or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Chefs › Need advice on Red seal exam
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Need advice on Red seal exam

post #1 of 62
Thread Starter 
Alright so I recently finished my 6000 hours for my apprenticeship back in august and i booked my red seal exam straight away.

I took the test a few days ago and i failed by 1 mark.... 1% Personally i found the test very obscure and vague.

A few examples below

What is the proper brewing temperature of coffee? According to professional cooking 5th edition it is 90-93C. This temperature range was not on the exam at all as one of the choices.

How long should a whole chicken be rested after roasting and coming out of the oven? I may be wrong but doesn't the size of the product partially determine the time needed for resting?

What is the proper procedure to skin an eel? I was unable to find any kind of a procedure for skinning an eel in my college book or online. Maybe it's because I've only worked at three different restaurants during the course of my apprenticeships but that question seems very tricky.

Is it possible to appeal the results of the exam? I really don't want to pay another 100 dollars to get the 1% needed to pass.

If i do have to take the test again can anyone link me to a sample example or questionnaire. It seems the book isn't a broad enough knowledge base for this exam.
post #2 of 62
Ahhhhh, so you've experienced the "Red Schpeil" first hand, eh?

Pay the $100, and do it over. Don't bother complaining, it's just a Gov't board the gives tests like that to plumbers, electricians, and other trades. Probably your local Chef's ***'n that writes most of the questions. But the Gov't body insists on writing/designing the actual test, and as such has total control over all of the questions, albeit many of them stoopid.

Imagine, you've sweated 3 years for your apprenticeship, and the only test that counts one comprised of 200-odd multiple choice kweshtuns. Kinda like trying out for the Canucks or the Leafs, you show up with a hockey bag full of gear, and instead are asked to write a test.....

The Red Schpeil varies from Province to Province, in BC it's 8100 hours and you get a free re-write with your $100. Alberta is the ONLY province that actually requires some kind a practical cooking exam along with the written. Ontary-ario was made famous a while back by the two chicks from "Wendy's".

Thus, many employers are wary of the "Red Schpeil" as there are no standards within Canada. Most Chefs laugh when they see it on a resume, but many HR people and noobie employers get all white knuckled and heavy ragged breathing when they see it.


Most of the European Chef's are influenced by Pauli's "Classical cooking the modern way". In there you will find out how to skin an eel (make an incision around the heck, nail it's head up on a wall, and pull the skin off with pliars. No B.S. here either, check it yourself) Me, I'm a Saskatcahewan boy, never skinned an eel either.

Re-write the test, pay if you have to. Anyone who asks for this credential in the future should be viewed with contempt and suspicion, any one who laughs at it should be recognized as a professional who believes you should be tested on how well you can actually cook, move around in the kitchen, get along with employees, and organize.

Hope this helps
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #3 of 62
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice.

I know the Red Seal is not a good indicator of the quality cook or chef that you are.

I've just noticed a lot of places like retirement communities and prisons that REQUIRE it before they even look at you for a job.

It turns out that those jobs are the better paying jobs in the industry. Not that i want to pedal prison slop for the rest of my life but at this stage of my life where I'm saving for a car and house i really need to make some good coin. If this red seal helps me do that then all the power to it.

I've gotten in contact with my Chef professor from college and hopefully he has some advice for me.
post #4 of 62
Hear Hear!!! Two cheers for foodpump!!!


As a fairly recent grad of good old st. clair college in ontario , I agree 100% with foodpump. The only red seal chef's i have yet to meet that were worth a **** were the instructors at school. The first red seal chef i worked under couldn't even fillet a fish or 8-cut a chicken properly. I've learned most of what i've learned through trial and error and what the non-red seal chefs have taught me.

This seems to be the same as all the other red seal professions. The guys with no credentials know everything the know-it-alls with the red seal know how to pass a test.

But yeah it sucks that the gov'mt jobs and hotels etc require it a lot of the time.

Advice that i gotten from friends and chefs about the test was to make sure you understand the concepts and how stuff works. The questions can then be answered using mostly common sense. And of course pick the answer closest to what the book says.

