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It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye

September 3, 2022

Our hearts are shattered at the news of the passing of one of our most influential founders – Michael Ty, CEC, AAC, HOF. There’s no doubt that Chefs for Kids would not exist as it does today without him. Not only did he start the organization after hearing about a similar nonprofit at a national convention for the American Culinary Federation, he has remained one of our most steadfast, humble, and gracious supporters. In addition to serving as Chairman for many years, Michael has mentored many of our other board members and most active volunteers. We know your hearts are hurting for him too.

Michael Ty

Michael always gave with a humble, open heart. For years his company, Hospitality Culinaire, has provided free Jamba Juice smoothies during our Cookin’ Up Breakfast programs. He has always said yes to finding a way to make good things happen for our organization. Whenever we have been a little short of a goal on a fundraiser, Michael would make up the difference with no need for recognition, but we’re recognizing him now. Michael, we are eternally grateful for your support throughout all the years. Your presence will be sorely missed by all of us at Chefs for Kids.

Our friends at ACF Chefs have written a summary of Michael’s life and accomplishments which we’ve shared below so you can learn more about the man who inspired our organization.

In Memoriam of Michael Ty

This week the culinary community has shared in a collective heartbreak as we learned of the passing of our fellow culinarian, Michael Ty, CEC, AAC, HOF. He was an amazing soul who brought inspiration and light to so many. Many of us came to know Michael from different places and for different reasons, or maybe you didn’t know him at all and are learning about him for the first time from this blog. As our world takes a pause to mourn the loss of Michael, we want to share with you a little bit about his story…

Michael Ty was born on August 4, 1953 to Chinese parents in Manila, Philippines, the third of six children. In 1966 His family immigrated to the United States, settling in Waterbury, CT, before moving to Waverly, NY two years later. Ty would spend the next 17 years growing up here, and it was a high school aptitude test and one guidance counselor that would change the course of his life forever. He was initially told his highest strengths would lead him to a career in banking and finance, but Michael couldn’t see himself sitting behind a desk. He asked what’s next? The counselor told him he also scored high in Home Economics. It took him a little convincing because at the time, Home Economics classes were still seen as being primarily for “Susie Homemaker”, but the guidance counselor opened his eyes to the many professions that could come from Home Economics – including culinary arts. Michael did see a future in that. And after attending the culinary program at State University of New York (SUNY) at Cobleskill, he was hooked.

He started his restaurant career in New York after graduating with an Associate of Science degree, but soon after, Las Vegas came calling to him with the promise of a better job opportunity. Although that opportunity did not pan out, Michael did not give up. He found a job on the lowest rung of the culinary community, and worked his way up. After two years, he became a sous chef at Caesars Palace, and by age 28 he was the youngest non-European Executive Chef at a major resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

In January 1989, he made the move to Executive Chef at the Sheraton Desert Inn. Shortly after, he started what would eventually become his legacy. While serving as president of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) in 1989, he learned about the Chef and Child charitable organization and decided to start a chapter in Las Vegas. This organization was later called Chefs for Kids. Michael served as Chairman of the nonprofit for many years. He also remained the organization’s most steadfast supporter, helping it grow from a handful of meals served to kids each year to Las Vegas’ leading CCSD approved in-school education nutrition program that teaches and feeds approximately 10,000 kids each year. In 2021 Ty was honored with the Legacy Award by the non-profit for his important contributions throughout the years.

Ty wasn’t solely dedicated to one cause though. He also believed in educating and mentoring future generations of culinarians. For decades he has been a member of the American Culinary Federation and held numerous positions, including President of the national organization and Las Vegas chapter. He has also supported several young culinarian competitions in any way he could.

Michael has also mentored chefs participating in Chaîne’s Young Chefs program of regional and national competitions to prepare young chefs to succeed in their profession and compete on the international stage. He also set up a Chaîne des Rôtisseurs grant/scholarship at SUNY Cobleskill to fund one student every year to participate in the Young Chefs Competition in the Northeast Region.

Throughout his community endeavors, he continued to grow himself professionally, transitioning to Executive Chef at Lawry’s Prime Rib in 1997-2000. Simultaneously he also opened Hospitality Culinaire, which opened and managed three Jamba Juice locations inside McCarran Airport; as well as MT Cuisine, LLC. which sold chef apparel and high quality chef toques.

Throughout the years, Michael was honored with several awards, a few of which include: ACF Western Region Chef of the Year in 1991, 1994, and 1997; ACF Western Region Chef Professionalism Award in 1991; induction into the American Academy of Chefs (the Honor Society of the ACF) in 1991; American Academy of Chefs Chair’s Medal in 1996; ACF National Chef of the Year in 1997; and numerous ACF Presidential Medallions.

Michael has served as Chairman of the Board of the ACF, President of National ACF, President of the Las Vegas Chapter of ACF, the National President of the ACF Chef and Child Foundation. He also served on the Advisory Boards for SUNY at Cobleskill, UNLV Harrah’s College of Hotel Administration, the Art Institute of Las Vegas, and Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Las Vegas.

Michael was also a loving husband, father, grandfather, and friend.

All who knew him are encouraged to attend his memorial services on:
Saturday, September 10, 2022
10 a.m. – Noon
Christ Church Episcopal
2000 S Maryland Pkwy
Las Vegas, NV 89104

View invite and RSVP for his memorial service.

Chefs are encouraged to wear their chef attire. If you are not able to attend the event in person, there will be a live stream on the day and time of the service.

Michael was a giver in life and his family asks In lieu of flowers to please consider making a contribution to two organizations that Michael held dear to his heart. One being our very own, Chef for Kids. The other Chaine des Rotisseurs*.

*To donate to Chaine des Rotisseurs:
Check payable to: Brilliant Savarin Academic
Mail to: Chaine Des Rotisseurs; 285 Madison Ave, Madison, NJ 07940

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  1. Marian Umhoefer on September 3, 2022 at 8:07 pm

    My Dear Chef Ty: You were always so good to me for photos that I needed for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. I remember talking to you about my total knee replacement and I told you not
    to worry that you would be fine getting yours. You will be missed, your shy smile and kindness this I will always remember.
    With so much love to your family. My friend Dorothy Huffey also thought highly of you. Marian Umhoefer

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