Being a Red Seal Chef (also known as a professional cook in most regions) comes with some prestige. Because chefs work in the hospitality industry as well as other environments (such as institutions), the public has become aware of the value of having a Red Seal certified cook behind the scenes. For those who have been working as a cook for a while but haven’t gone through an apprentice and journeyperson process, or are new to Canada, it is possible to become a Red Seal Cook/Red Seal Chef by writing and passing the exam challenge available to those with the skills and knowledge that experience brings.
What does it mean to be a Red Seal Cook?
A Red Seal Chef is a cook that has proven their advanced expertise in the industry and meets a minimum level of nationally recognized skills. This means that no matter what province or territory you are located in, your skills are recognized equally and are transferable to any region in Canada. No additional tests, no provincial registration. Simply contact the provincial or territorial organization responsible for regional certification to advise them of your relocation.
Who can Write the Exam Challenge?
In order to challenge the Red Seal for cooks, you will be an experienced chef with 5,000 to 8,000 hours (depending upon the region) of eligible work experience in the field. You’ll need to submit an exam application form through your provincial or territorial organization, have a valid Foodsafe Level 1 certification (or equivalent) and be able to complete at least 70% of the tasks noted in the work experience declaration.
Tip 1 to Passing the Exam Challenge
Take your time in reviewing all of the information available on the Red Seal site at red-seal.ca for the cook trade. In addition to the National Occupational Analysis (NOA), there are study guides and other tools available to help. Don’t rush or assume you know the information without doing a few sample questions. It takes most people a few weeks of studying to be prepared to write the exam. If self-study isn’t enough, you may want to consider a prep course designed to help you pass the exam.
Prep courses, like those from Ashton College give students a structured approach to the information used in the exam that is delivered by an expert familiar with the material. The eight week course – delivered in a live online format – includes all of the material a student needs to take the exam challenge. There’s no need to purchase any other materials in order to be ready. Plus, because there are only two hours of live instruction each week, the rest of the study and assignment time is flexible enough to work with any schedule.
Tip 2 to Passing the Exam Challenge
In order to successfully pass the exam, you’ll need to understand the information you’ll be tested on. The Red Seal exam for chefs/cooks consists of 150 questions in 12 activity areas of: safety and sanitation; common occupational skills; produce; stocks and soups; sauce; dairy and egg products and alternatives; pastas; grains, seeds, pulses, nuts and soy- and wheat-based proteins; meat, poultry, game and game birds; fish and shellfish; garde-manger; and baked goods and dessert.
Each of these areas have tasks and sub-tasks within. This is all defined in the Cook NOA at http://www.red-seal.ca/trades/cooks/2016n.4.1_.4v.2rv.3.2w-eng.html and would be provided in an exam prep course. The NOA is the basis of the information included on the Red Seal Exam Challenge, so print the NOA out, study it and be able to relay what you know about your trade. It is important to note that the exam is multiple choice questions, so you need to be able to translate your skills and knowledge into words to select the correct answers. There is no hands-on element to the exam.
Tip 3 to Passing the Exam Challenge
Whether studying on your own or taking an exam prep course, identify the areas where you need to improve your knowledge and put extra emphasis on these. This can be done by creating a study schedule where you determine how many hours you have a week to study and establish a focus for the various blocks of time. Allocate more study blocks to the areas where you need to enhance your knowledge. This extra study can be done with a mentor who knows the information, a friend or family member who uses the NOA to quiz you, a fellow student in a prep course and/or you can create tools for self-study like flash cards.
Once you have done all of the preparation work, get lots of sleep, find some relaxation techniques and trust that you are ready. While taking the red seal exam challenge is a big step, if you don’t pass (a minimum of 70%) you can take the exam again in the future.
This content is sponsored by Ashton College in collaboration with ConstructConnect® Media. Ashton college offers Red seal exam preparation courses for eight trades: Carpenter, Plumber, Construction Electrician, Industrial Electrician, Automotive Service Technician, Dozer, Cook and Steamfitter/Pipefitter. To learn more about Ashton College, visit www.ashtoncollege.ca.