March 20, 2020

Aloha to my fellow ACF members.
I am reaching out to you today, to offer my support and that of the American Culinary Federation.
It saddens me to watch what is happening to our beloved community, throughout the world. The negative impact that we’re experiencing, on a national and global basis, has the potential of being larger than any natural disaster in recent history. So much is yet still unknown with regards to this health crisis, but what we do know, is that globally, our core is being attacked medically, economically and psychologically. Children don’t have access to food because their schools have closed, jobs are being lost and businesses are being forced to close their doors. Our lives and the world as we know it, is changing by the minute. Now is the time that we must band together as one community, we’re all part of the human race, and we are all in this together.
We are chefs, we are all about servicing and supporting our respective communities in times of need. We have and will continue to make miracles happen. I am confident that when we look back at these times, we’ll be proud of what the ACF grassroots community will have accomplished. This is the time for us to reach out and step up to support each other and our neighbors in their time of need. The closing line of the Culinarians Code… “I will support the success, growth, and future of my colleagues and this great federation.”
With that said, I have a few important announcements.
The ACF National Office and I are focused on how we can best continue to support and assist our members during these difficult times. Under the banner of ACF United, we are initiating several programs and initiatives to directly assist our members. Additional assistance and services will be announced as new opportunities arise.
The following will be implemented immediately:
  • Membership:
ACF members are facing difficult and uncertain financial futures, due to the disruption of life as we know it… the potential reduction in forces, furloughs and/or closures of businesses, etc. One of the ways we can assist you, is with your membership renewals. Therefore, beginning immediately, and throughout the next six months, should you not be able to renew your membership, please call Membership at the ACF National Office, or email, so we can make arrangements for you.
Once approved, your membership will extend for this interim period, with your commitment to renew once able to do so. We will review this after six months, to determine any further need to extend.
We want you to remain in the ACF community during these times.
Note: If you are able to renew your membership, we kindly ask you to when your membership is due.
  • Education:
We are offering free access to the ACF Online Learning Center, through June, 2020. This will assist both ACF members and non-ACF members. We hope this will inspire and provide a venue of innovative learning opportunities/experiences to you, while at home, practicing “social distancing” and while awaiting, for this all to turn around for the world. Details will be displayed on the COVID-19 update page on the ACF website.
  • ACF Office:
As with the membership, ACF National is also anticipating reduced revenues due to postponing Events, Certifications, and Accreditations. We are implementing numerous ways of servicing our members while reducing the cost of doing so. To ensure the safety of the staff, The ACF National Office will institute remote working for its entire staff.
Effective Monday, March 23, 2020, the ACF National Office will move to a 4-day work week to reduce its cost of operations. We will soon send you information as to how we will maintain our service levels, under these circumstances.
  • ACF ChefConnect – Nashville:
As you may be aware, out of concerns for the safety and health of our members, staff, guest speakers, sponsors and attendees and due to the requirements of “social distancing” and the guidelines from the CDC, governing for groups congregating in numbers, no more than 10… ChefConnect: Nashville, has been rescheduled for October 26 – 28, 2020.
  • ACF National Convention
At this time, the ACF National Convention – Dallas, remains scheduled and as planned, for July 19-23, 2020. We will continue to monitor information that comes forward from public health experts and recommendation of the CDC. I will keep you informed of any changes to this plan. Again, the safety and health of everyone is a priority, and will be the basis for all decisions moving forward.
The current climate of our surroundings is confusing, riddled with panic, mixed messages on protective measures, social isolation to stop the spread of COVID-19… all good reasons for concern, but panic is never helpful in any situation. Most of us will emerge strong from these difficult times, but some will need our long-term assistance. As Chefs, we learn to engage and become an indestructible force, a strong community.
We practice this as “family”, Ohana… we are family that support each other, remember… Our Hands Are Never Apart! I am confident that we will get through this. Chefs have already begun to contribute to their local communities and to adjust their business models in this temporary reality. We need to shift thoughts away from the 24/7 news cycle, and have conversations with our respective local communities, our family and friends… a grass roots approach to regenerate community members. Difficult moments are those when we need each other most, reaching out with assurance to each other is the beginning. The current state of affairs and what seems to be our darkest moments, will improve with time. Many will not only be left financially scarred, but may experience emotional and psychological scarring as well.
Here are a few things to ponder as we move forward, to help you and for you to maybe help someone else:
  1. Acknowledge and feel your feelings.
  2. Talk about it. “Talking about your troubles, however, helps you better understand your own fears and get valuable feedback from others, “who have probably experienced similar levels of distress and can give you the perspective you need.”
  3. Try to see past the hardship. “When you’re in a crisis, it’s hard to see any upside. But, with some distance, you may be able to see the situation in a different light.”
  4. Prioritize self-care. “[Self-care] is absolutely necessary to survive tough situations,” “[Y]ou won’t be of any help to others if you are incapacitated.” While you might not have time for your usual healthy habits, you can still take good care of yourself.
  5. Consider what you’re experiencing, is it a catastrophe or an inconvenience?
  6. Practice acceptance. “Let go of that which you cannot control.”
  7. Ask for help. “You might assume that you can and should handle this difficult time on your own. Many people do. But, interestingly, most say they’d never expect others to manage similar situations alone. “We need to relinquish control, ask for help, and receive it with grace.”
  8. Limit time with toxic people. “Spend less time – or no time – with toxic people. These are individuals who are not supportive or reliable and don’t have your best interest at heart. They don’t listen to you, and might even be critical, judgmental or demanding. After being with them, you feel drained and depleted. In other words, they make you feel worse.”
  9. Stay grounded in the present. “Practice mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation and/or yoga, [which] are excellent for the mind and body when going through a crisis.”
  10. Call an end to the crisis. “Far too often, we allow crisis to define our lives and mindsets for way, way too long,” We burn out, become more anxious and depressed and have less energy and focus to find effective solutions.
  11. Observe the situation as an outsider. “Take a ‘crisis break’ in which you relax and observe the situation as if you were an outsider, hearing about the circumstance from a friend or maybe a co-worker.”
  12. Just take action. “If you don’t know what to do, do something,” “Make a list, make some phone calls, gather some information.” Avoiding a situation only adds to your anxiety and “what ifs,” he said. Taking action is empowering.”
  13. Remember that you are not your difficult time. “You are not your problems or your crisis. Your true self is that deeper entity within that is perfectly whole and well no matter what you are experiencing.”
  14. Remember that everyone heals differently. “Remind and encourage yourself, children and adults, that this is their journey and that no one should be clock-watching.” “Everyone feels in different ways. And everyone heals in different ways.” Tough times can feel incredibly overwhelming and exhausting. But there are many things you can do to soften the blow.
I believe that sharing information, can accelerate the adoption of new ideas and solutions. At ACF, we are also researching opportunities for relief, especially for chefs that are experiencing or will experience these temporary downturns and challenges in business and in our personal lives, as a result of the pandemic. We’re looking into ways of connecting ACF members through social media and digital channels under the ACF United banner.
Please know that you are not alone. As your President, I will continue updating you by email, with the opportunities that I will continue to research and launch. More will be communicated with you in the coming days and weeks ahead. Until then, if there is anything that we can do for you, or if you have some ideas that could be shared with ACF members, please let us know by sending an email to Joy Johnson ( or calling the ACF National Office.
Please stay safe and healthy.
Stafford DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC
National President, American Culinary Federation