CERTIFICATION: COMPANIES TOUT ADDED VALUE
BY MICHAEL A. KESTER, CEC®, CCA®, AAC
When I first joined Sodexo Health Care
Services in 1995, there were hardly any
ACF-certified chefs in the company.
Today, as Southeast area training
manager for Sodexo Healthcare Services,
based in Columbia, S.C., I regularly
observe the big role ACF’s certification
program plays in our selection process
as we seek qualified culinary employees.
During the past four years, we have
conducted numerous training sessions to
highlight the importance of certification,
and we are making certification available
to all our employees.
Hiring managers know if they have an
ACF-certified chef applying for a job
that they have a candidate who has
gone above and beyond to get his or
her culinary experience reviewed and
validated. Being certified allows our
chefs to have a more competitive edge
when they seek new positions within
our company, as well as increased
responsibility and salary opportunities.
Many Sodexo Health Care Services job
postings now have “CEC® preferred”
built into the job descriptions. This makes
it easy to qualify and verify the training,
knowledge and skills of chefs based
on ACF standards. This verification is
even more worthwhile with the recent
accreditation of the CEC® by the Institute
for Credentialing Excellence (ICE).
Our focus on certification starts at the top,
with Jeff Berdis, our senior vice president,
who has challenged all of the executive
chefs in his territory to get their certified
ABOVE: Angel Ramirez-Ramos, Sodexo Health Care
executive chef at St. Francis Hospital, Columbus, Ga.,
takes the ACF practical exam at the Culinary Institute at
Carolina, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C.
executive chef (CEC®) certification
completed by the end of 2012. Quarterly
internal training sessions provide an
ongoing culture of learning, where
culinary skills and education reinforce our
company standards and mission.
Over the years, we’ve added various
resources for chefs and production
managers seeking certification.
Creating an active environment
of education improves operations,
productivity and morale. For example,
through our Culinary & Retail
Foundations Training, and Production,
Innovation and Enhancement (P.I.E.)
chapters, an internal network of
“culinary champions” was tasked with
finding ways to develop our workers
and exceed our clients’ expectations.
Educational training sessions approved
for ACF continuing education hours
enable chefs and frontline staff to increase
production efficiency and develop a high
sense of morale in the kitchen. The initial
certification investment we make in our
chefs is an opportunity to give back while
increasing customer satisfaction, adding
client value and engaging current certified
chefs to mentor others.
Being certified has bestowed a sense of
pride and passion among our chefs, and it
provides a worthwhile challenge for those
who have not acquired certification. We
have built a foundation of learning and
development. Plus, certification ensures
that our clients have an ACF-certified
chef in the kitchen.
MICHAEL A. KES TER, CEC®, CCA®, AAC, IS SOUTHEAST
AREA TRAINING MANAGER WITH SODEXO HEALTH CARE
SERVICES, COLUMBIA, S.C., AND SERVES AS CER TIFICATION
CHAIR FOR ACF MIDLANDS CHAPTER.
CAN I QUOTE YOU?
“Certification gives our chefs a sense of
pride, a clear competitive edge and a level
of professionalism that distinguishes us
as a leader in the industry. We challenge
our chefs to dive in, get involved and
get certified. We recognize the value
certification brings on a personal level and
to our organization as a whole.”
—Kevin Dorr, CEC®, executive chef,
Compass Group—Morrison Healthcare,
“Delaware North has roughly 150 salaried
chefs and sous chefs. Our objective is to have
all chefs certified at the CSC™ or CCC® level
within their first three years of employment.
Currently, we have reached the 70% level of
our goal. We also support upgrading to the
next level at chefs’ recertification time. As in
any industry, professional certification is the
best way to validate skills and ascertain to
guests, clients, your employer and staff the
added value they deserve.”
—Roland Henin, CMC®, CCE®, AAC,
corporate chef, Delaware North Companies
Parks & Resorts, Edmonds, Wash.