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Episode 51: Firsts and Future Leaders with Kimberly Brock Brown, President of the American Culinary Federation

On August 5th at its 90th annual meeting, the largest professional chefs’ organization in North America, the American Culinary Federation (ACF), inducted its first woman president, its first Black president, and its first president hailing from the pastry side of the kitchen: Kimberly Brock Brown.

“About time?” says Ragnar. “Past-time,” Kimberly rightly corrects. “It’s kind of sad that in the 21st century, we still have all these firsts. Especially in our industry, when our industry has always been so diverse, and it’s always been women, it’s always been people of color, it’s always been pastry chefs!”

This isn’t Kimberly’s first time breaking a glass ceiling. Chef Kimberly is the first woman of color elected to the board of the ACF. A member of the American Academy of Chefs, the honors society of the ACF with more than 900 fellows, she is currently the Academy’s only Black female chef inducted in its 30+ year history, and the only Black female Certified Executive Pastry Chef in South Carolina. Over the course of her 4 decades in the industry, she’s always been a leader.

Chef Brown’s priority is using these firsts to empower others. Her three pillars: Mentoring, Diversity, and Growth.

To me, it was all about being of service. How can I, with my patches, my certifications, whatever I have behind my name, encourage and help other people, other women, other people of color to strive and be the best they can be in our industry.”

She sees the potential in young people to both benefit from the opportunities available through professional associations like the ACF, and the need for the next generation to move into leadership roles. She’s looking to take a grassroots approach, going directly to schools to teach culinary students what it means to be a professional chef, and what it means to belong.

Don’t miss this episode of World on a Plate, with more from Kimberly on representation in the industry, leadership, and more.

About our Guest

Kimberly Brock Brown was born in Chicago, Illinois & raised in the western suburb of Maywood.

Cooking has always been a part of her story. Because snow & cold are four-letter words, Kimberly decided to stay in the warmth of the South to hone her skills and develop her culinary career, beginning in Dallas, TX, and settling down in Charleston, SC.

Currently, Chef Brown runs her own business as owner and corporate chef of Culinary Concepts, LLC, offering catering, personal chef and consulting services. 

Kimberly has been blessed to achieve and receive and to pay it forward to our future culinary leaders.

WORK HISTORY 

  • ACF Chef’s Apprenticeship program El Centro College, Dallas TX
  • Assistant Pastry Chef. Atlanta, GA 
  • Executive Pastry Chef, Asheville, NC & Charleston, SC
  • Adjunct Baking and Pastry Teacher at Trident Technical College & J & W Univ
  • Co-owner and Corporate Chef Specialty Foods Distributor, North Charleston, SC
  • Owner and Corporate Chef Culinary Concepts, LLC offering Catering, Special Occasion  Cakes, Personal Chef, Consulting 
  • Hospital Executive Chef, Charleston
  • Corporate Executive Chef, Charleston

COMPETITION HISTORY

  • 1990 & ’91 Team member of the Gulf of Mexico Seafood Challenge 
  • 2002,’03,’04 Member Team South Carolina in the Culinary Super Challenge

INTERNATIONAL TRAVELS

  • 1984 Class Trip to The Culinary Olympics, Frankfurt, Germany 
  • 2013 Judge and Demonstrator, Kragujevac & Belgrade, Serbia, 2014 Johannesburg, South Africa &  2015, Alanya, Turkey 
  • Certifications on RCCL in Ireland, Jamaica, Mexico

ACF HISTORY

  • 1984 Certified Cook
  • 1991 Founding member of the ACF Baking and Pastry Guild, Williamsburg, VA 
  • 1993 Certified Working Pastry Chef
  • 1993 Hosted SE Region Conferences, Asheville, NC & 2012 Charleston, SC
  • 1995 Certified Executive Pastry Chef
  • 1999 Greater Charleston Chapter “Chef Of The Year”
  • 2001 Approved Certification Evaluator
  • 2002 Seal of Approval Committee Member
  • 2003-‘05 Culinary training with the United States Navy Consolidated Brig Charleston, Adopt A Ship program 
  • 2004 Helped with developing and one of the 1st Certified Culinary Administrators 
  • 2007 Awarded ACF Lifetime Membership by President John Kinsella, CMC CCE AAC
  • 2013 Women in WACS North American Continental Director referred by Mr. L. Edwin  Brown
  • 2012 – ’16 ACF SE Region Ethics Committee Member 
  • 2014 ACF Cutting Edge Award recipient 
  • 2015 Inducted to the Hall Of Fame at El Centro College 
  • 2016 Service Award, AAC
  • 2017 Elected SE Vice President 
  • 2019 National President’s Medallion recipient 
  • 2021 Elected President

BOOKS

  • Contributed to the educational manual, “The World of Culinary Supervision, Training and Management ” 4th Edition by Jerald Chesser and Noel Cullen
  • Self-published “Here I Am! Chef Kimberly’s answer to the question “Where are the Female and Minority Chefs”
  • Contributed to the book “Real Women, Real Leaders” to inspire women to be better leaders
  • Contributed to the book “Toques in Black” featuring 101 African American Chefs, our stories, recipes, and photos

TELEVISION 

  • 2 years Guest Chef on WCSC Television Channel 5 “Coffee With” Cooking segment
  • 8 years Guest Chef on Charleston’s ABC TV “Lowcountry Live” talk show

ASSOCIATIONS 

  • James Beard House Featured Pastry Chef 
  • Dale Carnegie graduate and Assistant Course Instructor
  • Certified Competent Communicator with Toast Masters International
  • ServSafe Trainer and Proctor of sanitation exams
  • James Beard Foundation Chefs Boot Camp Alum

Follow Kimberly on Instagram at @chefkimberlybrockbrown and check out her website, kimberlybrockbrown.com.

Resources

To read more about Kimberly’s plans for the ACF, check out this article:

Next on our reading list? Chef Kimberly’s book, “Here I Am!: Chef Kimberly’s Answer to the Question ‘Where Are the Female and Minority Chefs?’”.

For more from the ACF including the latest news, opportunities, visit www.acfchefs.org.

Meet Kimberly at the next Worldchefs Congress. We hope to see you, too, and reunite at Worldchefs Congress & Expo in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 30 May to 2 June 2022. Register now to get early bird ticket rates and save up to €300: www.worldchefscongress.org.

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Acknowledgements

Special thanks to Kimberly Brock Brown for joining as a guest.

World on a Plate is supported by Nestlé Professional and our podcast sponsors.

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+33 (0) 1 80 06 58 30

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+33 (0) 1 80 06 58 30

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