A Chef’s Guide to Becoming ACF Certified

A Chef’s Guide to Becoming ACF Certified


The ACF, American Culinary Federation, is “a professional organization for chefs and cooks, founded in 1929. The ACF is based on promoting the professional image of American chefs worldwide through education of culinarians at all levels.”

Certification through the American Culinary Federation demonstrates skill, knowledge, and professionalism to the foodservice industry. Certification encourages elevation of culinary career path and/or position. To make this possible, the ACF Certification Commission works hard to add value and credibility to chefs who are ACF certified. Therefore, the Commission was formed to guide and strengthen certification programs for chefs through an accreditation process.

This is why chefs, should take the steps to become ACF certified. 123ce offers the courses that are necessary to gain initial certification with the ACF, along with mandatory recertification credentials to maintain certifications and Continuing Education Hours to allow chefs to increase their skills and knowledge.

How to Become Certified

“The ACF’s ladder of 16 credentials allows an individual the ability to accumulate knowledge and skills through the life of their culinary or pastry career, leading to the Certified Master Chef® (CMC) or the Certified Master Pastry Chef® (CMPC) credential. Along the way, the ACF provides industry professionals, regardless of experience and background, the ability to network, training, development and tools that lead to a successful career in any branch of food service.”

Begin as a CFPC/CFC:

Beginner certification, such as a Certified Fundamentals Cook (CFC) or Certified Fundamentals Pastry Cook (CFPC), gives the holder the ability to prove they have obtained the knowledge and skills necessary for entry-level food service employment. It requires:

Step 1: Earn a high school diploma, GED or 75 Continuing Education Hours

For many candidates, it is possible you have already received your high school/GED. If not, it might be worth looking into earing your GED online. Another option would be to enroll in 123ce’s 5-50 continuing education hour courses until the 75 hours are earned in total. For example, you could enroll in one of our 50 hour courses, a 10 hour course, and then a myriad of different 5-8 hour courses. There is even a 5 hour Human Resource Management course currently offered for no cost – completely free! These hours would take the place of the high school diploma/GED prerequisite.

Step 2: two 30-hour courses, one in Nutrition and one in Food Safety and Sanitation;

123ce provides over 500 continuing education hours in 23 courses approved by the ACF. This includes a 30 hour Nutrition Certification course and a 30 Hour Food Safety and Sanitation course approved by the ACF. In addition, this will require a recertification course after 5 years of being certified. 123ce offers the recertification hours for chefs to receive their mandatory hours in an affordable and convenient way!

Step 3: a passing grade on the written and practical exams

ACF approval is required prior to registering for practical and written exams. A passing score for the written exams range between a 70-75%, depending on the certification level with the exception of CCE which has a scaled score with a passing grade of 300. The practical examination is scored overall as pass or fail. Points are calculated in various areas and a total numerical score is calculated. A total averaged score of 75% (75 points) or better is considered passing.

For more information on the ACF written and practical exams, you can view this on their website.

Once a foodservice professional earns their CFC/CFPC and gains employment, they are eligible to use the “ACF ladder” to elevate their skills and knowledge and build a pathway for career goals. For more ways on how you can level up with ACF certification, you can read one of our recent blog posts.