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Training Required to Be a Certified Master Pastry Chef

by Laura La Bella , studioD

The Certified Master Pastry Chefs® (CMPC®) is the highest level of certification for a pastry chef. It verifies that a pastry chef possesses the highest degree of professional knowledge, advanced skills and a mastery of cooking techniques as they apply to the areas of baking and pastry. The certification consists of an intensive eight-day examination. The certification exam is arduous; currently there are only 11 Certified Master Pastry Chefs® (CMPC®) in the nation.

Education and Training

To become a pastry chef, you must complete a culinary program in baking and pastry arts. These programs, available at the associate and bachelor’s degree levels, teach students how to create hearth and specialty breads, desserts, pastries, pâtisserie and confections. Courses include basic and classical cakes, individual and production pastries, breads and rolls, chocolate and confections, specialty breads and contemporary cakes and desserts. In addition to baking and pastry technique courses, students also complete classes in ingredients and equipment technology, menu development, costs and purchasing, food safety, baking principles, restaurant production and restaurant operations. Following your course work, you will gain hands-on experience in a restaurant or pastry production facility through an extensive externship.

Experience Requirements

Before a candidate can apply to take the CMPC®, they must hold a current certification as an American Culinary Federation Certified Executive Pastry Chef (CEPC) or Certified Culinary Educator (CCE). These exams require a minimum of three years of experience as a pastry chef in charge of food production in a food service operation, the completion of three 30-hour courses (one in nutrition, one in food safety and sanitation and one in supervisory management) and 250 hours of continuing education beyond high school. Applicants must also submit two letters of recommendation from two CMPCs/CMCs chefs.

Advanced Courses

In addition to your formal education and certification as a CEPA or CCE, you must have completed, within five years of sitting for the CMPC® exam, advanced level courses in sanitation and food safety, cost management, management, wine and nutrition.

The Certified Master Pastry Chefs® Exam

Every aspect of the CMPC® exam is designed to evaluate and verify a candidate’s skills in organization, sanitation, mentoring and baking and pastry skills. Candidates are evaluated from the time they arrive for the exam until the kitchen is clean on the final day. The exam covers eight distinct areas of baking and pastry: nutritionally-balanced baking (day one), the artistic heart of baking (day two), creative composition, freestyle and contemporary pastry mastery (day three), classical tortes (day four), plated desserts and presentation of a pastry arts buffet (day five), chocolates and petit fours with centerpieces (day six), international pastries (day seven) and a grand buffet finale (day eight). Candidates are required to complete each segment within a designated time limit. Candidates are evaluated by one to five judges (based on the segment) and graded on their kitchen skills and presentation and taste of the finished product. Exam costs, including application fees, travel, housing and miscellaneous expenses, can range from $4,000 to $6,000.

About the Author

Laura La Bella has worked as a marketing communications writer and editor in the fields of advertising, development and higher education for more than 15 years. She has authored more than two dozen nonfiction books for young adults, covering biographies of socially relevant people, timely social issues and career paths.

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