(Advise from a chef who has just done it)
Posted on February 2, 2015 by shipscook  ‘Thanks to a chef for providing this info…’

The Ships cook certificate, like it or lump it……… but its here to stay!
Avoid it like a visit to the dentist if you dare but the fact is it’s only a matter of time before the other flag states that are MLC compliant make it compulsory. I have just completed the ships cook assessment exam in Antibes and having not been overly impressed with my own performance on both of the practical days I thought that I would use my experience to assist other chefs who are just about to embark on the assessment course. Firstly the exam is professionally run by professional chefs and there is nothing amateurish about the operation at all. I made the mistake of attempting the exam after having four months off and I would recommend that you attempt the exam whilst your timing and skill set is on plus and all-round its not easy. The assessors are on your side and want you to pass and will do everything possible to assist and guide you in the exam. Having said that the SCC is Darwin’s ‘natural selection’ theory in practice. Those chefs who are not up to the new MLC required Marine cookery standard will fail and have to re-sit the exam.

Any chef who thinks he/she can simply waltz in and do the ‘exam only’ wearing flip-flops and waltz out with the certificate think again. Like most things in life ‘you get out what you put in’. The practical is essentially a ‘job trial situation where you are in an unfamiliar galley competing with up to 11 other chefs. Secondly the oral and theory elements are based on the Level 2 city and guilds cooking diploma text and other relevant maritime basics i.e. MARPOL.I wish I had known these facts three weeks ago. The exams are essentially a condensed version of the full two/three week marine cookery course that can be completed in Newcastle, UK.

Remembering that the exam is an assessment the first thing chefs have to realise is that it’s assumed that you already know the basics that are covered in the practical and theory as contained in the textbook. Any chef going into the exam with the attitude that ‘the boss likes my food and that’s all that matters’ will go down in flames.

Chefs must understand that the SCC is aimed at assessing a cooks ability as per the new 2006 MLC act i.e. as a crew cook are you up to the new code? The assessors are assessing you on your understanding of the full marine cookery course not your ability to please the owners and charter guests. They are two completely different kettles of fish and the sooner chefs realise this the sooner pre-exam anxieties will be appeased.

So a few facts:
*There are over 8000 yacht chefs registered with a leading recruiter. Of the 8000 45% are not qualified.
*The statistics show that the chefs who DO NOT complete the Secrets De Cuisine prep-course for the SCC exam stand a higher chance of failing
*To sit for the Secrets De Cuisine course you must be applying for the SCC as an experienced cook i.e. have land based experience or one months sea time as a chef.
*Any yacht that is MLC compliant and is UK/Euro flagged with 10 or more crew must have a certified ships cook on board at all times as 5th Feb 2015 i.e. winter or yard periods. Other yacht flags that are MLC compliant have, for the moment left it up to the owner to decide that the chef meets all the MLC requirements for the crew.
Previous information in the press misleads chefs into thinking that it was ‘charter’ yachts only. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the worlds flag states adopt the SCC as a standard requirement for private/charter yachts that are MLC compliant.
*The food safety certificate needed to apply for the SCC with the MCA must be the official accredited exam, which has been successfully completed at an approved training centre. Any chef still thinking that an online course is sufficient think again.
The assessors need to eye ball you and make sure that you are physically completing the exam up to code. Its all about due diligence, morals and legal issues associated with HACCP.
*Yes you have to make puff pastry but the goal of the exercise is to access your workflow and time management as well as skillset on this technical preparation.
So my advice to all chefs embarking on the course soon prepare yourself.

Nore: MCA Ship’s Cook Assessment Certificate will soon be offered by the Superyacht Culinary Academy