Sunday, October 4, 2015

Certified Executive Chef Practical Exam

Certification at the level of Executive Chef through the American Culinary Federation has been a career long goal and desire ever since I first learned about this designation. Starting in 1995 I held certification at the level of Certified Sous Chef until the year 2000. In 2000 I was certified as a Certified Chef de Cuisine. These 2 certifications were different in the respect that there was no practical exam associated with these, only written tests and documentation of work experience and education. The criteria for these designations were more stringent. For instance you had to have 2 years of documented experience at the level of Sous Chef before you were eligible to sit for the written exam. For CEC you had to have 10 years of documented work experience at that level.  The practical exam adds another aspect to the process. You are judged according to a set of criteria that your peers have approved. You are required to demonstrate specific basic competencies at each level. There are many chef's in the world that do not hold certification and are chef's nonetheless. However understanding the fact that it used to be mandatory for chef's to do many years of apprenticeship under the tutelage of a chef and that the chef had complete control over the apprentice and their success or failure, long hours and complete dedication to their craft were the norm. Gives the apprenticeship programs and the certifications available through the American Culinary Federation, special significance.  In the culinary world today, culinary schools abound. The chef  now has rock star status, as least that's what the media would have us believe. Two years at a culinary school with minimal kitchen experience and people think they are ready to be chefs. Well there is something to be said for experience. After 6 years in the kitchen and 3 years of culinary school. I knew just enough to screw things up. It took me many years to gain the knowledge and experience the would back up the level confidence I had in my abilities. I am grateful for the proliferation of exposure that chef's receive these days. I can say though that the experience and camaraderie shared between chefs that have gone through the certification experience is a special bond. I would not trade that experience for anything. 

ACF CEC Practical Exam Menu

Market Basket Items:
1 each 10 oz Salmon Filet
2 each 1.25 lb Live Maine Lobster
2 each Whole Chickens – 2.5 – 3.5 lbs each, fabricate for menu on site
2 oz Smoked bacon
1 lb Fresh Spinach
2 heads Boston Bibb Lettuce
1 piece Belgian Endive
1 lb Whole Carrots
3 Each Russet or Yukon Potatoes
2 each Globe Artichokes
2 each Bartlett Pears or Granny Smith Apples
1 Pint Grape Tomatoes

4 portions of each of the following 3 courses will be prepared and plated.
All ingredients should be utilized at least once.

First Course: Fish Course - Include both seafood items, presented as an appetizer

Second Course: Salad Course – Tossed with extra dressing on the side, as part of a 3 course meal.

Third Course: Main Course – 2 or more accompanying vegetables and starch, 6 – 7 oz of protein per dish.

The meal must include the following:
* 4 Classical Cuts – Julienne, Tournee, Brunoise, Alumette, Small Dice, Paysanne, or Batonette

*4 Different Cooking Methods – Fry, Broil, Sauté, Roast, Boil, Poach, Steam, and/or Grill
* Appropriate Vegetable and Starch Accompaniments: Additional Ingredients may be brought in - must be prepared on site during exam.
 * Emulsified Vinaigrette for salad – prepared on site during exam – ingredients must be brought in.
* 2 Different Sauces – Using different methods: Roux Based, Reduction or Butter
*Sanitation Bucket with Fresh Sanitizer on station – check Chemical level
* Use proper Storage
* Bring all needed utensils, cutting boards, knives, utensils, bowls etc.
* May bring any additional supporting ingredients needed for execution.

Menu for Certified Executive Chef Practical Exam

Fish Course:
Steamed Lobster Tail and Claw, Seared and Roasted Salmon served with a Lemon Beurre Blanc and a Chiffonade Grilled Belgian Endive with Brunoise Red Bell Peppers

Salad Course:
Spinach & Boston Bibb lettuce with Small Dice Granny Smith Apples, Julienne Carrots, Rendered Bacon and Grape Tomatoes tossed with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Third Course:
Grilled Breast of Chicken with a Chicken Veloute served with Mashed Potatoes and a Sauté of Large Dice Carrots and Artichokes

