We are a nonprofit community of Chefs, pastry chefs, bakers, cooks, students, vendors, farmers, fishers, foragers & culinary enthusiasts. Our mission is to further the Culinary Arts in Southwest Florida through community outreach, education, and professionalism. Our chapter, the 5th largest in the country currently has over 270 members and continues to grow!
The ACF Caxambas Chapter of Southwest Florida’s primary mission is education. It has been involved in promoting culinary education and the hospitality industry for over 30 years now.
It all started back in 1985, when local Chefs Frank Setera and Mike “Mel” Etienne were members of the Southwest Florida Chef’s Association. The Chapter was about 10 miles from Naples, and the pair drove to meetings all over Lee County at that time. In 1986, they went to the ACF convention in Charlotte, North Carolina where they chartered a motorhome with 10 other people. On the way there, the group asked the Chapter President if he would mind if they formed a chapter for Naples and Marco Island. He pondered the question, and after much thought, he told them to “go for it.”
Frank Setera was the Chef at Wyndemere Country Club, and Mike Etienne was the Purchasing Agent for CMI (Cuisine Management Inc.) Between the 2 of them, they had six restaurants and were the largest caterer in Southwest Florida with operations in Sarasota, Linville Ridge (North Carolina), and managed the Clubs at both Pelican Bay, and Wiggins Bay Yacht and Tennis Club.
Franke and Mike used to meet in Naples over beers at The Old Heidelberg Restaurant where its Chef, Hans Berg, was helping them plan how to recruit more people to join their fledgling club. They started hosting events, such as an autumn Oktoberfest themed Social at the Squires Club. With a turnout of around 60 people, the social turned out to be a success and further established their legitimacy. Eventually, they managed to recruit the necessary 12 charter members needed to form the chapter. With hard work and dedication, the original vision of becoming a chapter was becoming a reality. After many social gatherings around the area and a sales pitch for the benefits of joining the ACF, Frank and Mike finally received their charter at the ACF Convention in Las Vegas in July 1989 held at Caesars. Thus, the formerly dubbed ACF Chefs of Naples and Marco Island was born.
The very first officers of the chapter were:
Mike Etienne, President
Richard Macdonald, Vice President
Jim Lynch, Treasurer
Bonnie Estennes, Secretary
Scott Paul, Sergeant at Arms
Frank Setera, Chair
As the chapter grew, they started to delve into fundraising. The first chapter Golf outing was held at Hunters Ridge Country Club in October of 1989. They have preserved this tournament as tradition, with 2019 marking the 30th year of this event.
Over the years, the Chapter has held many highly successful fundraising events. One of the most popular in the beginning years was a raffle where the first place drawing received a private dinner at your home with a Chef, who was to prepare a five course dinner for eight with wines. Fundraisers held by the chapter often benefited philanthropic organizations and causes such as Project Help, Youth Haven, shelters for abused women and the neighborhood health clinic.A particular fundraiser called “Cooking up a Storm” held in 1994 honored those who fought in Operation Desert Storm.
Always with a focus on education, philanthropy and community involvement, The chapter held two ACF Culinary Competitions at Lorenzo Walker Technical College in both 1998 and 1999. In 2000, the chapter was awarded Best Partners in Education by Collier County Public Schools. The chapter has donated money to both Florida State University’s Dedman School of Hospitality and the University of Florida’s Meat Sciences Department earmarked for students from Collier County.
Each year, the chapter holds a plethora of amazing events including social gatherings, general meetings, a golf tournament, and an annual awards dinner to recognize its outstanding members. Its events have been held at the best clubs, restaurants, hotels, etc. in Southwest Florida. The chapter is very actively involved in the community and stays committed to its vision and mission first set forth over 30 years ago. It continues to grow and flourish, and as of 2019, is the 6th largest chapter in the country with over 270 members. The chapter would not be where it is today if it wasn’t for the passion, dedication and tireless efforts of its fantastic membership.
Thank you to all of our past presidents of the chapter for your leadership and commitment:
Mike "Mel" Etienne 1989-1991
Gunter Kilian 1991-1993
George Bleem 1993-1995
Peter Hesse 1995-1999
Frank Setera 1999-2003
Claudio "Kiko" Ferrer 2003-2005
Ralph Feraco 2005-2009
Chris Jones 2009-2013
Chas Tatigian 2013-2017
Richard Crisanti 2017-2019