The Great Hall
Is the food biz going downhill? The Great Hall: Is the food biz going downhill?
By George (George) on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - 10:40 am: Edit

This is a first- Moved from the Locker room-

Originally posted by Foodpump

Is the food biz going downhill? There seems to be more crap out there, but then the world's population keeps on expanding, more mouths to feed, and not neccesarily with decent food neither. There always was crap on the market. In the late 1800's the British Navy would award contracts for canned food to the cheapest bidder, and the results were predictable, because there are still bloated, lead-soldered cans of "beef" scattered along the frozen tundra of Canada, grim reminders of explorations gone bad. And back in the early 1900's there were some pretty nasty (and very dangerous) shortcuts practiced in N.American meat plants. Dry goods and spices have been intentionly adultarated since the concept of profit was discovered.

Convienience products? That's exactly what they are. Stouffer's lasgana might be crap, but is Pouilane's gourmet bread, imported from Paris on daily commercial flights crap? Is it a convienience food?. But no Hotel or resturant that charges market price will last long if they continue to serve that crap.
Twenty years ago nobody knew the difference between a robusta and an Arabica coffee bean, now everybody's an expert, margerine was good for you, and butter would kill you. The only kind of chocolate available was that horribly sweet milk chocolate that would sand away the roof of your mouth. Wonderwhite was gourmet bread, and anything that had a crust was "day old". And to cook meant either to drown something in cold oil and then appy heat, or to dump a can of Campbell's cream of mushroom soup over it and shove the whole mess in the oven. That was twenty years ago, now people are a little more educated--assuming they want to be educated about what they eat.
So there is interest, we just have to encourage it. If that certain multi-national chain of Scotish restaurants changes their menu to reflect what people want to spend their money on, then there's hope.

By Chefjoannam (Chefjoannam) on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 - 03:11 pm: Edit

George wrote:
>> dump a can of Campbell's cream of mushroom
>> soup over it and shove the whole mess
>> in the oven

HA! not only is this the exact food that I grew up on, it's the first thing I made for my not-yet husband when we were dating. (except I used cream of celery, does that redeem it at all?)

I was a kid of the 80's, and we ate what our parents bought. We spread our toast with Country Crock, which isn't even margarine. We ate canned soup, frozen pizza, and vegetables from our garden. My dad even raised rabbits for food for a while. (we had a large yard, but we did not live on a farm.) Thank heavens my family's Italian and we got good, crusty bread with dinner!

Next step: move on to college, where horrid cafeteria food is supplemented by what you can cook in a hotpot in your dorm: Ramen anyone? Healthy food meant yogurt and rice cakes and granola and air-popped popcorn.

In my case, the first time I experienced how wonderful food could be was when I went on those first business lunches and dinners, when my company picked up the tab. Struggling to make rent and car payments didn't leave much for cloth napkin dining, so I went on as many of those meetings as I could.

I think that this must be similar to what most of my peers in the midwest experienced...except the large garden & rabbits part.

Between college and culinary school, there was a vast open wasteland of about 10 years of frozen entrées, canned veggies, too much takeout, and yes, even cream-of-something-soup casseroles. (Forgive me, Chef, for I have sinned!)

Now, at least, when I'm committing those sins, I'm doing it consciously, out of nostalgia or convenience. But I'll never use Country Crock again.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Friday, April 22, 2005 - 10:27 pm: Edit

I was not talking about the product, i was talking about that actual number of places that are open and going to open AND going to stay open.
When I said we should be telling these kids and also older people to forget this biz, we should.
theres hardly any good pastry shops here in Los Angeles anymore. most of them are crap.
Most of the so called real good rest's are crap, way too much money, not enough people going all the time, they pop up and then die. as they should. there is not enough rest's to go around, for the amount of people wanting to join the fray. but these schools keep pumping these fools out and where do they go?
are any of you people hiring any of these people that come here or have come here,(this site) lets say...2-3 years ago?
have any of you chefs in the position of hiring, increased your kitchen staff past ONE low cook? or a dishwasher?. maybe a prep guy.(person)
no one ever says "hey, I just hired 4 new people"
come on, face it, good, no real good excellent food in America is getting harder and harder to find. and it must be that way in Europe too, considering all the "new" chefs i talk to and meet here in LA. just waiting to get a job before that "student" visa runs out.
that school in Pasadena, CA. turns out what?....50 new wannabes every year--times how many schools in America, turning out anywhere from 10-50. Man thats a lot of new students, just waiting to get a "chef's job" that DOES NOT EXSIST, and never will. its like this biz is eating itself. come on, how many people here have worked for a company and are now working for themselves. theres only so much that the market will hold. and please don't tell me about the small guy in the bistro whos doing it cause those people, at least 90% are not there in 1 YEAR. thats the stats. or is it 9 out of 10 fail in the first year. whatever. too much. too many. hotels down sizing. it costs too much per square foot these days. buy the bread, buy the app's. buy the salad mix. buy the pastry. hire someone whos cheap. it's like trying to get a job at the car factory putting on brakes. it will never happen in your lifetime. this biz is full. theres no more room for any new people in large numbers. most of you here are still gonna be cooking in 10-15 years. your not going to give up your job are you? too many people.
and besides that I can't spell, and the sky is falling.
I'm stepping down from the soap box as one put it.

