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Certified Master Chef


Fugu
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I'm not a CMC, but I work with one. I've asked him about the test and he gives some interesting responses. From what I can tell, there are a lot of chefs out there who are CMC who are complete a$$holes because they feel they know everything. This chef that I work with is the most ridiculously nice guy you could ever hope to meet or work in a kitchen with.

At any rate, on nugget I gleaned from him (he took the test in the late nineties when he was already probably in his late fifties...I'm not too sure how old he is):

He mentioned that there are people who are exec chefs who feel that they already know everything and don't need to "study" for this exam. Remember that this exam is something like 10 days long and each day is around 12-16 hours long. There is a lot of mystery basket stuff as well as written and of course a pastry component as well.

After working in the industry for at least several decades, my colleague said that he didn't take any of his knowledge for granted and he studied up on everything. He still does! I just have a soft spot for old guys like this. Humble and talented!

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I went to the CIA and had 3 CMCs for my classes. They were incredibly knowledgable about everything....I mean everything. One in particular took his CMC right after I left for externship and missed one part of the test, but took the part he missed and passed with flying colors. He was a Swiss Chef (Andreini) that was in it for years....perfectionist does not sound like a close enough word to explain. He was very perfect in all of his works...

I also have interviewed with 2 - one in NYC and in Atlanta. They were both incredibly nice and very different. Chef Kevin here in Altanta was very very nice and ran a very tight ship...he does not run one of the best country clubs in the world for nothing. I was offered a position, but after having to take a break due to a serious illness in the family I had to decline. Because I thought my skills were really not up to speed and I certainly did not want to fumble around - to tell you - you have to take a written test just to see him....I missed 1 - a french dish that I had only read about in some book somewhere....but never had done - he did not make me feel bad about it - just said I knew what he needed anyone to know that was wanting a job with him. Chef Timmins at The Grenbrier is another humble - oh well kind of guy. He is very donw to earth and if you look at his menus - amazing.

It is a special person to do the test...it is intense as I have been told. If you have ever gone in and cooked for a job it is a crazy pressure...they have all said it was extreme but the ones I have run into are very humble - even saying - yeah I am a CMC but learn something every day and just still want to master my craft...amazing people is all I can say.

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you have to take a written test just to see him....I missed 1 - a french dish that I had only read about in some book somewhere....but never had done -

I am curious to know what that French was, that dish you missed?

I have worked with 2 CMCs, both Austrians, and I found both of them generous with their time and eagerly willing to teach. I first heard about CMCs from one of my teachers from my Chef De Patie program, a CMC himself. This was way back in 1977. According to him our textbook is based on the CMC exam. Although I have no reason to doubt this information, I am sure much has changed with the exams. The book is Classical Cooking The Modern Way, by Eugen Pauli.

Having seen some CIA classes on TV, I was surprised at the elaborate format of the school's program. My school never covered Asian cookery or anything remotely close to vegetable carvings and butter sculptures. I had to learn this all on my own. Being Asian, I was expected to know vegetable carvings, sushi and all the Asian stereotypes associated with Asian culture. I am guessing that Asian cookery is now part of that exam? Or is it still based on classical French cuisine?

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you have to take a written test just to see him....I missed 1 - a french dish that I had only read about in some book somewhere....but never had done -

...

Having seen some CIA classes on TV, I was surprised at the elaborate format of the school's program. My school never covered Asian cookery or anything remotely close to vegetable carvings and butter sculptures. I had to learn this all on my own. Being Asian, I was expected to know vegetable carvings, sushi and all the Asian stereotypes associated with Asian culture. I am guessing that Asian cookery is now part of that exam? Or is it still based on classical French cuisine?

According to Ruhlman's The soul of a Chef (excellent account of the CMC exam -read it if you haven't!) there was an asian cooking test as part of the exam, although I belive it was a "minor", not a "major" like the classical french/Escoffier test.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am not a CMC but CEC (late ‘70s). Am retired for the last eight years after 49 years in the “ Business “, and that all over the world to include management and instructing. Ask me when and where, I’ll tell.

To the ACF CMC Program see website below, as far as I know, there are only about 100 (?) CMCs in the whole US.

This is the Official web site of the ACF.

http://www.acfchefs.org/Content/Education/.../Levels/CMC.htm

As always, I stand to be corrected.

Peter
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I can't remember the question I missed - it was a preparation for sole I think - he did not seem to be concerned about it as he offered me a job - but I declined due to a timing issue. I never dreamed I would interview and start that day! As far as Chef Andrieni at the CIA he is teaching, but I heard he is doing major work on the books that the CIA is banging out. He was amazing in Garde Manager stuff as well as knowledge of - well everything

I thought there were 58 CMC world wide about 13 at CIA

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hmm where do all these master chefs end up???? Dont ever see them at the countrys top restaurants, mostly country clubs, instutional type places, schools ect why is that,, im trying hard to think of any cmcs that are on the scene, hartmut hankee (sp?) in columbus i think,,,,,, strange, all the top guys are not acf at all for sure not cmc's daniel, keller, jg, wyle, alain ducasse, bouley, nobody.......any thoughts

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I know a couple of CMCs, including one of the guys mentioned above. From working at a country club and I think most CMCs end up at clubs or the like because that's what the clubs like and/or want. Having a CMC at your club is a selling point, a bragging right and hopefully an assurance of good things to come. Once you pass the test, a certain kind of establishment is now looking for you, and it's not just you they want, it's also the title.

Country Clubs are very often a status symbol and part of the culture of some groups of people. Having someone with a designation like CMC totally plays into this culture. This doesn't mean as much to the mainstream consumer because they aren't dropping big bucks to become a member of a restaurant, they just want a good meal for the night.

Also, the CMC test covers some things that may be considered "old school" and not relevant to diners at the new "it" place in town. These types of dishes are mainstays, items the Country Club set grew up on and still expect to see on the menu. I'm not saying that Country Clubs aren't progressive, they are, but they can't scrap all of the more traditional fare.

Some of the same things can be said for teaching; a school with CMCs on the staff has bragging rights and a certifiable way to assure their students that they are being taught by the best.

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