And the 2023 Chef of the Year Honorees are…

A man (Mark Sandoval) in a chef's jacket stands next to the Chef of the Year Award.

On Sunday, June 25, 2023, more than 100 culinary professionals gathered at Sunset Gardens to celebrate this year’s Chef of the Year honorees. It was a beautiful night as we hung up our chefs coats and donned our best suits, dresses, etc. to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of some of the amazing members of ACF Chefs of Las Vegas. 

In case you missed it, here is a recap of all the awards presented, and the amazing members who earned them. 

Chef of the Year: Mark Sandoval 

This prestigious award pays tribute to the person who has accomplished the most to benefit the association, using his/her time and culinary expertise to enhance the image of the chef and the association. Mark Sandoval lives and breathes the epitome of what this award is here to represent. Not only is he an accomplished chef in his own right, he is now using his expert culinary skills to train and mentor the next generation of culinary professionals as the Executive Chef at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ Harrah College of Hospitality. He is an active part of the community and association, serving as board member for both ACF Chefs Las Vegas and our nonprofit, Chefs for Kids. With great power comes great responsibility. Already active in the chapter, Mark will spend the next year kicking it up a notch to carry out the responsibilities of Chef of the Year, but we are confident this will be an easy transition for him. Chef Mark, we tip our chef hats to you!

Associate of the Year: John Rees III

ACF Chefs of Las Vegas also takes the time to recognize the efforts of an individual on our Advisory Board, which works hard to guide the efforts of our Board of Directors, and plans fundraisers for our non-profit Chefs for Kids. The Associate of the Year Award is given to the individual on our Advisory Board who has provided keen wisdom and guidance to enhance our organization and community. John Rees III is an exemplary Advisory Board Member (and former Chairman), and a long-time active member of ACF Chefs of Las Vegas. Additionally, he regularly volunteers with the organization’s non-profit, Chefs for Kids, as a driver of the CHEFMobile🚚, ensuring food gets delivered to the schools for the Cookin’ Up Breakfast program.

Student Culinarian of the Year: Kelly Fuller

Student culinarians are the next generation of chefs that will lead the future of the culinary industry. This award recognizes the efforts of a Student Member of our chapter who goes above and beyond the normal curriculum of a participating culinary school, participating in numerous extra-curricular activities that advance their skills and community involvement. 

Kelly currently holds her Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts, graduating with high honors, and continues to work towards her Bachelor’s Degree. Kelly goes above and beyond her commitment to mastering her culinary skills, she is also an active part of the community. While a student at CSN, she served as the secretary of the culinary club, and volunteered countless hours of her time with Chefs for Kids, school events, and other local charities. She did all of this while also developing her culinary career working as a private chef for a local law firm as well as an individual with special dietary needs.

Hall of Fame Inductees: Chef JB Brown and Chef Jamie Poltrock

The Hall of Fame is a prestigious honor that few people in the chapter ever get. In fact, in the organization’s 55 year history, only 27 chefs had ever been inducted into the Hall of Fame until that night, when that number became 29. Chefs JB Brown and Jamie Poltrock joined the prestigious class of members who have been recognized with the highest honor ACF Chefs of Las Vegas can bestow on a member. While the induction ceremony may have come as a surprise to many, it is no surprise that these two would be the ones chosen as they are very well regarded in the chapter and the community not only for their culinary schools, but for their dedication to the industry, the ACF Chefs of Las Vegas chapter, and the community at large. 

Presidents Awards: Dr. Stowe Shoemaker and Sarper Celenk

This award represents excellence in culinary service, community engagement, building the chapter, collaboration with other ACF chapters and partnerships, along with a passion for the culinary arts, and leadership. Stowe and Sarper were hand-selected by President Lucio Arancibia to receive this honor in recognition of the tremendous time and effort they have dedicated to supporting ACF Chefs of Las Vegas and the local community. Additionally, Lucio bestowed an Outstanding Contribution Recognition award to Chefs Angela Armstong, Bob O’Brien, and Michelle Vietmayer as well as Pastry Chef Raul Villa.

Congratulations to all of the night’s honorees! If seeing these awards and learning about the people who earned them has inspired you to want to do the same, check out the Chef of the Year page on our website to learn more about what it takes. You can also learn more about the history of these prestigious awards and former honorees by taking a look at the program book from that night.

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