By Mbw (Mbw) on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 03:24 pm: Edit

Good food in LA? LOL

That's pretty funny dude. In Los Angeles good food is a theme or a trend NOT a way of life. Sure you can get a great brunch at the Newport Beach Ritz, or spend way too much in West LA or somewhere else, but in the land of :Bob's Big Boy" and "Mimi's" you can go for miles without even the hint of real food.

A shop in "Little Saigon" in Garden Grove has real French pastries and espresso, and you can get a great taco in most places down there, but I would guess you will need to S E A R C H for what you desire.

Ok enough So Call slamming.

Here in San Francisco a great number of people expect fresh organic and expertly prepared foods every day. Sometimes they won't pay much more for it either, but if people ask for it they will get it. The big problem is in the tastes of most people compounded by their lack of education about nutrition. Besides who cares? As was pointed out above it is all about money, Right? Even I have had to come to realize the harsh truth of;

"No one ever went broke underestimating the tastes of the American public"

Face it most people want to eat crap. Sometimes we may need to serve nasty stuff upon request but as long as it isn't constant I am good.

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Thursday, April 28, 2005 - 05:34 pm: Edit

Los Angles has more culture in one square block than Frisco does in the whole city. Oh I forgot Firsco is only one square block.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 12:36 am: Edit

ChefTim, I'm not sure about that. HaHaHa........
Don't get me wrong, I don't like San Fran. Lived north of there for a year, and was not happy.
Food wise in LA. Mbw,...I'll take your advice and check out that place.
You can get a very good meal at several hotels here and there are the old rest's, but you are right about many places being a fad.
Good meals are way too expensive. Why rest's and hotel owner cost themselves away from 60% of the population is a mystery to me.
If I could aford to go out everynight and eat, i would be bored with food in two weeks.
Pastry, well thats another story.
Man I love Pastry, hell there are days when thats all I eat.

By Foodpump (Foodpump) on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 10:15 am: Edit

Ah, finding the culinary "soul" of N. America. In one word: Advertising. The opinions and views of N. Americans about restaurants is that it is a business. Not a lifestyle or a personal statement, but a business. Things aren't going well for your restaurant? Don't soul-search and put all your effort into creating new dishes that require quality ingredients and expertise to put together, no, no, no, you idiot. Advertise! Spend bucks on billboards, ads, glossy flyers, maybe a radio or TV campain if you have the bucks. What does a Dept. store do when they want to get rid of last years summer dresses? That's right, advertise. People will believe anything if they're bombarded with cute ads.

The second greatest evil to quality restaurants, and it doesn't have to be expensive places, but ones that use quality ingredients and have some honest skill in preparation, that evil is franchising. Yessir, franchising. You want to own a restaurant but don't know beans about anything? We'll take care of you, just follow our guaranteed success path. You buy what we tell you to buy, serve what we tell you serve, and most importantly, hold up your end of the advertising budget for your territory. It's a sure thing. With our program you don't need to know how to cook, all the products are fully processed, either drop them in the fryer or just open and serve.

I feel that we've reached a saturation point with crap, or maybe it's just my area, Vancouver, that tells me that. People are making a conscious effort to learn more about quality ingredients and how to use them. Maybe it's a combination of TV cooking shows, food poisioning scares, allergies, and wierd diets that's finally weaning John Q. Public off of crap, at least I hope....

