Aramark Crowns 2019 Culinary Excellence National Champions

Posted On: 11/25/2019

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COOKING WITH FIRE: Aramark's Sports & Entertainment culinary team, (l.-r.) Chef Rich Grab, Chef Stephen Aheimer and Chef Allan Wambaa, won the Inaugural National Finals of the Aramark Culinary Excellence (ACE) Competition, a showcase of the company's domestic culinary talent and menu innovation.

PHILADELPHIA -- Aramark's team of chefs from its Sports & Entertainment division bested its competitors to win the Inaugural National Finals of the Aramark Culinary Excellence (ACE) Competition -- a showcase of the company's domestic culinary talent and menu innovation -- and take home the coveted "Copper Pot."

Members of the winning team are:

Chef Stephen Aheimer -- FirstEnergy Stadium

Chef Richard Grab -- Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC District

Chef Allan Wambaa -- Oregon Convention Center

Fifteen Aramark chefs, comprising five teams of three chefs from participating U.S. lines of business (Business Dining, Education, Healthcare Hospitality, Leisure and Sports & Entertainment), competed in the intense daylong culinary challenge, in accordance with American Culinary Federation competition standards and judged by ACF Master and Certified Executive Chefs, at Aramark's global headquarters in Philadelphia, PA, on Nov. 20.

To up the ante, in addition to competing for bragging rights, each culinary team competed on behalf of an Aramark non-profit partner. As a result of Sports & Entertainment winning the ACE Championship "Copper Pot," Back on My Feet received a $10,000 donation from the Aramark Charitable Fund.

"We're excited to have been included in this wonderful event celebrating culinary excellence and are grateful for Aramark's continued support of community initiatives and causes, such as Back on My Feet," said Ashley Kilpatrick, senior vice-president of development with Back on My Feet. "While we're ecstatic the Sports & Entertainment team won the competition, we are humbled by all the hard work and attention to detail each team put into competing on behalf of their chosen organization. Thanks to Aramark's generosity, we all walk away winners!"

In the spirit of friendly competition, just for competing, all of the other teams earned a $5,000 donation for their non-profit partner, from the Aramark Charitable Fund. Those organizations and the teams they partnered with are: Boys & Girls Clubs of America (Business Dining); Hope Center for College, Community and Justice (Education); Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (Healthcare Hospitality); and National Park Foundation (Leisure).

The winning team of Chef Aheimer, Chef Grab and Chef Wambaa successfully prepared and presented a four-course menu, utilizing a mystery basket of 16 fresh, seasonal and local ingredients.

Winning 4-Course Meal

Pheasant Ravioli
Pork belly escarole, sautéed kennett
Square crimini mushrooms, Pheasant demi


Seared black bass and sous vide gambas
Hominy risotto, shaved Brussel sprouts
Asian pear slaw, Gochujang fume


Butternut squash puree
Butternut squash, Amish goat cheese
Smoked beef tongue, wild rice pilaf fluff


Chocolate almond coconut macaroon bar
Ginger beer beet puree, ruby chocolate sauce, glass sugar

Aramark's Culinary Excellence Competition is a yearlong competition, culminating with a national finals, where the top three winners from each business unit form teams to compete for the honor of Aramark Culinary Excellence National Champions.

During the 2019 competition, more than 100 chefs, from Aramark's U.S. Business Dining, Healthcare Hospitality, Education (Higher Education/K12), Leisure and Sports & Entertainment accounts competed in business sector competitions.