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ACF CEC exam?

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
Has anyone here taken this exam before? I'm in the preliminary stages of preparing for it. It doesn't look over-challanging, but I'd be curious what others experience has been, and also with the ACF in general. I just joined, and it seems like a good thing.

Thanks
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post #2 of 32
If you apply before Dec 31st the old rules still apply. Nobody has taken the exam yet, and as far as I know, the subject matter has yet to be finalized.

Kuan
post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info, but I guess I'm not clear. No one here has taken the CEC exam? Is it all written? There don't seem to be any revisions according to the ACF page from what I gather.
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post #4 of 32
Right now you only need education, experience, courses in sanitation, nutrition, and management. A certain number of points are awarded for each category. When you have enough you get your certification.

The new certification requirements include practical testing. The CEC is three hours. You need to prepare a display a three course meal from a mystery basket. Fish, salad, and main course. You also have to include a variety of elements in this meal such as a variety of cuts, sauces, methods of cooking.

In addition to practical testing, you are required to participate in culinary competition. I'm not sure how many or if you need any medals.

I think the new way is better. Sous chef certification requires that you filet a fish. You can't imagine how many sous chefs I know who have never seen a halibut.

Kuan
post #5 of 32
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the clarification. I see that now on the ACF web site. I think it's better too; certainly more challanging.

Anyone who is a CEC, please share your thoughts and relate any details of the written exam.
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post #6 of 32
CEC now requires competition experience?!. If that is true that is a load of BS. Many of us chefs do not have the time or the desire to do competitions. Nor do I feel that participating in competitions is in any way a gauge of a chef's ability. I have seen recent culinary grads do great and "great" chefs fall short in competition. I have, recently, been thinking about getting my certification, but if that means I have to do the competition thing, then forget it. I guess that the ACF prefers to keep its titles among Hotel and Club chefs, because I know very few restaurant chefs that have the time or desire to do competitions. I imagine also that for a competition to be valid, it must be an ACF sanctioned competition. Seems a little self serving to me. When is this country going to wake up and realize that we do need some form of certification program for chefs. A program that adaquately measures a chefs ability on the important aspects of cheffing. Proper food handling techniques, cooking techniques, proper sanitation, proper cost controlling. Most other "crafts" or "artisan" jobs have certification programs. These certifications measure a persons skill and experience, not how many competitions they have entered or won. Sorry about the rant (I haven't ranted in awhile and it was about time), but every time I start to warm up to the ACF, they do something to p*** me off once again.
http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #7 of 32
Thread Starter 
Hey Pete, I totally agree with you....I thought it was a little too simple to get a CEC; and the reason I'm posting here in the first place is to help me decide if it's worth it or not. I'm unemployed right now and I thought it might be a good way to "network" or possibly provide an in if I decide to (gasp!) go corporate. And you're right: I 've never had even time to go to a stupid trade show, let alone compete for the last 14 years.

I was just relating to a friend last night how I KNOW I could do it, but I'm inclined NOT to because, as you know, it really has nothing to do with the business of REAL cooking. I admit to becoming a bit nervous at things like that, which is odd considering it's no problem to push out hundreds of plates under extreme pressure every night. The last time I did that was for a culinary school final exam which consisted of 4 mini-portions of a "suprise" dish. I blew everyone away and received the highest score, but I remember standing there trembling, partly out of rage, as some stodgy judges picked apart my dish and deducted some points on a "technical" issue. Argghh!!!
The friend who steered me to the ACF is a club chef and regularly "competes." The whole thing mystifies me. So like I said, I feel confident I could do it, but why? Is it like going to the Dark Side???

