San Diego Congress 2016

Académie Culinaire de France and its sister organization, Maîtres Cuisiniers de France, gathered in June for their annual joint congress. Their North-American delegations meet annually, and this year San Diego hosted the prestigious event for the first time.

Members of the Académie de France (aka ACF) encompass all nationalities and welcome professionals from the entire Food & Beverage industry.

Members of the Maîtres Cuisiniers de France (aka MCF) are all French nationals. Selected by their peers, they are regarded as the most highly skilled in techniques and transmission of the French culinary arts. These maestros, all trained at Michelin star-caliber institutions, are reshaping modern French cuisine in America.

Bernard Cretier is the 2012 Chef de l’Annee

At the 2012 ACF conference in Chicago, Chef Cretier also received the “Fauteuil de l’ Academie” for lifetime achievement.

Chef Bernard Cretier, a native of Vichy, France, founded Le Vichyssois Restaurant in 1976. Chef Bernard apprenticed under Jean and Pierre Troisgros in Roanne; then he worked for Paul Bocuse in Lyon until his military service. He was in the Navy in Paris as the personal chef of General Billotte, who was the Secretary of State. Following his military service he went to work at Maxim’s in Paris for 4 years. Bernard then worked in Germany and Switzerland before working for Maxim’s in Chicago where he served as Executive Chef for 6 years.

Deann Bayless Named 2012’s Dame de l’Annee

Présenté comme Dame de l’année à L’ACF, Madame Bayless. La femme du fameux chef Rick Bayless. Femme très actif et une des femmes en charge des dames d’escoffier. Des émissions de télévision, aux bouquins, aux restaurants, au support des fermiers, des donations, elle est partout. Ci-dessous un petit récap de ce quel fait.

Deann was born in 1948 in St. Charles, Illinois, into a family who found their calling in the major professions (law and medicine), but whose father knew the pleasure of fine dining. She took an undergraduate degree in English language and literature at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, then graduate studies in English and Theater at the University of Michigan. After receiving two masters degrees, her path made an unexpected turn into the world of good food when she married Rick Bayless in 1979 and went on a two month honeymoon/research trip to Mexico.

Deann produces the highly rated on-going Public Television Series, Mexico—One Plate at a Time (in it’s 8th season) that can be found on television sets coast to coast, and is co-author of seven award- winning cookbooks. Rick and Deann’s second book, Mexican Kitchen, won the Julia Childs IACP cookbook of the year award in 1996, and the fourth book, Mexico—One Plate at a Time won James Beard Best International Cookbook of the Year award in 2001.Their side by side award-winning restaurants in Chicago were founded in 1987. The casual Frontera Grill and the 4-star Topolobampo. In 2007, Frontera Grill won for Outstanding Restaurant by the James Beard Organization.

Their award-winning Frontera line of salsas, grilling sauces and organic chips can be found coast to coast. On the local front, Rick, Deann and their staff began the Frontera Farmer Foundation in 2003 to attract support for small Midwestern farms. Each year, grants are given to our local farmers for capital improvements to their family farms. In 2007, the Bayless’s and their team launched the Frontera Scholarship: a full tuition scholarship that will send a Mexican-American student to Kendall Culinary College to study the culinary arts. The Bayless’s opened their third restaurant: XOCO—a quick serve LEED certified restaurant featuring house-ground chocolate and wood grilled tortas. This year, Tortas Frontera opened in Terminal 1 at Chicago’s Ohare airport, with plans for another in Terminal 3.

Rick and Deann’s latest book, Fiesta at Rick’s (WW. Norton) is currently on the New York Times Best seller list.

