Credentialing, training opportunities help military chefs excel

By Keith Desbois, Combined Arms Support Command Public AffairsMarch 29, 2013

Credentialing, training opportunities help military chefs excel
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEE, Va. - Throughout their careers, military food service professionals strive to learn new skills and develop their abilities. The Quartermaster School, part of the Combined Arms Support Command, is in the process of assessing its Soldiers skills to enhance developmental opportunities and help ease the transition from a military to civilian career through professional credentialing programs.

As part of the Quartermaster School, the Joint Culinary Center of Excellence developed a credentialing program as a way of joining the job skills used daily by Soldiers in dining facilities with an accredited certification program. Experience would be transferable to college associate degree credits through an apprenticeship sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation and the Culinary Institute of America.

The JCCoE credentialing process builds on education geared towards obtaining a degree in foodservice or hotel management and enables the Soldier to create a foundation for higher-level learning. The food service credentialing program combines theoretical and practical classroom instruction into an on-the-job training apprenticeship. The curriculum focuses on basic and advanced principles of food production and hands-on experience.

To be eligible for ACF accreditation, service members must complete 4,000 hours of on-the-job training in 10 areas of food production and performance. The individual Soldier is required to maintain a logbook to document work hours in each of the areas, with supervisors monitoring and validating the training. The finial requirement to obtain Chef Certification upon completion of the required hours is passing a written exam.

The program is offered at five installations, forts Hood, Bragg, Drum, Stewart and Campbell. This credentialing opportunity is open to all food service Soldiers at the select Installations. There are currently 554 Soldiers enrolled in the program.

Since 2008, when the program started, 56 Soldiers have earned various levels of ACF certified chef status.

Another opportunity for service members to earn credit-hours was during the annual Military Culinary Arts Competitive Training Event hosted by JCCoE in March. For 2013, nearly 200 service members took part in the training exercise, which included individual and team activities and had over 500 evaluated events.

By combining the culinary training event with credentialing opportunities, JCCoE provided service members another way to develop as professionals.

"Earning medals during the event meant valuable points towards credentialing opportunities," Chief Warrant Officer 3 Charles H. Tally, Jr., Advanced Food Service Training Division chief said. "For the more advanced categories, earning a gold medal could mean achieving enough credit-hours to only need a written exam to gain an ACF accreditation."

Two eligible candidates took the written exam during the culinary event this year and received certifications as Certified Pastry and Sous Chefs.

CASCOM is responsible for training over 180,000 students annually through 541 courses taught by the Ordnance, Quartermaster and Transportation schools, Soldier Support Institute and Army Logistics University. It is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

The credentialing initiative is in support of a Presidential Task Force on veteran employment opportunities. The task force's focus is on promoting civilian credentialing for service members to enhance their employment possibilities when they leave the military.

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