Anyone? I'd love to hear from someone who has been through this.
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post #8 of 32
I've been a CEC for over 15 yrs now and I've even taken the master chefs test(I made to the last day and the mystery basket before falling to bad scores on presentation) The CEC test was rather easy if your know your stuff if not you're in trouble. I'm w/ Pete though, the ACF is a joke. I'd go as far to say that if you had to be a member to be in the field I'd get out. Bitter grapes? Perhaps, but I truely feel that I wasn't awarded my CMC grade because of my age I was 29 at the time and was told to come back in 4 or 5 yrs. If I didn't have the skills I would've been booted in the previous 9 days. the fellow that was awarded his presentation was no better than mine. Anyway, that is the way the cookie crumbles I spent around 10 grand but I had a good time and meet some good people. Most in the industry don't know what CEC stands for or do they care. It was a goal for me, and while some might what to see that certification I think it is solely a personal desision as to weither it is important to you.
Good luck in your quest and your job search. There are many avenues here on the web. check out the postings on here about mid-life career crisis it seems that there were some leads there.
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post #9 of 32
I call them the tall white hat guys.....I've sat in their meetings, seen a recent competition, Played with several of their members.
Mostly they are club/academics type....the reason I started the farmer's market and chef's collaborative at all was because a room full of 50 ACF members sat through a presentation and saw some glorious produce....NOT ONE started buying from the seven farmers there. It took a bunch of indepedant restauranteurs to back me and get local foods into StL.
ACF runs cooking classes using food pantry foods....<this is a great community service!> I run classes using garden or local products......different focus.
There are a handful of chefs in ACF that I would enjoy eating their food....there are plenty more independants I'd like to have cook my meals.
A CMC just did a demo in STL ACF meeting......he said," we all make mistakes, what is different about me is I know how to cover them up" Gotta Love IT.
cooking with all your senses.....
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post #10 of 32
Thread Starter 
fodigger, thank you for such a great and insightful response. Ya know, I belong to a couple of other similar organizations, and I've never really GOTTEN it, and I thought it was just me.

I did kind of make this a goal, and money is not really an issue, I just don't want to start down the wrong path. You say you've been a CEC for over 15 years which would mean that you have to take "refresher" courses. How does that go? To what extent do you participate in ACF functions? I can't believe thay charge $10k for that, especially when it seems so subjective!!! Being from CA myself and having achieved a lot at a young age here on the East Coast, I often felt like I was being "ignored" because I was young and even more 'cause I never played the same game. I always get myself psyched up to go to some black tie dinner/dance thing, then I chicken out; I'm just not a very good schmoozer, but I also feel like I should be reaching out more.

Do you find any redeeming qualities in being a member?

I have checked out some of the mid-life career things here as well, and they are encouraging.


Shroomgirl, thanks for your insight as well. You can't imagine what pleasure it gives me to hear you call them "tall white hats," Hahahahaha.... !And the quote at the end is classic as well. No offense to anyone, but I've heard CIA grads say similar things.
But please, you say you attend meetings, why? What do you get from it?

I reallly really appreciate these answers you two......


Is there anyone else? Is there someone out there who thinks becoming a CEC and belonging to ACF is this GREAT thing??? Anyone with REALLY good experience???

Thanks!
1X
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post #11 of 32
I guess what I should have stated was that I earned the CEC title about 15 yrs ago. I have not been a member of the acf for over 10 yrs now and I don't ever plan to be one again. I think that is a personal desision for every body to make for themselves though.
As for the 10 grand that was total expenses to take the test, Hotel room, food, travel, your commis everything. The actual amount for the test was only a couple of grand.

Tall hat guys. Goodone shroom girl I'll have to remember that one.
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post #12 of 32
I go to meetings but as a guest.....they, like so many do not know where I fit <kinda tough when I make my own rules>. This past year the change of power to more creative leaders with an emphasis on good food has lead me to show up at their dinners and programs. Part of my goal is to get young up and comers introduced and cooking with local products.....the ACF Juniors were at the market selling local Go-Food....it did not pan out for them. Sat. AM is a BEAR for these guys, they also did not have one of the BIG guys really backing it. I got the "I can do it myself"shtick....oh man! So they wanted to make Gazpacho in May, Crab Avacado salad in Mo, etc....they had 5 guys at a booth where 2 max was enough....
So, 2 of their members asked to do FArmer/chef dinner series this summer <check archives for past posts 2000-2001> and I'll continue to reach out to those cooking. PLUS their continuing ed is not half bad.
It really ticks them when I tease them about cooking in the middle of the woods or street with butane for loads of folks.....I never realized how few can cook without their fridges/stoves etc... or feel intimadated showing up and not knowing what will be available to do a cooking demo with<I can give a rough good guess but don't always know produce availability> Rattles a few chains that I didn't go to culinary school, took Early Childhood ED instead and it serves me welllllll.
:p :p :p
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post #13 of 32
Pete,
I can't agree with you more! without some type of professional standardizing and apprenticeship program for our profession we will never get the respect we deserve.
The AFC has positioned themselves away from the public eye. It's become a club (which I am a member, so not bashing so much).
The new CEC and such testing is such a joke! In places where we are viewed as a profession(Europe etc) testing is based on following recipes and having a full understanding of cooking and baking. This reality TV, iron chef, concept of mystry baskets is a joke.
This will be my last year for ACF, forfiting my 5000. life ins. I agree that they have totally eliminated all of us in the private sector trying to make a living because we do not have the compensated time or monies to be active. I'll just stick with CT.
Maybe I'll forward my dues to CT, I get more out of it.
pan

