Here are some thoughts from one of the chefs that recently went through CSC testing. I think that sharing these notes and thoughts helps future chefs learn and prepare.
Day 1 – Orientation / Garden-Manger / Starch Cookery / Vegetable Cookery
On our first day, we all arrived at Kendall College around 7:15 a.m., following a continental breakfast with Chef Roland Henin and Christian DeVos. We were all very eager to see what the day held for us. We were greeted by other chefs who were on property. After a quick orientation, we went to the kitchen where we would be cooking for the next few days. After choosing our stations, we met with Chef Bosco who handed us our practice menus. Chef Bosco was very informative and open in helping with any questions we had. He gave us a quick demo on salads, emulsified dressings and hors d’oeuvres. We all practiced and then broke for lunch. After lunch that Kendall College provided for us, we went back down to the kitchen and met with Chef Bosco. We had a quick lecture/demo on Starch Cookery and then we all practiced on starch, specifically in cooking pilaf, risotto, potatoes and grains. After starch we quickly moved on to Vegetable cookery. After a long day of excitement and cooking, we all left the college around 7:30.
Day 2 – Fish Cookery/Lecture on Supervision and Cost Control
This day began the same as day one. We had a light breakfast and then went straight to the college. We had a short meeting with Philip Mott and then were on our way to the kitchen. We met with Chef Magiera and he gave us a demo on how to clean a flat fish and a round fish. We then went to our stations and practiced away. After cleaning our fish we made Fumet blance and stripped bass almondine. Chef Magiera was very nice and gave us lots of information about the cleaning of fish. We had a short break and ate the fish we all practiced on and went to meet with Philip. Philip gave us our lecture on supervision and cost control, which was great. I was having issues with my math on calculating cost and my P&L Sheet, but he made it all very clear and was nice and informative. After that great class we had a free night off to go out. A couple of guys did go out but not me. I was hitting the books to prepare for my written test because I was very nervous.
Day 3 – Meat Cookery/ Written Test
We all arrived bright and early at the college and had our short meeting before heading to our stations in the kitchen. We met with Chef Magiera and he gave us a meat demo. We then practiced cooking our 8 oz. strip steaks, something that is on our practical tests. After that we had our lunch break and then the written test. I haven’t been that nervous in a very long time. The test went well though and it really wasn’t that hard. I think it’s because I took the online practice tests multiple times prior to that day. That really helped, so I strongly suggest it. After the written test, finding out that I passed was a great relief. We then all went to our stations in the kitchen and took our Practice Exam Practical.
Day 4 – Practical Exam Day.
There were two different groups that took the test. I was in the second group, which gave me the opportunity to go over my timeline and get my menu done right. If you’re in that first group I suggest getting all this done the night before. I was very calm but eager to get started. Everybody started 15 minutes apart. They gave us 15 minutes to gather our equipment before they started the clock to start cooking. I had everything measured out and all my portion cups labeled so I knew exactly what I needed and how much of it, so I wouldn’t have much waste. They grade you on that as well. The two hours fly by so fast so follow your action plan.
Overall I have to say this was one of the best experiences of my life. I’m very grateful that Delaware North does all this for us because it’s not cheap to do it on your own. If you have the chance, make sure you practice many times before you go, because if you don’t and you think this is going be so simple then you’re going to fail. It sounds really easy but it’s not when you have two Certified Master Chefs and three judges walking around looking over your back and asking you questions while you’re trying to perfect your work. I want to thank Chefs Chris Tunnell, Chris Matta, Kevin Doherty,KendallCollegeand Delaware North for giving me the opportunity to further my culinary education. Good luck to all!