Chef John Betts, CEC, CCE – Featured Chef May 2013

Chef John Betts, CEC, CCE – Featured Chef May 2013

john betts If you are a young person you may not have had a life changing experience yet, but I can measure my life by those experiences or moments that I can recognize, as easily as you can recognize the lights coming on in a dark room. I have felt like a failure many times in my life and the local chefs of the American Culinary Federation came into my life at a time when I was working very hard in the restaurant industry and receiving very little credit for the work that I was doing. I can still remember the day that a group of three or four chefs associated with Lake Technical Center came to visit the restaurant where I was working in 1997 to promote the apprenticeship program in Lake County. Jim Aro, Chef K, and their associates clearly knew their craft and within a short time I had signed up for the apprenticeship program in Lake County. Thanks to those chefs and the American Culinary Federation my life will never be the same! Please understand that I had been working in restaurants since 1966 and although I had been called, “Chef” I had never earned any certifications. As an apprentice I met many restaurant professionals who like me, needed to complete their education to improve their employment situation and increase their self-esteem. What a wonderful thing it is to be going through a life changing experience with a group of people that will become lifelong friends. At Lake Technical Center I met Matthew Dennis, Dominic Petti, and some other chefs and instructors who are now very active in the local chapter and we became good friends as we moved through the certification process.
I completed my CEC certification and graduated from Lake Technical Center in 1998 and with that certification I was able to qualify for a job teaching culinary arts! Now get this! I was a loser; I had failed kindergarten, I did not learn how to read until I was in the sixth grade, so I was the last person that anyone would have expected to become a teacher when I was young man. What got me through the long process of becoming successful was a lot of hard work and people who believed in me, including friends and family as well as some of the chefs that you all know. Jeff Rotz as well as the instructors at Lake Technical Center helped me tremendously. Within the next few years I became a National Board Certified Teacher and a Certified Culinary Educator and I was voted a teacher of the year three times, finally receiving the Golden Apple in Marion County.
More recently, as I approached my 62nd birthday I told Chef John Bell that I was thinking of not renewing my certifications because I might be considering retirement. Chef Bell encouraged me to maintain my certifications and to stay active in the local chapter to help influence and encourage young people who are just beginning the certification process and their culinary careers. Because I kept those certifications active I was able to qualify for a terrific new job teaching Culinary Arts as a sub-contractor for the United States Navy Military Sealift Command.
There are so many people that I need to thank for helping me to move from those dark days when I was just another cook in a crummy job. I have a good wife who has always believed in me. All of the other people who were instrumental in helping me become successful are ACF certified chefs. If you are a member of the Gulfs to Lakes Chapter consider yourself lucky and take advantage of the opportunities that the ACF offers you to improve your own condition.


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