Southwest Tennessee Community College

For Immediate Release

Date: June 15, 2009

For More Information: Pat O’Brien, (901) 333-4021


“Steven Leake Lifetime Achievement Award” Marks New Standard for AFC

Chef Steven Leake, program coordinator of the Hospitality Management culinary arts program at Southwest Tennessee Community College, was recently awarded a unique Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Greater Memphis Chapter. “This award was created specifically to recognize individuals who have made significant, long-term contributions to local charities in the community, culinarians in Memphis, and to the local chapter of the ACF. And, in fact, it has been named the ‘Steven Leake Lifetime Achievement Award,’” said Jeremy Burnett, director for Southwest’s center for faculty development and faculty advising.

“This honor was named for Leake as a benchmark for the level of attainment that will be required for subsequent awards,” said Burnett. “It will likely not be an annual one; it is anticipated that it will not be given on a regular basis at all, due to the high level of performance expected with this recognition.”

At the same time, on the occasion of the ACF Annual Chef’s Gala, two of Leake’s students, Necia Usrey and Austin Sterling, were recognized as the Junior Culinarians of the Year for their work with the chapter this past year. Their awards included scholarships of $250. “Both of them,” said Leake, “have dedicated a phenomenal amount of time, effort, and just a great spirit of giving and helping wherever they were needed. From the classroom, from being involved in all class activities, to outside events or fund raisers, they were there, helping wherever help was needed. They volunteered for any outside demonstrations or activities.”

Leake cited the Southern Women’s Show as just one of their many outside volunteer activities. “All the way, from planning to preparation of dishes and presentations, to minding the booth, the breakdown and return to the school afterward – they were there, working.” He added, “Sterling finished his degree in May and is now sous chef at the Holiday Inn of the University of Memphis. That is an excellent start to his career.”

Among previous honors Leake has won are the ACF Chef of the Year (three times) and the Best Dish at the Great Chef’s Tasting Party for United Cerebral Palsy (three times). With his students, he participates in numerous ACF fund-raisers, including annual fund-raisers supporting the Child Advocacy Center and the Madonna Learning Center, generating very substantial funds for both. The Southern Women’s Show is also among the “regulars” he and his students support. Leake is currently treasurer of the ACF Greater Memphis Chapter.

The American Culinary Federation is an organization of chefs, cooks, culinary educators, students, business owners, and purveyors from the Memphis area. Their mission is to promote the culinary arts by providing members an environment for education, discussion, certification and networking. ACF certification is a symbol of professionalism and an ideal ladder for career advancement. It is open to all culinarians, offering 14 levels of certification requiring specific qualifications, in addition to knowledge of culinary nutrition, food safety and sanitation, and culinary supervisory management.

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Photo caption: Two ACF award winners: Southwest Chef Steven Leake, left, displays his Steven Leake Lifetime Achievement Award while student Austin Sterling, right, proudly shows off his Junior Culinarian of the Year Award.