Chef Robert Marilla, CEC, a culinary arts instructor at CPCC, earned one of only eight spots on the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Culinary Team USA, the official representative for the United States in major international culinary competitions. Fourteen chefs from across the country competed for a place on the eight-member team during a July 10-13 conference in Orlando, Fla.
During the four-day event, Marilla, together with Sam Hart, a CPCC culinary student intern and Charlotte resident, participated in two competitions, expertly executing the menu Marilla had perfected in the months leading up to the event: a fish course featuring Brunswick County Strawberry Grouper, a Frisee and Brussels Sprouts salad and a Pork Loin and Sausage Crepinette entrée.
“I cannot thank the CPCC community enough for its support,” Marilla, a Denver, N.C., resident, said. “I am extremely excited about this opportunity and representing CPCC on the world stage.
While much of Marilla and Hart’s time was spent inside the competition kitchens, the duo was able to attend the conference’s other attractions, including a variety of culinary seminars and networking sessions with some of the most notable chefs in the country.
“This experience gave me the opportunity to see the best in the country put forward their best work,” said Hart. “The conference and the six months of preparation leading up to the competition with Chef Rob have meant everything to my career. Because of my involvement, I was offered jobs at some of the most prestigious restaurants, clubs and corporations in the county. As a result, my sights are set much higher now – my current floor used to be my ceiling.”
A new ACF Culinary Team USA is officially named every four years, and the team is comprised of three divisions: national, youth and military. Marilla was named to the national division, and going forward, will train, practice and compete with his new teammates in a number of smaller competitions (including Luxembourg in November 2017), prior to participating in the World Championships in 2018 and the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA) “Culinary Olympics” in Erfurt, Germany, in 2020.
Being named to the ACF Culinary Team USA is just one of the many accomplishments Marilla has achieved during his career. Since graduating from Johnson & Wales University, he has earned his HACCP Manager Certification and has served as executive chef for a variety of notable establishments, including Cramer Mountain Country Club, The Point Lake and Golf Club, Solace Restaurant and Morrison’s Advanced Culinary Center. In the past, his culinary masterpieces have impressed both patrons and the industry’s leading culinary experts. As a result, he has won 13 ACF medals (three silver and one gold) and was named the 2008 winner of the Best Appetizer and Best Tapas/Small Plate Restaurant Award.