Adam Gianelloni
Ernest M. Morial Convention Center
Toya Boudy
Chef Toya Boudy
Shinobu Yamamoto
New Orleans Fish House
Scott Maki
Feelings Cafe
Patrick Henry
Taste and See Personal Chef Services
Octavio Ycaza
Crescent Culinary
Nino Thibodaux
Friends of Italy
Lenny Martinsen
Kerry Burzelleri
Sodexo - Northwestern Louisiana University
John Jaeger
Jaeger's Seafood
Jay Meeuwenberg
New Orleans Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots
Jared Graves
Tsunami Sushi
Jacob Cureton
Guy Sockrider
Tujague's Restaurant
Eric Mark
Delgado Community College
Eric Cook
Tommy's Cuisine
Eliana de Las Casas
Eliana Cooks!
Donald Smith
Chef D'z Cafe
Conner Mullins
YaYa's Comfort Food
Chris Barbato
The Country Club
Bennett Simmons
Lafayette Christian Academy
Anthony Maietta
US Marine Corps
Amy Sins
Adam Korbel
Le Pavillon Hotel


The American Culinary Federation New Orleans recognizes local culinarians who display exemplary skill and excellence in the kitchen. Each spring, our Best Chefs of Louisiana event showcases dozens of the top chefs of New Orleans and the surrounding area, bringing them together for one night of tasting, dancing, and networking.   

2018 Chef of the Year:

Ruth Varisco

Chef Ruth is a longtime member of the ACFNO, and has been the program manager of the Nunez Community College Culinary Arts Program in St. Bernard for almost 25 years. 

2018 Best Chef Legends

Chef Frank Davis

Chef Frank Davis worked as a radio and television personality with WWL-TV and WWL-AM from 1974 to his retirement in 2011. An avid fisherman, his on-air sportsman reports tied together south Louisiana cuisine with the sport of fishing in a way that many said to be pioneering.  Known for his tagline “Naturally N’awlins”, Davis authored several cookbooks and other reference guides to the cuisine of New Orleans. Chef Frank Davis will long be remembered around the region for being a passionate proponent of creole cuisine. 

Chef Frank Brigtsen

Frank began his culinary career in 1973 while attending Louisiana State University. In 1979, Frank apprenticed at Commander’s Palace Restaurant under the guidance of Chef Paul Prudhomme. In 1980, Frank became the first Night Chef at K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen when the restaurant began dinner service. During his seven-year tenure at K-Paul’s, Frank attained the position of Executive Chef. Chef Paul and his wife K Prudhomme were instrumental in helping Frank and Marna open Brigtsen’s in 1986. Chef Brigtsen is a strong believer in culinary education and shares his passion for Creole and Acadian cuisine through his roles as Adjunct Professor at The John Folse Culinary Institute at Nicholls State University and Chef-in-Residence at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts (NOCCA).

Chef Andrea Apuzzo

Chef Andrea began his formal culinary education while working in a bakery in his home town of Anacapri at the early age of seven. At fourteen, he left Capri to travel to Germany, Switzerland, England and South America to further his culinary training in some of the best hotels in Europe and abroad. After working 35 years in kitchens all over the world under some of the finest, most respected chefs, Chef Andrea moved to Bermuda in 1973 to work at the Southampton Princess Hotel and later in Hamilton Princess Hotel. In 1975, he came to the United States as Executive Sous-Chef of the Omni International Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. And in 1977 he moved to New Orleans as Executive Chef of the Royal Orleans Hotel; a position he held until January, 1985 when he left to open Andrea’s, his life-long dream.

JoAnn Clevenger

Growing up in Alexandria, Louisiana, JoAnn Clevenger always knew the value of hard work. The food on the table each night was grown right on the farm, and upon dining at her Upperline restaurant, guests can see that fact greatly influenced the restauranteur’s passion for hospitality. Since opening Upperline with her family in January 1983 (“with 40 chairs and no money for the first week’s payroll”), the restaurant, JoAnn, and her legendary shrimp remoulade over fried green tomatoes have all grown to be a well-loved fixture here in New Orleans. She is the recipient of the 2015 Southern Foodways Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award, and has been a James Beard SemiFinalist for Outstanding Restauranteur. Upperline was named 2017 Restaurant of the Year by the New Orleans Advocate. 

Chef Jean-Luc Albin

Born in Briancon, in the French Alps, Jean-Luc’s father was a talented chef. When he was 15, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. He worked in small resort hotels in the south of France, signed on as a 3-year apprentice in Marseilles, then got a classical job with legendary Chef Alexandre Chabert, who turned a youthful experience into a career commitment. After five years in Paris and stints around the world, Fairmont Hotels brought him to New Orleans as Executive Chef and eventually promoted him to Director of Food & Beverage. He soon purchased the highly rated patisserie, Maurice’s French Pastries, in a suburb of New Orleans. He quickly grew the operation, creating a coffee shop inside the bakery, and expanded to provide pastries for many of the restaurants and shops in New Orleans.

Chef Daniel Bonnot

Daniel Bonnot began his culinary training in Paris at the age of 14. After serving in the French Army where he was the chef for future Prime Minister Pierre Messmer, he went to work in the kitchen of the Savoy Hotel in Paris for two years, before moving around the world developing his skills. In New Orleans in 1972, Chef Daniel opened the Louis XVI restaurant, one of the most successful restaurants in New Orleans from 1972 to 1985. Chef Bonnot opened Chez Daniel in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie. He then opened Bizou, downtown on Saint Charles Avenue in 1996 and sold Chez Daniel in 1998. In the year 2000, Chef Daniel Bonnot decided to retire and sold Bizou to his former sous chef, Susan Spicer, and Susan’s sous chef from Bayona, Donald Link, and they changed the name to Herbsaint.

Chef Kevin Belton

Self-taught Creole chef Kevin Belton, whose family ancestry is a gumbo of English, French, Native American and African, began cooking under the watchful eye of his mother and grandmother in his native New Orleans. Cooking instruction is second nature for Belton, who has spent the last 20 years teaching at the New Orleans School of Cooking. In addition to the almost 7,000 lessons he has led at the school, Belton has also offered classes and cooking demonstrations throughout the U.S. and Canada. He has been featured on numerous food programs, including Emeril Live, and co-hosted a BBC series titled “Big Kevin Little Kevin” with British celebrity chef Kevin Woodford. Chef Kevin Belton has published multiple cookbooks, and is the resident chef for WWL-TV’s morning show, where he appears in the “Today’s Special” segments.