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post #14 of 32
First of all, you don't have to be a member to get a C-anything. There are actually only two written exams I think, or at least that was a few years back. One was for CC and CSC and the other one worked for CCC and CEC. Before that you could get your CEC solely through participation points.

I totally agree with panini. The ACF needs to be more mainstream. My chapter has a decent mix of University chefs, club chefs, restaurant chefs, hotel chefs, and students. Very few have the time to go to the national convention, even fewer have time to participate in competition. I can't remember one of us participating in a competition in the last 5 years.

The financial mismanagement of a few years back was a joke. Their answer to this was to raise dues over the next 5 years. I've seen my dues go from $95 to something like $135 this year.

How the ACF is structured is that your local culinary chapter is its own 503c corporation, which itself is a member of the ACF. Depending on the constitution of your chapter, you could probably join the chapter without joining ACF national.

Kuan
post #15 of 32
I don't think the new testing is a joke. There are things you HAVE to do, like prepare 2 sauces, one for the appetizer and one for the entree. One emulsified vinaigrette for the salad, use at least four classical cuts (okay, maybe THAT'S a joke). I think you also have to prepare at least two mother sauces. It ain't that easy, forget to strain your sauce and you're SOL brother!

Kuan
post #16 of 32
Kuan,
I should not have used the word joke. Mkaing mother sauces and things of that nature is what I'm all about. I'm not sure how you do that out of a mystery box.
I visit many young chefs in restaurants and clubs. I just smile when the young chefs are very proud of the sauces they have just created in the blender on the line. I see no stock pots, a raft is something you use in Colorado etc. I'm jesting sarcastically of course but I see a lot of the basics of cooking going by the wayside and the ACF helping to draw a line in the sand between the generations. I'm thinking the old timers would have difficulty with a mystery box as well as the newbies having trouble with classical recipes. Just my 2 cents. Sometimes I feel so young in my creating but so old in my views.

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post #17 of 32
The mystery box is actually not that much of a mystery. It will be posted on the website a month before the exam schedule. So much for mystery! :D

Kuan
post #18 of 32
I am not so much against their style of testing as I am the fact that they now require some of your points to be earned by the whole competition thing.

By the way, my first bad experience with ACF was in Atlanta about 7 years ago. I called the head of the local chapter wanting some more information about the ACF and the first thing out of this guys mouth was "How soon can you send me your dues?" I told him I was just seeking some information and hadn't made up my mind whether I wanted to join or not. After that he seemed very disinterested and not overly helpful. I have gone on to hear this same type of story from many other people-that ACF often times seem more interested in their dues than anything else. It was at that point that I decided that I would rather not join their "club".
http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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http://www.onceachef.com/ is my personal blog where I share many recipes, my passion for cooking, and all things food.
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post #19 of 32
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the input guys. I can't say that I'm more clear about what I want to do, but at least I feel more informed.

Yesterday, I spoke to a career counselor about this and he just kind of shrugged and said "It all depends on what you want to do...," and then proceded to shred my resume. Actually, he did say belong to a national org. just to belong, then belong to a more local org. that you are active in. Active? I have to be active? Talk with other people???

And here I thought somebody was going to decide all these things for me!

Can anyone else relate ACF experience?

Thanks,
1X
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post #20 of 32
Well, I can claim I've cooked next to Jean-Louis Palladin :D But seriously, our chapter does lots of stuff. We give away $1,000 and $500 scholarships every year. We also do at least two big events a year, one's a brunch and one's dinner. I don't participate anymore because I moved to Minnesota. I'm still in that chapter because all my friends are there. It's quite fun. A way to get away and hang with other chefs. Like a real life cheftalk every month.

