PHS culinary teacher named Educator of the Year by ACF

Published 2:13 pm Thursday, February 7, 2019

PELHAM – Pelham High School’s culinary arts teacher Chef Douglas Allen was recently named the Educator of the Year by the Birmingham Chapter of the American Culinary Federation.

After working for about three years as the executive chef for all catering, special events, cafeterias and the doctor’s dining room at UAB, Allen transitioned to the classroom. He said he was interested in teaching because he had a desire to share his knowledge and passion for food.

Now in his sixth year of teaching, Allen has opened the door for his students to participate in numerous events and competitions. This year Pelham culinary students have participated in several events including Graze hosted by the Alabama Sustainable Agriculture Network, the Alabama Sweets Dessert Competition and the World Food Championship in Orange Beach. They are currently preparing for the annual ProStart State Culinary Competition that will take place in March.

When he’s not teaching or overseeing students at events and competitions, he is often tapped for the role of guest chef or guest speaker at culinary events and conferences. While Allen is an accomplished chef in his own right, he credits the students and the support of administration for giving the program a great opportunity to interact with the local culinary community.

“Without the involvement and support of the school and administration, none of this would be possible,” he said. “But more than anything this is a reflection of the students here at Pelham and how they impress everyone that we come in contact with. We are able to assist in competitions, compete ourselves and participate in charity events. I am honored that my fellow chefs have recognized what we have been able to accomplish here.”

Allen said his passion for food was nurtured by many summers spent with his grandparents in a lodge “way out in the boondocks of upper peninsula Michigan.”

“My great uncle was also a chef and I always spent time in the kitchen with him whenever he was preparing big family meals,” Allen said. “I guess I always wanted to be a cook and I’m so grateful that I was able to do that.”

He earned an associate’s degree in hotel and restaurant management from Midland Michigan at Northwood University. The two years he served in the Army were spent in Germany where he traveled as much as he could to experience as many different cuisines as possible.

He and his wife once owned a catering company that eventually developed into a restaurant, and then they opened a bakery in Mountain Brook for about six years before selling the business. He also worked at Jefferson State Community College as the executive chef and instructor for hotel housekeeping management, ServSafe and introduction to hospitality and tourism. He was also the executive chef for Saks Incorporated for 10 years.

The American Culinary Federation was established in 1929 and is the standard of excellence for chefs in North America. With more than 15,500 members spanning more than 170 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 and Child, founded in 1989 to promote proper nutrition in children and to combat childhood obesity. For more information, visit