By Chefgibz0 (Chefgibz0) on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 12:08 pm: Edit

YES...YES...YES......Corporatization and Globalization.....both the arch nemesis of sustainablilty and quality. Build it and they will come.....Sell it and they will buy. Doen't matter what the product is...put an ad out and they will buy it.....damn..look at the pet rock and then Roncos line of infomercial crap. All those food gadgets that don't work for a damn. Don't get me wrong, their are some good francises out there. One that I DO like is Fuddruckers. Any time you walk into a burger joint and see a real side of beef hangin so you can see it as you walk through the front door is alright by me.
On the other hand, there are way too many crap factories out there it is hard to find a nice mom and pop, quality rest. anywhere now. Pump it is not just Van. Saturation is all over the place. And yes the public I do believe is becoming more educated and the market for new products is growing and changing. Hell, I was looking through one of my old college purchasing books and the only way it said you could buy tuna was in a can....nothing about steaks or sashimi grade, whole...nothing...just canned. So in some respects...yes the biz is going to hell in a hand basket....but in others it is shining like never before.

P.s.......Country crock.......ughhhh!!!!

By Cheftim (Cheftim) on Friday, April 29, 2005 - 06:16 pm: Edit

Rage Against the Machine

What Henry Ford did for the automobile industry, McDonald's has done for the food industry. Every chain wants to be McDonald's and every small time owner wants to be a chain.

The McDonaldization of American cuisine.

Quantity Over Quality
Efficiency At All Cost
Stick To The Formula
Control Everything

This is the credo of the New American Eating place.

Just as there are no chefs at McDonald's, there are no chefs at your local neighborhood chain restaurant. There may be someone in the kitchen that went to culinary school but a chef they are not. They manage the kitchen, they are a kitchen manager. Their job is to make sure the company formula is followed. There is no room for creativity. Accountants are in charge of the food business. Managers do the bidding of the bean counters.

This formula has been carried to the extreme by the largest foodservice company in the world, the fifth largest employer in the world. Compass makes more money from the rebates and kick backs it receives form manufacturers than it does form serving food. They are a food buying company. Foodservice is just a way of using up product.

But with this homogenization comes a opportunity. It's impossible for an individual operator to compete with the chains on the chains terms. They must be different and creative. The very formula that has made chains successful makes them rigid and unable to adapt quickly to the needs of the public. While they may say, "Have it your way," their formula doesn't allow for variation. An individual operator can perceive a need and provide it on the spot. Where the chains have effectively substituted service for, efficiency, low cost and standardisation. Individual operators can provide real service.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 12:06 am: Edit

On the other hand, all those fast food rest's have in a strange way opened an even bigger door for the real culinary Arts. At least here in America.
Mom and Pops...?, well they come and go, don't they. If any of you go until your 55 then you kinda become a M & P too. The whole thing of M&P does not just mean what kind of food it serves.
If you remember what some M&P served when you were growing up in your area, it could have been totally different in another area of the country.
I think "soul" really has gone to the way side.
I think it stopped when "diners" started to go corp.
In fact, you can kinda see the change with Rt. 66
It may seem funny at first but..."when the interstate when in, people just stopped coming"...
Except for one ORIGINAL DINER, thats still there, owned and run by the same family as in the very early 50's. I have one of their t-shirts and had the old man sign it. Joe Montano.
Joe and Aggies Cafe', Holbrook, Az.
real American and Mexican food from the 50's.
It does not get any better.
But all this does not answer my first org. statement about changing the way we except people into the food biz and how we need a "Industry Standard" to weed out the bums.
It could be as simple as what we have here with the health dept. A big card in the window letting everyone know that the rest you are about to go into has a rating of "A" (being the best) and goes down from there.
Has the chef in this rest been certified by a national board?, then he gets a "D" card.
I think so many crappy places whould close it would create a sucking sound.

By Chefgibz0 (Chefgibz0) on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 09:28 am: Edit

You know Spike you are more of a socialist than you let on to be. John Kerry and Hillary Clinton would be proud of you with just the mention of a National Standard. Who do you want to regulate it....the Government? Just what we need more govt. interference. And in the other thread in the locker room I did say that the industry itself has a way of regulating what people stay and go but as far as those that open their own market capitalism, what it's all about. Let the public deem if they stay open or not. That's not to say that all places will be great or the public a knowledgable palate (as we see they don't).

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 01:26 pm: Edit

Julie’s Cafe owner faces prison time, $250K fine

Deal made in case of undocumented restaurant workers
By Jose de Jesus

The Julie’s Cafe & Catering chain in Green Bay and De Pere and one of its owners will plead guilty in U.S. District Court to harboring and hiring undocumented workers.