Kuan
post #21 of 32

ACF ceritfication

I have been a CEC for the past 5 years. It is something that I am very proud of. I am also in the process of getting my CCE ( Certified Culinary Educator). One of the reasons that ACF certification is important is the fact that you must re-certify every five years. You can not rest on your laurels. You must constantly particpate in continuing education programs, simillar to what several professions, such as medicine do. In Canada, whereI live, once you obtain your Certified Chef de Cuisine status, you have it for life, with no continuing education required.

Like any organization, the ACF does have problems. However, certification is an important function of the ACF, and I welcome the new testing standards.

Enough said, but not a rant on my part!
and just remember.....no matter where you go...there you are!!
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and just remember.....no matter where you go...there you are!!
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post #22 of 32
Thread Starter 
Mirepoix guy,

Thanks for giving another side!!!

I've already decided to go ahead with it anyway, I'm just not in as much of a hurry; more time to prepare and all. So you say it's been 5 years, which would mean you need to re-certify? How will you prepare?

Also, I'm very curious to hear from those who attend ACF meetings, events, competitions etc., strangely, I've never come across anyone who has extensive experience with this kind of thing.

1X
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post #23 of 32
Did you join the national chapter or local? There should be some people in your local chapter who do these things.

Kuan
post #24 of 32

ACF

I belong to a local chapter, although I do have the option of being a "member alt large" since I don't live in the USA. I do get to one or two chapter meetings per year, since it is a 2 hour drive. I enjoy the meetings and have expanded my culinary "network". I have competed on an international level and local level, enjoying both. Every chef should try to compete at least once, not for the medals, but as a test to see how far you can go/push yourself. The local and national conventions are a fun time as well...my fondest memory being about 10 years ago, when over 1000 chefs were given bibs, wooden hammers and crabs for lunch...you can only imagine what it was like.

Hope all of this offers some perspective.

Mirepoix, Mirepoix
Roux, Roux, Roux
Slice 'em up, Dice 'em up
Cook 'em in a stew!
and just remember.....no matter where you go...there you are!!
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post #25 of 32
Very interesting thread! I just joined the ACF after being out of school for almost 7 years and being too busy to attend meetings. I finally thought I'd give it a go...wanted to be in touch with others who share my interest in food. Couldn't believe the membership is $170.00! It has been a personal goal of mine to get my certification, although I don't think it's necessary for my current or future jobs (although, I've always played around with the personal chef idea and being certified might help there). Now with the new testing procedures I'm excited and nervous...need to brush up on my fish filleting but I'm going to work with a co-worker (graduate of JW in Charleston) and we're going to go for it together....at least once....may never renew or rejoin. The competition thing is tough...I don't have time or interest in foo-foo presentations at culinary competitions but will check it out....be some ones go for and see what it's all about. Nothing ventured/nothing gained.
post #26 of 32
I've done Personal cheffing for 7+ years...no potential client wanted to know about any certification.....they want to know what referrences you have, if you can cook, if they can afford you and if you appear honest enough to hand the keys to their house a blank signed check and codes to various alarm systems....
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post #27 of 32
Thread Starter 
Joined the local, and finally did receive some correspondence. They have a web site etc. Looks ok.

My impression, however, is that these are mostly club geezers and have a lot of misdirection as far as what to do with the state of our respective fields in the contemporary world. They want to attract new members, yet refuse to change outdated methods requirements etc. There are virtually no women, extremely few minorities, and I don't think very representitive of the state of culinary arts as they stand today.

So, I'm a little wary of contacting these people 'cause I'm afraid they'll immediately dismiss me, but I will most likely do it anyway. All part of the experience:)
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post #28 of 32
Reason why there's not much diversity is because of that silly sponsorship requirement. If someone likes you, they sponsor you. If they don't, then you don't get into their club.

Kuan
post #29 of 32
Thread Starter 
I thought you didn't need a sponser for ACF??

Now I know for the Chefs de Cusine assoc. (OMG, I just got censored for using the abbreviation ***..:D )I was sponsered by a guy I never see anymore. I think it's basically the same group of guys anyway, which is another thing I don't get.

Regardless, don't you think that kind of environment is shooting themselves in the foot?
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post #30 of 32
I dunno, it's been like 3 years since I saw a membership form. I think I like open membership a little better.

Kuan
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