The chefs are now among only 68 culinary professionals to hold the distinction, the highest level of certification a U.S. chef can receive.
After an exciting display of culinary expertise, club chefs Gerald Ford, CMC, and Joseph Leonardi, CMC, were named to the prestigious group of culinarians known as Certified Master Chefs® (CMCs®) by the American Culinary Federation (ACF). The ACF Certified Master Chef designation is the highest level of professional certification that a chef can receive in the United States. The 2017 exam took place Sept. 30-Oct. 7 at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan.
Ford is Executive Sous Chef of The Everglades Club in Palm Beach, Fla. while Leonardi is Director of Culinary Operations at The Country Club in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
“The ACF is proud to honor our 2017 class of Certified Master Chefs,” said ACF National President Stafford DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC. “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. We are inspired by their commitment to the culinary arts and congratulate them on an extraordinary achievement.”
The path to the CMC title requires immense dedication to the craft of cooking and calls upon the candidates to demonstrate their abilities across a broad range of styles and techniques. During the progressive, eight-day practical exam, chefs are tested on healthy cooking, buffet catering, classical cuisine, freestyle cooking, global cuisine, baking and pastry, Continental and Northern European cuisines and “market basket,” a mystery basket of ingredients from which they must prepare a five-course meal.
Chefs are evaluated and assessed by current CMCs and earn points based on kitchen skills, presentation and taste, as well as on the leadership they demonstrate in working with a student apprentice each day. Candidates are required to maintain a 75-point average in order to continue.
“A lot of time, dedication and sacrifice went into the CMC exam and it all paid off. I’m delighted that I proved to myself that I’m able to do it,” say’s The Country Club’s Leonardi. “I had to be sure I was prepared mentally and needed to believe in myself. I felt confident in my skills and ability because chefs train every day. At the end of the day, it’s just cooking at the highest level.”
Ford and Leonardi received their certifications after successfully completing nearly 90 hours of culinary demonstration throughout exam. With the addition of these chefs, there are now 68 current CMCs in the United States.
“The ACF Certified Master Chef designation is a journey of culinary excellence,” says Ron DeSantis, CMC, AAC, MBA, and CMC exam evaluator. “Regardless of the outcome of the exam, each chef becomes a better and stronger culinarian. Having been part of the ACF CMC exam for more than 25 years, I am proud that the chefs of our nation have the outstanding craftsmanship required of this level of certification.”
CMC and CMPC are the culmination of the progressive ACF credentials that enable foodservice professionals to certify their skill, knowledge and expertise at each stage of their careers.