Aramark’s Top Chefs To Compete In Inaugural Culinary Excellence Competition

Sept. 10, 2019

September 09, 2019 07:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time

PHILADELPHIA--()--Aramark (NYSE: ARMK) today announced the winners of its business sector culinary challenge finals, setting the stage for the Inaugural National Finals of Aramark’s Culinary Excellence (ACE) Competition -- a showcase of the company’s United States culinary talent and innovation. With a team of top chefs representing participating U.S. business units (Business Dining, Education, Healthcare Hospitality, Leisure, and Sports & Entertainment), Aramark’s finest will face off in a kitchen battle for culinary supremacy, at Aramark’s Global Headquarters in Philadelphia on November 20, 2019.

“Every day, our world-class chefs enrich and nourish the lives of our customers with innovative and delicious menus,” said Keith Bethel, Aramark’s Chief Customer Officer. “Congratulations to all of the competitors and good luck to those advancing to our very first National Finals of Aramark’s Culinary Excellence Competition.”

At the industry finals, judges from the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – the largest professional chefs association in North America – evaluated and scored chefs against the rigorous criteria of ACF competition standards. Competitors had 30 minutes for set-up, 4 hours for allotted cooking/service time, and 30 minutes for clean-up. The winning chefs successfully prepared and presented a four-course menu, utilizing a mystery basket containing fresh, seasonal ingredients, as well as demonstrated a mastery of cooking technique.

“All of the competing chefs rose to the challenge and demonstrated a deep appreciation for cooking,” said ACF Competition Judge and Certified Master Chef Steven Jilleba. “Their love of food, vast knowledge of cuisine and commitment to culinary excellence was evident throughout the competitions in the preparation, creativity and execution of their menus.”

The top three finishers from each business will form a team and move on to compete for the honor of being the 2019 Aramark Culinary Excellence National Champions.

“Aramark’s commitment to culinary excellence and continuous innovation is a cornerstone of our brand promise,” said Heidi Hogan, Vice President of Product Development and Culinary Innovation, Aramark. “These chefs are the best of the best, and the ACE Competition provides an outlet to showcase their expertise and passion for the culinary arts, while also allowing them the opportunity to share ideas and learn from one another.”

Over 100 Aramark chefs, from Business Dining, Healthcare Hospitality, Education (Higher Education/K12), Leisure and Sports & Entertainment across the U.S., competed individually in preliminary competitions, with winners moving onto the business sector finals.

Business Sector Finals: Winners and Finalists(* - Top three finishers from each business sector will form a team to compete at the ACE National Finals in Philadelphia on November 20, 2019)

Business Dining


Sean Fetters

New York Life


Clint Absher

AT&T Global HQ

First Runner Up*

Dylan France



Michael Barber

Cigna-Waterside Crossing

Second Runner Up*

Lee Chamberlain

Roche Diagnostics


Samuel Yu

Johnson Controls Inc



Ryan Andress

University of North Carolina-Wilmington


Adam Dever

University of Louisville

First Runner Up*

Christopher L. Bee

Boston University


Craig Prestero, Jr.

Texas A&M University-Kingsville

Second Runner Up*

William Edmondson

Kent State University


Andy West

Arizona State University

Healthcare Hospitality


Tracey A. Hopkins, Sr.

Einstein Medical Center


Mike Montes

St. Claire HealthCare

First Runner Up*

Jacob Helsabeck

Warren Memorial Hospital 


Stanley Stovall

Houston Methodist Hospital

Second Runner Up*

Damon Mangano

Hillcrest Hospital


Daniel Van Etten

Lifespan - Rhode Island Hospital



Justin Key

William F. Bolger Center 


Josh Fisher

Lake Tahoe - Zephyr Cove Resort

First Runner Up*

Brian Wagner

Chauncey Hotel and Conference Center 


Justin Kronen

Olympic National Park & Forest - Lake Quinault Lodge

Second Runner Up*

Scott Simpson

Ross School of Business at University of Michigan - Executive Learning and Conference Center


Jason Myers

Adventure Aquarium

Sports & Entertainment


Stephen Aheimer

FirstEnergy Stadium


Shameka Akinleye

M&T Bank Stadium

First Runner Up*

Richard Grab

Philadelphia, Baltimore & Washington, DC District 


Kevin Fong

SAP Center

Second Runner Up*

Allan Wambaa

Oregon Convention Center


Bridget Mooney

Soldier Field

About Aramark

Aramark (NYSE: ARMK) proudly serves Fortune 500 companies, world champion sports teams, state-of-the-art healthcare providers, the world’s leading educational institutions, iconic destinations and cultural attractions, and numerous municipalities in 19 countries around the world. Our 270,000 team members deliver experiences that enrich and nourish millions of lives every day through innovative services in food, facilities management and uniforms. We work to put our sustainability goals into action by focusing on initiatives that engage our employees, empower healthy living, preserve our planet and build local communities. Aramark is recognized as one of the World’s Most Admired Companies by FORTUNE, as well as an employer of choice by the Human Rights Campaign and DiversityInc. Learn more at or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.



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