I'll try to answer all those questions. In general however it looks like you have some of the other organizations policies mixed up with ours. I know it can be confusing and I can only speak to how the APCA works.
1. The training is primarily business training -- we don't teach people how to cook. We do talk about freezing issues, packaging strategies, organizational skills, equipment recommendations and the like but no cooking per se. The training includes information on marketing, advertising, pricing, promotional materials, bookkeeping, types of businesses, insurance, legal issues, and day-to-day operational tips.
2. The APCA offers several levels of membership. Basically if you don't think you need any help but just want the benefits of membership you can join for $200. For that you get access to our forums, a link on our website so potential clients can find you, an -mail address if you want it etc. The website link is worth the $200 all by itself -- cook for one client that finds you that way once and it's paid for, ya know? Basic membership is $650 which also gets you the training materials, a day-in-the-life video, and a huge recipe collection. The most you can spend to join the APCA is $950. You get everything above but also get to attend a 2-day seminar with someone like me who will teach you everything you need to know to get your business off the ground.
3. APCA members all have their OWN insurance policies but we do get group rates. I've heard that the other organization provides insurance as part of their dues but I think that is a group policy (e.g., if one person uses up the benefits the rest are out of luck). I don't know if that's true or not but you would definitely want to make sure about that. The average APCA chef spends about $500/year on liability insurance.
4. Fresh service is definitely becoming the trend.
5. All inclusive versus fee-plus costing is a huge debate and our members are equally divided on the issue. It's really a personal decision and the details are just to involved to get into here. There is no right or wrong answer. The training materials cover this subject in great detail.
6. The APCA has just signed an agreement with the ACF regarding certification. The program will be rolled out early next year. We are working together on the criteria as we speak. The other organization "self-certifies" it's members. We prefered to go to the ACF because we feel a third party certification is more legit. Again, a personal decision on your part regarding how you feel about that.
7. Regarding mileage. Most chefs have a surcharge for clients located far from their home base. For example, I charge an extra $25 per cookdate for anyone more that an hour away. Other people do it differently. Whatever works for you.
Hope this helps!