Cordon Bleu of Culinary Arts

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Chef Shawn Loving earns Master Chef designation

By Christian Hollis Managing Editor

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Chef Shawn Loving passed a rigorous examination to earn the title “Master Chef” on Oct. 7 fulfilling one of his life’s greatest ambitions. (Photo courtesy of Schoolcraft College)

Schoolcraft’s very own Chef Shawn Loving has earned his title as a Certified Master Chef (CMC) from the American Culinary Federation (ACF). CMC is the highest title in the United States and only belongs to 68 people.

Loving joined Schoolcraft as an instructor in 2002 and is now the Culinary Arts Department Chair. Before his instructing career at the college, he was the owner of the well-known Loving Spoonful restaurant in Farmington Hills.

He also serves as the USA Olympic Basketball Team Chef and has been the in-flight team Chef for the Detroit Pistons. Chef Loving has also showcased his culinary expertise for Euro Disney and Walt Disney World. In 2002, Loving received the Lawrence P. Doss Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

This isn’t the first time Loving has taken a shot at the Certified Master Chef title, trying twice before this year, in 2010 and again in 2012.

From Sept. 30 to Oct. 7, the ACF held its rigorous examination to test the most skilled chefs from across the country right here at Schoolcraft. The exam showcased 10 culinarians attempting to reach the highest point of professionalism, skill and creativity.

All candidates were required to be a Certified Executive Chef or Certified Culinary Educator and must have completed designated courses on sanitation and food safety. Each candidate was also required to provide two letters of recommendation from Certified Master Pastry Chefs (CMPC).

Loving and the other candidates had to perfect buffet catering, freestyle cooking, healthy cooking, global cuisine, a “market basket” (mystery basket of ingredients that must be used to produce a five-course meal) and more rigorous challenges throughout the eight-day long competition. To survive the exam, each candidate must achieve at least 70 out of 100 points during the first seven days of the exam.

The scores are split between two different evaluations. One evaluation is strictly focused
on what happens in the kitchen, such as butchering skills, organization and sanitation. The kitchen evaluator score is 35 percent of the total daily score.

The other 65 percent are from the tasting evaluators. There are usually four tasting evaluators who are unaware of which chef organized the meal in front of them. Candidates must have an average of 75 before being able to reach the final day.

In an interview with Hometown Life, Stafford DeCambra, the ACF’s board
president praised the culinary education each competing chef has received. “When we challenge ourselves to perform under these trying circumstances, one experiences professional growth that transcends our culinary skills,” said DeCambra.

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Chefs participating in the examination have to be very precise and focused during the kitchen evaluation portion of the exam, which counts for 35% of the daily score. (Photo Courtesy of Schoolcraft College)

Chef Loving spoke about what was going through his mind when he received the title of CMC. “Years of preparation, finally coming to an end, and a bright future coming,” said Loving. Chef Loving also joked with Mark Kurlyandchik of the Detroit Free Press by relievedly saying, “Guess what? I’m not taking it again!”

Loving isn’t the only chef at Schoolcraft with the CMC title. Both Chefs Jefferey Gabriel and Brian Beland have accomplished the exam. Chef Beland is very proud of Chef Loving for achieving the CMC title. “I know it was overwhelming and exciting for him…It’s exciting to see your friends and colleagues to be able to obtain that,” said Beland. Although the CMC is the highest rank, it is also worth noting that Chef Joseph Decker is a Certified Master Pastry Chef.

Schoolcraft College is well-known on the national level for the great quality and work of some of the most well-experienced culinary instructors in the country. Nick Mannisto, Nutrition Dietary Management major, is one of many students who benefit from the instructors. “The whole networking and the knowledge here is fantastic.” said Mannisto. The three CMCs and Chef Decker are four of those exceptional instructors.