Amanda Zimlich, CEC®

Why do you want to become an ACF Certified Master Chef®?

The CMC designation is a recognition by well-respected industry colleagues of a culinary skill set mastery. To be recognized in the same realm and acknowledged by those equally as indebted to the mastery of our craft would be an honor and bring me a great sense of accomplishment. I am humbled to be considered just as a candidate—this journey is the real prize.

What are the reasons you chose to pursue ACF certification in your career?

I have been working toward this designation officially for several years, though I have always desired to continue to grow as a cook. Making delicious tasting food for other people is my life. I have an insatiable need to cook and continue to refine. This test represents several things to me: it represents dedication to the craft; it encourages a retrospective into classical cuisine and Garde Manger, which fascinates me as there are some aspects to these aged styles that reinvigorate current and popping culinary trends I communicate to my customers today; to understand more deeply the aesthetics of our food a century ago helps us as chefs to make more aesthetically intriguing food today. The test pushes me to be accurate, deliberate and precise in my moves. It is in totality a validation of my culinary instinct.

When is it the right time in a chef’s career to take the ACF Certified Master Chef exam?

The timing is different for everyone. I am in a great place professionally, so for me the journey is about personal besting myself and pushing myself to go deeper in my craft. For me there is an award in the journey I have taken to date. I have benefited from the relationships established since beginning preparation for the exam, I constantly revisit and solidify knowledge in subject matter, I experience personal growth through overcoming challenges that the test preparation presents, and through it all I gain a personal satisfaction, as I get the joy that comes from the little wins and personal breakthroughs one lives when cooking to grow.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 10 years?

I love the research and development echelon of our culinary industry; the complexity of food manufacturing fascinates me. Food has this magical way of bringing people together because of the emotional connection it evokes. Whatever transpires in the next 10 years for me career-wise, I know I will be tapping into that philosophy of making intriguing flavors happen to evoke emotions of the people who consume the food.

Aesthetics, chemistry, sensory, marketing, engineering, culinary finesse—there is so much value a professional chef can bring to a global food company. I am just beginning a new journey with an amazing global company, and I am energized to work in the aforementioned channels. I thrive on helping the business win by enhancing the foods we make. Chefs have a real opportunity in foodservice and retail to raise the bar in food quality and sustainability, as well as enhance the eating experience for the public audience. I look forward to working with my chef colleagues in making our food best in class. Chefs care the most about the food. Soul in the food we make is critical.

How do you prepare both mentally and physically for the exam?

Sleep, reflection, teamwork, hydration, practice, positive attitude and focus.

ZimlichAmanda Zimlich, CEC®, is culinary director for Cargill. She has previously lead research & development culinary teams for Surlean Foods, Hillshire Brands (Tyson) and Campbell Soup Company, with a focus on product development innovation. Over the years, she has contributed to launching many successful soups, sauces and protein products in both retail and foodservice. Amanda’s career highlights include being featured at the James Beard House in New York City in 2007 as a rising star chef. She has made guest appearances as a judge on Food Network’s “Chopped,” as well as on the PBS cooking series “KCTS Cooks” preparing signature recipes.

2 thoughts

  1. I remain a lifelong fan of Chef Zimlich. Her joie du vivre, Ebullience over gastronomy and her curated palate make for the quintessential culinarian. Brava, Chef!

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