Daily Exam Updates

Wish you were at the 2010 Certified Master Chef® (CMC®) exam to see the action live? You don’t have to be. ACF takes you into the kitchens of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., each day with updates below and photos. Follow the 12 candidates’ journey from start to finish.

Richard Rosendale
Richard Rosendale, CMC

Monday, November 1, 2010

Congratulations to Richard Rosendale, the newest Certified Master Chef. Rosendale, who after retaking the Classical Cuisine portion of the exam today, Nov. 1, from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., has successfully passed the Certified Master Chef® exam. He joins Brian Beland, CMC; Daniel Dumont, CMC; Robert Mancuso, CMC; and Brian Sode, CMC; who were awarded their CMC designations on Oct. 30. Obtaining the CMC designation is an enormous accomplishment and each of these five chefs has earned it. They are consummate chefs.

ACF’s Newest CMCs - Brian Beland, CMC; Robert Mancuso, CMC; Brian Sode, CMC; and Dan Dumont, CMC
New CMCs & CMC Exam Evaluators
New CMCs & CMC Exam Evaluators

Saturday, October 30, 2010: Day Eight

Day eight, the final day of the CMC exam, was a marathon. The seven candidates started at 6 a.m. and had four hours to prepare and serve the three assigned Continental Cuisine entrées.

Each candidate had to earn a minimum of 70 points to advance to the second portion of the day’s exam, the mystery basket. Hall had a tremendous week of cooking, however he did not receive the minimum points needed and would not continue to the afternoon session.

The remaining six candidates advancing to the second half of the day’s exam had 30 minutes to develop a five-course menu for 10 using the items in their mystery basket. They had a five hour window to prepare and serve the five-course menu consisting of an appetizer, soup, fish course, salad and main course. A sampling of the items in the mystery basket was spot prawns, pork tenderloin, frog legs, cardoons, white asparagus, papaya and Israeli couscous, which provided for challenging and interesting menu possibilities.

Floor evaluators, Giunta, Gielisse, Murphy, Russell Scott, CMC, WGMC, and Rudolph Speckamp, CMC, ensured that the mastery of cooking methodology, butchery and craftsmanship was demonstrated during the cooking period. Plating, platter construction, taste and finishing skills were evaluated by tasting evaluators Barnes, Holzer, Friedrich Gitschner, CMC, AAC, and Edward Leonard, CMC, AAC, WGMC.

Anticipation, excitement and nervousness grew throughout the day as family and friends watched and waited. The final plate was presented to the tasting evaluators at 7:45 p.m. The waiting continued, as final scores were tabulated.

After a grueling and non-stop eight-day cooking exam, emotions surfaced as test administrators and lead evaluators for the day, DeSantis and Barnes, announced that four chefs went from being candidates to CMCs.

Congratulations to the following 2010 CMCs:

  • Brian Beland, CMC
  • Daniel Dumont, CMC
  • Robert Mancuso, CMC
  • Brian Sode, CMC

The new CMCs received congratulations from the other CMCs and then donned their CMC chef coats while receiving their certificate, pin and patch. It was a proud and memorable moment for ACF and everyone involved.

The CMC exam scoring system, weightings and rational are complicated. While Thompson passed the morning’s Continental Cuisine section, he did not earn enough points in the mystery basket to pass for the day. The final day is critical to pass with a score of 75. If a candidate is not successful on the final day, they do not pass the exam and a retake is not given.

If a chef passes the final day of the exam, but had a score below passing on one section of the exam earlier in the week, they are then offered a make-up exam on that section. Rosendale was in this situation. He will retake the Classical Cuisine portion of the exam on Monday, Nov. 2, and if successful, he will earn the title of CMC. An update will be posted on Monday with his results. We wish him much success.   

We are proud to announce that the number of CMCs has grown from 61 the past several years to 65 today, and potentially 66 depending on the outcome of Rosendale’s retake on Monday. Please join us in congratulating the new CMCs who did an exceptional job the past eight demanding days. They put on quite a show for the culinary world and have earned the right to wear and use the prestigious CMC title.

