HISTORY OF THE
AMERICAN NATURAL FOODS NON PROFIT
The American Natural Foods, Inc, a 501c3 not for profit corporation, was originally founded to fund the American Natural Foods Team and its quest for the vegan vegetarian gold.
In 1978, a few years after becoming a vegetarian, I was searching for a way to promote vegetarian cuisine on an international stage. At a chef’s meeting in Chicago I learned that I could compete in the International Culinary Olympics as an independent or with an independent team. Upon qualifying professionally through professional certifications and culinary competitions to compete in the Culinary Olympics, I decided to compete with a vegan culinary presentation in 1980. That commitment was the birth of what is now the American Natural Foods Team and Non Profit which was set up at a later date.
I was personally carrying debt from the competition in excess of $30,000 leaving no taxable income until years later when the debt was serviced.
The ANF competed in the 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympic competitions. Every competition had a new team with a few veterans from the previous team returning. The year after the previous Olympic competition was down time and a chance to reflect on how to improve over the previous competition. Year two I focused on creating a new Culinary Olympic Team and developing the programs in the different categories open to independent teams. Year three was practicing the program with team members, raising revenue, finding a kitchen in the US to train and one in Germany to compete. Year four was always very intense time coming into the home stretch. The 1996 centennial competition was the ANF’s final Olympic competition. In it the IKA created the first vegetarian category at the International Culinary Olympics in which the ANF won the first ever vegan gold in that category.
After the 1996 Olympic competition the ANF shifted its focus to developing its next project which is professional vegetarian culinary education. Winning vegan vegetarian culinary Olympic medals gave respect to vegetarian cuisine on the international stage. For myself personally and professionally, the endeavor is worth little more than a few accolades unless the cuisine can be translated to America’s plate. To do that meant establishing a culinary education curriculum/certification program designed to teach chefs how to cook and create vegan cuisine with a focus on center of the plate vegan entrées, marketing, nutrition and operational challenges.
While figuring out how to accomplish this task, the ANF worked on helping chefs in various operations develop their vegan cuisine, cooked dinners for national and international conventions using the experience to access the foodservice industry’s capabilities. The ANF supported the first ever vegetarian competition at Colorado Restaurant Association’s annual convention. The ANF remained low key but active until about 2 years ago when I presented my idea for the Certified Vegetarian Cook proposal to WACS at a meeting in Atlanta. After months of consideration of my proposal, the Educational Board of WACS approved the ANF’s proposal. With the approval came the task of writing the curriculum which I am currently working on now. It will be submitted to WACS Board on January 31st 2013 for approval.
The CVC program is one that will keep the ANF infinitely busy training chefs to teach the program, keeping the CVC current with new culinary developments and the ongoing development of vegan cuisine. The ultimate goal is the establishment of the CVC in culinary School curriculums to teach both culinary professionals in continuing education and apprentices. Launching the CVC program internationally is another challenge that WACS will take the lead in implementing with the ANF supporting the endeavor through training their chefs.
The ANF was created to advance vegetarian cuisine and used the Culinary Olympics as an international platform. The efforts set forth at the IKA led to the establishment of the CVC. One does not have to be a vegetarian to enjoy vegetarian cuisine. And more people will be drawn to it if prepared with taste and eye appeal. Training chefs is crucial to achieving that goal. The ANF has a rich history of pioneering and advancing vegetarian cuisine with foodservice professionals.