Successful Chapter Programs
By Benjamin “BJ” Whitmore, CEC®
For many chefs, the ACF certification
process can seem overwhelming at first.
A key factor that leads to certification
success is the involvement and direction
of local chapter leadership. A strong
chapter certification program can help ease
apprehension and streamline the certification
process for candidates. Chefs who have
had strong chapter support throughout the
process have found the experience to be
rewarding, both personally and professionally.
chair may also assign a qualified mentor to
candidates to help them better understand
the process and answer any questions.
that they have the description of the knowledge
domains to be included on the exam.
Mickey Beriau, CEC, AAC, right, gives
feedback to certification candidate Jason
Jette, CC, during a recent certification seminar.
So you may be asking yourself, “How do I
start a program in my chapter or community
to help chefs succeed in achieving their
dreams of being certified chefs?” There are
some basic foundational steps.
Lastly, encourage membership and community
participation and support. Hold open-forum-style events for members so they can learn
more about the program and get to know the
certification chair. Reward and congratulate
new certificants at chapter meetings, and use
press releases to inform the community. Let
the community know that ACF-certified chefs
are available to provide input on culinary issues
and suggest topics for culinary articles.
The National Culinary Review | October 2009
First, and most importantly, appoint a
certification chairperson for your chapter.
Work with your board of directors to find
someone who is willing and able to coordinate
your certification program. It is essential that
candidates for certification know who to turn
to if they have questions. Certified chefs in
your chapter are good candidates for the
certification chair, as they have experienced
the process and can help guide the
candidates. This person will be your expert on
the certification process from start to finish:
helping chefs determine what level they are
eligible for, how to register for testing and
how to submit documentation. They may also
maintain a checklist for candidates to help
track their progress through the requirements.
Practicing for the practical exam is crucial
to success, and while this is often done
individually, the chapter certification chair
may plan group practice sessions so
candidates can learn from one another as
well as from others who have been through
the process. This can be done as long as
those helping at the practice sessions are
not the chefs who will be evaluating during
the actual exam. Being able to practice in
the facility where actual testing will take
place helps in candidate preparation, as well.
ACF of Iowa has followed this practice for a
number of years, and many of the candidates
from Iowa who have participated in this
group practice session have said it was very
helpful in preparing for the exam.
These ideas are just a start. It is through
chapter excitement and enthusiasm, along
with a dedicated chapter certification program,
that certification gains value for everyone.
The chapter certification chair can also direct
candidates to convenient sites where they can
take the certification written exam, and ensure
BJ Whitmore is executive chef and F&B
director at Bridge View Center, Ottumwa, Iowa.
AAC, is culinary
at the Institute
Culinary Arts Campus, Roseville, Calif.
Certification has had a huge impact on
his professional opportunities, and he
feels compelled to contribute his time
to advancing the certification program.
Dickinson says his wife Karen and
daughters Coral and Terra are
awesome and understanding people.
He enjoys scuba diving, traveling and,
of course, cooking and eating.
Meet the commission members
The chapter certification chair, along with
test-site administrators, coordinates the
scheduling of practical exams in the area
and provides information to candidates on
the exam’s requirements. The certification
Grace Yek, CCC,
MS, is an assistant
professor/chef-instructor at the
Midwest Culinary Institute, Cincinnati.
She enjoys the opportunity to renew and
advance the value of certification, and
encourages others to take time to reflect
on and love what they do. She recently
had a baby girl, and believes she is the
toughest boss she’s had yet! Yek enjoys
ballroom and flamenco dancing as a
type of meditation, and recently added
snowboarding to her list of interests.