The American Culinary Federation’s Certified Executive Chef designations demonstrates that a chef has a standard level of culinary competence and expertise through education, experience, knowledge, and skills consistent with the executive chef level.
Club chefs can work through a series of steps including extensive on-site experience, education, and certification to earn the title of Certified Executive Chef (CEC), a designation given by the American Culinary Federation (ACF). By successfully completing the rigorous process, club chefs can quickly demonstrate their culinary skills to peers, members, and potential employers.
In order to become and remain a CEC, club chefs must demonstrate a standard level of culinary competence and expertise through education, experience, knowledge, and skills and surrounding topics including nutrition, management, food safety, and sanitation. This cycle of certification establishes the club chef as a highly trained professional in the kitchen, both in culinary expertise and in managing kitchen operations.
How to Become a Certified Executive Chef
The designation comes as part of a tiered list of certifications offered by the ACF all of which require club chefs to check the boxes of different classes and on-the-job experience. As of August 2020, the ACF requirements for becoming a Certified Executive Chef require the following:
- In the past 10 years, the chef must have at least five years as an Executive Sous Chef, Chef de Cuisine, Pastry Chef, or chef in charge of food service operation and food production. They must have also managed a team of at least five full-time staff below them.
- The chef must meet one of the education requirements:
- High school diploma
- 250 hours of continuing education
- An Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts
- ACFEF Apprenticeship Program plus 50 hours of continuing education
- Lastly, the chef must complete at least five, 30-hour courses in topics outlined by the ACF.
After meeting these requirements, a club chef takes both a practical and written exam put on by ACF to qualify for final certification.
The process for maintaining a Certified Executive Chef status is also no easy feat. Club chefs must become re-certified every five years by proving that they’ve met continuing education credits, which they can earn in a variety of ways, including by attending the annual Chef to Chef Conference hosted by Club + Resort Chef.
By obtaining this certification level, club chefs can grow and sharpen their skills in an ever-changing field.