The restaurant is accused of hiring undocumented workers from 1998 until about June 15, 2004.

Stephen Metzler, who owns the restaurants with his wife, Julie, is accused of harboring the workers.

Metzler signed a plea agreement in the case. He could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, and the restaurant could be fined up to $3,000 per employed alien, or as much as $72,000.

In addition, Metzler will have to pay back individuals whose identities were used by undocumented workers in the case.

Prosecutors will identify the victims and he must pay for any tax burdens they may have incurred as a result of the theft of their identities.

Metzler of New Franken was arrested June 15 after Green Bay police and federal authorities raided three locations — two in Green Bay and one in De Pere — of Julie’s Cafe & Catering. Also in the raid, authorities detained 13 restaurant employees, all of whom were questioned and later released. All were undocumented aliens, police said.

In a statement, Stephen Metzler said he accepted “full responsibility for my actions in this case … and accept the charges and penalties.

“I apologize to those who have been hurt as a result of my actions,” he said.

As part of the plea agreement, Julie Metzler was not charged, according to Elizabeth Makowski, an information officer with the U.S. Attorney’s office.

“They just worked a plea deal that he would plead guilty to these charges and she’s not being charged with anything,” Makowski said.

She declined to elaborate.

Stephen and Julie are owners of three Julie’s Cafe locations, at 411 S. Military Ave. and 1685 Main St., Green Bay; and 1002 Main Ave., De Pere; and of the Stratosphere supper club in Green Bay.

Police officers and immigration official agents seized payroll information and other documents from all three Julie’s Cafe locations.

U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic said the restaurant “regularly employed illegal aliens who were required to purchase false identification documents from the owners in order to work.”

Biskupic said the false identification documents included fraudulent Social Security cards and birth certificates of U.S. citizens.

He added the undocumented workers were paid in cash, and the fee for the false identification was deducted from their wages.

Authorities became aware of the situation when a Texas man was alerted by tax officials that he owed $8,200 in back taxes for a job he never had at Julie’s Cafe & Catering.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 01:39 pm: Edit

"You know Spike you are more of a socialist than you let on to be. John Kerry and Hillary Clinton would be proud of you with just the mention of a National Standard"............

those are fighting words!

No Gov. needed.
there is no regulation concerning this, anywhere.
If you can find some, please show it to me.
just because someone opens their own place does not mean they don't have to follow the Standard.
If there was no standard for crash tests in cars they would be made out of tin, and those were started by private concerns.
you see why does every other biz out there have to follow certain guidelines and the food industry follows only a few?
just the savings alone by not having a moron in the kitchen and in the front I think would be considerable.
Owner..."so I see you have a certificate from blah,blah and a Industry Standard Certificate giving you the rank of WHATEVER.
Guy looking for job..."Yes Sir".
Owner..."so you know how to do this and that and whatever and not waste any of my money"
G.L.F.J..."Yes Sir, I do"
Owner..."ok, your hired, theres the kitchen report to blah,blah."

..and the world became a little more perfect.

By Chefgibz0 (Chefgibz0) on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 03:07 pm: Edit

Then why the hell did I go through all the steps for ACF certified level for CSC???? I thought that is what it was for.....Hell I learned stuff just takin the written test. Things that one might have learned way back when but then when you get into food costs, period inventories, staff reviews, menus, tend to not to think about those things anymore til something like a CERTIFIED CHEF test makes you think of them again. Then again to say one is an expert at lets say wine.........they have to go through a somalier (sp?) test before that can say they really know I do think these ideas of your are already in place Spike...maybe not to perfection or popular notariety but it is there. As for the fightin words....ya know I like to heat up the cattle prod every once in a while..

P.s. And another thing....even if there was no national standard for car crash tests...they would not be made out of tin. Do you think for a second that a car buyer that is raising a family would comprimise safety for price..hell no....they would demand a safe car for their family national standard or not.....kinda like wholesome department or not.....once a person dies in an accident or gets sick from the food......they will no onger do business for lack of it.......

