Photos by Ryan Parker

The Central Arkansas Chefs Association and Arkansas Delta Chefs Association Chef Ball took place tonight at the University of Arkansas — Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute.

chef ball

“We look forward to this event every year. We were off for a couple years during COVID, and I’m glad that we’re back to our original format of a seated dinner with nine different chefs preparing nine different courses with beverages paired,” said Todd Gold, chairman of CACA and president of ADCA. “It’s an awesome event where we come together to highlight our industry leaders every year, not only in the central Arkansas market, but in the southern Delta market of Arkansas.”

Jamie McAfee

Jamie McAfee was named Chef of the Year for the ADCA. 

Matías De Matthaeis

Matías De Matthaeis was named Chef of the Year for the CACA and Pastry Chef of the Year for the ADCA. He is the first chef to achieve both honors in one year, Gold said, adding that both honorees are devoted to the industry.

Kathleen Rollings

“They’re both very deserving,” he said. “We appreciate the years of dedication they give in the hot kitchen and their passion to educate the next generation. I couldn’t be more proud of their efforts and the accolades they’re winning tonight.” 

Kelli Marks

Kelli Marks was named CACA Pastry Chef of the Year, Robert Hall was named CACA Chef Educator of the Year, Kathleen Rollings was named CACA Student Pastry Chef of the Year, and Meagan Jones was named CACA Student Chef of the Year.

Meagan Jones

Todd Gold

Gold received the Lifetime Achievement Award from both chapters.

Dr. Robert Hall

“It’s been a great journey of 35-plus years from the time I had my first job in the industry as a dishwasher at Bruno’s Little Italy when I was 15 years old. I would be remiss if I didn’t say the Bruno’s guys gave me my start in the industry, allowing me to work my way up to kitchen manager before I left for culinary school,” he said. “Everybody I’ve encountered and worked with for the last 35 years in the hospitality industry are all family, and I appreciate them all. If I had the chance to do it all over again, I would do it all the same.”

At the event, he announced that the competition will take place next year. Eight chefs will participate in the filmed cooking competition, which will benefit the CACA and ADCA and is slated to be emceed by Heather Baker, AY Media Group president. The winner will be announced at the Chef Ball, Gold said, adding that the six competitors besides the two finalists will each cook a course served at the ball. 

chef ball

Todd Gold, Heather Baker and Jennifer Maune.

This year’s menu featured antipasto and duck confit hors by Tyrone Fox of Saracen Casino Resort in Pine Bluff; shrimp aguachile by Jordan Davis and Chris Ellis of Chenal Country Club in Little Rock; artisan breads by Chocla Lea and Cathy Kincaid of UA-PTC; blackened shrimp by Ian Wagner of Sysco Arkansas; seafood gumbo by Cynthia East of Saracen; heirloom tomato and burrata salad by Jennifer Maune, a finalist on FOX’s MasterChef, United Tastes of America; bison steak oscar by McAfee of Pine Bluff Country Club; charcuterie by Robert Hall of UA-PTC; and apple tatin by De Matthaeis of Red Oak Steakhouse at Saracen. 

Jamie McAfee and Heather Baker

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