ACF Certification

Success in a practical certification test is due to many factors. Reading the guidelines carefully for the level you will test at, asking someone that has successfully completed the test, questions to clarify any uncertainty you may have about the test. Practicing diligently and getting feedback on your work from experienced Chefs are all good techniques and will help you perform at a high level during your practical test.

Here's a quick overview of the ACF Certification Approval Process (click on any step to link to the info page on the ACF National website). You can also email me your questions at

Step 1.  Determine Eligibility - Eligibility is based on a chef’s work experience and educational background.

Step 2.  Complete Initial Application - Complete the initial application and include all the necessary documentation.

Step 3.  Certification Examinations - There are two exams required for certification. The written exam tests culinary knowledge. The practical exam evaluates skill and culinary proficiency.

Step 4.  Final Application - Upon successful completion of the written and practical exams, the candidate should submit final application along with appropriate documentation: written and practical exam passing forms and remaining certification fee.

Here are few more suggestions that can help you achieve success during your practical certification test.

Sanitation is without a doubt the most important aspect of any food production program. That is why candidates can fail the exam by making a critical food safety violation. Take the 25-Question Food Safety Quiz (also shown below) to refresh your knowledge of these key food safety issues.

Menus for practical tests. The menu is very important. Menus should be typed and well thought out. You must bring several copies for the evaluators, and I find it helpful if you can highlight the requirements directly on the menu. For an example, perhaps the market basket items are printed in a different color font on the menu. The four classical cuts might be italicized on the menu and the cooking methods could be bolded. All this will help the evaluators identify that you have followed the guidelines of the test. Download Sample Menu 1 and Sample Menu 2 (both also shown below).

Organization is the hallmark of any true professional. Check out the practical test Organizational Tips (also included below).

This is not a competition! It is a demonstration of specific skills like roasting, precise cutting, protein fabrication, timing, sanitation and organization, etc. So creativity is not the most important factor. Keeping you program simple and executing at a very high level is far more important.

Mental preparation. Some days in the kitchen are better than others. If something unexpected happens, stay calm and remember it is OK to talk about your options with the test evaluators.

Need More Info on Certification?

Contact Chef Nora Galdiano, CEC, AAC, ACE at

Download a 25-Question Food Safety Quiz refresher

Download CEC Practical Sample Menu 1

Download CEC Practical Sample Menu 2

Download Organizational Tips (with pictures)

The Practical Exam Educational Demo

The March 2015 general meeting event featured a CEC Practical Exam live demonstration with insight on practice techniques, do’s & don’ts, menu planning, and baking exam pointers. If you missed it, don’t worry. We’ve created this 10-page Practical Exam Demo Guide to help you as you plan and prepare for your certification exam.


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