Chef Of The Year!

Chef Deb Schneider is the 2019 Chef of the Year for the American Culinary Federation’s Syracuse Chapter. She is pictured here in the Hospitality Management major facilities on the first floor of the Gordon Student Center.

Onondaga Community College faculty member Chef Deb Schneider is the 2019 Chef of the Year for the American Culinary Federation’s Syracuse chapter. The award is handed out annually to a chef who demonstrates the highest standard of culinary skills, advances the cuisine of America and gives back to the profession through the development of future chefs. “I never expected this. It’s an overwhelming honor to be selected. It’s really amazing.”

Schneider’s love for cooking started while growing up on a dairy farm in the town of Skaneateles. “We had great gardens, beef cattle, lamb, chickens and all those kinds of things. On Sunday’s my mom would say ‘cook what you want.’ So my brother and me would make whatever we wanted.” At age 18 she started working at the Sherwood Inn as a prep cook. “I loved it. It was the deciding factor for which career I would choose.” She wound up attending the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and coming home on the weekends to continue working at the Sherwood Inn.

Schneider received her Chef of the Year award earlier this week at the OnCenter. She is pictured with OCC President Dr. Casey Crabill (left) and Provost Dr. Daria Willis (right).

In 1990, Schneider opened her own business. “Framboise,” which was located on East Genesee Street in Skaneateles, started out as a bakery and catering business and kept getting bigger and bigger. “A couple of years after we opened, I added on a small café. A couple of years after that I bought the building next door. I had the catering business, a 65-seat restaurant, a 100-seat banquet area and a full-service bar. We would go in at 4:30 in the morning and serve dinner until 10 at night. We had catering vans and 34 employees. At some point I said ‘something’s gotta give here.’” Schneider would scale back, open a breakfast place called “Fast Eddie’s,” sell it, then open the “Red Rooster Pub” in Skaneateles Falls. In 2008 she sold that business and took some time to decide what was next.

Schneider began working with students in OCC’s Hospitality Management major in 2010. Because she had been teaching employees in the industry for most of the previous two decades, working with students was a natural fit. “I was always really good at training people. I had trained every position from dishwasher to morning baker. I felt if I could train employees, I teach students.”

The transition to the classroom was a seamless one. She loved teaching students, especially in the cooking labs. As television cooking shows grew in popularity Schneider would see the occasional student who was more interested in what is perceived to be the celebrity side of the business. “We let students know how much work being a chef is. On the first day of class I’ll pull out measuring cups and tell students ‘there is a lot of math involved. You have to do recipe conversions. You have to follow formulas. If you think this is all glamour, if you think you’re going to come in here and say ‘BAM,’ that’s not what this is.’”

Since coming to OCC Schneider has earned the prestigious designation of Certified Executive Pastry Chef. She’s a perfectionist in the kitchen who is always ready to experience a new restaurant. “People will say to me, ‘you must be horrible to go out to dinner with.’ I’m not critical! I love to eat! I’ll go anywhere and try places.”

Her favorite food may surprise you because of how simple it sounds. “There’s nothing better than bread, butter, bacon and chocolate. Those are the best.”

Congratulations to Chef Deb Schneider, the 2019 American Culinary Federation Syracuse Chapter Chef of the Year!

OCC’s Test Kitchen

A practical for the American Culinary Federation brought several of the region’s top chefs to OCC’s outstanding Hospitality Management facilities.


Usually the kitchens in Onondaga Community College’s Hospitality Management major are filled with students, listening to and learning from the College’s outstanding faculty members. The scene was much different on Saturday, October 21. Many of the region’s top chefs had come to the kitchen to judge the work of a fellow chef who was here from Pennsylvania to do his practical. Successfully preparing a meal under the watchful eye of fellow chefs would mean a higher level of certification in the American Culinary Federation. “It’s very intense, very nerve wracking to go through,” said Chef Deb Schneider of OCC’s Hospitality management program. She went through a similar process in the spring of 2016 when she became a Certified Executive Pastry Chef.

The chef being tested on this day was attempting to achieve the level of Executive Chef. He was given a market basket and required to make a meal for four. The meal would include a salad course, a fish course and a main course utilizing chicken in two ways. Each time the chef completed a course, the food was put on plates and delivered to an area in the kitchen where the judges could take a closer look. They used their cell phones to take pictures of the food, examined it visually and tasted it. Chefs in attendance were from all over the region including the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, Colgate University, Morrisville State College, a private country club in Geneseo, Rochester, Buffalo, Mississippi and a Master Chef from Long Island.

Chef Deb Schneider

When the cooking and plating were complete, the chefs went into a room and discussed what they had seen and tasted. They were judging the chef not only on his cooking skills but also on his sanitation and organization. When they completed their grading process they called the chef in, shared his evaluation with him and told him whether he passed or failed. “When I had my evaluation it was the hardest thing to sit through,” said Schneider. “Going through the process of cooking or baking in front of others who are judging you is stressful enough.”

OCC’s outstanding facilities have made it a regular site for American Culinary Federation practicals but having the event here is always thrilling. “To meet and talk with these other chefs gives me goose bumps,” said Schneider. “We’re honored to host practicals and believe it says a lot about the facilities our students learn and work in every day.”

Learn more about the OCC hospitality management program!

Culinary Camp


Recipe for Fun

There’s’a new addition to the long list of summer camps offered at OCC: Culinary Camp – Dough and Beyond. The camp debuted in July 2014. Sixteen students in grades 9 through 12 learned how to bake from scratch, including French bread, chocolate chip cookies, pita bread, cranberry muffins, lemon poppy seed bread, dinner rolls, pizza dough, and homemade pasta.

The camp was held in the kitchen in the Gordon Student Center where students in OCC’s Hospitality Management program work every day. Chef Eric Rose administered the summer program. Rose is a graduate of OCC and was named the American Culinary Federation’s 2006 Chef of the Year. “Our first Culinary Camp was a great experience for all of the students. You could see them learning more each day and enjoying the hands-on experience.”

Alyssa Goodwin, a 9th grader at Marcellus High School, loved her time at Culinary Camp. “It was lots of fun. The experience of learning from different types of dough to getting hands-on experience by making the dough and baking was really an interesting thing to go through. At such a young age, understanding the process is a lot of fun.” Goodwin says she’s always enjoyed preparing food, but after Culinary Camp is looking at it as more than something fun to do. “I really think cooking is a good career because people aren’t going to stop eating, and you can always find new and different ingredients to put into food and make it interesting. It’s really a creative outlet and something I would enjoy.”