We sincerely thank our exam sponsor, McCormick For Chefs, the apprentices, and the CMC administrators and evaluators, without them this exam would not have been possible. We also thank all the CMC candidates, as each of them displayed tremendous courage and the qualities of a chef that make us proud.

Rosendale & Heiland
Rosendale & Heiland

Friday, October 29, 2010: Day Seven

The international aromas from yesterday’s global cuisines were replaced with the smells of fresh baked bread and desserts. The eight CMC candidates started the baking and pastry exam in one flight in 15-minute intervals at 8 a.m. Loving drew the first start time followed by Sode, Thompson, Hall, Dumont, Rosendale, Mancuso and Beland.

The chefs had five hours to bake with a 15-minute service window to prepare the following items:

  • 10-plated servings of a hot or cold kitchen dessert.
  • One, two-pound recipe of a yeast-leavened product of the candidate’s choosing.
  • Two-dozen portions of a chemically-leavened quick bread product of the candidate’s choosing.
  • Two-dozen portions of a puff pastry Vol-au-vent or bouchées.

Chefs were able to present their bread items at any point during their baking time, but the visual highlight for most was the 10-plated desserts presented during their 15-minute window. Many of them considered seasonality when developing their desserts.

Testing criteria included product size and shape consistency, presentation, finishing and baking techniques, marketability, taste and texture. The lead evaluator for the day was Vaccaro, who was supported by Gunther Heiland, CMPC, AAC, and Noble L. Masi, CEPC, CMB, AAC. The evaluators felt the plated desserts were both professional and representative of a high-quality level. The evaluators commented that the organization, pace of preparation and presentation showed that the candidates had practiced diligently for this portion of the exam, as they were thoroughly prepared.

While Loving did well on this portion of the exam, he unfortunately did not earn enough points to accumulate the minimum average of 75 for the week. Therefore, he will not be continuing to the final day of the exam tomorrow.

The final day of the exam, day eight on Oct. 30, will be an extremely intense day with each of the remaining seven chefs preparing two different menus in two separate cooking exams. Continental Cuisine begins at 6 a.m. with the candidates preparing the following three entrées from different countries:

  • Wiener Schnitzel and Gemischter Salatteller
  • Goulash and Fresh Egg Noodles
  • Coq au vin

At the completion of that section, the candidates will have 30 minutes to develop a menu from a mystery basket, and then prepare it. The start time for the second exam of the day is 11 a.m. with final plating at 7 p.m.

The CMC exam is approaching its end. Stay tuned for the results of an excellent and dynamic eight days of cooking. All the CMC candidates are excellent chefs and day eight will be an exciting culmination of years of practice and preparation. Much success to all!

In conjunction with the CMC exam, the Culinary Institute of America under the guidance of Associate Vice President Gielisse, hosted the inaugural CMC Summit. This was the largest group of master chefs ever assembled together. Twenty five CMCs and CMPCs (certified master pastry chefs) gathered for a day of discussions and goal setting to help shape the future direction of the CMC program. Their objectives included how CMCs can add value to ACF and the culinary industry, and how the ACF-CMC brand can be strengthened.

Daniel Dumont & Stephen
Dumont & Giunta

Thursday, October 28, 2010: Day Six

Fabulous and interesting aromas filled the spectator hallways outside The Culinary Institute of America’s kitchens where the CMC exam was taking place on day 6, global cuisine. The ten candidates had 4.5 hours to prepare, plate and serve the assigned ethnic menus.

Each candidate’s objective was to demonstrate their knowledge of global cuisine by preparing three main dishes from different regions of the world. They were evaluated on how they represented the traditions, philosophies and methodology that is indicative of each of the regional cuisines.

The candidates prepared the same three following entrées:

  • Americas: Jerk Pork Tenderloin with Cuban Style Black Beans, Pineapple Salsa and Fried Plantians
  • Mediterranean: Paella Valenciana
  • Asia: Potato Samosas with Tamarind Sauce, Wilted Cabbage Salad, Curried Cauliflower (Phul Gobi), Warm Tomato Relish (Gujrati Kasund)

Mancuso was the first of the ten candidates and started at 7:30 a.m. The final candidate was Rosendale with a 30-minute service at 8 p.m.