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Saturday, April 30, 2005 - 10:28 pm: Edit

Man is that idealistic !!!
you think people and biz'es are going to adhear to standards just because a lot of people think they should ?
Come on.
And just because you took a ACF test does not mean everyone is taking them.
But now you have the "shingle, to hang on your door"
In fact, I'll make you a bet, you hang that somewhere and see how many people ask about it.
Or, put on your menu that you have one and see if anyone even knows what it is.
But Now....if everyone had one, then people would know about them and start looking for them and seeing the difference in the food they were BUYING and EATING and having PREPARED for them.
The trash would soon fall away, leaving just yous guys with the paper.
Hell who knows, lease costs and equipment costs might even fall in price because of all the empty spaces, thus leaving an opportunity for the young good ones to strut their stuff.
It works for the wine growers, and those guys with the spoon hanging around their necks.
It works for the food growers and the food sellers.
Why not us?
If your shingle ain't doing noth'in but telling other Chef's you have one, and not making you any more money, then what good is it except to you?
Ya smell that?....thats the smell of a price increase. One that people would pay.
Remember some time back I got sick from some bad grease, did I tell you it was the Chef's day off, and they don't have a Sous Chef, just a manager that walks back there and checks on things. Under a standard that kind of thing might not happen, 'cause youd have a qualified person in the kitchen.
Someone to talk to instead of us Pastry Chef's, just that alone would make it right!....HaHaHa

By Chefgibz0 (Chefgibz0) on Sunday, May 01, 2005 - 01:02 am: Edit

Wine = Boones Farm = Crap = people still buy it

Pastry = Sweet Streets = Crap = people still buy it

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Monday, May 02, 2005 - 01:29 am: Edit

Come know I'm right.
Just admit it.
It's something this industry has needed for a long time.
But I do have to point out that only 4 of us have bothered to mention anything on the topic.
Out of how many here?
Makes ya wonder just how many Cert. Chef's there are out there.
Or even how many would try to get Cert. after school, or after an apprenticeship.
Maybe its not important.
When you get Certified, does that allow you to have a Apprenticeship program at your biz or do you have to take some kind of state test for teaching?
Anyone know?...ChefTim?
And if you can run a apprenticeship program, does the state or Fed. Gov. still give money towards it or give a tax break?
There are schools that if they give scholarships away they get State or Fed. money right?
So with this thinking would it not be to everyones advantage to get Certified and get Lic. to teach to get these monies or tax breaks?

By Chefacec (Chefacec) on Monday, May 02, 2005 - 04:13 am: Edit

Here's the deelio....
I'm a CEC and it hasn't done s*^%% for me. I'd love it if it made a difference, but, alas, it doesn't. Guess I'm the only brother (of color) on this site...hence the reason for the Cert. Bottom*# in...Sh*^ out. For me,the Cert. was just an opportunity to get ahead, or soI thought. Still, I see a hopeless biz that I've grown to love. Hope this makes some since, just made it through a MOD shift....hated it. just slingin' it.


By Foodpump (Foodpump) on Monday, May 02, 2005 - 10:03 am: Edit

This is really frustrating. Lets see, I think the mess we're in is that alot of schmucks and shysters call themselves Chefs, and the real Chefs want to distance themselves from the schmucks. In N. America, there is no difference between a cook and a Chef, matter of fact any cook will call himself a Chef. So what separates the ones who have a thorough knowledege of ingredients, cooking techniques, and skill from the ones who don't? Nothing, at the moment. True, the AFC does have certification, but many many different ones, and the most important one, the one of a COOK is a pathetic joke. Before one becomes a Chef, he/she has to be a competant cook, and there is no criteria for this. As Cooks move up the ladder, they become more specialized, moving into different branches of the hospitality industry.

So, great emphasis, certification--national obligatory certification-- should be made, not for Chefs, but for COOKS. Once the playing field is leveled, meaning everyone in the trade has a similar background in training and work experience, can some cook make the step up to Chef, and this industry can finally get the respect it deserves from the public.

Should the Gov't play a role in this? With respect to post secondary education, the training of cooks, yes. Who else can enforce a nation-wide benchmark?. Should the Gov't play a role in the operations of the hospitality biz? NO. There is enough regualtions from provincial/state Labour boards, Worker's comp. boards, and Health boards.

So lets start at the very foundation of our industry, the lowly Cook. Make sure he/she is properly trained--through-out the entire continent, and we might not have the mess we're in now.

By Chefacec (Chefacec) on Monday, May 02, 2005 - 01:06 pm: Edit

here, here....I know I've met many so-called Chefs that couldn't boil water. Some, with the Cert. Makes ya think, huh? I think the ACF will Cert. anybody with a check....sorry I found out after the fact.

