Local chef wins major national award

Western New York

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — A local chef was recently named the National Chef Educator of the year, by the American Culinary Federation, which is the largest professional chefs’ organization in North America.

Chef Scott Steiner grew up around baking. His grandmother and aunt used to make wedding cakes and he remembers playing with the pastry batter when he as young as four years old. From that young age, he’s worked his way up the culinary chain.

“I got my first job at the age of 16, at the Blackthorn Restaurant and Pub in South Buffalo, where I was a dishwasher,” Steiner said.

Chef Steiner went from a dishwasher, to a cook, to a high school teacher, to the Culinary Arts Program Coordinator at The Niagara Falls Culinary Institute (NFCI).

“Not only do I love culinary arts, (but) sharing my experience and knowledge with people is absolutely awesome.”

He started at NFCI in 2012, and seven years later, he was recently named the ACF National Chef Educator of the Year.

To enter the competition, he had to fill our a lengthy application and create a lesson plan. He won regionals with that. And then he did it again for the national title.

“I taught my lesson on carrageenan, which is a seaweed extract that has thickening properties,” he said. “I chose that because I knew it was a topic that is unfamiliar, and wanted to gain people’s interest.”

That definitely perked the judges’ interest, and Chef Steiner won the national title.

“It’s really a compliment to not only me, but to this facility we have here at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, because we produce really awesome students, and our educational staff here is really second to none.”

Chef Steiner is passionate in the kitchen, and says he uses a little sarcasm and honesty to get across to his students. The next semester starts in two weeks.

“I always say, ‘Do you love it? Because if you don’t love it, your customers aren’t going to love it. So, do something to make everyone love it.'”

For more information on NFCI, click here.

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