Kitchen floor evaluators Giunta, Megenis, and Holzer were impressed with each candidate’s organization, preparation and cooking techniques, as well as their attention to cleanliness and sanitation. Along with the lead evaluator for the day, Gielisse, the tasting evaluators, Griffiths, McFadden, and Scott, assessed each candidate’s three entrées and scored them based on taste and the traditional integrity of the dish.

At this point in the exam, the evaluators discussed with the candidates their performance to date and where they stand in relation to the cumulative minimum score of 75 required to advance to the final day on Saturday, Oct. 30, day eight. Unfortunately, two of the chef candidates, Hanlin and Moosmiller, did not achieve the score necessary to proceed and will not continue with days seven and eight of the exam. It is difficult when a chef does not progress to the next day, and it becomes more heart wrenching for all, candidates and evaluators, when it happens further along into the exam.

While the focus is, and should be, on the candidates, special recognition must be given to the CMC evaluators. They are a committed group of chefs that have dedicated their time and expertise to further develop high-level chefs. You will often find them standing shoulder to shoulder with the candidates for more than 12 hours a day for the eight days of the exam. Their compassion, guidance and pride in the CMC designation is inspiring. ACF sincerely thanks each of them for their devotion and tremendous contributions.

To complete day six, the eight remaining candidates attended a briefing by Thomas Vaccaro, CMB, outlining day seven of the exam, baking and pastry. Start times for the candidates were also drawn.

Joining the candidates and evaluators for the day were Stacy Knight and Ed Gardner of McCormick For Chefs, the exam sponsor. They were able to see firsthand how the exam was conducted and spend time with the exam administrators. A special thank you to McCormick For Chefs for their generous support.

John Kinsella, CMC, CCE, WGMC, AAC, ACF immediate past president, was also present to support and encourage the candidates. Kinsella will serve as an emeritus judge on day eight.

Brian Sode, CEC, AAC

Wednesday, October 27, 2010: Day Five

The CMC candidates did extremely well on the freestyle portion of the exam on Oct. 27. They were able to showcase their personal cooking techniques and talents in any food style they desired. Each chef had to prepare a four-course meal for ten consisting of four-plated portions and six portions appropriate for Russian service. Remember, this is the fifth day of exceptionally intense cooking. The four courses were:

  • Appetizer or soup
  • Fish course
  • Salad
  • Main course

Chefs were provided a market basket with six proteins, four vegetables, three starches, lettuce and three supplementary items. They were required to use each ingredient in the basket.

On previous days, the chefs had a 30-minute window to set their stations, but that ended today. Now the total time was four hours of preparation with a 30-minute service window. The chefs had also been rotating student apprentices daily and coaching them on how they can best help execute their menus. These are just two examples of non-food related items that the chefs are evaluated on during the exam, in addition to their culinary skills.

There was a morning flight of five candidates with the first candidate starting at 7:30 a.m. and an afternoon flight with the remaining five candidates that started at 2 p.m. By 8:30 p.m., all the freestyle menus had been presented to the evaluators for tasting.

The candidates successfully demonstrated their craft, and at the end of the day all ten had earned enough cumulative points to proceed to day six, Oct. 28. The candidate’s spirits and confidence were lifted today when the evaluators shared with them that they truly enjoyed the food, found it well presented and that it was reflective of the elements needed to be cooking at this advanced level.

The lead judge for the freestyle session was Megenis, supported by tasting evaluators Barnes, Holzer and Johnstone. Busby, Giunta, Griffiths, McFadden, Moore and Timmins were the floor evaluators.

After the morning and afternoon exam sessions had ended, the candidates attended a briefing by Gielisse on tomorrow’s theme, global cuisines. They were also informed of the order in which they would test. It was another late night for the candidates, as they prepared for their next challenging day of testing—day six of eight.

Are you curious how a candidate’s score is determined? The following criteria and weights are used for scoring most sections of the exam.

