Oakville man’s classical cuisine reigns supreme with top chefs

Oakville resident and chef John Bogacki recently was presented the 2009 Chef Good Taste Award by the American Academy of Chefs for upholding the traditions of classical cuisine.

Oakville resident and chef John Bogacki recently was presented the 2009 Chef Good Taste Award by the American Academy of Chefs for upholding the traditions of classical cuisine.

By BILL MILLIGAN

The American Academy of Chefs, the honor society of the American Culinary Federation, recently presented the 2009 Chef Good Taste Award to an Oakville man.

The AAC awards the Chef Good Taste Award annually to one Academy Fellow who has been actively involved in furthering the culinary industry and upholding the traditions of classical cuisine.

This year’s recipient, chef John Bogacki of Tollgate Road, began his culinary career in high school working for the St. Louis Club in Clayton. A 1977 graduate of St. Louis Community College at Forest Park and the ACF Educational Institute Apprenticeship program, Bogacki has been an instructor in the school’s culinary arts and restaurant management program since 1984.

Since 1986, he has been executive chef at the Westwood Country Club in west county.

“We serve a lot of regional American foods,” Bogacki said. “Everything from hot dogs at a child’s birthday party to gourmet weddings.”

What originally started as a “way to make money” during his high school days blossomed into a career when Bogacki enrolled at SLCC-Forest Park.

“The need for certification became stronger in the 1970s. This is a business when it’s said and done,” he said. “There is a lot of science to baking and pastries. Math and science are very important. You have to know how to construct a sentence and speak intelligently.

“Food preparation has become more of a profession than it was in the ’70s,” he said. “Chefs have more status now. Our customers are more well-traveled than 25 to 30 years ago.”

He counts his teaching experience among the highlights of his career.

“I got to take a team of five young people under age 25 to the Culinary Olympics in Erfurt, Germany, this past fall,” Bogacki said. “We competed against teams from 30 other countries and finished fifth.”

As a member of the Chefs de Cuisine Association of St. Louis Inc., he has served the chapter in leadership roles for more than two decades, from president to sergeant at arms. He was named the Chefs de Cuisine Association of St. Louis Inc.’s Chef of the Year in 1989, received an ACF President’s Medallion in 1998, 2005 and 2008, and received the American Academy of Chefs Central Region Chef’s Chair Award in 2001.

“I’ve had a very good career,” he said.

When cooking for his wife, Madonna, and their three children, Bogacki said he likes to prepare “pasta with grandma’s red sauce. It’s good.”

But for his final meal, he said he would request chicken cacciatore in a sweet and sour sauce with capers and olives.

“You have to have a passion for cooking,” Bogacki said. “Menus change, trends change, this is a very fast-paced lifestyle.”