Chef of the Year

Chef of the Year 2015
Chef Leon West

Chef Leon West is a graduate of the Massachusetts Vocational and Technical School’s culinary arts program. He received his on the job training with the Sheraton Hotel in Boston. Chef West was certified on July 14, 1970, by the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. Chef West began his career with ARAMARK in 1978. After only five years, he accepted the position of Executive Chef of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans where his career has progressed over the years.

Chef Leon currently sells his famous seasonings at stores across Louisiana as well as online, helping people to bring out the best culinary experiences to their everyday cooking. Chef West’s wonderful Southern seasonings are available online at his website.

Chef West’s Accomplishments:
A $1,000 per plate Fund-Raiser for George Bush (5,000 Guests)
Maitre Des Cuisines At International Culinary Society-Chaine Des Rotisseurs’ Exclusive Dinner (February 1992 and June 2002)
Cover Story of Chef’s Magazine-December 1995
Inducted into The Chaine Des Rotisseurs Gourmet Society on December 9, 1995
Received “Chef of The Year” Honors from The American Culinary Federation New Orleans Chapter(1996)
Inducted into A Taste Of Heritage Foundation’s African-American Chef’s Hall Of Fame (1997)

Chef of the Year 2014
Chef Travis Johnson

Chef Travis Johnson is currently the District Executive Chef at Tulane University in New Orleans. He oversees the culinary operations at both Tulane & Loyola Universities in New Orleans. He has worked for Sodexo for the twelve years. Throughout his Sodexo career he held executive chef roles at both U.M.K.C. in Kansas City, Missouri and Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa. His passion for food and drive for success has led him to the city of New Orleans. Chef was named in New Orleans ACF’s “Best Chefs of Louisiana 2012.”

Growing his career in New Orleans, Chef Johnson has been a board member of the American Culinary Federation New Orleans Chapter for the past two years. Secretary: 2014-2016, Vice President 2016-present. In April of 2015, Chef Johnson was awarded ACFNO “Chef of the Year 14.”

He has participates in community charity events, works with at risk youth, New Orleans Mission, Louisiana fisherman, farmers & chefs to help tie the New Orleans community with the Tulane community.

Over the past ten years Travis has flown around the country doing “Traveling Chef” appearances. He has traveled to 16 different states making appearances at 65 different universities. Since 2006, chef led culinary teams, catering to governors, presidential candidates, world leaders, presidents, university trustees, and entertainers. He and his culinary teams coordinated, planned and successfully executed these events. Sodexo has given Travis an opportunity to demonstrate the fundamentals of executing fine dining presidential events, to feeding thousands of students consistently, while offering variety, healthy choices, food with flare, and culinary innovation.

Chef Johnson stated that “My greatest accomplishment in the food service industry is learning to feed a diverse population while incorporating innovation, with regional & local flair.”

Chef Johnson strives to ensure each and every guest enjoys dining with us and he loves the intrinsic value he gets every time a guest smiles, compliments on the food, and he knows they had an exceptional dining experience.

Chef of the Year 2013
Chef Ricardo Fredricks

Prior to joining the University of New Orleans, Chef Fredricks was a Chef/Instructor for the Culinary Apprentice Program at Delgado College. He has a M.S. degree from the University of Wisconsin – Stout, Bachelors from the University of New Orleans, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and is certified by the American Culinary Federation as a Certified Culinary Educator and Chef de Cuisine.

Chef Fredricks’ hospitality industry career included working for hotels, restaurants and resorts. Chef Fredricks is a member of the International Food Executives, the Research Chef’s Association, the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) and the American Culinary Foundation.

Chef of the Year 2012
Chef R.J. Derderian

Chef of the Year 2011
Chef Duke LoCicero

In his 19 years at Cafe’ Giovanni, Owner and Chef Duke LoCicero has been bringing worldwide attention to New Orleans Cuisine. Born and raised in New Orleans, “Chef Duke” has been a part of the restaurant scene since he was thirteen. At eighteen he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After his apprenticeship he worked throughout the United States, gaining experience with a variety of cuisine’s that have undoubtedly influenced the blend of flavors that characterize Chef Duke’s creations at Cafe’ Giovanni.

Chef of the Year 2010
Chef Ron Iafrate

Ronald Iafrate grew up in New England as the youngest son of a second generation Italian family. He learned his love for cooking at home and combined it with the diverse culinary traditions of the northeast where he developed his particular style of comfort foods. He graduated from Johnson and Wales College in Culinary Arts and has received further certifications in Nutrition, Management, and Sanitation. He sits on the board at the Louisiana Technical College and has participated in cooking demonstrations and culinary tours. His first break in the business came when he worked under the renowned chef Fred Faria who introduced him to delights of Cajun cooking and music in Acadia, Rhode Island. His industry experience has involved both restaurants and chain hospitality operations throughout Florida and Massachusetts. He has compiled an extensive repertoire of recipes in haute cuisine, working at the Doubletree as Executive Chef, Executive Sous Chef, and Task Force Chef.

