The American Culinary Federation-Upper Michigan Culinarians presented Nichole Durley with the 2015 Chef-of-the-Year honors at its annual dinner held Sunday evening in Marquette.

Durley, who holds the position of Chef de Cuisine at Lagniappe Cajun Creole Eatery in Marquette, was recognized for her professionalism and work within the ACF.

The awards dinner was held at Elizabeth’s Chophouse, as the 2014 Chef-of-the-Year James Smiljanich delivered a special five-course dinner for the attendees.

Robin Holmes, Certified Executive Chef at Pacinos Food and Spirits in Escanaba, was the other finalist for this year’s award. Holmes has previously been granted the award on three occasions.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by my peers in the American Culinary Federation,” said Durley. “The ACF holds a high standard of professionalism within the industry and I try to promote that standard in the workplace.”

The Marquette native has been supportive within the local chapter of the ACF having participated in both the OSF Heart of Gold and Beaumier Heritage dinners, board member of U.P. Children’s Museum Culinary Journey fundraiser, and chapter newsletter and continuing education presenter.

The 2003 Marquette High School graduate initially enrolled at Northern Michigan University to study political science, but realized she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her father, Don, and become a chef. Durley entered the Cordon Bleau program of the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, completing her training in 2005.

Durley has been a member of the American Culinary Federation for over 10 years, including previous chapter memberships while working in Chicago and New Orleans.

Editor’s Note: This press release was submitted by Tony Tollefson. 

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