It was while Chef Ron Pickarski was attending culinary school that one of his instructors encourage him to visit the Drake Hotel to view the Gold Medal Culinary Olympics pastry exhibit in 1972. Chef Ron was immediately inspired to one day compete. After becoming a vegan, he realized that his mission would be to achieve a gold medal at the Culinary Olympics using only plant-based ingredients. 8 years later, he did exactly that and 16 years later with 7 medals (Gold, Silver, and Bronz) the IKA officially added of a vegetarian category to the Culinary Olympic competition. Inspired by the IKA committees acceptance of vegetarian cuisine, Chef Ron realized that his next goal was to take that same cuisine that won the medals and put it on America’s table in an approachable form. In 1996 Chef Pickarski founded American Natural Foods to help fund the final Culinary Olympic’s competition and begin the ANF’s new goal of promoting plant based cuisine though continued research and development of new cooking techniques, recipe development, and culinary education for professional and personal cooks.


American Natural Foods is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is the culinary education of professional chefs, food service operators, and the general public in the art of preparing plant-based and vegan cuisine and in the development and advancement of vegetarianism as a cuisine.

Professional cooks are educated in cooking, but not necessarily in cooking with plant proteins and dairy egg options or substitution.  And while the general public may lack formal training in cooking, they are even less likely to be skilled in plant-based cooking.  The ANF’s goal is to bridge this void through education and through the development of cuisine (cooking techniques & recipes) that are easy to prepare, affordable, taste good, and are nutrient dense. Our hope is to bring vegetarian cuisine into the realm of consumer expectations in restaurants and at home while addressing the labor and food cost constraints of food service operators and personal cooks.

To summarize, the ANF’s overarching goal is to create a plant based culinary platform from which both seasoned professionals and beginner cooks can effectively and efficiently learn to cook modern and classical vegan cuisine. The ANF hopes to shift the emphasis in culinary innovation from meat to plant-based protein cuisine among chefs and inspired cooks.