ACF Gathers in Chicago for Annual Conference

L’Académie Culinaire de France and Les Maîtres Cuisiniers de France Get a Taste of the Windy City’s Culinary Culture

Chicago, Illinois (July 5, 2012) – When the talent of over five hundred years of cumulative culinary experience assembles in one room at The French Pastry School of Kennedy-King College at City Colleges of Chicago, someone must be in for a treat. When that gathering lasts for two days moving from one Chicago institution to the next, it’s a sign that L’Académie Culinaire de France (The Culinary Academy of France, ACF) and Les Maîtres Cuisiniers de France (The Master Chefs of France, MCF) are in town for the annual conference of their North American Chapters. The two French government organizations that seek to encourage excellence in both master chefs de cuisine and pâtissiers came to Chicago from all over North America and France to induct new members, convene on organization business, and celebrate their camaraderie at some of the city’s best restaurants and favorite venues. The French Pastry School, whose faculty, including both co-founders, boasts four members of ACF, proposed that it was time to feature their hometown as the destination of this year’s Congrès and thus earned the honor of hosting the meetings and festivities. The event was over two years in the making and celebrations were held at well-known Windy City institutions that honor French culinary philosophy: Union League of Chicago, Chez Moi, NAHA, and La Sardine. Chicago, with its respect for both established traditions and new innovations, was the perfect backdrop for the assembly of these decades-old culinary associations.

Respectively founded in 1879 and 1951, the ACF and MCF are no strangers to ceremony. As an unofficial beginning to the weekend’s events, Chef Jean-Jacques Dietrich, Honorary President of ACF’s United States Chapter, and Gérard Dupont, International President of ACF, attended the commencement of The French Pastry School’s L’Art de la Pâtisserie at the historic Union League Club of Chicago. There they presented Director of Operations, Franco Pacini with one of the Académie’s highest honors: Officier de l’Ordre Mondial de L’Académie Culinaire de France, a distinction few other United States citizens hold.

In return, while observing the beginning of the pastry careers of over 60 graduates, co-founders Chefs Jacquy Pfeiffer and Sébastien Canonne, M.O.F., honored the two visiting chefs with The French Pastry School’s Lifetime Achievement Award for their contribution to the culinary and pastry arts. “Cooking is from the heart,” Chef Dietrich explained to the audience, “and if you don’t have heart, you lose what it is about. It is a beautiful thing but you have to work hard for it.”

[read the rest of the article here]

Debbie Stapleton Named 2011’s Dame de l’Annee

L’Academie Culinaire de France is proud to honor Debbie Stapleton as its “Dame de l’Annee 2011”.

Debbie Stapleton was born in New York City. Her father was a stockbroker, her mother, a housewife and avid gardener. A fraternal twin sister, an older sister and brother rounded out their family. Mrs. Stapleton graduated from the American University in Washington, D.C., majoring in communications with a minor in international relations. One of her favorite quotes comes from Chef Auguste Escoffier, “The art of cooking is one of the most effective forms of diplomacy.”

After college, Mrs. Stapleton worked for the MITRE Corporation (MIT Research & Engineering) setting up an environmental library, then at the Environmental Protection Agency. After marrying Ambassador Craig Stapleton, she worked as executive director for a small nonprofit organization, called Secondary School Chairmen, a consortium of chairmen of the Boards of Independent Schools in the Northeast.

Mrs. Stapleton loves to travel and has spent several summers visiting France. She joined Ecole Champlain Group in Jouy-en-Josas where she acquired her love of French language and food, and greatly enjoyed visiting the nearby palace of Versailles and its magnificent gardens. She traveled extensively throughout the South of France, visiting the Stapleton’s cousins in St. Jean Cap Ferrat and Deavillle. Mrs. Stapleton has always had a passion for French cuisine and was a fan of an early cooking book by Michel Oliver, La Cuisine est un Jeu D’enfants. The recipes of Julia Childs and her seminal work, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, also inspired her.

Mrs. Stapleton joined her husband Ambassador Stapleton in representing the United States of America in the Czech Republic from 2001-2003. She considers this the ultimate volunteer job, from which she gained tremendous respect and affection for the Czech people. She focused her efforts on raising funds for Czech non-profits benefiting children, the handicapped and the elderly. In this endeavor, Mrs. Stapleton worked with diplomats and their wives from 46 countries. Mrs. Stapleton’s passion for gardening was realized in her restoration of the Prague Embassy residence gardens.

Upon her return to the United States of America, Mrs. Stapleton became actively involved in the reelection campaign for President George W. Bush, serving as Connecticut Co-Chairman director. In January 2005, President Bush asked Ambassador Stapleton to serve his country as Ambassador to France.

