Pete McCracken

Our beloved “answer man,” Pete McCracken, passed away on June 20. Pete, who was not only an APPCA member but a city councilman in his town of Porterville, Calif., had suffered a heart attack in late May and also had cancer.

Pete and I had been exchanging emails for the past month on a project we were working on and he never said a word about his illnesses. For me, personally, his death has been a big shock and heart breaker. He was truly colorful; those who knew him reveled in his stories. And he had many.

For those of us in APPCA who participate in the online forums, he was, indeed, our answer man. Post a question and you could count on Pete doing thorough research and coming up with an answer. He would fully investigate topics and provide informative links. It was a passion with Pete to have the answers for everything and we loved him for it. In fact, once something was answered by Pete the conversation pretty much ended, with all parties fully informed.

As you’ll learn if you go to the Fresno Bee’s obituary, Pete was a man of many and diverse talents and interests. He was a farmer and spoke Arabic, having farmed in Yemen for three years. He consulted in a variety of countries for the World Bank on agricultural irrigation and drainage. For a couple of years Pete and his wife Wanda owned and operated Le Bistro, a French restaurant in Porterville. And,  following his passion for dance, the couple also owned and operated a dance studio that taught Western dance. With all that, Pete still found time to serve his community as chairman of the council of cities in Tulare County, a member of the Porterville’s Planning Commission, and Porterville’s mayor from 2009 to 2010.

And, of course, Pete was an accomplished chef.

How could a life so rich not be celebrated! He was a really smart man, one heckofa chef, and a true individual! One of a kind, indeed! We send our condolences to Wanda, his son Matthew, and his three stepchildren. And we encourage you to share your memories of Pete below.


Week 5

Photo courtesy of Food Network

APPCA member Nicole Gaffney pretty much sailed through week five on Food Network Star. The eight finalists were driven to Knott’s Berry Farm for their challenge–preparing an assigned classic American food pairing for the 4th of July in one hour and then presenting a live demo of the dish in four minutes to an audience in the theme park’s Wagon Camp Amphitheater.

Nicole was assigned barbecue pork and onion rings. Well, how does a chef make barbecue anything in an hour? Nicole quickly came up with Spicy Pork Kabobs with Pineapple, creating a chipotle marinade inspired by Mexican tacos al pastor. Then she did a quick pickle of a shallot before breading and frying it to make onion rings. Through this, during one of her little camera interviews, she made a point about herself that went viral on social media. “I have a chronic case of resting bitch face,” she said. “I need to put on a smile and work it.”

Work it she did. Judge Bobby Flay said he liked both her food and her fun demo. But while the other judges agreed that she engaged the audience and made a good dish, Giada De Laurentiis pointed out that Nicole didn’t quite link her dish to her Jersey Shore background or coastal POV. Nevertheless, she is safe and moving on to the next challenge next week. Go Nicole!

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.






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Caron Golden


Founder of premier organization of personal chefs inspires students to follow their dreams of culinary entrepreneurship.

Candy Wallace, executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), today was recognized by Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies as its 33rd Distinguished Guest Chef.


  1. Avatar

    Though I never personally met Pete, I felt as I knew him for a long time, certainly it was 10 years ago when I joined the APPCA and started posting questions on the forum and researching old forums at that point. My searches answered a lot of my newbie questions, but I will always remember that Pete’s detailed research, chart creations and willingness to share his knowledge always knocked me over with awe.

    Pete’s answers to the forum questions of many a newbie have always provided food for thought for the rest of us who may have hesitated to respond quickly. I know for a fact that there were many a technical question proposed and I hesitated to comment waiting for Pete to chime in and frequently his response provided me with an opportunity to connect his technical answer to a practical experience I had had and then I would share that experience to reinforce what Pete had succinctly posted.

    Pete will be sorely missed, I have saved many of his spreadsheets that he created for his personal use and humbly thought that they’d be good for others as well.

    He was funny, serious and exacting to a fault but what he did best, IMHO, was to be true to himself and to offer his services when and where needed!

    RIP Pete, our Mutual Mentor!

    Comment by Jim Huff — July 4, 2014 @ 3:11 pm

  2. Avatar

    Pete was truly the consummate professional in everything he did. His dedication to the APPCA forums was second to none and his answers were always well researched and thoughtful. He was a veritable fount of information! So many of my forum posts always started with “As Pete suggested,” or “As always, I agree with what Pete said”. Over the years, we exchanged many emails discussing various things, mostly about cooking and life, in general. Every so often, he would email me to ask me for an authentic recipe for a particular Chinese dish when he wanted to replicate something that he had tasted or if he was asked to make a certain Chinese pastry/dim sum for a client. Pete didn’t cut corners and never did anything without putting his 100% into it.

    He truly will be missed by all of us who have been touched by Pete’s humor and his gracious sharing over the years.

    Rest well and in peace, Chef Pete!


    Comment by April — July 6, 2014 @ 10:11 am

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