This year the Best Chef of the Year Award given by the American Culinary Federation was awarded to Certified Executive Chef and culinary professor Todd C. Leonard on May 2. The rigorous competition was held in Scottsdale Arizona from April 29 through May 2. Leonard competed against four equally seasoned chefs from WA, VA, AZ and CO before being named as Best Chef of The Year in the Western Region. The American Culinary Federations National Convention will be held at the Gaylord Texan restaurant in Grapevine, Texas on July 24 – 25. There, Leonard will compete against the three other ACF Regional winners.
Leonard won the competition by preparing a Prosciutto Wrapped Duck Roulade, a dish where a duck breast is stuffed with prosciutto, or thinly sliced ham, complimented with a port and morel mushroom jus, or sauce. This was served with chèvre, a very distinguishable goat cheese and herb polenta gratin, a type of cornmeal with cheese melted on top until brown or crispy. Leonard also served tomato-stuffed mushroom and seared foie gras, an over fed goose or duck liver with silky texture and rich flavor. Leonard also included a side of sweat pea and vegetable medley.
Raised in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, Leonard has been a resident of South Jordan for ten years. After he graduated with his Associates in Applied Sciences from the Salt Lake Community College for Culinary Arts, his admiration for cooking led him to become a Certified Executive Chef, or CEC, from the American Culinary Federation. Leonard feels “school was a small glimpse” but has brought him much joy in educating others on and off campus.
For the past four years, Leonard has taught classes here on campus. He taught basic foods classes the first two years and has since moved on to teaching advanced hot foods classes the past two years. Leonard has been grateful for the opportunities being a professor at UVU has brought him. “I love Utah Valley University,” Leonard said. “And I am grateful for my job, all the programs and the systems that are in place letting us compete.”