Bite the bullet and pay the $100 and do better next time.

Good luck.
post #5 of 62
Well said foodpump and ryan!! I have met a couple of red seals who honestly didn't know their stuff at all and I've known more than them. It's funny.. I think the certification has went to their heads!
OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
Reply
OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
Reply
post #6 of 62
My experience is if you pettle "prison slop," the inmates will turn you into slop.

I don't know about Canada, but here in California, prison jobs offer chefs and cooks a good way to earn a very good wage and steady income, benefits, etc. It certainly helps you pay for a car and house, especialy with overtime.

From a retired prison food manager,

Steven
post #7 of 62
I have failed twice both by 1% each time, and apparently switched a bunch of answers around cause the breakdown was different everywhere, I am writing it for the third time, and also would appreciate if someone knows where i can get a practice exam.

there was one sauce on the test that I had never heard of, and I looked up in my book couldnt find it... it wasnt a base sauce, or a small sauce off the base sauces, it was rediculous.
post #8 of 62
Hang on a sec,...

Are you telling me that you didn't pass because you only got 99% instead of the required 100% of all questions correct?

BTW, what was the name of the sauce?
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #9 of 62
That's the proper way, if you're ever asked, to skin a catfish also.
Dammi un coltello affilato e vi mostrerò l'arte più belle del mondo.
Reply
Dammi un coltello affilato e vi mostrerò l'arte più belle del mondo.
Reply
post #10 of 62
you need 70% to pass, I got 69% both times, I cant remember the sauce to be honest, thats how obscure it is, although my old chef told me that there is a sauce to watch for on the test, I cant remember what he called it, but it involves crayfish shells, and I think that might be the one.

This could be an interesting rewrite, after I had my daughter I have had no memory left, I hate that this piece of paper matters so much to some when really, I could be really book smart, but have no concept of food, and experimentation, Where as I am the opposite, I wont remember everything that is in the "professional chef" book, but give me a few ingredients, tell me what scale you want the food at (homecooked, gourmet, or inbetween) and I can make a great dish, from deliscious to artistic.
post #11 of 62
Sauce Nantua?
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #12 of 62
So, you "missed" 31 out of 100 (62 out of 200)?
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
post #13 of 62
Thread Starter 
In Ontario you need 105/150 to pass or 70%. My score was 104/150 or 69%.

My chef professor from college is sending me a mock test. I'll send it to you if i can.
post #14 of 62
So, if I understand correctly, you "missed" 36 answers, is that correct??

Not having seen a "Red Seal test", I presume it is multple choice with, say, four (4) choices? Knowing a little bit about creating such tests, two of the answers are obviously incorrect/wrong, one is a "distractor", i.e. might appear correct if one doesn't understand the subject, and one is correct. Common sense points to the fact that, if you had "guessed" at the 36 questions you missed, you would have gotten somewhere around 18 of them correct and you would have passed.

For example, if the sauce question WAS Sauce Nantua, which is a classic, Nantua sauce - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia , my guess is the possible answers had clues to which was correct.

My advice? Rely on your "knowledge" of the fundamentals to figure out the correct answer(s), don't try to "memorize" either the possible questions or the answers.

I'll venture that there are three groups of questions on the test:
  • Those that the answer is obvious to you
  • Those that you "think " you know but are not sure about, and
  • Those you do not have a clue about
Go through the test and answer the first group, those that are obvious.

Go back and start over with the second group, ignoring those that fall in the third group, and use your skills to eliminate the wrong answers and help you pick the right answers.

Now go back to the ones you have no clue about and see if you can "guess" based on your knowledge.

On average, youu probably "know" the answers to 75-85 of the questions, have a good "guess" at 50-60 questions, and don't have a clue about 15 questions, so, if you answer the ones you know and half of the ones you "think" you know correctly, you'll score 105 without any problem.

Good luck on the re-test!
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Reply
post #15 of 62
I dont recall if it was nantua that was on the test, I do remember that one of the options for the multiple choice was pickles, but thats all I remember,

Like i said before, I am a great chef, I am just horrible at multiple choice questions because I second guess myself all the time, I think something is right, but under pressure I tend to lose sight of what I need, and pick something else.