By Chefgibz0 (Chefgibz0) on Monday, May 02, 2005 - 04:08 pm: Edit

I guess that depends on what chapter you belong to. I tested with a chapter that i had no relation to and knew nobody. this was after the SCF had changed their criteria for certification which requires medals in ACF approved competitions, and or a practical exam along with the written test. I found the practical easy....but not all did. Saome did fail. When the judges critiqued your work...there was one that was quite tough and critical, but correct and not just being a cock. And yes there are some so called chefs out there with certification that could not cook a dominos pizza with the phone, but I would wager that they got their certification when just the written test was involved and you could take that as many times as you wanted till you passed. Now I think the crtieria is a bit tougher. you see a lot more just CC's posted in the culinary reveiw than any other C's.

By George (George) on Monday, May 02, 2005 - 04:32 pm: Edit

What did the practical entail?


By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Monday, May 02, 2005 - 11:41 pm: Edit

See !
It could do something for everybody if EVERYONE had to get one that owns or runs a kitchen a hotel or a bistro, private ownership.
Advertizing would state that the Chef here is Certified with the Blah, blah Culinary federation ...whatever.
I really think it would get people asking questions, as to why someone would have to get certified. And those are good questions. Those smucks that are out there getting people sick would/have to find different work.
Starting with the cooks is an excellent starting point. No matter what area they may be in, and lets face it when you cook today you have to know a lot of all the areas. When I was young, and I'm younger than George, we had to learn all the areas of the kitchen in order to pass school, get a decent job, have any chance of advancement, pride, it could be that way today with some, but there are less people today in/on the kitchen payrole. Just think of all those talented people out there that you(as Chef's) would be able to choose from. Hell, Chef's might even stick around longer at a place if they could get some decent help and not some bozo(s) who has no talent except grilling something. Hell I can do that. The pastry shop is the same way. People who can bake and do pastry and not throw the profits away, add some chocolate work, ice cream, sorbet, and someone who can make a decent danish and man I'd kiss their ass on the four corners and give them 3 days to draw a crowd. After I hired them.
Out here in LA. and please don't read this wrong, but almost every(not every one) rest. is filled with cooks and they have no desire to advance themselves in this field. They are low level, many just got here and they work for less than real cooks do. I'm sure this happens across the country. Many having never been to any kind of cooks or Chef's school. They pass the health dept test and start cooking. MY DOG COULD PASS THAT TEST. It means nothing. It didn't mean anything to those fools who used that pan with the rancid grease, to heat my meatloaf. They most likely had no idea, but thats no excuse.
Everybody, who's in any Chef's Org. should be shouting this from the mountain top, A National Standard is the way to go, the BEST way to go, for everyone.
Infact I feel so strongly about this, I think I'll draft a letter to Congress, get some facts together and see if anyone cares.

By Chefgibz0 (Chefgibz0) on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 11:45 am: Edit

This is just for CSC.

A chef who supervises a shift, station, or stations in a foodservice operation. A sous chef must supervise a minimum of two (2) full-time people in the preparation of food. For three consecutive years at same establishment.

Written test.

Practical Exam Guidelines
General Exam Criteria:

Candidates are responsible to bring all ingredients for the exam.
Sanitation skills will be monitored at all times for compliance with standard rules.
Sanitation infractions could lead to a failing grade.
Professional Uniform: All Candidates must wear white chefs coat, white toque, black or black and white checkered pants, leather shoes or clogs and have clean apron and side towels.
Exam Time: 2 hours

Classical Reference: All references to classical cooking must be referenced through Escoffier Le Guide Culinaire

During the time allotted for your exam, prepare the following list of items, finish each according to industry standards, and present final products to the examiners. As items are completed, you may present them at that time either by setting them on finished plates at the end of your work station or by approaching the examiners directly.

The candidate shall exhibit the following:

Prepare ½ recipe matignon vegetable
Prepare 2 fresh globe artichokes to a cooked state suitable for finishing depending on various menu descriptions (display whole cooked artichokes to the examiners; plates do not need garnish or sauce)
Prepare 2 cups of cooked rice pilaf and use in final main course presentation.
Prepare at least one 6-ounce strip steak to medium rare (if not used as main course, display on a clean plate for the examiners to check doneness and proper cooking technique).
Fillet and poach one whole flat fish (if not used as main course protein, display on clean plate)
Prepare 4 servings of one salad with an emulsified vinaigrette dressing (tossed with extra dressing on the side); ingredients must be brought in
Choose one of the preceding proteins and serve a main course (4 portions) of that item along with appropriate sauces and accompaniments; additional ingredients may be brought in and prepared on site for the accompanying vegetables (rice pilaf must be used as part of the final presentation).

