August 2009 Issue
Ohioan - Chef Richard Alford
Culinary Carving Expert
PROFESSION: He is associate professor emeritus in the University of Akron’s Summit College Department of Hospitality Management where, in addition to teaching classic culinary techniques, each year he trains a small group in the art of fruit, vegetable, cheese, tallow and chocolate carving, as well as ice sculpting.
BLADES OF GLORY: Chef Alford has traveled the world teaching aspiring chefs to transform edible mediums into incredible art. “I carry a doctor’s bag of tools with paring knives, melon ballers and gougers for carving. But once at a food show in Canton all my tools were stolen, so I carved all day with a Swiss Army pocket knife.”
CARVING HIS NICHE: Chef Alford has created a “guy milking a cow” in cheddar for the Ohio State Fair, as well as chocolate relief carvings of Santa and other seasonal symbols. “I also did Mike Tyson in ice for his birthday once,” he chuckles.
COLD CONQUESTS: Chef Alford was inducted into the National Ice Carving Association’s Hall of Fame in 2008. His students have won the collegiate national competition four times in the past 15 years.
HIS LEGACY: “Last year [at the National Professional Ice Carving Championship], I said to myself ‘why is my name in here?’” he laughs. “But then I looked around the room and realized that 75 percent of the chefs there, I had touched in some way. That’s what’s in it for me.”