In 1974, three Richmond, Virginia based chefs decided to organize a group of prominent culinarians with the idea of promoting professional growth and education of the Culinary Arts. These Virginia chefs - Lloyd Garrad, Executive Chef of the Hyatt House, Werner Muensch, chef and general manager of the Commonwealth Club, and Hartmut Brown, executive chef of the Commonweath Club – were part of a renaissance in the fine dining industry occurring from Richmond to Williamsburg. They recognized that, in order to maintain this growth and to prosper, they needed to network and to prepare up-and-coming culinarians for the trade. Thus was born the Virginia Chefs Association.
VCA Original Logo
They recruited 12 additional charter members from some of the area's finest dining establishments of that time:
Charles Houston, in his reports for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, called this group of Virginia chefs "The Culinary League of Nations".
1974 Newspaper Clipping
The organization grew from 15 to 30 in just 16 months. In 1975, the organization established the Virginia Chefs Association Apprenticeship Program, chaired by Werner Muench and co-chaired by Marcel Desaulniers. The inaugural year of the program included 12 apprentices and later grew to a respectable 30 apprentices making it one of the most renowned programs in the nation.
From its beginning in 1975 to today the program has graduated several hundred apprentices. By 1990 the Virginia Chefs Association was comprised of 125 active members including restaurant chefs, caterers, institutional foodservice directors, apprentices, and representatives from food distributors and manufacturers.
1974 Newspaper Clipping
To this date, the Virginia Chefs Association is still a very active Chapter comprised of nearly 90 members. The Chapter has evolved to include more educational programs, fundraisers, social events, and public awareness campaigns. Over the years, the Virginia Chefs Association has published several cookbooks and once again is very active in promoting the American Culinary Federation Apprenticeship program.
Currently, the Apprentices raise their own funds by producing and selling handcrafted baked goods at local farmers markets and holding an annual dining extravaganza called "Passing the Torch". These activities allow the students valuable team building skills as well as promoting the Craft in the public eye.
Although a website was in existence for several years, the Chapter saw the need to update the site, making its contents more user friendly and using the technology to embrace the long, legendary HISTORY of this organization for years to come.