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Meet the Team

Jeff Rotz CEC, CCE, AAC

Chairman of the Board – ACF Gulf to Lakes Chefs & Cooks Association

ACF National By-laws Committee – Southeast Region

Member Certification Chair

In 1971 Jeff enlisted in the US Navy where the stepping stones of his Culinary career were laid.  While in the Navy, Jeff Advanced rapidly through the junior ranks and progressively attained greater responsibility and authority in the Food Service department.

 By 1991, Chef Jeff was the Senior Instructor with the Navy Food Management Team. It was during this position that Jeff held a role that would serve him well in his future career as Culinary Educator. He performed instruction in all areas of food service operations with specialization in customer service, inventory control, stock rotation, food service trends, financial control, sanitation, food production, nutrition & menu planning and equipment &  safety.

 In 1993, after retiring from his Military Career, Chef Jeff began a new adventure, as a Civilian, utilizing his excellent personality and knowledge of the field to become one of the most respected Culinary educators in Florida.

 Jeff’s enthusiasm for teaching and the relationships he is able to develop with his outgoing personality were powerful factors in his decision to build a business that utilized both his and his teams’ cumulative experience and knowledge to assist businesses with their training and staff education.

 Actively involved with several charitable and non- profit organizations in both hands on and administrative capacities, Chef Jeff is always available to lend a hand. Our CHC founder is always willing to go the extra mile and do what it takes to help others.

Matthew Dennis CEC, ACE

Chapter American Culinary Federation President

Culinary Arts Instructor

As a certified Executive Chef, Certified Practical Evaluator, Instructor of the Culinary Arts Program at UHS and chapter president for the local American Culinary Federation Chapter, Matt sure knows how to keep busy.

 He began his career while still attending High School and rapidly made a name for himself as a top executive chef amongst his peers.  He frequently participates in various classes, refresher courses, conventions and conferences to maintain and elevate his knowledge of current information, procedures and techniques used within the culinary field.

 Since 2008, Chef Matt has conducted training and evaluation throughout Florida and in the Caribbean with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Chefs Helping Chefs International. He has supervised several apprentices in the culinary industry. He can even say he has a TV career; as he participated in a televised cooking show while employed and residing in Connecticut.

 Educating, demonstrating and connecting with an audience; whether it be a small kitchen team of ten or a large group of 100+; Chef Matthews’ easy going personable style quickly puts his audience at ease and encourages a hearty exchange of thoughts, interaction and ideas.

Bob Ponsi

After retiring from a 27-year career as an engineer/rocket scientist designing a variety of high-tech hardware for the military and for NASA, Bob attended the Connecticut Culinary Institute where he graduated in 1993. Although his training was primarily classic French cuisine, Bob focused on  pastry work. While attending CCI, and after graduating, Bob worked in the school’s catering division as a pastry chef, and also ran his own catering business.

After moving to Florida with intentions of continuing his Culinary career, plans changed and Bob found himself with two grandchildren to raise. He maintained his culinary ‘edge’ by entering (and winning) numerous local culinary culinary competitions, catering events for local philanthropic organizations, and regularly volunteering as a guest chef-instructor at local high school culinary classes and, from time-to-time, at local homeless shelters and similar venues.

Bob has been involved with Chefs Helping Chefs since its beginning stages and fulfills his role as our resident Pastry Chef with much pride. Since 2006, Bob has been involved with the annual Navy Birthday Ball Banquet where he has participated in the planning, execution and dessert Preparation at the Navy’s AUTEC base in the Bahamas.

John Bell CEC, ACE

Culinary Arts Instructor

Chef Bell has 30 years of culinary experience – From five star restaurants in Aspen Colorado, Corporate Chef, Consultant and Culinary Educator. He served as personal Chef to John Travolta and has cooked for two presidents and many celebrities.

During the course of his career, John keeps his skills sharp by participating in competitions. To date, he has received many awards noting his achievements:

Silver Medal- Aspen Annual Chocolate Classic

Gold Medal- Steam Boat Springs Annual Wild Game Grill

Gold Medal- Aspen Chocolate Classic

Silver Medal- March of Dimes Chefs Cook-Off

Pewter Platter- Best Meal Taste of Ocala

Pewter Platter- Peoples’ Choice Taste of Ocala

Gold Medal- Hot Foods Team Coach Marion County Culinary Student Show

 Specializing in nutrition, menu design, food cost and recipe development, Chef John is currently Instructor of the Culinary Arts Program at LHS.   His adventurous personality and jovial nature, along with his extensive skills, brings a valuable asset to our CHC team.

Elizabeth Baase CEC,AAC,ACE

Elizabeth Baase, a graduate of Johnson and Wales is a distinguished chef, manager and leader.  She recently finished her term as the Southeast Regional Vice President for the American Culinary Federation, Inc. (ACF), the premier professional organization for culinarians in America.  She is a certified executive chef (CEC) and a member of the American Academy of Chefs (AAC), the honor society of the American Culinary Federation.

Elizabeths’ career, spanning more than 28 years, is dedicated to elevating the fields of culinary arts and she enjoys using her skills as a culinarian to give aid to those in disaster situations. Her dedication and passion for her craft is evident with the many awards and honors she has received from numerous competitions and events.

Baase is the first woman to win Southeast Regional Chef of the Year in 1998 and Southeast Regional Vice President of the American Culinary Federation.  She has been a member of ACF since 1991, and in 2005, was elected for a four-year term.

It’s always a pleasure to work with Elizabeth as her jubilant personality and outgoing nature quickly puts everyone at ease.  You can be sure the learning will be fun with Elizabeth as part of the team!

Rich Crisanti CEC,ACE

Chef Rich graduated, with honors, from Johnson and Wales University with a degree in Culinary Arts and Food Management. Since then his career has mainly been in prestigious Country Clubs where he has received many awards and recognition for his talents and improvements to the establishments he serves. Chef has also worked with fine Hotels including Arnold Palmer’s Corporation,  The Hawthorne Inn and Wyndham Garden Hotel & Resorts.

Rich is also an experienced trainer and educator for the Royal Caribbean Cruise lines and has assisted them with  on-board training of their culinary team.

Additionally, Chef Rich has traveled worldwide and continues to educate himself in the latest culinary developments, keeping up with the most current trends and steadily increasing his knowledge in the wonderful field of Culinary Arts & Wine that he loves so much.

Chef Rich’s sparkling personality and friendly approach is an asset to anyone that is fortunate to work with him.  We are proud to have him as a part of our team.

Larry Nibbs CEC,ACE









Laura Dennis

Laura began her Culinary career 27 years ago and during the course of those 27 years has worked in every aspect of the Restaurant business from front of the house, back of the house, management, bar service, banquets, supervisor and even owner/proprietor of her own establishment.

 Whether it be a small staff of less than 10 or a large staff of 100+, Laurie is able to connect with each team member on an individual level and develop the rapport needed to convey expectations and requirements of duties while not having any reservations about stepping up to help get the job done right alongside of her team.

 Our resident customer service specialist, Laurie is on hand to work with your service staff in etiquette, service standards, professional image, teamwork and guest relations.  Her outgoing personality and experience in just about any restaurant variation imaginable, makes Laurie a great asset to our team and selection of offerings available.

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