March 7, 2007
The chef coordinator for HACC students at Bricco, the partner restaurant between HACC and Harrisburg Hotel Corporation, the chef instructor for the HACC's culinary arts program, and the instructor of the college's baking and pastry arts certificate program have earned certified executive chef designations from the American Culinary Federation (ACF). Michael Finch, chef coordinator for Bricco, and Jim Switzenberg, chef instructor, earned the certified executive chef designation, while Cher Conley, HACC's pastry chef, earned the certified executive pastry chef designation.

The ACF operates the only comprehensive certification program for chefs in the United States and requires candidates to have a high level of work and educational experience before taking the rigorous written and practical exams that lead to certification.

Finch, who joined HACC in January 2006, is an honors graduate of The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia. After graduation he spent nine years working in some of the city's premier restaurants, including Deux Cheminees, The Rittenhouse Hotel and La Fourchette. Prior to joining Bricco, he was executive chef at The Victorian Manor in Lamont, Penna.

"I'm very proud of the designation," said Finch, adding that earning the CEC has been a long-term goal of his. "In addition to the recognition it brings from my peers, it also is important to validate for my students that I have the education and experience necessary to train them."

Conley, who is a self-taught pastry chef, originally joined HACC as pastry chef for the C. Ted Lick Conference Center after gaining experience as an assistant pastry chef for a Lancaster country club. In the first three years that she worked for HACC, she completed two culinary arts degrees and a diploma. She also developed the college's baking and pastry arts certificate program, for which she serves as instructor.

"I have benefited from working with really great people who were always willing to teach while we were working," says Conley, adding that she pursued the degrees because she they were important to her ability to excel. "I went after the certification for the same reason. I know it has the ability to take me further. It definitely opens new doors to possibilities."

Switzenberg joined the college as a chef instructor just over a year ago. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, he has lived and worked in major cities across the country, even serving as executive chef for several large restaurants in New York City. An accomplished owner/operator, Switzenberg also renovated and opened a genuine Mexican Taqueria in New Jersey, which he operated for several years prior to 9/11.

"The ACF certification is especially meaningful to me as more and more people are graduating from culinary schools," says Switzenberg, explaining that the ACF has set the industry standards by which a chef's skills are measured, making certification a challenging task. "They are very strict about the amount of education and work experience you must have before you can test for the certification. It was not an easy task, but now [that I have achieved certification] I'm rated among my peers at a certain level. It is not a question if I'm able to do these things or not."

Bricco (pronounced Breeco), which is located at International Place at the corner of Third and Chestnut Streets in Harrisburg, is a partnership between HACC and the Harrisburg Hotel Corporation. As an instructional restaurant that allows HACC culinary students to learn all aspects of the restaurant business, Bricco is helping to train the chefs and restaurant owners of the future. Entrees are prepared using Pennsylvania Preferred products® with a menu that rotates seasonally and delivers flavors from the South of France, Italy, Greece and Spain. The restaurant also features a raw bar, brick pizza oven, display kitchen and wines at $10 above cost.

Bricco serves lunch Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., dinner Monday through Saturday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and features top quality Mediterranean-inspired foods.

The 165-seat restaurant at Internationial Place on Third and Chestnut Streets in Harrisburg also operates Ciao! A Bakery, providing pastry for the restaurant, as well as baked goods. Olewine's Meat and Cheese Shop provides butcher services to the restaurant while offering the same quality cuts for purchase.

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