Jason Hall of Palm Coast, Florida, joined the elite group of chefs known as Certified Master Chefs (CMC) on Saturday, August 11, following an eight-day cooking exam at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
Hall is executive chef at Hammock Dunes Club in Palm Coast.
“The test is full of emotion. The successful days at the exam are short-lived, because your focus has to move forward,” Hall says. “The same philosophy has to be applied to the days that do not go as planned, because you cannot go into the kitchen the next day with any hesitancy or doubt.
“The practicing, studying, planning, and revising of what I did at the 2010 CMC test was key for me. I looked at where I fell short and focused on those areas. Passing the exam was a surreal experience,” he continues. “To receive my CMC designation and be a part of the elite group of chefs I have learned so much from and hold in such high regard is a dream come true. I look forward to giving back to the culinary industry as a teacher and mentor and leaving a legacy of excellence for future chefs.”
Seven chefs from across the country took the exam, sponsored by McCormick for Chefs. Hall was the only candidate to successfully pass all segments of the exam on August 11, bringing the current number of CMCs in the nation to 67.
“Jason Hall has achieved the distinction of Certified Master Chef and is to be commended for his hard work, skill, and commitment to the highest standards of cooking,” says ACF Certification Commission Chair Ronald DeSantis, CMC, AAC, MBA, director of culinary excellence and quality assurance, Yale Dining at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.
“Those who aspire to earn ACF’s highest certification, Certified Master Chef, know that the eight-day test of culinary skills and knowledge demands not only an extremely high level of commitment but the courage to accept a difficult challenge,” he says.
The process to earn CMC certification is as follows: First, chefs apply for the CMC exam by showing documentation that they are a Certified Executive Chef or Certified Culinary Educator, providing two letters of recommendation from current CMCs, and meeting rigorous education and experience requirements.
Then, the candidates took the practical exam, which is administered in eight segments: healthy cooking, buffet catering, classical cuisine, freestyle cooking, global cuisine, baking and pastry, continental and Northern Europe cuisines, and market basket, demonstrating that the chef is well-rounded.
Each category is graded in two parts: kitchen skills and presentation, and tasting. The minimum passing score for the entire exam is 75 points out of 100. For chefs to keep the CMC title, they must recertify every five years, documenting 80 hours of continuing education.
Hall earned an associate’s degree from Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, Pittsburgh, in 1995. His career has taken him throughout the United States, from Akron, Ohio, at Portage Country Club, to Napa Valley, California, and to Wilmington, North Carolina, where he worked as executive chef at Café Sonoma.
Hall has also worked as executive chef at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In 2006, he became executive chef at Hammock Dunes Club in Palm Coast, Florida, a Platinum Club of America.
Hall regularly competes in a variety of professional competitions and holds more than 15 ACF medals. Through the club, he works with many charitable organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, James F. Holland Foundation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Flagler County Education Foundation, and Feed Flagler.
In addition, Hall is an ACF-approved certification evaluator and conducts certification evaluations at First Coast Technical College in St. Augustine, Florida, where he served as the 2007 student team’s cold-food assistant coach. He resides in Palm Coast and is a member of ACF St. Augustine Chapter.