Chef Jenn Named National Chef Educator of the Year

Friday, August 7, 2020

A Message from Kathleen Plinske, President, Osceola, Lake Nona, and Poinciana Campuses

Jennifer Denlinger, professor, culinary management, continues to receive accolades in her field, as she was recently awarded a 2020 National Chef Educator of the Year Award by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).

Her win comes on the heels of an award she was given in May 2020, when she was granted the 2020 Southeast Region American Culinary Federation Chef Educator of the Year recognition, which qualified her for the national competition.

Chef Jenn, as she is known in the Valencia community, said she was “thrilled” to have received the award not only for herself but for the College as a whole.

“Valencia is emerging in Central Florida as a culinary education leader, and this will bring us more recognition and, hopefully, more enrollment,” she said. “Students can see that I care enough about how they learn and the succession to hone my craft to deliver the best education there is.”

Three chefs participated in the national competition, which required Jenn to conduct a 45-minute live cooking demo via Zoom and to answer questions from her audience, all while demonstrating the practice of peer review; something she would have expected her students to engage in during a real class.

For the competition, she prepared chicken chasseur, mashed potatoes, glazed carrots oblique cut and broccoli beurre noisette. She also included a lesson plan from Quantity Food Production 1 (FSS 1203C), which taught students “how to taste” and included an exploratory tasting lab activity. The lesson was included in a binder including information about the College, the program, the class, the lesson, evaluation techniques and overall activities, and then mailed to the judges.

Three judges — all of whom are chef educators in different culinary education arenas — evaluated her work, as well as three community college culinary art students.

“Understanding how students learn the best and how they can be successful when they enter the industry is super important. It’s a fine art,” said Chef Jenn, adding that many of her students are non-traditional and need flexible instructors who accommodate several learning styles as students maneuver the academic rigors of the program as well as its hands-on components.

“All the effort and work that has been put into culinary education can only be exemplified,” Chef Jenn shared. “I believe that not every student learns the same, and therefore it is the job of the educator to help the students who are beginning their educational journey to learn the best.”

Jennifer Robertson, executive dean, Poinciana Campus, said she is “extremely proud” of all of Chef Jenn’s accomplishments, adding that she has done “amazing work as a chef, a chef educator and as an academic leader of her discipline” since starting at Valencia in 2017 as instructor and culinary management program chair of the Poinciana Campus.

“Chef Jenn, as we all call her, has an amazing ability to combine her love for cooking with educating our future chefs of America using creative and fun techniques that keep students engaged and inspired,” said Jennifer.

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) was established in 1929 in New York City and is the largest professional chefs’ organization in North America. Now based in St. Augustine, it comprises more than 17,500 members in over 150 chapters across the United States, and is known as an authority on cooking in America. Its mission is to make a positive difference through education, apprenticeship and certification, while creating a fraternal bond of respect and integrity among culinarians.


  • Carrie Black said:

    Congratulations Chef Jenn! Well deserved recognition.

    AMFri, 07 Aug 2020 11:18:40 +0000Fri, 07 Aug 2020 11:18:40 +0000am20,11:18 am

  • Nichole Segarra said:

    Absolutely amazing! Congratulations Chef Jenn!!! 🙂

    PMFri, 07 Aug 2020 14:12:23 +0000Fri, 07 Aug 2020 14:12:23 +0000pm20,2:12 pm

  • Stanton Reed said:

    Wow! Chef Jen congrats! Your hard work and commitment to our students has been nationally recognized. You are a game changer!

    PMFri, 07 Aug 2020 15:15:10 +0000Fri, 07 Aug 2020 15:15:10 +0000pm20,3:15 pm

  • Mireya Willems said:

    Woohoo!!! We are so proud of you!!! You always do 110%! Congratulations!!! 🙂

    AMMon, 10 Aug 2020 08:12:17 +0000Mon, 10 Aug 2020 08:12:17 +0000am20,8:12 am

  • Solange F. del Pino said:

    Wow!! Congratulations!! Well deserved 🙂

    PMTue, 11 Aug 2020 14:07:48 +0000Tue, 11 Aug 2020 14:07:48 +0000pm20,2:07 pm

  • Deborah Larew said:

    Well deserved! Congratulations!

    PMTue, 11 Aug 2020 16:19:52 +0000Tue, 11 Aug 2020 16:19:52 +0000pm20,4:19 pm

  • Marsha Clarke said:

    Well deserved. Congrats!

    PMTue, 11 Aug 2020 16:52:16 +0000Tue, 11 Aug 2020 16:52:16 +0000pm20,4:52 pm

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