2017 Certified Master Chef® Exam

Ten leading chefs from across the U.S. will take the ultimate culinary challenge to earn the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Certified Master Chef® (CMC®) title, the highest level of certification in the U.S. that a chef can receive. The eight-day exam takes place Sept. 30 to Oct. 7 at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan, and will test candidates’ expertise, skill and creativity across multiple cuisines.

“The CMC candidates are already some of the most accomplished chefs in the country,” said ACF Certification Commission Member John Schopp, CEC, CEPC, CCA. “They are driven to demonstrate their commitment to excellence by attaining the highest professional distinction from ACF. We commend these individuals for pursuing this extraordinary goal and wish them the best during the exam process.”

The 2017 CMC exam candidates are listed below. Click their names for insight into their CMC journey:

  • Arnaud Berthelier, CEC, executive chef, Union Club, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Gerald Ford, CEC, executive sous chef, The Everglades Club, Palm Beach, Florida
  • Joseph Leonardi, CEC, director of culinary operations, The Country Club, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
  • Shawn Loving, CEC, CCA, Culinary Arts department chair, Schoolcraft College, Livonia, Michigan
  • Hari Pulapaka, Ph.D., CEC, executive chef and co-owner, Cress Restaurant, Deland, Florida
  • Tim Recher, CEC, executive chef, Army Navy Country Club, Alexandria, Virginia
  • Seth Shipley, CEC, CCA, The Gasparilla Inn & Club, Boca Grande, Florida
  • Kevin Storm, CEC, CCA, AAC, executive chef, Bellerive Country Club, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Randy Torres, CEC, chef instructor, Oregon Coast Culinary Institute, Coos Bay, Oregon
  • Amanda Zimlich, CEC, culinary director, Cargill, Chicago, Illinois

There are currently 65 ACF CMCs and 10 Certified Master Pastry Chefs® (CMPC®s). To apply for the exam, candidates must be a Certified Executive Chef® or Certified Culinary Educator®, provide two letters of recommendation from current CMCs or CMPCs, and have completed education courses on sanitation and food safety, management, cost management and wine. CMC and CMPC are the culmination of the progressive ACF credentials that enable foodservice professionals to certify their skill, knowledge and professionalism at each stage of their careers.

During the progressive eight-day exam, candidates are tested on healthy cooking, buffet catering, classical cuisine, freestyle cooking, global cuisine, baking and pastry, continental and Northern European cuisines, and “market basket,” a mystery basket of ingredients from which candidates prepare a five-course meal. Each candidate must maintain an average of 75 out of 100 points each day, as scored by a panel of evaluators composed of current CMCs, to be eligible to advance to the next day of the exam. Scores are tallied based on kitchen skills, plate presentation and taste.

“When we challenge ourselves to perform under extreme circumstances, we experience personal and professional growth that transcends our culinary skills,” commented ACF National President Stafford DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC. “CMCs and CMPCs inspire all culinarians to pursue the standard of excellence in their own career paths. I look forward to watching and learning from the 2017 candidates as they display their mastery of the culinary craft.”

The 2017 CMC exam will be held in the VisTaTech Center, Schoolcraft College, 18600 Haggerty Road, Livonia, Michigan. The exam is open to the public Sept. 30 and Oct. 2 to 7 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Follow along with the journey of these talented chefs as they vie for the coveted title of Certified Master Chef. Follow along on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for daily updates.