Candidates should inform examiners 10 minutes before they begin plating foods for final presentations.
Appropriate organization, safety, and sanitation skill contribute greatly to each candidates success.

They were hard on sanitation and the means by which certain things were prepared. Fish was to go on ice as soon as fileted. Artichokes cooked in a blanc and trimmed to their specifications. The other thing was.....the ACF site said two hours.......but I got three. Would had been fine if I had known before I started the test and not right before I, I said I, was ready to plate. I still had an hour to go but was done. I could not stand there or they take points I did more...which in the end hurt me a bit but I still passed.

By Ladycake (Ladycake) on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 07:16 pm: Edit

Each certification involves a different procedure. In the CEC exam, I had three hours to complete a meal (my menu) using ingredients supplied by the site and paid for by me. These included an appetizer course, salad, fish course, and entree. The market basket included an artichoke, salmon, chicken, lobster, bacon, spinach, Boston lettuce, Belgian endive, carrots, Russet or Yukon potatoes, Barlett pears or Granny Smith apples, and grape tomatoes.

I was told by one person who had previously failed the test that I had to peel the tomatoes (that was not true!). The test was not difficult at all, but the testors were very specific and failed people for minor things that were not made clear. The process is still in it's developmental stages, is changing frequently, and is a subject of great debate and dissention within the ACF.

I think Spike has a valid point but it is more fun sitting back and listening to him rant. There is bad food now, and there always has been. There is very good food now, and there always has been. "Fastfood Nation" made some very good points about the safety of our food supply, which has been sacrificed to the almighty dollar. When Spike mentioned the old diner, I think I need to contrdict him here...the recipes may be old and the method of preparation may be old, but the raw product is no longer the same, making their current finished product far from what it was in the '50s.

Just look at hamburger and pork roast! How many of you are using 7% burger, and how often was that even produced in the '50s? The pigs are grown in an entirely different environment now and look at the pork. When was the last time you ate a pice of pork without sauce or enhancement of any kind and really enjoyed the flavor?

That's just my .02; and I wanted you to know that some us just lurk around when time is short (or look back later when we have more time). Believe me there are more than 4 reading this thread.

Oh, yeah....Spike (are you really on Hillary's side?) I heard they were looking for undercover socialists in New York state. LOL

By Foodpump (Foodpump) on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 08:21 pm: Edit

Ahh, Chefgibzo, this is exactly what I want to illustrate. The above described test is ONLY available to those in a supervisory postion (I.e. Chef or Sous-Chef). That is to say, the test will determine if they can competantly prepare items with 3 cooking methods ( grilling, poaching, braising) and 7 techniques (emulisifying, fileting, knifework). Should the candidate fail this test, he/she will go back to his/her old job which includes supervising of subordinate staff--in plain english, training newbies. "It's a slam, Joe, throw that breast in the pan, drizzle a little oil over it and shove it in the oven, we haven't got time for this artsy-fartsy stuff".
Now in comparison, this is the menu I had to cook for 10 people at the end of my apprenticeship when I was 21 years old:

Goujons du sole Prince Murat
Salade ma fantasie
Jaret de Veau glacé
Fenoil braisé
Frisettes au beurre
Choux-fleur Hollandaise
Sorbet Framboise
Petit-fours au beurre

For this I was given 3 hours to prepare, first course had to be on the table by 11:15, dessert before 12:15. In the afternoon I boned out chicken and demonstrated various cuts: poulet sauté, poulet grille, poulet roti, 3 trussing styles, bardiering, bone out various fish, knife cuts, etc. A minimum of 10 of the 14 known cooking methods and at least 20 techniques and skills had to be properly demonstarted for this test, which made up over 50% of my entire marks for the 3 years. When I had passed this test, a cumilation of 3 years apprenticeship, I had the privilage of calling myself a COOK. At 21 I was 3 years older than most typical apprenticed cooks. Prior to this, as an apprentice, I had no opportunity or RIGHT to pass my knowledege or skills to anyone beneath me.

This is not a start to who can cook better than who, or who had it tougher, but to illustrate what a European trained COOK, not Chef, Sous-Chef, Culinarian, or whatever, must master before he is let loose on the hospitality industry, before he has a chance to pass on his knowledge or lack of, to subordinates.

