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Chef Of The Year

odonnellJoel O’Donnell     Candidate A

Chef Joel O’Donnell started in the restaurant business in high school and worked for many years in both public and private food service venues. He began the apprenticeship program in 2002 at Columbus State Community College where he apprenticed under Chef Erika Decker at the Rocky Fork Hunt & Country Club. After Graduating in 2005, he remained on staff at Rocky Fork and became Executive Sous Chef in 2004.

In addition to his position at Rocky Fork, Chef O’Donnell has also served as chair of the competition committee for ACF Columbus Chapter for the last two years, Chef O’Donnell was an advisor to the 2009 Columbus State Junior Hot Food Team and served as a coach for the 2011 team. He has served as chair of the chapter’s election committee and has worked as a certification mentor with students and professionals in the chapter.

Chef O’Donnell currently holds the designation of CEC and is also an Approved Certification Evaluator. He has plans of obtaining a CEPC in 2015.


smithMatt Smith      Candidate B

Chef Matt Smith is a 2003 Graduate of Hocking College. His career began as a line cook at Michael’s Steakhouse in Marion Ohio. In 2003 Chef Smith began working at the Hyatt on Capital square as the executive Sous Chef. His role was not limited to and included maintaining a leadership role over a 3 station banquet kitchen, restaurant line that supported five different outlets, an employee café that fed 65-200 associates daily, as well as, a seasonal café. In 2011 Matt relocated to Savannah Georgia to take over the Executive Sous Chef position at the Hyatt Regency Savannah. Chef Smith returned to Columbus in 2013 as the Executive Chef of the Westin Columbus before settling in as the Executive Chef of the Sheraton Columbus at Capital Square where he resided today. Some of Chef Smith’s accolades include: a Nomination for the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association Manger of the Year, the Second Place Award for an Idaho Breakfast Potato Competition, and Outstanding Alumni for Tri- Rivers Career Center in 2010.

Chef Smith is very involved as the vocational liaison for the Columbus Chapter of the American Culinary Federation. He is very passionate about assisting future chef in their journey to become culinary professionals. His involvement at Columbus State Community College and his presence in the vocational programs throughout central Ohio is an asset to the chapter, the city and the entire culinary profession.

Chef Smith is currently working on completing the process for obtaining his CEC in 2015.

 ROAR Award

The recipient or recipients of the ROAR award are defined by their ability to show outstanding service, leadership, volunteerism, loyalty and a dedication to the chapter. This person or persons may only be able to give of their time sparingly or they maybe completely dedicated to every event involving ACF Columbus yet by their actions they have helped to take our whisper as a chapter to a ROAR that can be heard through our region. This Recipient does not need to be certified and must be a member in good standing or a partner with ACF Columbus. The ROAR Recipient will be nominated by their peers and given consideration of receipt by the executive board. Nominees must be submitted in writing or through email to the executive board. Please include the reason for nomination, the years of membership if known and if the nominee is currently on a committee. Nominations must be dated no later than December 6, 2014.

» Download the ROAR Award Nomination Form


The Federation can help by providing up to $500 worth of assistance to those who need it. Click Here for an application. 

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