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US Culinary Certifications

There are a number of certification bodies across North America. Throughout the US in particular, there are various certifications available for numerous types of cooking, food preparation, culinary positions and dining and hospitality establishments. Every chef in America should at the very least posses their Food Safety & Sanitation Certificate, available through agencies such as ServSafe, applicable in each state and many areas of Canada.

In addition, most states will require a state-level food handler's card for those who wish to work in that state. These are genery granted from a public health agency in the area in which you are hired to work. See Culinary World's list of culinary arts specific state pages for more information.

The most highly regarded governing body for culinary professionals in the US is the American Culinary Federation. Begun in 1929, this agency has set the standard for culinary certification, accredited education programs and professional networking throughout the US. The ACF focuses on five specific areas of culinary arts: cooking professionals, personal cooking professionals, baking & pastry professionals, culinary administrators and culinary educators.

Certificates and Food Handler Permits By State

Below is a list of available certifications through the ACF:

Cooking Professional Certifications

  • Certified Culinarian (CC): Designed for cooking professionals, this is an entry-level certification available to food service employees working in restaurants. It focuses on the preparation and cooking of many areas of food preparation and operations.

  • Certified Sous Chef (CSC): A certified sous chef is licensed to oversee a specific food service station within the kitchen.
  • Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC): This position is genery a supervisory role to oversee the production and preparation of food in any number of foodservice operations.

  • Certified Executive Chef (CEC): This position is most often the department leader or owner of a food service, dining or hospitality establishment. Unlike the previous positions listed, this certification lends its credibility towards expertise such as accounting, payroll, costs, revenue, inventory monitoring and more.

  • Certified Master Chef (CMC): A master chef has achieved the highest level of cooking experience and expertise. Qualified candidates must possess either a CEC or CPEC to apply. The test is a rigorous eight-day process judged by a body of the applicant's peers. Personal Cooking Professional Certifications.

  • Personal Certified Chef (PCC): This is position is the first of two personal or private chef certifications. Skills to attain this certification include menu planning, cooking expertise and business management. Applicants must have at least three years of chef experience with at least one of these years as a personal chef.

  • Personal Certified Executive Chef (PCEC): Much like the Certified Master Chef, this position certifies master personal chefs who have proven advanced qualifications in this field.

Baking and Pastry Professional Certifications

  • Certified Pastry Culinarians (CPC): This is an entry-level certification for pastry chefs or bakers who are new to the industry yet serious about their career opportunities.

  • Certified Working Pastry Chefs (CWPC): This certification takes more of a supervisory role than a CPC, given to mid-level managers with proven pastry and baking skills.

  • Certified Executive Pastry Chef (CEPC): This certification is intended for a higher-level supervisory position than a CWPC. This position combines managerial duties with administrative duties.

  • Certified Master Pastry Chef (CMPC): This is the highest certification available for pastry chefs and baking professionals. Applicants must show a mastery of cooking and baking techniques as well as supervisory, management and administrative duties in this field. As with the Master Chef certifications, the test is rigorous and judged by a valued group of industry peers.

Culinary Administrator Certifications

  • Certified Culinary Administrator (CCA): This certification is given to supervisory-level professionals in charge of administration and management of food service establishments and operations across the US. Many CCA certified professionals are restaurant or hotel managers and even restaurant owners.

Culinary Educator Certifications

  • Certified Secondary Culinary Educator (CSCE): This certification is intended for education professionals working in accredited culinary schools across the country. These professionals, in addition to educational duties, are often in charge of the design and review of their institution's culinary curriculum.
  • Certified Culinary Educator (CCE): This is an advanced educator certification available to those who have an exceptional amount of knowledge and experience in the industry. These professionals are genery trusted with aspects of a level, accredited culinary institute.

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