Quick, which restaurant in the Philadelphia region boasts having the Chef of the Year? It’s a trick question. The Chef of the Year doesn’t work for a restaurant, she is Francine Marz, director of The Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County Community College.
Marz, who has served as director of CAI since 2013, was recently voted 2017 Chef of the Year – the highest honor a Philadelphia-area chef can receive – by her peers in the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
Michael McCombe, president of the ACF Philadelphia Chapter, said Marz has been incredibly active in the ACF for the past few years, serving as secretary and now vice president of the organization’s Board of Directors, and chairing the Scholarship Committee. He said Marz has really made her mark with her community service work on behalf of the organization and MCCC, including organizing a dinner at the Gift of Life Family House in Philadelphia, and the ACLAMO Culinary Celebration.
“She’s been involved in everything we’ve done in the community,” McCombe said. “She’s really gone above and beyond.” Marz said she was excited when she learned of receiving the award and credited her ACF colleagues for making the events she organizes a labor of love.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” Marz said of the award. “They say that when you love what you do, it’s not work, and I really believe that. The students in The Culinary Arts Institute keep me energized, and my ACF colleagues are amazing chefs and even better people.”
A certified executive chef, Marz has worked for companies including Walt Disney World, Dean & Deluca and Marriott Hotels, where she became executive chef for the Albuquerque Marriott Pyramid. Prior to joining CAI, she was culinary director at The Art Institute of Phoenix.
She earned associate’s degrees in Culinary Arts and Baking & Pastry, and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s in Food Service Management from Johnson & Wales University. She also holds a master’s in business administration from Argosy University, and is pursuing her doctorate in Organizational Leadership, Innovation and Learning at Wilmington University.