Enthusiasm of Being a Chef Part Four, Lifelong Learning

This is the last post of the ‘Enthusiasm of a Chef’ series…

“Becoming a great chef requires both lifelong teaching and lifelong learning.”

—Robert Nograd, CMC, AAC, dean emeritus of Johnson & Wales University in North Miami


Throughout the years higher education and careers have become more specialized.  An example, a doctor just isn’t a general doctor anymore, we have specialists for women, bones, children, hearts, and etcetera.  This process has been applied to teachers; we have a math teacher, science teacher, and English teacher; the teachers who instruct in every subject are being phased out.  A chef anymore isn’t just a cook, but a chef can become a food scientist, an instructor, or a nutritionist. As our jobs have become more specialized, so does our higher education.

Job Availability Certificate vs. Degree  

Having a degree versus a certificate will give anyone more flexibility for the future.   As a cook moves through the ranks of the kitchen, they will move farther away from preparing the food and more into the financial aspect.  With a degree, a chef could have the chance to enter the teaching field if they wanted.


General culinary certificates are designed to prepare one for entry-level employment in a commercial kitchen.  Moving from one career phase to the next might prompt a chef to expand his or her education in a direction that will help them achieve success in the field.”


Certifications, & Continuing Education

Certification is an objective, measurable way of determining a person’s competency.  With thousands of chefs competing in the job market, a competitive edge is critical.  Jim Jordan, director for recruiting for Compass Group Resource Network, San Antonio says “Often, an ACF certification can be the determining factor when you have candidates with equal talent, skill sets, experiences and training/education competing for the same position.”

Certification is becoming a standard method of assessment in a vast number of industries.  Both Sodexo Health Services and Delaware North Companies Parks & Resorts are focused on the importance of certifying their chefs with an ACF. Also, various foodservice groups have acknowledged that ACF certification plays a key role in their hiring selection process and promotion.  Having certified chefs on staff not only demonstrates an organizations commitment to added value, but it also shows the professional commitment of employing chefs with advanced competencies and skills sets as a means.  Certification encourages and provides a teaching platform for others, as well as promotes quality assurance to the general public. The public is growing more aware and interested in the quality of food that is being served as well as the growing emphasis on food safety. Thus, a certified chef becomes even more relevant in today’s industry

Karl Guggenmos, AAC, a firm believer that ACF Certification Programs are the Crown Jewel of the ACF, sums it up beautifully, “It is my commitment, along with all commission members, to build on the great foundation laid by past leaders to establish ACF certification as a globally recognized culinary credential.  We will address the challenges and opportunities facing our ever-changing industry by developing, implementing and monitoring a comprehensive roadmap for all culinarians, with achievable benchmarks.”

According to a salary study conducted in 2011, by the ACF to evaluate the working conditions and pay of culinary professionals, foodservice employees who had an ACF certification reported a seven percent increase in average compensation

In 1981, the master chef program was started by Ferdinand Metz, President of the Culinary Institute of America, and Jeffrey Larson, CEC, AAC at The Culinary Institute of America.  The title of Certified Master Chef (CMC), presented solely by the American Culinary Federation (ACF) in the U.S., is the highest level of certification a chef can receive. It represents the pinnacle of professionalism and skill. Today, there are only 67 CMCs and 11 Certified Master Pastry Chefs® (CMPC) in the nation.

Chef Honor Societies  

The American Culinary Federation’s Honor Society, the American Academy of Chefs (AAC) represents the highest standards of professionalism in the organization, society, and industry.  The title of Global Master Chef was made in Dubai, 2008 from The World Association of Chefs Societies.  They recognized the Master Chef certifications from the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Austria.  The World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS), or Worldchefs, is a global network of chefs associations founded in October 1928 at the Sorbonne in Paris. At that first congress, there were 65 delegates from 17 countries, representing 36 national and international associations.  Today, this global body has 93 official chefs associations as members that represent over 10 million professional chefs worldwide.

Age of Celebrity Chef

 Culinary Industry ‘Oscars’

James Beard was a cookbook author, television personality, chef, teacher, mentor, and contributor of articles and columns based in New York City.  Beard always welcomed students, authors, chefs, and other food and beverage professionals into his home.  After James Beard’s death in 1985, a group of his friends and colleagues led by cooking school founder Peter Kump heeded a call from Julia Child to do something with Beard’s house.  On November 5, 1986, the James Beard House was opened “to provide a center for the culinary arts and to continue to foster the interest James Beard inspired in all aspects of food, its preparation presentation, and of course, enjoyment,” according to a press release issued that day.  In 1990, the James Beard Foundation created the James Beard Foundation Awards for excellence in food and beverage and related areas.  Consider the James Beard Awards as the Oscars for the Culinary Industry.

Food Network 

The Food Network was found in 1993, by a large television group. Author and journalist Allen Salkin explains the history and concept of the Food Network in his book, From Scratch: Inside The Food Network.  Salkin describes that the network’s intention was never to showcase cutting-edge restaurants or elevate the level of discussion about cuisine in America; it was to make money.  In an interview with The Huffington Post, Salkin said “The business of the Food Network is not to get you to cook more. It is to get you to watch more Food Network; they are in the business of selling advertising.”.   In the first ten years, it was arguably more geared toward “foodies” than today, by airing shows featuring chefs with strong food backgrounds and pedigrees.  Throughout the years, the network learned the power of chefs with strong TV personalities and turned them into brands, such as Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay.  However, as we have seen due to Rachael Ray’s runaway success, executives were quick to learn that the notion of “celebrity chef” is more about personality than a resume.

Finishing the Meal

It has now been thirty-nine years since this historical notice of an Executive Chef took place.  The United States finally recognized that a chef is a professional person, career, and industry.  As a result, students of all backgrounds have pursued the culinary arts and baking and pastry.  These educated men and women alike have been able to expand on the industry into realms of science, chemistry, farming, and other outlets.  Chefs have become “brands” and apart of our entertainment.  The industry now has their own awards, similar to that of the Grammy’s or Oscars. Chefs have continued their education after completing school or apprenticeship through training for certification and continuing education hours.

If you have not read the other parts to the chef series check them out


The History of Becoming a Chef

The enthusiasm of Being a Chef, Part 1


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