This past spring, Joseph Leonardi CEC ’97, ’99 MAT, executive chef of the Somerset Club in Boston and former assistant professor at JWU’s College of Culinary Arts, received the American Culinary Federation’s highest honor, the 2009 USA’s Chef of the Year Award. Taking the stage after he was pronounced the national winner, Leonardi thanked his opponents for “keeping me on my toes,” as well as acknowledged their talent. He also thanked everyone who helped him train for the competition, including his apprentice and his wife. This year’s award ceremony took place during the annual ACF National Convention, held in Orlando, Fla. The award recognizes an outstanding culinarian who demonstrates the highest standard of culinary skills, advances the cuisine of America and gives back to the profession through the development of students and apprentices. Competition for the Chef of the Year Award is fierce. Finalists are nominated by colleagues for their high standards, outstanding culinary skills and a reputation for cooking American regional cuisine. The four finalists then compete live on the trade-show floor. They are given two hours to prepare and cook a three-course signature meal and 15 minutes to serve twelve portions. This year’s distinguished panel of judges included guest Jerome Bocuse, son of legendary chef and restaurateur Paul Bocuse and general manager of Chefs de France at Epcot. Leonardi is executive chef at Boston’s exclusive Somerset Club, a private social club with an elite clientele. Prior to that, he served as a department chair and assistant professor at JWU’s College of Culinary Arts, from which he holds associate and bachelor’s degrees, as well as a masters in education. An avid competitor, Leonardi was a member of the ACF’s Regional Team USA in 2008, which ranked first overall in the world in the regional portion of the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA) competition in Erfurt, Germany. He also competed in the American Culinary Classic in Chicago in 2007, where his team took home three gold medals and one silver, and placed fourth overall. In 2003 he won a Best Dessert Award from the Académie Culinaire de France. Other members of the JWU community to make the prestigious list of award winners are:Chef Professionalism Award Dale Miller, CMC, WGMC, AAC ’03; executive chef-owner, Dale Miller, Albany, N.Y.; ACF Capital District–Central New YorkHermann G. Rusch Chef’s Achievement Award Wolfgang Bierer, CMPC, CEC, CCE. AAC ’95 Hon.; retired, Hilton Head Island, S.C.; ACF Chefs of the Low Country Baron H. Galand Culinary Knowledge Bowl Jeremy Brown ’02, as a member of Chefs de Cuisine Association of St. LouisACF Leadership Award Paul Prudhomme, HAAC, HHOF ’94 Hon.; chef-owner, K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, Magic Seasoning Blends, New Orleans; ACF New Orleans Chapter ACF President’s Medallion Recipients Lorena Garcia ’00, owner-executive chef, Elements, Miami, ACF National ChapterPatrick O’Connell ’01 Hon.; chef-proprietor, The Inn at Little Washington, Washington, Va.Reimund Pitz, CEC, CCE, AAC ’97 Hon., executive chef, Le Coq Au Vin, Orlando, Fla.; ACF Central Florida Chapter 2009 American Academy of Chefs Honorary Fellows Robert Nograd, CMC, ’99 Hon., dean emeritus, Johnson & Wales University At the regional level, Brian Hubner ’05, executive sous chef, Cherry Hills Country Club, Cherry Hills Village, Colo., received the American Culinary Federation Western Region Chef of the Year Award at the 2009 ACF Western Regional Conference held at the Seattle Doubletree Hotel, Seattle, in April.