CMC examinations at CIA

Joined Dec 1, 2002
I thought I would share with you guys my experiences from the past two days. I am a student at the CIA. I have an on-campus job in our continuing education building. Right now is the CMC tests held here at the culinary in the cont. ed. I ate breakfast in the room with the canadaites, and see all the CMC judges in the halls. I got to talk to one from Houston, but I just talked about TX with him. At breakfast a man walked up to one of the judges and asked how it was going. He repilied "we lost two the other day." Like no, biggy just crushed thier dreams. The rumor around here is that one canidaite failed for going past the time limit. The judge told him to stop and he made a few extra slices. The judge said "you're done" The canidaite looked shocked as he was told he had failed and "it's over". The last part like said might be a slighly exaggerated rumor. Anyway it is awsome being in the building and room with this stuff going on. The class I work with is called boot camp. Just people (not professionals) that want a week of education for home use. Our room is used later for the CMCs, and people look in trying to see the CMCs. All they get to see is a bunch of housewives and older men. LMAO
Joined Jul 18, 2002
Could you explain the acronyms such as CMC?

CIA is of course the Culinary Institute of America, but that reminds me of a very funny story from a job a long time ago.

My husband and I had just moved back East from California and I found out I was pregnant. That changed all our plans to move to Australia, etc. So while we were figuring out what we wanted to do, we took a seasonal job at a summer resort. Basically a cross between Club Med and summer camp, called Club Getaway in Kent Connecticut.

It was owned by a family and the patriach was a crotchty old geezer who was very demanding.

Now they often used interns and students from the Culinary Institute, as it was about a 30 minute drive.

One day there was a big event going on, and alot of extra hands were hired. The old guy saw a few big guys hanging around and asked if they were from the "CIA". They said yes, and he started yelling at them to get to work and move some of the furniture around. They set right to it and cleared the room. Later it came to pass that they were actually guests and worked at the "real" CIA, the Central Intellegence Agency, but hey, they were used to taking orders.

Whenever we meet someone from those days, we still have a good laugh at that story!!!
Joined Jan 31, 2002

Brilliant story. Very funny.

CMC stands for Certified Master Chef, a title granted, I beleive, by the American Culinary Federation (ACF) after candidates pass a fairly grueling several-day examination hosted at the CIA. Most don't make it. It's really very hard. See Micheal Ruhlman's The Soul of a Chef for a blow by blow account of the festivities.

There are other less prestigious, or at least different, titles granted by the ACF through similar but diverese application and examination processes. Some of these include CCC: certified chef du cuisine; CMPC: certified master pastry chef; CCE: certified culinary educator; ect.

These are U.S. certifications. There are rough equivalents world wide. The french government officially awards "maitres de la grande cuisine francais" to chefs of particular note and merit (There is, I believe, about fourty of them surviving outside france: people like Jaques Pepin, Jaques Torres, and Chef Michel LeBourgne, who I had lunch with (near, anyway) today. Go NECI!) Austrailia also, I beleive, has such a certification program in place.



Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Heh, going over the time limit is not why they don't pass. You really got to know how to cook. I took a seminar on taking the CMC test once, and most of it has to do with your mastery of quite basic cooking techniques. Simple things like knowing the proper size of a protein portion, keeping your farce cold, etc. People put a lot of pressure on themselves, and most of them are simply not prepared. There's some amount of common sense thrown in, but some of them just can't cook.

Joined Jul 2, 2001
Having taking the test for CMC and not passing( failed the last day) it is true that there is alot of pressure mostly self-imposed. The time limit is strickly inforced and if you are not ready you must wait. Maybe your friend knew that the 10 point penalty would be enough to fail as you need a score of 75 or better. My experiance was that the judging was very subjective. Having said that the most important thing is to have a great command of the basics. The test is fairly outdated though as truely nobody cooks as you are required to cook for the test. After every session you are graded on your performance pass or fail. no middle ground. On one day I was marked down for straying to far from the original and one day for not being creative enough. Although I had passed all the sessions I needed to finish te last day w/ a score of 81 or better to receive my CMC certification I received a 79 oh so close. I understand now though they have changed the rules so that if you dont pass and haven't failed any of the previous sessions that you would be allowed to take the last day over in about three months. That is alot more fair I believe.
Joined Dec 1, 2002
Wow. I think that is impressive. The points you need from work experience and so on just to b a canadaite, you must have some knowledge fodigger. You are right about the subjectiveness of the grading. The judges can tell you whatever they want. I do believe that they are fair for the most part. What they want is for a canadaite to have to work as hard as they did to get their certification.
Joined Jul 18, 2000
moxiefan, im not sure about the Aus process, if it is what iam thinking of, then, it is a further 2.5 yrs part time over the trade/apprenticeship training.

The Australian system is based on "AQF" or the Australian Qualifications Framework.

Depending on where you end up in the education system with regards to training defines your level of competancies. Someone who hasnt reached a level of competancy isnt entitled to reap the benefits of the said level of compentancy.

Joined Jan 31, 2002

Yeah, the Aussie system may well be wildly different. I looked into going to culinary school there for a change of pace and because its actually pretty inexpensive, and it seemed very different. The impression that I got was that there were a number of levels of technical training with various levels and dimplomas, ect. I guess its not quite the same as the CMC because its an educational thing, rather than an exam-based cituation.

I know in Canada a tech school is a college, while a four-year (more or less) school is a university, but here in the states we use the terms more or less interchangably. Are there, in Austrailia, certifications that are higher ranking than the U.S. standard issue two-year college degree (Associate of Occupational Studies, for example)?

just curious. How about in Britain, ect? What's the deal on culinary education there?
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