  • Serving method and portion size - 15%
  • Cooking fundamentals - 15%
  • Menu composition - 15%
  • Presentation - 15%
  • Taste - 40%
Jonathan Moosmiller

Tuesday, October 26, 2010: Day Four

Filets de Sole à l’Andalouse, Poulet Sauté Marengo and Subrics d’Epinards were just a few of the catch phrases heard around the kitchens on day four, classical cuisine, of the Certified Master Chef exam.

Classical cooking is the foundation of good cooking and provides the techniques for developing flavors. This style of cooking is not one which chefs necessarily use daily; therefore it was a challenging day for the CMC candidates. They had to understand, interpret and execute the philosophy of Auguste Escoffier in a soup, fish and entrée course. The chefs focused on preparing dishes, such as Consommé Lucullus, Poulet Sauté d’Artois, and Pommes de Terre Château, all under a tight timeline in order to make their service window.

The floor evaluators were Gielisse, Holzer, John Johnstone, CMC, and Moore, while the tasting evaluators were Buchner; Giunta; Griffiths; McFadden; David J. Megenis, CMC, CCE, AAC; and Peter Timmins, CMC. The evaluators throughout the day referenced Le Guide Culinaire to ensure that the classical techniques standards were properly followed.

Following the end of the morning session, the candidates attended a briefing by Barnes about the freestyle portion of the exam. Megenis, with the support of Giunta, facilitated a briefing what to expect on day five, Oct. 27, of the exam after the afternoon session.

With the first exam session starting at 7 a.m. and the second session concluding at approximately 10 p.m., it was a long day and one that the chefs most likely are glad to have it over. Ten of the eleven candidates had cumulative scores at the conclusion of day four allowing them to proceed with the exam. However, Emert did not and will not be continuing.

The candidates, for the first time since their arrival, do not have to prepare a menu and food requisition that night to submit the next morning. Nevertheless, there is still much for them to review and study as they return to their hotel rooms, but there is a chance they may get a little more sleep if they can get haricots verts and Poulet Sauté à la Bourguignonne off their minds.

ACF National President Michael Ty attended the exam today and offered his encouragement and support to the candidates. McCormick For Chefs, the CMC exam sponsor, will witness the chefs and evaluators in action, as they join the memorized crowds watching the exam in the following days.

Robert Mancuso

Monday, October 25, 2010: Day Three

Day three of the exam, the presentation of buffet platters, was overall a strong day for the CMC candidates. After 12 hours of preparation, the candidates each had three hours to finalize and assemble their platters. It was another day of nonstop culinary activity with the first candidate starting at 7 a.m. and the last, Beland, wrapping it up at 3:30 p.m. with his platter presentation.

The CMC evaluators felt the candidates were well prepared and motivated. It was agreed that the platters were well thought out and displayed quality in preparation. Each platter was professionally executed, attractive, contemporary, and demonstrated each candidate’s charcuterie skills.

CMC evaluators for the day were Giunta, McFadden, Moore, Scannell and Walker. Tasting evaluators were Barnes; Joachim Buchner, CMC; Busby; and Helmut F. Holzer, CMC, WGMC. Griffiths was the lead evaluator.

The mood of the candidates was upbeat and positive. Excitement was in the air and you could tell that all involved in the exam were truly honored be a part of it. In particular, the student apprentices and assistants found it difficult to put into words the enthusiasm and sheer admiration they had for the candidates and evaluators, as this was an experience of a lifetime for them.

Unbridled passion and a fan following commonly associated with rock stars was starting to spread throughout the hallways of the CIA. It did not matter if people were there to cheer on a specific chef or just happened upon the exam by chance; once they were there, they found it hard to pull themselves away. The CMC candidates are genuine and likeable, and their dedication is so obvious in their faces and actions that casual observers are now glued to the viewing window watching the clock and getting anxious if a chef is close to missing his service window. The consensus is that the CMC exam is real, unscripted and much better than reality TV.

