Need advice on Red seal exam

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by cjl_2006, Sep 24, 2009.

  1. cjl_2006

    cjl_2006

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    Alright so I recently finished my 6000 hours for my apprenticeship back in august and i booked my red seal exam straight away.

    I took the test a few days ago and i failed by 1 mark.... 1% Personally i found the test very obscure and vague.

    A few examples below

    What is the proper brewing temperature of coffee? According to professional cooking 5th edition it is 90-93C. This temperature range was not on the exam at all as one of the choices.

    How long should a whole chicken be rested after roasting and coming out of the oven? I may be wrong but doesn't the size of the product partially determine the time needed for resting?

    What is the proper procedure to skin an eel? I was unable to find any kind of a procedure for skinning an eel in my college book or online. Maybe it's because I've only worked at three different restaurants during the course of my apprenticeships but that question seems very tricky.

    Is it possible to appeal the results of the exam? I really don't want to pay another 100 dollars to get the 1% needed to pass.

    If i do have to take the test again can anyone link me to a sample example or questionnaire. It seems the book isn't a broad enough knowledge base for this exam.
     
  2. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Ahhhhh, so you've experienced the "Red Schpeil" first hand, eh?

    Pay the $100, and do it over. Don't bother complaining, it's just a Gov't board the gives tests like that to plumbers, electricians, and other trades. Probably your local Chef's ***'n that writes most of the questions. But the Gov't body insists on writing/designing the actual test, and as such has total control over all of the questions, albeit many of them stoopid.

    Imagine, you've sweated 3 years for your apprenticeship, and the only test that counts one comprised of 200-odd multiple choice kweshtuns. Kinda like trying out for the Canucks or the Leafs, you show up with a hockey bag full of gear, and instead are asked to write a test.....

    The Red Schpeil varies from Province to Province, in BC it's 8100 hours and you get a free re-write with your $100. Alberta is the ONLY province that actually requires some kind a practical cooking exam along with the written. Ontary-ario was made famous a while back by the two chicks from "Wendy's".

    Thus, many employers are wary of the "Red Schpeil" as there are no standards within Canada. Most Chefs laugh when they see it on a resume, but many HR people and noobie employers get all white knuckled and heavy ragged breathing when they see it.


    Most of the European Chef's are influenced by Pauli's "Classical cooking the modern way". In there you will find out how to skin an eel (make an incision around the heck, nail it's head up on a wall, and pull the skin off with pliars. No B.S. here either, check it yourself) Me, I'm a Saskatcahewan boy, never skinned an eel either.

    Re-write the test, pay if you have to. Anyone who asks for this credential in the future should be viewed with contempt and suspicion, any one who laughs at it should be recognized as a professional who believes you should be tested on how well you can actually cook, move around in the kitchen, get along with employees, and organize.

    Hope this helps
     
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  3. cjl_2006

    cjl_2006

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    Thanks for the advice.

    I know the Red Seal is not a good indicator of the quality cook or chef that you are.

    I've just noticed a lot of places like retirement communities and prisons that REQUIRE it before they even look at you for a job.

    It turns out that those jobs are the better paying jobs in the industry. Not that i want to pedal prison slop for the rest of my life but at this stage of my life where I'm saving for a car and house i really need to make some good coin. If this red seal helps me do that then all the power to it.

    I've gotten in contact with my Chef professor from college and hopefully he has some advice for me.
     
    essenkommen likes this.
  4. ryan.brosseau1

    ryan.brosseau1

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    Hear Hear!!! Two cheers for foodpump!!!


    As a fairly recent grad of good old st. clair college in ontario , I agree 100% with foodpump. The only red seal chef's i have yet to meet that were worth a **** were the instructors at school. The first red seal chef i worked under couldn't even fillet a fish or 8-cut a chicken properly. I've learned most of what i've learned through trial and error and what the non-red seal chefs have taught me.

    This seems to be the same as all the other red seal professions. The guys with no credentials know everything the know-it-alls with the red seal know how to pass a test.

    But yeah it sucks that the gov'mt jobs and hotels etc require it a lot of the time.

    Advice that i gotten from friends and chefs about the test was to make sure you understand the concepts and how stuff works. The questions can then be answered using mostly common sense. And of course pick the answer closest to what the book says.