Thank you for your advice on the test, I appreciate it, I still don't understand why 75% of the test isn't practical. I know lots of people that passed the test in my class, and I would stay away from the restaurants they cooked in because I know that they dont follow health and safety rules, or just that their food is horrible.

Good luck everyone who is writing the test... I may have to postpone my test date, working 6 days a week, taking care of a hurt/now sick husband, and my 1 year old daughter, I really havent had the time to look over my notes, and text... I will let you know if I passed though.
post #16 of 62

Hi chef I am going to take test so I am so worried about tricky questions so if you dont mind can I have sample multiple questions in my email peter_chef2007@yahoo.com ?

may thanks

prakash

 

post #17 of 62

One can read this thread and get the impression that all of us with Red Seal certification are know-nothing dimwits who happen to excel at taking exams. I aced the test on my first try, having never set foot in any sort of culinary school, but having operated a restaurant, worked with several high end catering companies, and risen from an assistant cook to a food service manager in an institutional setting, where I earned a hefty salary.

 

While doing all this, I read everything that I could get my hands on in terms of cookbooks, cooking texts, and food writing. (I still do this.) I did this not to pass the test, but because I love the industry, and I love to read about food and cooking, as well as the history and anthropology of food and cooking.

 

Having said that, I respect anyone who has a good depth of knowledge in any discipline, cooking included. I don't mock those who are certified, however.....any more than I would disparage those without certification.

 

If you think the test is bad....if you don't respect it...don't take it. Carry on with your career without certification. Many successful cooks and chefs have done so.

"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

Reply

"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

Reply
post #18 of 62

What is the red seal exam? I am new member of chef talk. Thanks.

post #19 of 62

Nice post SherBel. I particularly like this part: 

 

 

Quote:

... I respect anyone who has a good depth of knowledge in any discipline, cooking included. I don't mock those who are certified, however.....any more than I would disparage those without certification.

If you think the test is bad....if you don't respect it...don't take it. Carry on with your career without certification. Many successful cooks and chefs have done so.

 

On another point, some people are so concerned with their resumes that they trust too much in word processing programs. Sometimes, believe it or not, those programs make mistakes too. As an example, I am aware of two(2) professional websites that have very bad "spell check" programs (Yahoo, AOL), but that's for another time. LOL. 

 

 

As for your question Chris ...

 

In Canada there is an Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program which, through the passing of a government provided exam, qualifies the individual as a tradesperson. Once an individual passes this Red Seal Cook Exam they are given the highest government recognised designation of Red Seal Cook. "Red Seal" is a Canadian thing. There are all kinds of certifications; bricklayers, carpenters, mechanics, electricians and others I'm sure. 

 

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

Reply

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

Reply
post #20 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by SherBel View Post

.

Having said that, I respect anyone who has a good depth of knowledge in any discipline, cooking included. I don't mock those who are certified, however.....any more than I would disparage those without certification.

 

If you think the test is bad....if you don't respect it...don't take it. Carry on with your career without certification. Many successful cooks and chefs have done so.



Used to think that way--until 2009.  Things changed.  For one, the Red seal was changed to include an actual cooking segment , not just the 200-odd multiple choice kweshtuns--which, until then, the only other province to do so was Alberta.

 

ITA designs and supervises the tests, and as Iceman says, they do teh test for many other trades..  ITA canvasses support from the respective trades to see what they want on their test, and if they want a practical component or not.  Many trades take this very seriously, and base salary ranges on these qualifications.  The Unions in the Hospitality trade have in the past, ot given a rodents posterior about anything , and after 2009 only one Union has, taken an active interst in the Red Seal qualification.  It is with this qualification that salary ranges are based

 

Go2 is a provincial gov't body that oversees of the hospitality industry  training and are responsible for the changes.  They now have in place a new cook's designation, or rather a series of them.  It starts off with Cook I which has, I think 6 mths of schooling, a test, and then out in the work force.  After a certian amount of hours of steady employment, Cook II can be taken, again with a schooling component, and more working in the indsutry.  After that, it's Cook III and the big final exam--with a practical, hands on component-- is the Red Seal.  This situation finally acknowleges that hands on work experience is just as important as the education component.   Most of the Culinary schools are designing curriculum to meet with this new standard.  Go2 is now doing the same for th  baking Industry.  The big goal is in 20 years or so, to do away with "challanging" the Red Seal, and have every one do a certain amount of schooling and a certain amounto of hands on cooking before writing the exam.

