The American Culinary Federation offers a total of 14 different certification designations in the culinary arts. These 14 designations span five areas of expertise: cooking professional, personal cooking professional, baking and pastry professional, culinary administrator, and culinary educator.
For cooking professionals, ACF offers five certificate options: certified culinarian, an entry-level position within a commercial food service operation; certified sous chef, a shift supervisor in a commercial food service operation; certified chef de cuisine, a supervisor with final decision-making power in culinary operations; certified executive chef, a role responsible for all culinary units and other duties such as budgeting, payroll and inventory; and certified master chef, the highest degree of culinary knowledge and skill.
Personal cooking professionals have two certification options: personal certified chef and personal certified executive chef. Both require knowledge of menu planning, marketing, financial management and operational decision making, while the Executive Chef certification requires two additional years of work experience.
ACF also offers four levels of certification for baking and pastry professionals. The certified pastry culinarian is at the entry level, while the certified working pastry chef would supervise the pastry section or shift. The certified executive pastry chef is a department head with supervisory and administrative duties. The certified master pastry chef possesses the highest degree of baking knowledge and skill.
The certified culinary administrator is responsible for a variety of administrative functions including human resources, operational management and business planning in addition to culinary knowledge. Culinary educators have two options for certification: certified culinary educator and certified secondary culinary educator. The certified culinary educator must have experience working in the industry in addition to working as an educator at an accredited secondary or vocational institution.