Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Orchid's Executive Chef Todd Kelly Named ACF Chef of the Year

The best chef in the nation, according to the American Culinary Federation, Inc., (ACF), a national organization of more than 22,000 professional chefs, is Todd Kelly of Batavia, Ohio, Executive Chef/Director of Food and Beverage at Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza hotel, Cincinnati. Kelly received $5,000 and the 2011 U.S.A.'s Chef of the Year™ award, sponsored by Unilever Food Solutions, at the 2011 ACF National Convention held at the Gaylord Texan, Dallas, July 22-26.

"I'm privileged to be among the few chefs in the country to hold this title," said Kelly. "Immediately following the competition, the most rewarding part was knowing that we [my apprentices and I] accomplished what we set out to. We had the experience of a lifetime. For the rest of my life I will be able to say that I am the American Culinary Federation's 2011 U.S.A.'s Chef of the Year™."

Winning Menu:
Marinated Red Snapper with orange/miso aioli, lychees, daikon sprouts, sea spears and chili oil
Steamed Red Snapper with purple artichoke and Dungeness crab salad with brown butter nage
Red Snapper "En Papillote" with madras curry vinaigrette, Vidalia onions, tzatziki and tart apple salad
Crispy Skin Red Snapper with porcini mushrooms, foie gras, delfina potatoes and verjus sauce
(Photos courtesy of the American Culinary Federation)

About the Competition

The award was created in 1963 to acknowledge Walter Roth, AAC, for his tireless efforts to promote and elevate the profession. There have been 49 chefs named Chef of the Year. The award has grown in prestige, and today is the highest honor annually bestowed by ACF. The award recognizes an outstanding culinarian who works and cooks in a full-service dining facility. This person 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.

Chefs compete for regional titles after being nominated by ACF colleagues. Todd competed against three other chefs for the Northeast Region's title. Then the four regional winners advance to the national competition. This year's national competition format was different than years past. Chefs had one hour to prepare, cook and present four different show plates utilizing the mystery protein: red snapper. Chefs used items from a common pantry and items they previously purchased. Kelly was assisted by apprentices Derek Bush and Tom Groves. A panel of distinguished judges evaluated organization, cooking skills, culinary techniques and taste to determine the winner.

"The format of the competition didn't leave much room for error," said Kelly. "With only one hour to cook four courses, everything had to be well executed without overextending myself. I stuck to the style of food that I cook. All of my dishes were prepared with items that were in season the day of the competition. The dishes were simple with great ingredients, clean presentations and complex flavors.
About Todd Kelly

Kelly has worked at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza since 2006. He oversees all culinary operations for Orchids at Palm Court, The Grille at Palm Court, The Bar at Palm Court, in-room dining, and banquet and wedding menus as well as managing a staff of 65. Kelly has spent more than a decade in the culinary industry, working in several restaurants in North Carolina and California, including Ember Grille in Charlotte, N.C.; Peter James Townhouse, Charlotte; Rubicon, San Francisco; and Little City Italian Restaurant, San Francisco. He is a member of ACF Greater Cincinnati Chapter.

Kelly's accomplishments include some impressive awards including:
Orchids at Palm Court named Zagat's 2011 top-rated restaurant in Cincinnati
Orchids named "One of the top 50 restaurants in the U.S." in 2011 by Open Table
Hilton Hotel's #1 Food & Beverage Hotel two years in a row (2011 & 2010)
#1 Restaurant in City, 2011, 2010 & 2009, Cincinnati Magazine
Hilton Signature Chef - one of just six in the USA, June 2010
About the American Culinary Federation

The American Culinary Federation, Inc., established in 1929, is the premier professional organization for culinarians in North America. With more than 20,000 members spanning 225 chapters nationwide, ACF is the culinary leader in offering educational resources, training, apprenticeship and programmatic accreditation. In addition, ACF operates the most comprehensive certification program for chefs in the United States. ACF is home to ACF Culinary Team USA, the official representative for the United States in major international culinary competitions, and to the Chef & Child Foundation, founded in 1989 to promote proper nutrition in children and to combat childhood obesity. For more information, visit
About Orchids at Palm Court & the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza

Orchids at Palm Court is part of The Restaurants at Palm Court which also include The Bar at Palm Court and The Grille at Palm Court. They are located in the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza. The Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza opened in 1931 and is one of the world's finest examples of French art deco architecture and the restaurant features rare Brazilian rosewood walls with German silver-nickel metalwork and lighting fixtures. The two-story ceiling features large Romanesque murals and on the north end of the restaurant is an original Rookwood Pottery fountain flanked by two large seahorses which illustrates the magnificent examples of art deco in the restaurant. The hotel is a charter member of Historic Hotels of America, is a registered National Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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