Kiernan receives 2010 Chef of the Year honors from Syracuse chapter of American Culinary Federation
Hospitality management chef instructor Mary Kiernan lives by her own advice and likely, it is one of the reasons she was named the 2010 Chef of the Year by the Syracuse chapter of the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
“Be passionate about all you do. If you can’t find a passion for it, find something else to do,” says Kiernan, which is wisdom she shares as she is often sought out by College of Human Ecology students for professional and practical guidance.
Kiernan received this prestigious honor on June 28 during the annual awards dinner at Mohegan Manor. “To me, this honor is validation by chef colleagues of my contributions to the profession, the local culinary scene and the Syracuse ACF chapter,” explains Kiernan, who received the good news from the Syracuse chapter president shortly before meeting the ACF national president, who was on business in the Rochester area, later that day.
The U.S.A.’s Chef of the Year™ award recognizes an outstanding culinarian who works and cooks in a full-service dining facility. This person has demonstrated the highest standard of culinary skills, advanced the cuisine of America and given back to the profession through the development of students and apprentices. To be considered for the award, candidates must hold a sous chef title or higher, and be nominated by any ACF member or chapter in good standing.
This latest award, which complements an impressive record of professional accomplishments and community service, is something she hopes will inspire the students she teaches.
As part of the ACF, Kiernan works with the American Red Cross each year to raise money for both organizations through a gala event. This year, the group put on a ‘kitchen arena’ in Iron Chef fashion. She is also involved in encouraging local chefs to understand the importance of certification and what it can bring to their careers. She is also co-chair of the Skills USA culinary competition, a state-wide event held in Syracuse each spring for high school students in vocational training programs.
Skill sets and philosophies that have contributed to Kiernan’s successes have always been grounded in the fundamentals. “One of the biggest mistakes young people make is that they don’t see the value in “paying their dues,” notes Kiernan. They want to start at the top. What they need to understand is that mastering the fundamentals will give them a solid foundation as their career path becomes more challenging. If they ever hit a point where their path is too challenging and they need to back up for a time they can, if they have fundamental learning. This allows a person to continue to pursue their chosen path while they are maturing as adults in the workforce.
In 2000, Kiernan came to SU to work in Carrier Dome Catering where she managed 42 private suites and numerous other functions related to games and floor dinners.
Currently working on her MBA at the Whitman School of Management, Kiernan received a bachelor of science degree in hospitality management from Florida International University and an AOS in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of America where she also completed the professional chef immersion II course. “Achieving this dual certification from the Culinary Institute of America in 2007 has had tremendous impact on the path of my career and my ability to contribute to my profession,” says Kiernan.