Chef of the Year 2009
Chef Damian Thomas

Presented on December 6, 2011

 Chef of the Year 2008
Chef T. Walden

Presented on December 6, 2011

Chef of the Year 2007
Chef Dean Terrebonne

chefdeanPresented on December 6, 2011

 Chef of the Year 2006
Chef Nancy Burback


Chef Nancy was a founding member of this chapter. She served in several capacities there – President of the chapter and “Chef of the Year.” She taught as an adjunct instructor at Faulkner Community College Culinary Arts. She is the founder of the Delgado Community College Culinary Arts Knowledge Bowl Team and through her expertise the team has medaled at three regional competitions. Chef Nancy took over the reins as the secretary of the ACFNO chapter when Chef Canatella relocated out of state. She was the ACFNO culinary salon chairman at the LRA Expo August 2006.

** The Chef of the Year was not presented in 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina.

 Chef of the Year 2004
Chef Karl Tipton


In 2002 Chef Karl was admitted to the American Academy of Chefs, and the ACF Honor Society. Chef Karl is co-chairman of the by-laws revision committee for the Chapter and an Associate Professor / Lead Instructor in Culinary Arts at Delgado Community College.

 Chef of the Year 2003
Chef Jan Rost, AAS


Chef Jan was the Culinary Arts Instructor at Louisiana Technical College (LTC), Slidell Campus. She served as the LTC District 1 Department Chair of Culinary Arts and was awarded the “Outstanding Faculty Member”for the entire district in 2003.
Among the many awards and achievements Chef Jan holds are the “Chef of the Year 2003” and the “President’s Award for 2004” for the American Culinary Federation New Orleans Chapter and the “Steady Eddie” Award in 2003. She served as the New Orleans chapter Secretary before being elected Vice President. She serves as chapter President in 2006 when Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of the New Orleans food industry.

 Chef of the Year 2002
Robert J. Richard


By a vote of the members Chef Robert J. Richard, Corporate Executive Chef for Provimi Veal Corporation was elected Chef of the Year for 2002. Chef Richard has been a member of the ACF since 1969 and is past president of the ACF New Orleans Chapter 1998 – 2000.

 Chef of the Year 2001
Chef Maurice Fitzgerald, CEC, AAC


Chef Maurice was the first chef certified by ACF in Louisiana. He has over 50 years of service to the industry, working his way up in the back of the house to owning his restaurant. Currently, Chef Maurice is an assistant professor at Delgado Community College and the assistant apprenticeship coordinator, where he makes site visitations to all restaurant properties to ensure ACF apprentice standards and the Department of Labor requirements.

 Chef of the Year 2000
Chef Jon Petrie CEPC


On February 4th 2001 at our Gala Chef of the Year Dinner, Jon was elected by his peers as the 2000 Chef of the year. Congratulations to Jon and his family.

 Chef of the Year 1999
Chef Michael R. Parr CEC


Besides his duties as Treasurer, he was also the Chairman of the La. Gold Culinary Classic, and the French Quarter Festival.
He is the owner/chef of Events Catering, LLC. As he has told us, “If you need a dinner for 10 call someone else, but food for 300 to 10,000 call anytime.” He is the director of foods for The New Orleans Police Foundation “Walk the Beat” fund raiser where he easily feeds 10,000 every May.
He is also part owner of, &, sites dicated to safe food handling training. Chef Mike is currently Chairman of the Board.

Chef of the Year 1999
Chef Duke LoCicero


In his years at Cafe’ Giovanni, Chef Duke LoCicero has been bringing worldwide attention to New Orleans Cuisine. Born and raised in New Orleans, Chef Duke has been a part of the restaurant scene since he was thirteen. At age eighteen he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. While at the Brownstone, Chef Duke was appointed Executive Chef for the private parties at the “Houston Economic Summit.” Here he prepared dinner for President George Bush, Prime Minister Thatcher, President Mitterand, and others.
Chef Duke has won numerous awards including the Top Chef 2000 award from 1992 through 1996, and Cafe’ Giovanni was chosen as one of the top six restaurants of 1991 by New Orleans Magazine. In addition to Chef Duke’s award as “Master Taster”, he was also awarded third place in the “Visitors Choice Award” as one of the restaurants most preferred by visitors to New Orleans, and first place, “Taste of Elegance Award” from America’s Pork Producers. Chef Duke recently prepared the “Dinner to the Czars” for the “Palaces of Saint Petersburg Exhibit” in Jackson, Mississippi.

Chef of the Year 1998
Chef Christina Nicosia CEPC, CCE