Sponsored by the American Culinary Federation
For decades, culinary apprenticeships have provided invaluable hands-on training for aspiring culinarians alongside skilled and experienced professionals. Since 1979, the American Culinary Federation (ACF), the premier professional association for chefs in North America, has provided industry-leading culinary apprenticeships that were the first of their kind to be offered in the United States. The apprenticeships have combined on-the-job experience with related classroom instruction and expert mentorship for future chefs. Now, ACF is expanding the program to bring the classroom to the digital world, supporting flexibility for aspiring chefs as they build their careers.
ACF’s revamped apprenticeship program is bolstered by a new digital learning platform designed specifically for culinary apprentices and program administrators. The digital portal can be used for online learning, skills development, curriculum management and other resources to make apprenticeships more accessible to aspiring chefs and more beneficial to the kitchens where apprentices work and learn in. With traditional culinary apprenticeships requiring approximately 1,000 to 4,000 of in-kitchen training hours, the digital module allows students to hone their skills when and where is most convenient, allowing them to continue to work and opening the opportunity to a wider pool of candidates.
The new digital platform does not change the standard of certifications culinary professionals get as ACF has modernized the apprenticeship guideline standards and the ACF Apprenticeship Committee rewrote required apprenticeship competencies to allow for some or all of what was once classroom instruction to be completed via online sources, allowing programs to customize and adapt to better fit the needs of current and prospective students. The accessibility of the portal also takes the pressure off of those who are unable attend culinary school full-time or relocate to the more well-known culinary cities.
“There’s a mistaken impression that future chefs need to relocate to a small list of big cities in order to get the highest level of training and experience — that no longer has to be the case,” said Jeremy Abbey, CEC, CEPC, CCE, CCA, director of culinary programs for ACF. “With this system, and as the ACF apprenticeship roster continues to expand, ACF will help culinary employers and communities grow and retain local talent by offering an exciting educational pathway and an opportunity for future professionals to earn while they learn in their own backyard.”
The digital program also includes a mobile-friendly skills textbook and gallery as part of the program relaunch. Apprentices have the ability to use their mobile phones to record the skills competencies associated with their training track, ledger hours and review relevant subject knowledge pages putting their education right at their fingertips. Not only will the digital portal make time-management and organization easier for students and administrators, but with the cut-down of in-person classroom time needed, the revamped program has the potential to alleviate student debt. The program allows flexibility to culinary students to choose whether or not they would like to attend a two- or four-year university by offering all the classroom learning material on the portal.
“We’re proud to say this modernized hybrid learning platform is the first in the culinary industry and that it meets chefs where they are, enabling them to develop their skills within busy schedules and with a goal of eliminating the burden of student loan debt,” said ACF National President Stafford T. DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC.
Many two- or four-year universities, including the Washington State University School of Hospitality Business Management in Pullman, Washington, use the platform to offer an innovative online, skills-based curriculum for a class of remote or semi-remote apprentices.
The updates to the apprenticeship portal aim to make the programs easier for apprentices as well as facilitators to learn and navigate while on the line and online.
To learn more about the ACF and ACFEF apprenticeship, including how to start or enroll in a program, visit acfchefs.org.