Michael A. Finch, Jason Viscount receive praises from Gov. Ed Rendell
July 29, 2010
HACC Chef Instructor Michael A. Finch and Bricco Executive Chef Jason Viscount received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Culinary Arts for their culinary expertise.
The award was presented to Finch by Gov. Ed Rendell in recognition of their commitment to using local foods, educating the public and their ability to get creative in the kitchen. The presentation was made during the third annual Gettysburg Festival in Adams County in June. This is the first time that a HACC chef instructor has earned the award, which recognizes the recipient as a master in the culinary arts for his or her outstanding abilities as an artist.
“Chefs Finch and Viscount are innovative professionals who instill their passion for local food in each of the students that work alongside them,” Rendell said. “They've been strong supporters of our PA Preferred program and that commitment is helping the farmers, food processors and distributors in the program expand their businesses.”
Students in HACC’s Olewine Center for the Study of Culinary Arts sharpen their culinary and restaurant management skills at Bricco, the college’s teaching restaurant in downtown Harrisburg. Bricco operates as a partnership of HACC and the Harrisburg Hotel Corporation, managing partner of the Harrisburg Hilton. Finch coordinates student operations at the restaurant, teaching his students the importance of using local ingredients. Viscount oversees operation of the restaurant, teaching students how to create world class menus with a Mediterranean flair inspired by locally grown foods.
Finch, an American Culinary Federation (ACF) Certified Executive Chef, is one of only 15 chefs in Pennsylvania to hold the ACF’s designation of Approved Certification Evaluator (ACE), signifying the highest level of trust, professionalism, respect and ethical confidence among his peers. He also is a member of ACF’s National Accreditation Team, the World Association of Chefs, the Food and Beverage Conference Committee for the Pennsylvania Tourism & Lodging Association, and vice president of the ACF’s Harrisburg Chapter 181.
Finch most recently was chair of the 2010 ACF Northeast Regional Conference held in Hershey in April, which was attended by nearly 700 chefs from across the region. The conference featured educational venues, hands-on master classes and a trade show showcasing many local and regional producers. In his leadership role, Finch organized a successful student track day for 150 culinary students from various schools in the conference’s region.
Locally, Finch serves on the Professional Advisory Boards for the Cumberland Perry Vocational Technical School, Lebanon County Career and Technology Center, and Dauphin County Vocational Technical School. He also volunteers as a judge in the culinary arts competition for the Pennsylvania State Conference of Skills USA, a nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations.
Well known in culinary circles, Finch has judged the PA Preferred Celebrity Chefs and Media Cook-Off events and given cooking demonstrations at the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show. He also was featured on a PBS special broadcast titled “Incredible Pennsylvania Chefs.”
A collection of his recipes was published in “Settings: A Cookbook,” a collaboration of contributors that showcases the foods, people and sites of the region. Finch’s recipes reflect his work and involvement with the YWCA’s American Journey fund-raising events, as a founding member of Slow Foods Harrisburg and at Bricco.
Viscount, who was unable to attend the award presentation, was named Chef of the Year for 2008 by the Hershey/Harrisburg Tourism and Convention Bureau. He previously was a chef at the Yorktowne Hotel in York and cook at Hotel Hershey’s Circular Dining Room.
Viscount then became “chef de cuisine “at the Harrisburg Hilton’s acclaimed Golden Sheaf Restaurant. During his eight years at the Hilton, he was given the freedom to develop his own menu filled with American cuisine – which led him to Bricco and his first executive chef job.
The Governor's Award for the Culinary Arts was conceived and instituted in 2008 by The Pennsylvania Culinary Society, an association of chefs, inn keepers, farmers, food producers and food lovers working together to develop a distinctive Pennsylvania food style based on the state's agricultural bounty and rooted in its rich food heritage.
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