Order of Preparation for CEC Practical Exam

Arrive 7am Store & Organize Ingredients
- Set Up Station - Organize all utensils needed for use – 5 Cutting boards,  2Whisks, 2 Spoons, Mixing Bowls, China, Tongs

- Need 8 - 1/9th Pans for Red Pepper, Apples, Carrots x2, Vinaigrette, and Diced Potatoes

- Place 4 App Plates and 4 Entrée Plates in Warmer, 4 Salad Plates in Cooler

- Set up Sanitizer – Test Strength

- Set up Dry Waste, Wet Waste, Receptacle

First Stage – 9am
* Steam Lobsters for 9 minutes – Shock & Cool

**Wash Chickens and Pat Dry – Place in 200 Pans

* Set up Cutting Board

* De – bone Chickens 
*Separate usable Leg Quarters, Wings, and Tenderloins of chicken – Bag & Tag for later use – Date Sticker

*Prep, Bag & Tag Breast – Store for later use – Date Sticker

* Clean Lobsters Skewer Tails (any wet waste goes into wet waste receptacle) – Remove all usable meat, bag & tag shells and other meat for later use.

*Heat Stock – Reduce to concentrate flavor

Second Stage – 9:45am
* Chop Shallots – 4, Chop Garlic – 2oz  

*Chop Basil

*Rough Chop Parsley and Rinse

* Brunoise Red Pepper for Appetizer Garnish (1/8 x 1/8 x 1/8) – Place in Labeled Pan

*Prep Julienne Carrots (1/8 x 1/8 x 2 ½) - Place in Labeled Pan

*Prep Large Dice Carrots (3/4 x 3/4 x 3/4) and Small Dice Granny Smith Apples (¼ x ¼ x ¼) – Place in Labeled, Bag Useable Product

* Tear Washed, Shocked and Drained Boston Bibb into bite size edible pieces – Add Spinach

* Bag and Tag all salad ingredients & leftover ingredients for later use – Date Stickers

* Make Balsamic Vinaigrette (Need Recipe) – Date Sticker

*Peel and Rough Chop Potatoes – Place on Stove to boil – Cook 20 Minutes

* Prep Artichokes Steam 4 Minutes and Shock in Ice Water, Save Artichoke Leaves - Date Stickers

* Steam Carrots – and Shock in Cold Water

Third Stage – 10:45 am
* Make Lemon Beurre Blanc - Use Lobster Shells & Tamale – Store in Hot Box– Date Sticker

* Chop & Render Bacon - Bag leftover for later use – Date Stickers

* Make Blonde Roux – Save Remainder – Date Sticker

* Prep Salmon Pieces – 4 – Bag, Tag & Store Useable product and any usable scraps for later use – Date Stickers

* Make Mash Potatoes – Use Mixer - Need Plastic Bag – Store in Hot Box

* Make Chicken Veloute – Combine Stock correctly in a bowl and add liaison – Seafood Seasoning, Salt, Parsley and Basil

Fourth Stage – 11:30am

* Season and Grill Chicken – Finish in Oven – Hold in Hot box

* Clean, Grill (Seasoned with Olive Oil S&P) and Chiffonade Belgian Endive – Toss with Salt & Pepper, Olive Oil and Parsley

* Finish Lobster

* Season, Sear and Roast Salmon Pieces while Chicken is on Grill

*** 15 Minute Service Window***
* Plate Appetizer on Hot Plate – Grilled Endive Salad, Salmon, Lobster Tail and Claw, Drizzle with Lemon Butter and garnish with Brunoise Red bell Pepper

* Plate Salad on Cold Plate – Toss with Vinaigrette, Small Dice Apples, Julienne Carrots, Bacon, and Grape Tomatoes – Serve a side of Dressing for each salad

* Plate Entrée on Hot Plate – Piped Mashed Potatoes, Sliced Breast of Chicken nap with Veloute’, Sauté and Carrots and Artichoke in Bacon Fat season with Salt & Pepper with Chopped Parsley and garnish Chicken with Chopped Parsley

Present all Items in the 15 minute service window – Clean up and prepare to exit Kitchen