Tom Hoover, executive chef with Hope College Dining Services, has been named the "Chef of the Year" by the Greater Grand Rapids Chefs Association of the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
He was recognized during the "Grand Culinary Affair" held at Grand Rapids Community College on Tuesday, Feb. 19, which was sponsored by the association and "Grand Rapids Magazine" to recognize the restaurants presented with 2007 dining awards by the publication as well as the top chefs, educators, students and other culinary professionals honored by the association. The winners are also highlighted in an article in the March 2008 issue of the magazine.
The "Chef of the Year" award is the most prestigious award given by the American Culinary Federation Greater Grand Rapids Chefs Association. It is presented annually to recognize a culinarian who demonstrates continuous commitment to the food service industry through personal and professional development, leadership and educational support to fellow culinarians.
In his work with Hope College Dining Services, Hoover works with events both on-campus and off-campus, ranging from the Community Day picnic, which this year hosted some 4,500 guests at Windmill Island in September; to the Christmas Madrigal Dinner; to the annual Women of Color celebration in March; to the annual Tulip Time Governor's Luncheon; to smaller-scale dinner functions at the President's House. He is also involved with residential dining at the college.
Hoover has been a member of the Hope staff since 1980. Since that time he has been involved in every aspect of the dining service at Hope.
Hoover's culinary training includes extensive work experience under a series of executive chefs in both restaurants and university dining. He has many years' worth of classroom and kitchen training at the collegiate level at the Secchia Institue for Culinary Education. Hoover holds a certification as a Chef de Cuisine through the auspices of the American Culinary Federation's certification program. Hoover has also finished undergraduate work at Grand Valley State University with a major in journalism.
Hoover is involved with educating culinarians in the Holland community by volunteering as an instructor at the Holland Rescue Mission's culinary education program. He is also on the advisory board for the Michigan Career and Technical Institute in Plainwell, where he also presents instruction for the institute's culinary students several times a year. Hoover presents culinary demonstrations and informative lectures on a variety of food-related topics to the Hope College faculty, staff and students many times during the academic year.
Over the years at Hope College, Hoover has prepared meals for Presidents Ford, Carter and George H.W. Bush. He has also served Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and her family. He has fed such luminaries as authors Alex Haley and Maya Angelou; musicians Christina Aguilera and the Modern Jazz Quartet; comedians Bob Newhart and the Smothers Brothers; religious leaders Robert Schuler and Charles Colson; and many other famous visitors to the Hope campus and the city of Holland.
Outside of his time as chef at Hope College, Hoover is also a free-lance writer. Most recently, he is writing a pop culture column for "The Holland Sentinel." He is also currently working on a crime novel involving chefs who turn to a life of crime to satisfy their culinary aspirations. He notes that any resemblances in the novel to his own aspirations are of course purely fiction.