Be The Change in 2018

The new year is upon us, and now is the perfect time to start setting goals and planning your professional development for 2018! The American Culinary Federation’s 2018 events kick off with ChefConnect: Charlotte in Charlotte, North Carolina, Feb. 25-27, followed by ChefConnect: Newport Beach in California, March 18-20, and conclude with Cook. Craft. Create. ACF National Convention & Show in New Orleans, July 15-19, 2018.

The theme for ACF’s 2018 events is “Be The Change…” Keynote speakers, presenters and chef demonstrations will guide you in the latest culinary techniques and trends, and inspire you to explore ways to #BeTheChange in your kitchen.

Be the ChangeMake 2018 your best year yet professionally! Read on for the list of amazing keynote speakers. Then, visit our website to get the full schedule and register today to reserve your spot.

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The Future is Bright for ACF Apprentices

Brian Duffett is enrolled in a 4,000-hour apprenticeship program through Jefferson StateDSC6588-450x300 Community College’s Hospitality/Culinary Management Department. In June, Duffett competed against 26 competitors in the National SkillsUSA Culinary Competition to earn a gold medal and $50,000 scholarship to Culinary Institute of America.

Duffett shares his apprenticeship experience and his next steps. Share this post on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to help others learn more about the value of culinary apprenticeships.

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Apprenticeships: An Invaluable Career Experience

An apprenticeship that is accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation (ACFEF) offers a combination of on-the-job experience and related classroom instruction. ACFEF apprenticeships have expanded access to hands-on culinary training for emerging professionals since the formal program began in 1979.  Today, there are more than 1,280 registered apprentices in 49 ACFEF programs across the nation.

An apprenticeship offers flexibility in learning and working, with many programs offering wages above the minimum wage and placing students in work settings such as casinos, hotels, country clubs, hospitals, resorts and restaurants. The program provides students the opportunity to work each station to gain a full understanding of the culinary operation.

Upon graduation from an ACFEF-apprenticeship program, apprentices are equipped with the skills to take the Certified Sous Chef exam and enter the workforce prepared for entry-level management positions. Indeed, culinary apprenticeships laid the foundation for many great chefs’ careers, from culinary educators to James Beard Award winning chefs.

Under the supervision and guidance of qualified chefs, an ACFEF apprenticeship is a cost-effective way to put apprentices in direct contact with positive role models in successful, yet demanding work environments.

Joshua Wickham, CEC, CEPC, AAC, a graduate of the Columbus State Community College program, admits that his apprenticeship was one of the harder things he’s done in his life, but was well worth the struggle. “Throughout the program the ACF was behind me to support and inspire. It was the combination of my school, my supervising chef, and most importantly the ACF and its solid program outline and guidance that made me successful.”

Explore the articles below to learn more about ACFEF-accredited apprenticeships or fill out the form to get more information on an ACFEF-apprenticeship program.

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ACF Names Three Certified Master Chefs

After an exciting display of culinary expertise, Gerald Ford, CMC, Joseph Leonardi, CMC, and Shawn Loving, CMC, were named to the prestigious group of culinarians known as Certified Master Chefs® (CMCs®) by the American Culinary Federation (ACF). The ACF Certified Master Chef designation is the highest level of professional certification that a chef can receive in the United States. The 2017 exam took place Sept. 30-Oct. 7 at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan.

CMCs with Stafford

“The American Culinary Federation is proud to honor our 2017 class of Certified Master Chefs,” said ACF National President Stafford DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC. “The skill, creativity and discipline called for by the exam are considerable, and the experience gained is invaluable to the chefs themselves and to the culinarians they mentor. We are inspired by their commitment to the culinary arts and congratulate them on an extraordinary achievement.”

The newly certified chefs traveled from across the U.S. to test their culinary mettle.

Gerald Ford, CMC, winner of the Les Amis d’Escoffier competition in 2010 and former executive chef of Château Robert in Montgaillard, France, is executive sous chef at The Everglades Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

“The ACF Certified Master Chef exam was by far the single hardest, most intensely demanding thing I have ever done. Regardless of how much preparation I put in prior to the exam, every day I cooked I became a better chef. The entire process will forever impact my career and the way I learn. I encourage the future leaders of the industry to embrace the process and put in the work. Take the test.”

Joseph Leonardi, CMC, captain of the silver medal-winning 2012 ACF Culinary Team USA and 2009 U.S.A.’s Chef of the Year, is director of culinary operations at The Country Club in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

“A lot of time, dedication and sacrifice went into the CMC exam and it all paid off. I’m delighted that I proved to myself that I’m able to do it. I had to be sure I was prepared mentally and needed to believe in myself. I felt confident in my skills and ability because chefs train every day. At the end of the day, it’s just cooking at the highest level.”

