Ten chefs from around the country came together September 30 – October 10 to Schoolcraft College with one thing in mind, achieving the coveted title of Certified Master Chef from the American Culinary Federation. Only three came out with the triumph.
Among the three who have now achieved the highest level of certification in the U.S. are chefs with local ties: Culinary Arts Department Chair at Schoolcraft College Shawn Loving, CMC, and Executive Sous Chef at The Everglades Club in Florida Gerald Ford, CMC, who initially received his culinary arts training at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, MI.
The third Certified Master Chef from the week’s exam is Joseph Leonardi from Massachusetts.
“The skill, creativity and discipline called for by the exam are considerable, and the experience gained is invaluable to the chefs themselves and to the culinarians they mentor,” said ACF National President Stafford DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC. ‘We are inspired by their commitment to the culinary arts and congratulate them on an extraordinary achievement.”
The chefs seeking certification went through a brutal eight-day exam.
Leading up to the exam there was a lot of hard work and preparation.
“I prepared myself by creating a routine that no one is allowed to change, and staying committed to a new lifestyle of pushing myself, even in uncomfortable moments,” Loving said.
Ford adds, “for the last five months, I’ve spent 50 to 60 hours a week working on the exam. In order to put myself in the best physical condition I can be, I exercise six days a week. As for the mental aspect, I meditate, listen to really hard metal and I push myself to the edge every chance I get.”
The candidates are tested on eight subjects including: Healthy cooking, buffet catering, classical cuisine, freestyle cooking, global cuisine, baking and pastry, continental and Northern Europe cuisines, and market basket.
Each chef had to maintain a score between 75 and 100 to continue onto the next round.
The three new Certified Master Chefs bring the total number of CMCs in the United States to 68.
“For me, the CMC exam was primarily a test of perseverance, staying connected with my inner self to combat self-doubt,” Loving said about the exam. “The CMC certification means that I have a responsibility to continue on my quest to be a forever student and culinary professional. My desire to affect future generations of chefs in the most positive and impactful way will guide my future.”
Loving’s other accomplishments include working as executive chef for the U.S. Men and Women’s Olympic Basketball teams in Beijing and Rio de Janeiro, executive chef for the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Madrid, and he was a member of the Michigan Culinary Olympic Team in 2012.
Look for a segment on the Michigan Chapter of the ACF and Shawn Loving, CMC, in season seven of Detroit Performs.