Mrs. Stapleton greatly enjoyed learning about France, and its many distinctive regions, meeting people throughout the country, and celebrating America’s long and historic friendship with France. In October 2009, Mrs. Stapleton’s book Elegant Entertaining, Seasonal Recipes at the American Ambassador’s Residence was published in French and English. It recounts the fascinating history of the Residence and introduces forty of Executive Chef Philippe Excoffier’s best seasonal recipes.

The Stapleton’s son, Walker, works in real estate and lives in Denver Colorado with his wife Jenna and son, Craigie. Walker graduated from Harvard Business School and is the Colorado State Treasurer. Their daughter, Wendy, lives in New York City with her husband Diego Reyes and two daughters, Loulie and Mia Grace.

Madame Stapleton est très heureuse d’être avec un groupe de renommée des grands chefs français. Une telle reconnaissance est le rêve de sa vie.

Jean-Louis Gerin “Best of Gold Coast 2011”, Connecticut

Chilled Diced Vegetables in Saffron Bouillon

6-8 servings


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (from about 1 medium onion)
1 cup thinly sliced leek (white part only; from about 1 medium-large leek)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (from 3-4 medium cloves)
1 cup finely chopped carrot (from 3-4 medium carrots)
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
2 pinches saffron
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
2 small plum tomatoes
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice Cooked and chilled seafood of your choice (mussels, shrimp, lobster, salmon, etc)
2 tablespoons chopped chives, mint, or scallions

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Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer Receives the Golden Pretzel

The Institute of Arts and Popular Traditions of Alsace honored Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer of The French Pastry School at City Colleges of Chicago in Strasbourg on October 2, 2010 with the Bretzel d’Or, or “Golden Pretzel” award. Each year, the institute recognizes talented Alsatians who preserve the arts and traditions of Alsace, the culturally rich, eastern region of France, bordering Lorraine and Franche-Comté, with Germany to the east and Switzerland to the south. Chef Pfeiffer and other Golden Pretzel recipients not only safeguard Alsatian heritage, but promote it within the region, around France, and throughout the world. Students of The French Pastry School benefit from their Dean’s heritage, and his dedication to passing it on.

Immediately following the Chicago premiere of the documentary in which Pfeiffer plays a key role, Kings of Pastry on October 1st at the Gene Siskel Theater, he left for the airport to travel back to the “promised land” as he likes to call it, to receive the award. Originally from a small town near Strasbourg in Alsace, Pfeiffer began his pastry training there, going on to work as Executive Pastry Chef for renowned establishments and international dignitaries. Chef Pfeiffer, along with Chef Sébastien Canonne, M.O.F., later founded The French Pastry School in Chicago.

Read the rest of this announcement on the French Pastry School’s web site.

Kings of Pastry Premiers in Chicago

Tickets are now on sale for the Chicago premiere of Kings of Pastry, the documentary film created by Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker, directors of The War Room and Don’t Look Back. After meeting with great success in screenings all over the world, Kings of Pastry will be shown in the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago, Illinois, the city where the story of Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer’s pursuit of the prestigious title, Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman in France), begins.

The film follows ACF member Jacquy Pfeiffer, co-founder of The French Pastry School at City Colleges of Chicago and two other distinguished pastry chefs in their quest to do more than the best they can do in pastry, “but the best that can be done.” This is the essence of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France, a competition held in France every four years for artisans in the effort to achieve perfection in their craft, and be named one of the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France.

Kings of Pastry will be showing at the Gene Siskel Film Center from October 1st through October 7th, 2010. Follow this link to purchase tickets.

Additional premieres in cities across the United States will take place at the following locations:

OPENS October 8th – Los Angeles, CA – Laemmle Music Hall
OPENS October 8th – Denver, CO – Starz Film Center
COMING in October – San Francisco & Marin City, CA – Balboa & Lark Theaters
OPENS October 8th – Kansas City, MO – Screenland Crown Center
OPENS October 22nd – Santa Fe, NM – The Screen
OPENS November 26th – Seattle, – WA Northwest Film Forum

For more screenings and information, visit