Certification Training – Notes From The Chefs

Several chefs recently attended certification exam testing sessions in Boston and Yosemite National Park during which I helped coach them on various strategies and techniques. I’ve asked them to submit posts about their experience and we will run them over the next few weeks. Below is the first from Chef Rich Mathis, who took part in Boston.

First of all, thank you for the opportunity to participate in the Pro Chef II Certification process. There are not many companies so dedicated to the culinary growth of their team. I am honored to be included.

I think the expertise has forced my daily work routine to include a much more detailed planning and organization regimen, ultimately making for a better operation. Here is a day by day recap.

Day 1 – Upon arriving in Boston, we were greeted graciously and invited to a wonderful dinner which consisted of seemingly endless courses of goodness. The next morning we were introduced to the Pastry Chef who lectured for a few hours and walked us through all of the items we were to prepare. As a team, we created all of the baking and pastry items and discussed the ins and outs of the products. The information received here was very valuable.

Day 2 – Creating all of the items and getting on the same page as a group, with timing, was a challenge.  We seemed to be all fighting for equipment and oven space on the first day.  I also struggled a little with my work station being tucked in a corner with only one way out which was directly through another work station.  I quickly became acclimated and was able to work through the situation

Our Garde Manger segment began here as we fabricated our proteins and prepared ourselves for the work to come.

Day 3 – Get on with the terrines… this segment started off slowly as our confidence was being checked at every corner.  We managed to get our terrines and forcemeats prepared and assembled with direct supervision from Chef Henin.

Day 4 – As we ran through our Baking and Pastry this time around, our timing came together a little better. We realized this was crucial to our success as a group.  Critique was to the point and without reservation.

We also finished our Garde Manger section over the next several hours and received our critique from Chef Henin and Chef Doherty. Then,  we headed back to the hotel where we gathered our thoughts and had a one on one with Chef Henin where we received very good feedback.

Return – The following morning I boarded a plane to head back to Tampa and dove straight into work beginning a preparation for opening night of hockey the next day. This trip was definitely a huge help in preparation for the actual testing as we have run through our routines several times now. The tips and skills obtained while working with such talents was priceless. My thought process and approach toward food preparation has been improved.

Since the practice session I have run through both the Baking and Pastry and Garde Manger segments with a new drive and determination having fine tuned the timing and quality of product.

Thanks again for the opportunity.

Rich Mathis



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