Depending on their finish time, candidates then participated in one of two briefings for the classical cuisine section of the exam presented by Ronald DeSantis, CMC, AAC. At the briefing, they received their global menu draw and were sent on their way to develop their menus and compile food requisitions due in the morning. They are required to prepare three main dishes from three different regions of the world for this portion of the exam:

  • Cuisines of the Americas
  • Cuisines of Asia
  • Cuisines of the Mediterranean

Neace withdrew from the exam. Therefore, on day four, Oct. 26, 11 chefs will continue their quest for the Certified Master Chef title by preparing and presenting their three-course menus for the classical cuisine portion of the exam.

Brian Beland

Sunday, October 24, 2010: Day Two

Day two was a 12-hour day spent preparing for the garde manger/buffet catering presentation on Monday, Oct. 25. All 12 chefs were on the same schedule, starting at 7 a.m. and finishing at 7 p.m. They worked diligently, with the support of a student-apprentice, to prepare platters that demonstrated the following competencies:

  • Emulsified forcemeat
  • Product utilization as related to the garde manger kitchen
  • Cured protein
  • Cold salad
  • Two standing garnishes
  • Platter poured with chemise and aspic, may be reinforced with gelatin, but must be of appropriate flavor and color
  • Cold mousse
  • Appropriate sauce

Griffiths, lead CMC evaluator for the day, along with floor evaluators Giunta, Moore, McFadden, Scannell, Busby and Arnone, commented they were encouraged by the candidates’ performance, mise en place and teamwork from their observations during the session.

In addition to the overview for the day, the candidates received their freestyle basket and had until 7 a.m. Monday morning to submit their menus and food requisition forms.

What would you do with the following basket?

  • Lamb Rack, 8 Bones, 1 Side, Untrimmed, Chine Off, 1 Each
  • Lamb Loin, I Side, Untrimmed, 1 Each
  • Halibut, Whole, 0.25 Each
  • Blue Crab, Live, Large, 5 Each
  • Sea Scallop, 0.5 Lb.
  • Squab, 4 Each
  • Brussels Sprouts, 2 Lb.
  • Parsnips, 1 Lb.
  • Artichokes, Globe Large, 4 Each
  • Fava Beans, Whole, 3 Lb.
  • Sweet Rice, 0.5 Lb.
  • Sunchokes, 1 Lb.
  • Gobo Root, 0.25 Lb.
  • Treviso, 2 Hd.
  • Chianti, 1 .75 Lt.
  • Dried Figs, 6 Each
  • Humboldt Goat Cheese, 6 Oz.
Randall Emert

Saturday, October 23, 2010: Day One

Randall Emert, CEC, CCA, was the first chef to start the nutritional cuisine segment of the exam at 6 a.m. with 30 minutes to set up and a start time of 6:30 a.m. With a 4.5-hour exam, 30-minute service window and 30-minute station cleaning, he was done in the kitchen at noon. Jonathan Moosmiller, CEC®; Shawn Loving, CEC, CCA; Shawn Hanlin, CEC; John Thompson, CEC; Robert Mancuso, CEC; and Daniel Dumont, CEC, followed the same pattern in 30-minute intervals. By 10 a.m., there were eight candidates with apprentices, numerous kitchen assistants, food runners and servers, tasting room attendants, five CMC-floor evaluators and four tasting evaluators. It was fast paced, as chefs secured items from the common kitchen, directed their apprentices and worked their plan to produce a nutritionally balanced menu.

The second group of CMC candidates—Jason Hall, CEC; Brian Sode, CEC, AAC; Brian Beland, CEC; and Alan Neace Sr., CEC, AAC—started at noon with final plates due to the tasting evaluators at 6:30 p.m. J. Kevin Walker, CMC, AAC, lead evaluator for the day, guided the critiques for the two groups and was supported by CMC evaluators Victor Gielisse, CMC, AAC; Daniel Scannell, CMC; Kenneth Arnone, CMC, WGMC; Stephen Giunta, CMC; Derin Moore, CMC; Fritz H. Sonnenschmidt, CMC, AAC, HOF; Lawrence McFadden, CMC; and Adam Busby, CMC.

