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St. Louis Chef Ben Grupe Leads Culinary National Team USA to Gold

American Culinary Federation (ACF) Culinary National Team USAClick here for high-resolution version

/ -- ST. LOUIS, MO--(Marketwired - December 07, 2016) - 2016 marks an exciting year for Chef Ben Grupe of St. Louis restaurants Elaia and Olio, who as Team Captain, lead the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Culinary National Team USA to rank fourth in the world overall and take home three gold medals in the 24thInternationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA) International Culinary Exhibition, known as the "culinary Olympics." Taking place October 22-25 in Erfurt, Germany, team USA showcased amazing talent under Grupe's leadership, Executive Chef of the Bengelina Hospitality Group sister restaurants. It's a proud moment for the U.S. culinary community, and for the city of St. Louis, as the team of six accomplished chefs, with Grupe at the helm, displayed ardent competition and passion for American cuisine.

ACF Culinary National Team USA achieved three gold medals during this year's "culinary Olympics," including one gold medal in the Hot Kitchen Programme, one gold medal in the Culinary Art (cold food) Programme, and an additional gold medal for earning the top score in the world in the Culinary Art Programme. Out of 30 teams competing during the global competition, Grupe and the entire Team USA is honored to have placed fourth in the world during the rigorous three-day event.

This is the second "culinary Olympic" term for Grupe, having participated on Team USA in 2012 and then receiving the honorable position of Team Captain for 2016. Grupe set his sights on the "culinary Olympics" early on in his career, where mentoring chefs during his time in The Greenbrier Culinary Apprenticeship Program were involved and encouraged him to do the same. Greenbrier fostered a healthy competitive environment, preparing Grupe for the rigorous selection process when the time came to try out for Team USA 2012. During Grupe's first term, he was eager to raise the bar for excellence and as Team Captain in 2016, he embraced his responsibilities including liaising between the team and the coaches and ensuring the team's operation ran smoothly.

"Acting as Team Captain in the culinary Olympics is equivalent to the role of Executive Chef in a restaurant," says Grupe. "When running a kitchen, you hold yourself to a certain standard, and the Olympics tests your strengths, and every chef's on the team, to make sure each action goes above and beyond. The competition is both stressful and exhilarating, pushing you to maximize your discipline, time management, and creativity. As the underdogs, we came to win and beat obstacles while abroad, and we rallied together."

Grupe held positions as Executive Sous Chef of Old Warson Country Club (St. Louis, MO) and Executive Chef of Meadowbrook Country Club (Ballwin, MO) prior to arriving at Elaia and Olio. Overseeing culinary operations as Executive Chef for the celebrated St. Louis sister restaurants, Grupe focuses on familiar flavors and classically rooted compositions with contemporary presentations. His philosophy when it comes to food is quite simple, with taste being the number one priority. Grupe started from the ground up in the culinary industry, first washing dishes and moving up the ranks, all the while falling in the love with the energy and comradery of the kitchen.

It's within this spirit that Grupe plans to challenge himself with the Master Chef exam down the road, and to continue his involvement in the ACF "culinary Olympics," giving back to mentors who have spent time with his team over the years. Diners can discover Grupe's leadership and cooking by visiting Elaia and Olio in St. Louis.

About Bengelina Hospitality
Bengelina Hospitality Group is a St. Louis based owner/operator of progressive culinary establishments including Elaia, Olio, Parigi, La Patisserie Chouquette, Nixta, and Bar Limón. It was established in 2008 by chef Ben Poremba and his wife Angelina Giancola when they cofounded St. Louis' premier Salumeria, Salume Beddu. Since its inception, BHG and its owner, Chef Ben Poremba, declared their objective to be a culinary innovator and trendsetter in the St. Louis region. BHG had been involved as owner or consultant in 8 restaurant openings. BHG restaurants have won numerous awards and accolades culminating in the three consecutive nominations for chef Ben Poremba as Best Chef Midwest in the James Beard Awards for his work at Elaia. BHG mottos are "food of love for the love food" and "start at your best and get better."

About the American Culinary Federation
The American Culinary Federation, Inc. (ACF), established in 1929, is the standard of excellence for chefs in North America. With more than 17,500 members spanning more than 150 chapters nationwide, ACF is the leading culinary association offering educational resources, training, apprenticeship and programmatic accreditation. In addition, ACF operates the most comprehensive certification program for chefs in the United States, with the Certified Executive Chef®, Certified Sous Chef®, Certified Executive Pastry Chef® and Certified Culinary Educator® designations accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. The American Culinary Federation Education Foundation is home to ACF Culinary Team USA, the official representative for the United States in major international culinary competitions, and to Chef & Child, founded in 1989 to promote proper nutrition in children and to combat childhood obesity. For more information, visit Find ACF on Facebook and on Twitter.

About Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung
Founded in 1896, the Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA) International Culinary Art Competition, also known as the "culinary Olympics," serves as a world-class venue for talented chefs from around the globe to showcase culinary skill and innovation. Similar to the traditional athletic Olympics, which brings together the best athletes from around the world, the IKA is the single most elite competitive culinary event. Every four years, professional teams from around the globe come together in Erfurt, Germany, to compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in several categories. The United States has participated in the Culinary Olympics since 1956. For more information, visit their website:

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