Shawn Loving, CMC, is culinary arts department chair at Schoolcraft College. A seasoned culinary competitor, he also served as executive chef for the U.S. men’s and women’s Olympic basketball teams in Beijing and Rio de Janeiro.

“For me, the CMC exam was primarily a test of perseverance by staying connected with my inner self to combat self-doubt. Ultimately, my goal was to give my all to make every meal as if it was my last opportunity to present to the jury. The CMC certification means that I have a responsibility to continue on my quest to be a forever student and culinary professional. My desire to effect the future generations in the most positive and impactful way will guide my future.”

The path to the CMC title requires immense dedication to the craft of cooking and calls upon the candidates to demonstrate their abilities across a broad range of styles and techniques. During the progressive, eight-day practical exam, chefs 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 they must prepare a five-course meal.

Chefs are evaluated and assessed by current CMCs and earn points based on kitchen skills, presentation and taste, as well as on the leadership they demonstrate in working with a student apprentice each day. Candidates are required to maintain a 75-point average in order to continue.

Chefs Ford, Leonardi and Loving received their certifications after successfully completing nearly 90 hours of culinary demonstration throughout exam. With the addition of these chefs, there are now 68 current CMCs in the United States.

“The ACF Certified Master Chef designation is a journey of culinary excellence,” said Ron DeSantis, CMC, AAC, MBA, and CMC exam evaluator. “Regardless of the outcome of the exam, each chef becomes a better and stronger culinarian. Having been part of the ACF CMC exam for more than 25 years, I am proud that the chefs of our nation have the outstanding craftsmanship required of this level of certification.”

CMC and CMPC are the culmination of the progressive ACF credentials that enable foodservice professionals to certify their skill, knowledge and expertise at each stage of their careers.

CMCExam Graphic


More information on the 2017 exam and the new Certified Master Chefs can be found at For day-by-day photos of the exam, visit ACF’s Flickr page.

For video highlights, visit the ACF CMC TV page on our website. To see the live stream from day eight of the competition, visit the ACF YouTube page.

American Culinary Federation Announces 2017 Certified Master Chef Exam

For the first time since 2014, some of most seasoned and skilled chefs from around the CSC_0784U.S. will gather at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan to take the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Certified Master Chef© (CMC®) exam. The ultimate test of culinary skill, knowledge and creativity, the exam will take place September 30 through October 7 and will showcase the talents of 12 culinarians seeking the title of CMC, the highest level of certification in the U.S. that a chef can receive.

The ACF Certified Master Chef designation currently belongs to just 65 CMCs and 10 Certified Master Pastry Chefs© (CMPC®s). To apply for the exam, candidates must already 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.

“Simply to reach the point of sitting for the Certified Master Chef exam requires enormous commitment,” said ACF National President Thomas Macrina, CEC, CCA, AAC. “The test provides chefs the opportunity to prove they are the best of the best by demonstrating their technical skills and passion for the culinary arts. The title is as highly coveted as it is difficult to achieve and I wish each candidate the best in accomplishing this extraordinary goal.”

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 to 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.

“The chefs who choose to pursue the Certified Master Chef designation are some of the most accomplished in the country, and their commitment to the craft serves as an inspiration for others,” said Brian Beland, CMC, instructor at Schoolcraft College, host site administrator for the 2017 exam, and Executive Chef at Country Club of Detroit.

Cook. Craft. Create. ACF National Convention and Show, Orlando, July 9-13

“The CMC journey begins with dedication to the craft of cooking. The reward is the educational experience and growth one gains along the way. The CMC pathway is only the beginning of a lifelong commitment to professional mentorship. It is an honor to be a member of the host site team at Schoolcraft College and for us to have the opportunity to give back to the industry by hosting the 2017 CMC exam.”

Schoolcraft College boasts a culinary arts program with a national reputation for quality, creativity and culinary excellence, as well as a strong faculty that includes two CMCs (Jeffrey Gabriel, CMC, and Brian Beland, CMC) and one CMPC (Joseph Decker, CMPC). The Livonia campus is home to one of the most advanced teaching kitchens in the country, which will be put to the test by this year’s CMC candidates.


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. ACF is committed to supporting the advancement of cooks, chefs and the industry at large through continuing education opportunities that include certification, apprenticeships and programmatic accreditation.

The 2017 CMC candidates will be announced in June.

For more information about ACF Certification, visit