It is the low man on the totem pole who bears all the weight, and it is the low man who can influence his and future generations what direction to take. Focus on this low man, the ones higher up can take care of themselves.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 11:03 pm: Edit

Foodpump brings up an excellent point with the way they do it in europe.
Thats how we should do it here. It would weed out the ones who don't want to or can't do the work and study.
It would make better Chef's in the long run.

Now, what are you guys going to do about it?
Are any of you going to say anything to your own Chef's Org's?
You can make a difference.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Tuesday, May 03, 2005 - 11:24 pm: Edit

I left you a message in the locker room.
Please respond if you would.

By Chefgibz0 (Chefgibz0) on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 09:13 am: Edit

Don't get me wrong.....I am by no means saying that the ACF standards are the be all end all of culinary measurement...I was merely stating that "SOME" so called levels of tests are already in place....Yes Ladycake the test was easy, things they did point out were not specified which was confusing, but lookin back on it maybe I should have already known those things...there were chefs in the same test as me, going for CEC, cooking their artichokes who knew nothing of a blanc.....Do I believe that other standards around the world aout weigh what is done in this nation....yes...but again when thinking about what goes on in this country whether it be cooking school or kids going to regular school I am reminded of the school scene in Pink Floyds' the Wall.....just being grinded out. I have worked with a few asian trained cooks that had knife skills that blew me away. And yes Spike is making good points and I totaly agree, but the rant is fun. Spike talks about the pastries and desserts and how they get bought in to restaurants now and the lack of good bakeries anymore, which is all true. But it all comes down to the almighty dollar. The thing that I have a problem with is there are very few places who have garde manger chefs that actually do ice carvings, let alone garde manger chefs. Computerized machines now do that for us. I worked a spell in garde manger for a while...tried to teach myself fruit and vegetable carvings, ya know, elevate the apperance of the buffets and banquets and was told "that has no place here....just get the food out!" Now mind you this was in a 4 star/diamond resort. And yes the chapter that I belong to in the ACF sucks. Hasn't had a meeting in 3 years. Rat race calls.

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Wednesday, May 04, 2005 - 09:29 pm: Edit

You know, I don't believe this is a rant, and I'm offened by a couple who think it is. Maybe you go through everyday thinking that all is rosey, maybe your not in a job were you have to deal with this on a regular basis, I think many are and for them it's a concern.
This is your profession.
As "professionals" you are suppose to make it better, as you get better so does the profession.
These are not new thoughts, I remember talking to Master Chef Herman Brieghtaup about this very thing, in 1976, at my school. It was a concern of his way back then, as I'm sure it was a concern of many who were affraid that stuff like this would happen.
If people do nothing, then you get what you deserve.
Not trying to be nasty, just blunt.

By Corey (Corey) on Sunday, May 08, 2005 - 02:35 pm: Edit

I agree.
I am getting tired of going out to eat and retching my guts out 1 hour after I get home.
and I am here in Las Vegas, I have seen a lot of strange things. and some of these food
places are just plain scary. I wanted a chili dog last week, and I happened to see the "cook"
drop one on the floor and just pick it up and dust it off and cook it. I was half way out the
door and he turned to me and asked where was I going, I said I forgot something I had to do.
at least, have them go thru a sanitation and basic cooking course first. true, people can learn
in the field, but, if they were never taugh food care what good is it.

By Foodpump (Foodpump) on Monday, May 09, 2005 - 07:15 pm: Edit

Are you for real? Last time I went near a hot dog was in a Grade 6 field trip to a meat packing plant. The memory of those two guys in white hipwaders and stainless steel shovels forever etched into my mind...

By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Monday, May 09, 2005 - 09:52 pm: Edit

to do that to a hot dog is just......

against nature.

By George (George) on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 10:45 am: Edit

There's hot dogs and then there's hot dogs. I love em.

I have been in Hebrew National plants on several occasions and seen the production from start to end. All red meat and sanitation is the name of the game. (This was not as part of a tour but back when I was working as a Medic, most times as results of slip and falls on soapy floors.)

Here is a good explanation for buynig hot dogs I got off my favorite hot dog truck in Queens NY-

"Hot dogs are like oats. You can get quality ones for a fair price or you can get oats that have been through a cow a little cheeper."


By Corey (Corey) on Tuesday, May 10, 2005 - 09:26 pm: Edit

but most Hot Dogs are Religious...
because they are full of all of God's creatures.

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