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IACC Americas Sends Two Champion Chefs to
 International Cooking Competition


( St. Louis, MO - ) March 2010 -- John Kerkeslager, Executive Chef at the Wyndham Peachtree Conference Center in Peachtree City, GA captured one of two IACC-Americas qualifying cook-off positions and the right to represent the United States at the International Association of Conference Centers’ sixth annual Copper Skillet Competition.  Seven other chefs from IACC chapters in North America, Europe and Australia will join Kerkeslager at Eaglewood Resort & Spa in Itasca, IL later this month to vie for the crown of the International Conference Center Chef-of-the-Year.
The qualifying cook-off was hosted by the Conference Center at Northpointe in Lewis Center, OH, where Kerkeslager competed against IACC Chefs Jeffrey Witte of Airlie Center in Warrenton, VA and John Claude Seruga of The Millennium Center in Johnson City, TN.  The 30-minute contest required the selection of two proteins from a mystery market basket and included pantry items and all the necessary equipment to prepare a competing entry. 
Local judges included Chef Richard Blondin, Chef de Cuisine at The Refectory in Columbus, OH and Chef Jeff Bentley, Executive Chef at Doc Henderson's in Marysville, OH.  The judging criteria for the cooking competition included originality of the creation, presentation, texture, flavor combinations and hygiene standard of the work area.
Kerkeslager holds a bachelor of science degree in food service management and an associate of science degree in culinary arts (cum laude) from Johnson & Wales University.  He spent four years as a US Army cooking in Garlstedt, Germany and later as a National Guard Chef and received the Army’s Medal of Achievement.
Chef Kerkeslager created the winning dish with his pan-seared stuffed polenta, sautéed chicken & tiger shrimp in a tomato-butter sauce. 
The Canadian representative from IACC Americas is Executive Chef Murray Hall from BMO Financial Group Institute for Learning in Toronto.  In 2005, Hall received his Canadian “Chef de Cuisine” certification – the highest level of culinary achievement recognized in Canada.  Chef Hall’s extensive culinary experience draws from his love of travel.  While with Marriott Hotels & Resorts he spent time cooking at properties in Bermuda and Hawaii and learned to love Asian fusion from his exposure to Japanese and California culinary approaches.
Despite a busy and demanding job overseeing F&B Operations at the BMO Institute, Hall spends additional time teaching culinary classes at Humber College, does volunteer work for the Children’s Miracle Network, and the Daily Food Bank.  He is also an active member of Toronto Escoffier Society
Copper Skillet

The popular Copper Skillet competition was introduced in 2004 to highlight the artistry and skill of the best chefs from IACC-member conference centers around the world and to honor their contributions to the shared goal of providing an outstanding conference center experience.  Competing Chefs at the final 2010 cook-off will represent IACC Chapters in The Netherlands, United States, United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia, Denmark and Canada.  The event is part of the IACC Annual Summit at the Eaglewood Resort & Spa in Itasca, IL on March 24, 2010.
Culinary themes in past years included Asian Fusion, Moroccan, Provencal, and Thai.  This year, once again, the theme was abandoned in order to focus on creativity.   Each competing chef will receive a “mystery basket” of ingredients at the start of the competition after which they will be free to create any style of dish.  Each chef will have 15 minutes to review the ingredients and strategize followed by 30 minutes to create their dish.
Founded in 1981, the International Association of Conference Centres is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting understanding and awareness of the conference center industry and to giving member properties the tools necessary to provide an exceptional meeting experience. Active members meet a set of stringent Universal Criteria and agree to a Code of Ethics. Currently, the association includes approximately 400 members from the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, France, England, The Netherlands, Germany and Japan. For more information, visit the website at  IACC = exceptional meeting experiences.
James M. Mahon
Global Director of Marketing
  & Public Relations
914 548 5835
Also See: Recap: 27th Annual Conference of The International Association of Conference Centers; The Mel Hosansky Award for Distinguished Service Presented to Rodman Marymor / April 2008

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