As he prepares turnips, roasted bell peppers, portobello mushrooms, spinach, zucchini and squash for the layers of a vegetable Napoleon, which will be served to the vegetarians partaking in the evening's banquet, Hogan Ahrens is one happy man.
"I absolutely love it," says the 28-year-old, in the kitchen at the Garden of the Gods Club. "I love the creativity factor of it. And the thing is about food think about every event that you've ever done in your life where you were having a good time. There was food somewhere."
Ahrens enjoys keeping a low profile, but the American Culinary Federation keeps pushing him into the spotlight. For the second time in a row, the Pikes Peak Chapter has recognized the Colorado Springs resident as Junior Member of the Year.
The former Marine and family man holds two jobs and maintains an apprenticeship with the ACF through a program offered at Pikes Peak Community College. The federation sponsors his on-the-job training at the Garden of the Gods Club, where he prepares "modern classical cuisine" while supervised by Francis Schott, ACF executive chef, and Shad Shelton, the club's executive chef.
Through the program, Ahrens learns all the necessary procedures in running a kitchen, such as sanitation, baking, butchering and salad production. He also learns the basics of leading an entire culinary team as the kitchen's head chef. When he finishes his apprenticeship, Ahrens hopes to become an executive chef, which will let him form a restaurant's menu.
"Good food can turn people's moods around," he says. "It's not going to change their life, it's not going to change their day, but it can make somebody happy for a brief moment."
Christina A. Roller