    Bite the bullet and pay the $100 and do better next time.

    Good luck.
     
  5. leeniek

    leeniek

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    Well said foodpump and ryan!! I have met a couple of red seals who honestly didn't know their stuff at all and I've known more than them. It's funny.. I think the certification has went to their heads!
     
  6. seabeecook

    seabeecook

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    My experience is if you pettle "prison slop," the inmates will turn you into slop.

    I don't know about Canada, but here in California, prison jobs offer chefs and cooks a good way to earn a very good wage and steady income, benefits, etc. It certainly helps you pay for a car and house, especialy with overtime.

    From a retired prison food manager,

    Steven
     
  7. mandarin25

    mandarin25

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    I have failed twice both by 1% each time, and apparently switched a bunch of answers around cause the breakdown was different everywhere, I am writing it for the third time, and also would appreciate if someone knows where i can get a practice exam.

    there was one sauce on the test that I had never heard of, and I looked up in my book couldnt find it... it wasnt a base sauce, or a small sauce off the base sauces, it was rediculous.
     
  8. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Hang on a sec,...

    Are you telling me that you didn't pass because you only got 99% instead of the required 100% of all questions correct?

    BTW, what was the name of the sauce?
     
  9. chefray

    chefray

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    That's the proper way, if you're ever asked, to skin a catfish also.
     
  10. mandarin25

    mandarin25

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    you need 70% to pass, I got 69% both times, I cant remember the sauce to be honest, thats how obscure it is, although my old chef told me that there is a sauce to watch for on the test, I cant remember what he called it, but it involves crayfish shells, and I think that might be the one.

    This could be an interesting rewrite, after I had my daughter I have had no memory left, I hate that this piece of paper matters so much to some when really, I could be really book smart, but have no concept of food, and experimentation, Where as I am the opposite, I wont remember everything that is in the "professional chef" book, but give me a few ingredients, tell me what scale you want the food at (homecooked, gourmet, or inbetween) and I can make a great dish, from deliscious to artistic.
     
  11. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Sauce Nantua?
     
  12. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    So, you "missed" 31 out of 100 (62 out of 200)?
     
  13. cjl_2006

    cjl_2006

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    In Ontario you need 105/150 to pass or 70%. My score was 104/150 or 69%.

    My chef professor from college is sending me a mock test. I'll send it to you if i can.
     
  14. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    So, if I understand correctly, you "missed" 36 answers, is that correct??

    Not having seen a "Red Seal test", I presume it is multple choice with, say, four (4) choices? Knowing a little bit about creating such tests, two of the answers are obviously incorrect/wrong, one is a "distractor", i.e. might appear correct if one doesn't understand the subject, and one is correct. Common sense points to the fact that, if you had "guessed" at the 36 questions you missed, you would have gotten somewhere around 18 of them correct and you would have passed.

    For example, if the sauce question WAS Sauce Nantua, which is a classic, Nantua sauce - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia , my guess is the possible answers had clues to which was correct.

    My advice? Rely on your "knowledge" of the fundamentals to figure out the correct answer(s), don't try to "memorize" either the possible questions or the answers.

    I'll venture that there are three groups of questions on the test:
    • Those that the answer is obvious to you
    • Those that you "think " you know but are not sure about, and
    • Those you do not have a clue about
    Go through the test and answer the first group, those that are obvious.

    Go back and start over with the second group, ignoring those that fall in the third group, and use your skills to eliminate the wrong answers and help you pick the right answers.

    Now go back to the ones you have no clue about and see if you can "guess" based on your knowledge.

    On average, youu probably "know" the answers to 75-85 of the questions, have a good "guess" at 50-60 questions, and don't have a clue about 15 questions, so, if you answer the ones you know and half of the ones you "think" you know correctly, you'll score 105 without any problem.

    Good luck on the re-test!
     
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  15. mandarin25

    mandarin25

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    I dont recall if it was nantua that was on the test, I do remember that one of the options for the multiple choice was pickles, but thats all I remember,

    Like i said before, I am a great chef, I am just horrible at multiple choice questions because I second guess myself all the time, I think something is right, but under pressure I tend to lose sight of what I need, and pick something else.

