Seven notable chefs from the Midwest are bringing their distinctive regional styles to the Wisconsin Cheese Chef Ambassador program. They began their service with an "immersion tour" in Madison, Wis. that included visits to seven cheesemakers, including Carr Valley Cheese, Bleu Mont Dairy and Roth Käse, as well as Wisconsin Cheese tastings.

The Chef Ambassador program, sponsored by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, connects Wisconsin Cheese and the state's legendary cheesemakers with the best chefs in the country. The program, now in its sixth year, includes 35 distinguished chefs.

The new ambassadors will cook with Wisconsin Cheese and develop innovative menu applications, some of which will be featured in their restaurants. They will also "spread the word" about Wisconsin's specialty and artisan cheesemakers to peers and patrons through a variety of activities. This year, the program has a uniquely Midwestern focus, ideal for the current class of chefs who are passionate about using local products on their menus.

The most recent ambassadors are:
Phillip S. Cooke, founder and retired president of FSA Group, a public relations and association management company based in Louisville, Ky., died of a heart attack on Oct. 24 during a visit to Chicago. Phillip spent his entire career in the foodservice industry.

Following graduation from Grove City College (Pennsylvania), he moved to New York where he worked as an assistant in the editorial department at The New York Times. Following that, he went to work for Ahrens Publishing, serving as managing editor of Restaurant Management and then as editor of Restaurant Equipment Dealer magazines. He was also editor of Chain Store Age, Restaurant Edition, precursor to Nation's Restaurant News. In 1964 he joined Restaurants & Institutions and moved to Chicago to serve as the magazine's editor-in-chief.

Phillip left publishing in 1968 to form his own public-relations firm representing several national foodservice chains and many independent restaurants. In 1978 he moved his company to Louisville and expanded into association management with a focus on culinary and foodservice industry organizations.

In 1982, Phillip created the Symposium on American Cuisine as a public-relations vehicle to promote Sixth Avenue, a new Louisville restaurant by the Grisanti organization that specialized in authentic American food. The event brought national recognition to the restaurant and was at the forefront of the New American cuisine movement. A total of seven symposia were produced throughout the 1980s in cities across the country. The symposia created a high profile for FSA and established its reputation as a leader in the culinary industry.

In 2003, the company was sold to New York City-based publisher Lebhar-Friedman, and Phillip retired in 2005. He is survived by his business and life-partner of 44 years, Daniel Maye; a brother, Thomas C. Cooke of Indianapolis; four nephews, Bryan, Terry and Randy Cooke; and a niece, Rebecca Babcock Cooke.

Contributions in his memory can be made to Phillip S. Cooke Memorial Fund, c/0 New England Culinary Institute, 56 College St. Montpelier, VT 05602.

TexaSweet Citrus Marketing Inc. is hosting a recipe contest for Rio Star grapefruit, the super-sweet red grapefruit from Texas' Rio Grande Valley. Rio Star Challenge recipe(s) must include the sections or juice from at least one fresh Texas Rio Star grapefruit. Recipes are limited to no more than eight ingredients, excluding herbs and/or spices. Contestants must select one of three categories for each recipe entered: Salad, Entrée or Dessert.

A $500 prize will be awarded to the first-place winners of each recipe category. One grand prize of $1,000 will be chosen from the first-prize recipe winners in each division (home cook and professional).

Contestants may complete the online entry form, or they can download a printable entry form to mail in along with a copy of the recipe submission.

All entries must be original creations and never before published in print or online, infringe on third-party copyrights and never entered in any other contest. Entries must be received no later than 5 p.m. (EST), February 15, 2009.
Electrolux Professional wants its foodservice customers to utilize everything its equipment has to offer, from saving time and energy to improving food quality. The company created its Certified Chef Network to support the North American market with both customer training and field sales support for key pieces of equipment to ensure customers are using the equipment solutions and benefits to their maximum potential.

When operators purchase an Electrolux air-o-steam combi oven, air-o-speed high-speed combi oven, air-o-chill blast chiller/freezer or the Pressure Braising Pan, they can receive on-site, hands-on demonstrations and training from Electrolux Certified Chefs. The Electrolux chefs will customize the training for each operator's individual needs and menu.

To become certified, Electrolux Certified Chefs attend a rigorous training program composed of technical courses that allow the chefs to become experts on Electrolux products, as well as courses that focus on interpersonal skill development.

The Electrolux Certified Chef Network covers the entire North American market both for customer training and field sales support. It provides customers with troubleshooting for menu development, operational savings and increased return on investment from their purchase.