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Chef From Yosemite's Historic Ahwahnee Hotel Wins American Culinary Federation Regional Pastry Competition

Delaware North Companies Chef Paul Padua Qualifies For National Competition

The executive pastry chef of The Ahwahnee hotel at Yosemite National Park was honored as Western Regional Pastry Chef of the Year by The American Culinary Federation (ACF) after winning a competition at the regional conference earlier this year in Scottsdale, AZ. The Ahwahnee’s executive pastry chef, Paul Padua of Delaware North Companies, also competed for the national title against other regional winners at the ACF National Convention in Dallas during July.

Through its parks and resorts division, Delaware North, a global leader in hospitality management and food service, operates The Ahwahnee and other lodging and visitor services at Yosemite for the National Park Service. In addition to winning the competition, Padua was honored as a pastry chef who displays a passion for the craft, has an accomplished reputation in the pastry field and has helped educate others by sharing skills and knowledge. Padua had been anonymously nominated to participate in the ACF Western Region competition.

Competitors were required to prepare four identical portions of a hot-warm dessert featuring apples. They were given 15 minutes to set up, 60 minutes to cook and bake, 10 minutes to plate and 15 minutes to clean up the dessert. Judges chose Padua’s creation based on cooking skills, taste, safety and sanitizing skills and professionalism. Padua’s award-winning dish was a dessert of baked flambé apples with apple cranberry ice cream and thyme crème anglaise.

“The judges want to recreate the reality of a professional kitchen when you are in the competition,” Padua said. “They look at everything. How much food is wasted, how many tools you use and how many ingredients you list in the recipe. Everything has to be appropriate.” Percy Whatley, Delaware North’s award-winning executive chef at The Ahwahnee, helped Padua brainstorm the desert concept. The team at The Ahwahnee critiqued his practice dessert to help him prepare for the competition.

“I’m fortunate to work for a company that supports its chefs,” Padua said. Padua has been the executive pastry chef of The Ahwahnee, Yosemite National Park’s four-diamond, National Historic Landmark hotel, since 2008. He has more than 20 years of pastry experience working at world-famous resorts, hotels and casinos throughout Asia, the Pacific and Las Vegas.

During his career, Padua has received multiple prestigious awards for his pastry and baking creations. In 2010, Padua represented Team USA in the Gelato World Cup in Italy, and he will return in January 2012 to compete with the team in the biannual competition. The American Culinary Federation is the premier professional organization for culinarians in North America. With more than 20,000 members spanning 225 chapters nationwide, ACF is the culinary leader in offering educational resources, training, apprenticeship and programmatic accreditation.

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