 

If you study most other trades, they base their salary ranges on qualifications, and if you know the hosptitality industry, wages are crapola for cooks, bakers, etc..  Qualifications are the best way to move the industry forward and attract and retain staff.

 

But a cook with a red seal prior to 2009?  I don't want to go there. 

 

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #21 of 62
Quote:

 

But a cook with a red seal prior to 2009?  I don't want to go there. 

 

 I achieved my Red Seal in Ontario, after cooking professionally for more than 15 years. I'd have been delighted to take a practical cooking exam if one had been offered; but I'm still getting a whiff of denigration in the above sentence....."prior to 2009" you "don't want to go there", what do you mean?

 

(I saw nothing about a practical cooking exam on the Go2 website, but I was distracted by all of the advertising for A&W, I think.)

 

eta:  Okay, I found some information on the Go2 website. It appears as though one can still challenge without a practical, if one has sufficient industry experience:

 

http://go2hr.ca/ApprenticeshipbrTraining/CookProgram/BecomingaRedSealCookFourPathsOneResult/tabid/1594/Default.aspx

 

Challenge Option – For Those with Industry Experience

There is another option to obtain Red Seal certification if you’ve spent years working in the industry and have never completed any formal training. You must first provide evidence that through your workplace experience you have acquired knowledge covering the scope of the trade and have completed the requisite number of hours, and then you will be eligible to challenge any of the credentials. Depending on your amount of experience, you may challenge Professional Cook 1 or 2 certifications individually and continue with one of the education streams, or challenge the Red Seal directly. Upon successful completion of your Inter Provincial Red Seal exam you will be granted both Professional Cook 3 certification and your Red Seal.

 


 

 

"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

Reply

"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

Reply
post #22 of 62

Well, if you did your Red Seal in Ont.. then you must of heard of the "Wendy's girls"  two Wendy's employees who challanged--and got-- the Red Seal, right?

 

The cooking component of the Red Seal is part of the Red seal in B.C., and I have personally helped two  "challangers" who failed the first time on the practical because their baking skills needed work--alot of work.  They passed the second time around.

 

I came to B.C . in '96 and since then have had the opportunity to work with about a dozen or so "Red Seal" cooks--all of them "challangers".  While their work was great, alot of their knowledge was weak, and more importantly, they could't care less. 

 

I found:

 

-Most of them could't tell me the difference between "poaching" and  "simmering",

- "                                                                       " a Pate en croute, a Terrine, and a Gallantine,

-"                           " assemble a normal Hobart Meat grinder    

-"                  " could make a good Hollandaise, but not cold emulsions, or a hot sabayon

-"                    " did not know how to "baste" an egg

-"                    " confuse making an omelette with a fritttata, or made one on the flat top.

 

Other stuff like:

-That fresh figs, kiwis, and papayas put into a gelatine will not set, they all contain an enzme that kills the gelatine

-Commercial fridges and freezers have usually 3 defrost times per day, usually every 8 hrs.

-Can tell me today's weather forcast with highs and lows in celcius, but can not tell me the critical temps for many things in Celcous or even F.

 

and on and on and on.

 

Most of these guys were good cooks, moved well, and got along with everyone, but they figured once  they had their "Red Seal" that was it, the learning stopped.

 

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #23 of 62

I heard of those "Wendy's girls" and they used their hours on the floor to help them qualify for the test.  I'm not sure though what the piece of paper will do for them though as if their only experience is at a fast food place they are in for a real struggle in a scratch kitchen.

