To chefs around the nation the highest level of recognition for their accomplishments is being inducted into the American Academy of Chefs Culinary Hall of Fame, but it is no easy feat.
Chef Don Antinore of LeRoy rifles through a closet of chef uniforms – his treasures, after a 45-year career.
"Work is not what I was born to do. I was born to play all my life and the kitchen, ultimately, was where my playground was," Antinore said.
Antinore is a chef, but also a teacher. He has had more than 100 apprentices, teaching them the philosophy that he lives by.
"If I touched it, it didn't turn to gold, but I gave it some shine," he said.
For 20 years, Chef Don and his wife ran a restaurant out of their LeRoy home. Each dinner was a theme from a different country.
Chef Don said he never keeps secret ingredients to himself. He said his winning combinations are common sense.
It wasn't Don's sense of humor about cooking that got him into the hall of fame. To be nominated, the academy looks at a chef's credentials over their lifetime. Chef Don believes his most notable accomplishment was volunteering during the September 11 tragedy.
"I coordinated 1,300 chefs in six-hour shifts, 24 hours around the clock. We fed five million meals in 41 days – astronomical feat, but it was easy," Antinore said.
About as easy as it is to get into the hall of fame. Out of the thousands of members of the American Culinary Federation, only 75 people have been inducted into the chef's culinary hall of fame.
"I never dreamt about it. I never thought about it. I never strived for it. It came to me and it was laid in my hands and in my lap, and that was a great moment," Chef Don expressed.