    Thank you for your advice on the test, I appreciate it, I still don't understand why 75% of the test isn't practical. I know lots of people that passed the test in my class, and I would stay away from the restaurants they cooked in because I know that they dont follow health and safety rules, or just that their food is horrible.

    Good luck everyone who is writing the test... I may have to postpone my test date, working 6 days a week, taking care of a hurt/now sick husband, and my 1 year old daughter, I really havent had the time to look over my notes, and text... I will let you know if I passed though.
     
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  16. magar

    magar

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    Hi chef I am going to take test so I am so worried about tricky questions so if you dont mind can I have sample multiple questions in my email [email protected] ?

    may thanks

    prakash
     
  17. sherbel

    sherbel

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    One can read this thread and get the impression that all of us with Red Seal certification are know-nothing dimwits who happen to excel at taking exams. I aced the test on my first try, having never set foot in any sort of culinary school, but having operated a restaurant, worked with several high end catering companies, and risen from an assistant cook to a food service manager in an institutional setting, where I earned a hefty salary.

    While doing all this, I read everything that I could get my hands on in terms of cookbooks, cooking texts, and food writing. (I still do this.) I did this not to pass the test, but because I love the industry, and I love to read about food and cooking, as well as the history and anthropology of food and cooking.

    Having said that, I respect anyone who has a good depth of knowledge in any discipline, cooking included. I don't mock those who are certified, however.....any more than I would disparage those without certification.

    If you think the test is bad....if you don't respect it...don't take it. Carry on with your career without certification. Many successful cooks and chefs have done so.
     
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  18. chris nedoff

    chris nedoff

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    What is the red seal exam? I am new member of chef talk. Thanks.
     
  19. Iceman

    Iceman

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    Nice post SherBel. I particularly like this part: 
    On another point, some people are so concerned with their resumes that they trust too much in word processing programs. Sometimes, believe it or not, those programs make mistakes too. As an example, I am aware of two(2) professional websites that have very bad "spell check" programs (Yahoo, AOL), but that's for another time. LOL. 

    As for your question Chris ...

    In Canada there is an Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program which, through the passing of a government provided exam, qualifies the individual as a tradesperson. Once an individual passes this Red Seal Cook Exam they are given the highest government recognised designation of Red Seal Cook. "Red Seal" is a Canadian thing. There are all kinds of certifications; bricklayers, carpenters, mechanics, electricians and others I'm sure. 
     
  20. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Used to think that way--until 2009.  Things changed.  For one, the Red seal was changed to include an actual cooking segment , not just the 200-odd multiple choice kweshtuns--which, until then, the only other province to do so was Alberta.

    ITA designs and supervises the tests, and as Iceman says, they do teh test for many other trades..  ITA canvasses support from the respective trades to see what they want on their test, and if they want a practical component or not.  Many trades take this very seriously, and base salary ranges on these qualifications.  The Unions in the Hospitality trade have in the past, ot given a rodents posterior about anything , and after 2009 only one Union has, taken an active interst in the Red Seal qualification.  It is with this qualification that salary ranges are based

    Go2 is a provincial gov't body that oversees of the hospitality industry  training and are responsible for the changes.  They now have in place a new cook's designation, or rather a series of them.  It starts off with Cook I which has, I think 6 mths of schooling, a test, and then out in the work force.  After a certian amount of hours of steady employment, Cook II can be taken, again with a schooling component, and more working in the indsutry.  After that, it's Cook III and the big final exam--with a practical, hands on component-- is the Red Seal.  This situation finally acknowleges that hands on work experience is just as important as the education component.   Most of the Culinary schools are designing curriculum to meet with this new standard.  Go2 is now doing the same for th  baking Industry.  The big goal is in 20 years or so, to do away with "challanging" the Red Seal, and have every one do a certain amount of schooling and a certain amounto of hands on cooking before writing the exam.

    If you study most other trades, they base their salary ranges on qualifications, and if you know the hosptitality industry, wages are crapola for cooks, bakers, etc..  Qualifications are the best way to move the industry forward and attract and retain staff.

    But a cook with a red seal prior to 2009?  I don't want to go there. 
     
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