Opportunity Knocking: ACT! On It
By Erica Lattimore, CC®
With certified culinarians (CC®) and certified
pastry culinarians (CPC®) such an important
part of the certification program, the ACF
Certification Commission recognized the need
to enhance opportunities for young culinarians
to be better positioned to grow in their careers
through certification. And who better to lead
this initiative than young culinarians. So, voilà,
ACT! Aspiring Chefs of Tomorrow was formed.
As chair of the group, and from ACF chapter
presidents’ recommendations, I assembled a
core group of enthusiastic young culinarians
to focus on four key directives to provide a
clear roadmap and guidance for reaching
certification goals: build awareness;
strengthen relationships; communicate value
of certification; and establish a network.
well as detail the challenges
those new to the industry face.
The online survey had a favorable
10% response rate and provided
great insight to the commission
in helping determine priorities for
reaching young culinarians and overcoming
the obstacles they face when considering
certification. Some survey findings are
highlighted here; the complete survey results
are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
than expecting to get. Foster the connection
and a win-win relationship will result.
ACT! surveyed CC®s and CPC®s to
determine perceived certification value as
Survey results also showed that while 62%
of respondents intend to upgrade their
certification to the next level, Certified Sous
Chef™, only 49% actually knew what the
requirements were or what it would take to
move to that level. This enforces the need
for ACT! to better communicate with and
inform young culinarians.
How important is your ACF
certification to you?
While survey results were coming in,
planning was taking place for the Student
Networking Forum, sponsored by Johnson &
Wales University, at the 2011 ACF National
Convention in Dallas. I was excited to
have the opportunity during this session
to introduce the goals and objectives of
ACT! to the young culinarians present. The
forum featured a great speaker who tied in
perfectly with those goals. Gerry Fernandez,
president/founder, Multicultural Foodservice
& Hospitality Alliance, Providence, R.I., spoke
on how to network and make your “net”
work. He discussed developing a blueprint
for goals by creating a network of business,
social, personal and professional connections.
For example, start by building rapport. Find
a mutual connection or interest, and find
out what you can do for the other person. In
networking, it is important to give first rather
In addition to great guidance from Fernandez,
other chefs have recently extended mentoring
advice via www.acfchefs.org/ACT. Mark
Webster, CEC®, CCE®, AAC, posted:
“Regardless of your career path, remember to
take on difficult jobs, learn all you can, utilize
on-the-job training and always ask questions.
Above all, learn from your mistakes.” And
from Travis Smith, CEC®, CCA™, AAC: “As
a former instructor, I have mentored many
students as they’ve been on externships
or apprenticeships. I’ve encouraged these
young culinarians to set goals and then work
like crazy to reach objectives. Keep ACF’s
certification ladder as a guide and beacon for
your career. Upgrade steadily, but don’t rush it.
Take your time and enjoy the journey.”
What do you consider the main
value of your ACF certification?
Mark of professionalism 28%
Job advancement and pay 26%
Personal achievement 17%
Good foundation for future 16%
If you are a seasoned chef, please consider
increasing your outreach to new culinarians
in your area. We need your guidance and
direction as we learn about this great industry.
Help us grow in our careers. We respect and
appreciate your expertise.
Do you think ACF certification will
help you in future job searches?
If you are a young culinarian, please join our
group. I would love to hear your thoughts and
feedback. Let your voice be heard so that you
and ACF can benefit mutually.
Join the conversation at