Certified Master Chef®

The CMC® level is the highest and most demanding level of achievement of all ACF certification levels, granted only after the candidate has passed an intensive 8-day test of culinary skills and knowledge.

Watch the video and learn more about the CMC® Exam.

Applicant Qualification Guidelines

  • Possess the practiced skills to perform culinary art to the very highest standards.
  • Have a foundation of quality experience and education in advanced level courses, externships and/or competitions.
  • Be physically and mentally prepared to perform eight days under extreme pressure.
  • Secure funding to cover expenses: application fee, tuition, travel, housing, meals, etc. based at approximately $4,000–$6,000.

Specific Experience Requirements

  • Hold a current ACF Certified Executive Chef® (CEC®) or Certified Culinary Educator® (CCE®)
  • Letters from two CMCs recommending the candidate for the exam

Additional guidelines and educational requirements can be found in the CMC® Manual.

Application Process

To apply for the CMC certification carefully review the CMC® guidelines and qualifications, submit a letter of intent, CMC® application, $300 nonrefundable application fee and two letters of recommendation from current ACF CMPCs or CMCs to the ACF National office.

Applications will be reviewed by the CMC®/CMPC® subcommittee and qualified candidates will become active CMC® candidates and receive information regarding the next scheduled exam. From this point forward, the candidate will be subject to all policies and procedures regarding the exam.

Tuition Payments, Refunds and Other Expenses

Once a candidate has committed to an exam date, the payment schedule is listed below. The total fee for the examination process is currently $4,500.†

  • The application fee of $300 is non-refundable and entitles the candidate to be listed as a preparatory candidate for the next three exams.

All other expenses associated with taking the exam (travel, room, board, etc.) are the responsibility of the candidate. This includes any charges required by the host institution for make-up exams.

  • Exam fees vary by location. Contact the National Office for additional information.

† For the 2017 exam.


CMC® recertification is required every five years. Chefs should use the Recertification Application and document 80 hours of continuing education. Certified Master Chefs® are exempt from taking the three mandatory refreshers.

Click here to contact the ACF Certification Department.