At 7:30 p.m., all the chefs attended the garde manger briefing by Thomas Griffiths, CMC. Later that evening, they received the classical cuisine assignment below:

  • Ground Chicken, 3½ lbs.
  • Ground Beef, 1 lb.
  • Quail, Whole, 5 each
  • Chicken Breast, 1½ lbs.
  • Foie Gras, 1 lb.
  • Dover Sole, Fresh, 5 each
  • Bresse-style Chickens, 3 each

The consommé selected for all candidates was Consommé Lucullus, recipe number 568 in Le Guide Culinaire. All the accompaniments were required to be classical preparations from book.

At 9 p.m. after an intense and hectic day, the chefs were prepared their classical menu and food requisition that was due the next day, Sunday, at 7 a.m.

Consider what the candidates were juggling at the end of day one. They had just finished a full day of preparing the nutritional cuisine menu developed prior to their arrival. They were mentally preparing to start their garde manger menu tomorrow morning, Sunday, and they couldn’t call it a night until they completed their classical cuisine menu and food requisition due at 7 a.m. First day nerves and jitters were to be expected, but were now in the past. Welcome to the challenge and intensity of the Certified Master Chef Exam.

Friday, October 22, 2010: Arrival Day

All 12 CMC candidates arrived safely in Hyde Park, ready and anxious for the experience of a lifetime. Starting with a tour of the host site, The Culinary Institute of America, at 3 p.m., the day continued with an orientation by Barnes. The chefs then had a group dinner hosted by the CIA, most likely the only full meal they will have in days. While they enjoyed the great food and company, they were anxious to return to the kitchen to meet the apprentice they would be working with on Saturday. They also prepared their spice kits, reviewed their stations and equipment and received their garde manger draw assignment for Sunday. The candidates received one of the four following baskets:

Menu 1: Meat & Poultry

  • 3 Each, Duckling, Whole
  • 1 Each, Foie Gras Grade B
  • 1 Each, Pork Loin, Bone In
  • 1 Lb., Pork Fat Back

Menu 2: Seafood

  • 6 Each, Trout, Drawn
  • 2 Each, Lobsters, Live
  • 2 Lbs., Mussels
  • 1 Lb., Shrimp (16/20)

Menu 3: Seafood

  • 1.5 Lb., Salmon Fillet
  • 1 Lb., Squid
  • 1 Lb., Scallops
  • 2 Each, Snapper, Drawn

Menu 4: Lamb & Veal

  • 1 Each, Lamb Leg, Bone In
  • 2 Each, Beef Tongue
  • 2 Each, Veal Shank
  • 1 Lb., Pork Fat Back

With baskets in hand, the CMC candidates were off on their own at 9:30 p.m. to develop their garde manger menu and to prepare the product requisition. Both were due at 5 a.m. the next day, Saturday. It was going to be a long night.

2010 Certified Master Chef Candidates

Friday, October 15, 2010

The CMC candidates were off and running! On Thursday, Oct. 14, the CMC candidates were assigned their nutrition baskets and had to submit their menus by Friday. Brad Barnes, CMC, CCA, AAC, chair, Certified Master Chef Subcommittee, offered this encouragement, “Cook for taste, present for elegant simplicity and allow the beauty of the food to be enhanced by your deft craftsmanship.”

All chefs submitted their menus by the Oct. 15 deadline. Below are the two nutrition baskets assigned to the candidates. What would you do with these ingredients?

Nutrition Basket 1

  • 1 Lamb Leg
  • 2 Arctic Char
  • 2 Lobsters, 1.5 lb.
  • .75 lb. Purple Sticky Rice
  • 1.5 lb. Parsnips
  • 1 lb. Chestnuts
  • 4 Blood Oranges
  • 2 Persimmons
  • 1 Papaya
  • 2 Arugula

Nutrition Basket 2

  • 1 Rib End Pork Loin
  • 6 lb. Bone-in Skate Wing
  • 30 Large Oysters
  • .75 lb. Black Barley
  • 1.5 lb. Medium Red Beets
  • .5 lb. Almonds, Whole Raw
  • 3 Granny Smith Apples
  • 2 Pomegranates
  • 2 Bibb Lettuce

The CMC exam officially begins Saturday, Oct. 23, but this first assignment was done remotely. ACF wishes all CMC candidates much success!