Chef showed us a video in class yesterday that followed the 10-day testing phase of becoming a certified Master Chef through ACF. It was interesting to watch – scary, intense and fascinating. The statistics were astounding; I didn’t write them down, but remember the ratio of executive chefs who have tested and failed was high, and the list of CMCs was male dominated. Chef said he could only think of one female chef that passed, and he wasn’t sure if even that was accurate.

Watching the video, it was easy to recognized where Top Chef, Next Iron Chef, and the myriad of other competitive cooking shows found their inspiration. The video was still full of drama, but sans the sarcastic Alton Brown commentary.

After class, I took a look at all of the testing guides on the ACF web site to see what I might qualify for, if anything, or might be ready to take. On paper, the guidelines for a certified culinarian (the first certification) seemed reasonable — cut mirepoix, cut up a chicken to show your boning and butchery techniques, make chicken broth, saute a chicken breast. But when a time constraint is put on those tasks, they became frightening to think about. I don’t think I could do all of those things perfectly in 2.5 hours while keeping control over mise and cleaning and organizing. Not yet, anyway.

One of my classes for next semester is called “competition class.” It’s the one class that will force me to practice my knife skills, charcuterie, butchery mise, and organization skills, with consequences if I don’t do well. I hear it’s one of the toughest, most demanding classes, and it’s one of the classes I’m looking forward to most.