 

So.. does this mean that anyone who works at a Timmies or a McBarf can apply for the seal and if they pass the test get it???

 

OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
Reply
OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
Reply
post #24 of 62

I suppose that I would characterize the "Wendy's girls" fable as an urban myth, a typically misogynistic urban myth, unfortunately. (Note: no Wendy's "guys". Righto!)

I find the implied assertion that one could obtain the Red Seal certification after working in a fast food restaurant both insulting and highly amusing; one would have to question why so many culinary school graduates fail the test. In my case, I needed rather extensive documentation as to my knowledge and experience, and I was backed up by years of studying and ongoing practical learning.

As for the stated changes to a Federally regulated test in BC, where you claim that there is a required practical cooking component, I wonder if you could address this?

 

http://go2hr.ca/ApprenticeshipbrTraining/CookProgram/BecomingaRedSealCookFourPathsOneResult/tabid/1594/Default.aspx

 

Challenge Option – For Those with Industry Experience

There is another option to obtain Red Seal certification if you’ve spent years working in the industry and have never completed any formal training. You must first provide evidence that through your workplace experience you have acquired knowledge covering the scope of the trade and have completed the requisite number of hours, and then you will be eligible to challenge any of the credentials. Depending on your amount of experience, you may challenge Professional Cook 1 or 2 certifications individually and continue with one of the education streams, or challenge the Red Seal directly. Upon successful completion of your Inter Provincial Red Seal exam you will be granted both Professional Cook 3 certification and your Red Seal.

 

I've never been arrogant enough to think that I "know it all"; but the level of antipathy seen in this thread is eerily fascinating. It's vividly evident to me that I've been fortunate indeed to work in highly professional kitchens where I wasn't routinely insulted for having achieved my Red Seal certification, but rather where my skills, knowledge, experience, and desire to continue learning were highly valued.

 

 

"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

Reply

"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

Reply
post #25 of 62

Congrats, Sherbel, you can't follow links, can you?

 

Follow the links on Go2 about chlanging the exam  and you will be directed to ITA's site, which administers the test.

 

Here it is:

www.itabc.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=2162

 

There, in all of it's glory,will you find the testing requirements  for PC3 .(Red Seal) 

 

They are:

 

Written assesment

Competency conversation

Practical Assesment

 

And it goes on to describe the practical,which can not exceed 6 hrs, and includes a 5 couse meal with one yeast product, and goes on to clarify what protiens are to be used, what equipment you can and can not bring., etc. etc.

 

Clear?  If not follow the links yourself.

 

The "Wendys Girls"? Yup, it happened, no urban myth.  It was in the late '90's in Ontario, made it some of trade papersand journals here.

 

Antipathy?  For a test that prior to 2009 was comprised of a bunch of multiple choice questions?  No... bitter hatred.  But since 2009 I'm all for it, happy with the changes, happy with the results--hence my patient explanations and positive outlook to others on this thread.

 

Welcome to Cheftalk..

 

 

 

Ti

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #26 of 62

Why, thank you for the welcome, although frankly, you are making me feel the opposite of welcome.

 

I'll direct you to this link, and please pay attention to page 4.

 

http://www.itabc.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=1854

 

I'm getting the impression that the ITA testing is available in BC. I'm not seeing where it is required to obtain a Red Seal certification for Cooking, as per page 4 of the link provided.

 

I haven't insulted you. Please do me the courtesy of not insulting me.

"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

Reply

"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

Reply
post #27 of 62

ITA provides the certification for ALL acknowledged trades in Canada.  Apprentice or challanger, you still have to apply for, and write the test before you get the certification. 

 

We can talk off line if you like..

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #28 of 62

Sure, feel free to PM me.

"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

Reply

"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

Reply
post #29 of 62

Check your inbox

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
post #30 of 62

hey chef......i am planning to write the exam soon,,,,,,can u send me a copy of the paper to chefkakkat@gmail.com?

is the name of the sauce "newburg" ??

thanks 

rop

 

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Professional Chefs
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Chefs › Need advice on Red seal exam