FEATURED CHEF ~ John Westergaard

American Culinary FederationChef FeaturedFEATURED CHEF ~ John Westergaard
John Westergaard, CEC

John Westergaard, CEC

Name: John H Westergaard

Certification: CEC (CFBE, CHS, CFSM)

Present Employment: Publix Super Markets, Inc

Previous Employment: Le Cordon Bleu Academy

Special Awards: Competition awards in Ice carving from Plymouth, MI and Toledo OH; ACF awards for cold platters in Detroit

Schooling/Training: Northeast Oakland Vocational Ed Center (culinary); David College (business); Monroe College (culinary); and a lot of specialty courses

Mentors: Leopold Schaeli, CMC; Harris O Machus, Pres NRA; Martin Krieger, Pres. MRA; Chef Peter Loren; and many more chefs and directors

How did these mentors impact your career? Every day they arrived ready to work at what they had fun doing. Always enjoying the applause but always listening and learning from the critique. No room for foul language, obscene gestures, sexual or racial cultures. Every day was a win!

What are your favorite dishes to prepare? I have no favorite but spontaneous creativity makes the meal exciting.

What are your favorite foods to eat? I’m slowing down on exotic foods but well seasoned proteins are the best.

Do you have a favorite cookbook? No, I have over 1000 books in my library. I love reading cook books from the 1920’s and 1930’s or community/charity fund raiser books. I prefer book about technique instead of fluffy

Ingredients you could not live without? Salt and pepper.

What gives you pleasure on the job every day? Being part of diverse teams coming together with our common goals.

What was your worst disaster in the kitchen? While working at an airport location hotel on a late Sunday afternoon we got booked with a distressed flight: the chartered airplane bound for Europe was on the tarmac, 350 people in their seats with the doors buttoned-up for 7½ hours and no food. The charter group had to fix the airplane and was paying for hotel rooms and passed out vouchers to the customers for dinner ($35.00) and breakfast ($15.00). We needed to provide food to collect the vouchers. The booking wasn’t confirmed until 7:30 pm with only me and one dishwasher left in the kitchen.

How did you turn it around? We set up double salad bars and hot buffets; thawed, opened, and peeled everything in the house. We had beef, chicken, pork, multiple veggie’s and starches, salads and brined foods even deserts. And then I sent home the dishwasher. The group didn’t show until 10:45 pm … and all but 2 customers went straight to their rooms for the night. We stayed ready until midnight and no one else came to eat. So I broke down the party, stored the product, cleaned the kitchen and prepped for the breakfast. Long story-short, set up another buffet to handle 350 people and had 3 customer eat. I had been in the kitchen for 26 hours and still had to attend all the Monday morning hotel meetings. I got home by 5:00 pm that night.

What advice do you have for new Culinarians? Learn and keep learning. After you learn, teach it to someone. Be an asset to your family and co-workers. And every day arrive ready to work and have fun at what you’re doing.

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