the 2018 Southeast Regional Competition in Charlotte, North Carolina. Among the various activities scheduled during this event, two culinary students from The Art Institute of Atlanta will compete for a chance to win the title of 2018 Southeast Regional Student Chef of the Year. Their names are Larry Colbert and Tien Tran (BS students in Culinary Arts Management).

Atlanta Culinary Students to compete for the 2018 Student Chef of the Year Award   Atlanta Culinary Students to Compete for the 2018 Student chef of the Year Award
Larry Colbert                                          Tien Tran

“This is my third competition,” stated Tran. “The first was a school competition, and the second was to attend the James Beard House Thanksgiving event two years ago. Up until now, I spend 10-15 hours at school to practice along with 6 additional hours at home to research, work on techniques, and refine recipes every week.”

Tran adds, “The main inspiration behind the plates I will make on the 24th is my Asian heritage. I want to show people Asian Food can look nice and well crafted. My experience has been positive thus far. I have learned so much more than what I expected. The deeper I go into a specific technique or recipe, the more I discover there are so many ways to execute a dish.”

“February 24th will be my first time in a competition and I didn’t, nor have I ever even thought about of competing…on this level,” said Colbert. “I want to create a dish for this competition that is bright, beautiful, and shows off the things I have learned at The Art Institute. My inspiration comes from all the teachings and techniques that I’ve received from all my instructors and classes I’ve taken [over] the last year.” 

Colbert adds, “This experience has taught me that nothing is going to be given to me just because I was nominated [to compete]. I must put in the work and time, and go above and beyond to be ready for this event. My practice regimen consists of 5-day weeks of prep work, execution, and studying the competition guidelines. Win or lose, I will walk away from this knowing that I really worked hard and I gave it my all.”  

No one can relate more towards the level of focus, dedication, and amount of practice needed other than Ai alumnus and Certified Master Chef Daryl Shular (1994, Culinary Arts, AA). 

“In today’s ever changing foodservice landscape, the most important tool any future culinarian should poses is the ability to cope with pressure. As an Olympic Gold Medalist and former member of the 2008 USA Culinary team, participating in any form of competitive cooking is the most effective developmental platform there is outside of working in a professional foodservice establishment. Having the ability to flourish under the bright lights of the kitchen arena and being placed in an un-familiar environment is truly the ultimate test that separates the cooks from the cons,” stated Shular. 

Shular adds, “[Competing] is truly significant, as the amount of experience, knowledge and the general honing of their skills will propel them ahead of their peers who are reluctant to participate at this level cooking. These students will walk away with such valuable feedback from their coaches, mentors and experienced judges during their upcoming competition adventure. This culinary challenge will help support and reinforce the culinary foundation provided by their passionate instructors and committed administrators at the prestigious Art Institute of Atlanta.”

When asked what he would tell his younger self just entering the arena of culinary competitions, Shular said, “Go kick butt Daryl! Don’t worry about anyone but yourself and believe in the program you worked so hard to perfect. When it’s all done, make sure you walk away with the one reward that matters most—being able to walk away with your head held high knowing that whatever happens…happens.”

Tien and Larry will not be alone at the Southeast Regional Competition. With the collaborative efforts and support of the culinary arts department and student services, Ai Atlanta students will travel to Charlotte and show their support for both students.

“I am very proud our students were selected to compete at regionals,” stated Culinary Arts department chair, Chef James Paul. “Both Tien and Larry demonstrate outstanding skills, professionalism, and passion for the industry. To have one student compete is great; to know that two students were selected to compete is OUTSTANDING.”

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