Dina Altieri, CEC, CCE, of Mt. Prospect, Ill., a chef-instructor at the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts in Chicago, received the American Culinary Federation, Inc. (ACF) 2011 Chef Educator of the Year Award and $5,000 at the 2011 ACF National Convention at the Gaylord Texan in Dallas, July 26.

The ACF Chef Educator of the Year award, established in 1998, pays tribute to an active culinary educator whose knowledge, skills and expertise have enhanced the image of the professional chef and who, by example, has given leadership, guidance and direction to students seeking a career in the culinary profession. This person demonstrates the ability to help students define and develop their careers by using their skills and abilities to provide a strong foundation for their future success.

Foodservice educators across the nation were first nominated by colleagues for the award. Among all candidates, each of the four ACF regions selected a finalist. At the national competition in Dallas, the four finalists each had 75 minutes to present a lecture and demonstration for a panel of distinguished judges on either a plated entrée or dessert, including preparation of two portions of the item. Altieri, in her presentation, discussed the sauté method and the production of pan sauce, and prepared sautéed beef tenderloin filet with quick summer vegetable ratatouille and red-wine pan sauce.

“Chef Altieri competed against three outstanding teachers from Arizona, New Hampshire and South Carolina to win this prestigious annual award recognizing the dedication and skill of chef educators,” says Renee Zonka, RD, CEC, CHE, MBA, dean of the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts. “Her distinction reflects the quality and value of culinary-arts instruction exemplified by Kendall’s incomparable faculty.”

Altieri was born in New York City and has worked in the foodservice industry for more than 20 years. She graduated as salutatorian from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., in 1991, with an associate degree in occupational studies. She has cooked from coast to coast for multiple restaurants, catering operations and special events, including the James Beard House and the Academy Awards. Altieri worked as sous chef at Fino in Torrance, Calif., and as executive sous chef at Descanso in Hermosa Beach, Calif., before becoming executive chef at More Than A Mouthful, Inc., in Los Angeles.

She entered the education side of the culinary industry in 1997, when she began working as a chef-instructor and department chair at California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena. From there, Altieri went on to serve as associate dean and chef-instructor at New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vt. While in Vermont, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Johnson State College in 2007.

Altieri, certified as both an executive chef (CEC) and culinary educator (CCE) by the ACF, has worked as a chef-instructor at Kendall College since 2008. She has successfully coached three student teams to win the ACF Baron H. Galand Culinary Knowledge Bowl in 2007 and 2010, and most recently the Kendall team that won the 2011 National Knowledge Bowl for the second consecutive year. Last year, she received Kendall College’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.