So, as a few of you may already know, I am a Certified Chef de Cuisine. I earned that certification back in 2007 after gathering a list of work related experience points and just plain busting my ass for years to gather enough experience to become what the American Culinary Federation (ACF) deems as "certified".
If you ask me, it's a money making scam facilitated by a few ornery retired chefs running the food world, but I digress. (personal rant about to start, wait for it, wait for it...GO!!!) See, not only do you have to work upwards of 60-80 hours a week, 12-16 hours a day, endure hours and hours of heat, stress and the scum of the earth, get screamed at by the Gordan Ramsey's of the world, catch a VD once in a while, become an alcoholic (or at least be able to hold your weight in stolen liquor), screw a few bar tenders and waitresses, cut and burn yourself a few hundred times, fall a few hundred times, work countless holidays and weekends away from family and friends, get criticized by your peers and all the other bull shit that comes with the food service industry, then there's yet more!
You do all that, THEN, you have to prove it by getting your old bosses that most likely wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire, to sign a paper stating that they put up with your crap for "X amount" of time, copy all those pieces of worthless paper you spent God knows how much time and money earning (serv-safe, GED, COLLEGE DEGREE!!, etc., etc.), take a written test that is full of trick questions about shit that never happens in a real kitchen, cook a multi course meal with all your heart and soul just to have it picked over, sneered at and ridiculed by people that, if the tables were turned, would make the same food you did (maybe smaller, lol).
After ALL THAT! Yes, THERE'S MORE!!! They make you pay for it! WTF!? Check this out; over $100.00 for the food you need, the gas it takes to drive 4 hours out of town because the town you live in is 20 years behind a proper culinary city (in my truck at 17 MPG, that's a lot of loot, 150 bucks or so), hotel stay (another 100 bucks), about $100.00 to take the ridiculous cooking test and about $100.00 to take the even more ridiculous and unrealistic written test in a closet at a testing center hidden at a regional airport on 15 year old computers next to a guy taking a plumbers exam. Grand total to become a "Certified Chef de Cuisine" or "CCC", about $550.00!!! That's two car payments for most people! We do this to make note of our personal achievements, so people will notice us for our hard work, maybe pay us more, maybe get that "dream job" before the "young and hungry" culinary graduate gets it for a few grand a year less. We do it for the pride of the business, to prove our love for it and to get a sense of achievement. But, most people don't even understand what the "de" means or how to spell quiseen! ;) Most people wonder why we have those three little letters after our names on our chef coats, the often asked "what's CCC mean" rings through kitchens all over the world, surly. (rant complete, thanks for reading!)
But, aside from all that crap they make us go through, all the hours and money we spend getting ready and completing the tests, all the hours and time away from a social life, when you see your name on that fancy piece of paper, when people look forward to eating the food you spent years perfecting, all that crap is WELL worth it. Going for those certifications keeps us focused on the ultimate goal, to be the best chef they ever had and pass it on to others. Kinda funny how that works. We collect, earn, burn and create just to give it all back to the next generation. Full circle stuff at it's finest.
I write all that to tell you this; I'm doing it all AGAIN!! MWAHAHAHAAA!! "CHEF BRADLEY, YOU MUST BE CRAZY!!!", well, perhaps, but this upcoming certification has been in my sights long before my current one. I've wanted those three letters, "CEC" by my name since I saw them on the jacket of the first chef I ever worked for over 15 years ago. The three letters that define a good chef from a great one (in most cases), the ones that stand for "Certified Executive Chef", see, more people KNOW what that means and that feels well worth it in the end. Employers know what that means too and are willing to pay accordingly. And, before you get your panties in a wad, its NOT all about the money, its about making a living and there's more to a living than just a paycheck. But, if I can get more, should I turn it down? HELL NO!!! :)
Here are a few pictures I took of my practice cooking practical earlier this week. The real test is on June 19th. The requirements are listed as well. Enjoy...
- 1 each 10 ounce Salmon filet
- 2 each 1.25 pound live Maine Lobster
- 2 each Whole chickens, 2.5 – 3.5 pounds each (fabricate to your menus specifications during the exam)
- 2 ounces smoked bacon
- 1 pound fresh spinach
- 2 heads Boston lettuce
- 1 piece Belgian endive
- 1 pound Carrots
- 3 each Russet or Yukon potatoes
- 2 each Globe Artichokes
- 2 each Bartlett pears or Granny Smith apples
- 1 pint Grape Tomatoes
The three courses shall include:
- Fish course (including both seafood items): appetizer size
- Salad course (tossed, with extra dressing served on the side): as part of a 3 course meal
- Main course (with two or more accompanying vegetables and starch): approximately 6-7 ounces proteinThe three courses shall include:
4 classical vegetable cuts (i.e. Julienne, Tournee, Brunoise, Alumette, Small dice, Paysanne, and Batonette)
4 different cooking methods must be shown (i.e., fry, broil, sauté, roast, boil, poach, steam or grill)
Appropriate vegetable and starch accompaniment for the main course (may bring in additional ingredients and prepare them for plate accompaniments) prepared and presented during the exam.
An emulsified vinaigrette (ingredients must be brought in)
2 different sauces using different methods (i.e., roux based, reduction, or butter)