Interview: Lawrence T. McFadden, CMC

Chef Arnaud Berthelier, CMC (left), and Chef Lawrence T. McFadden, CMC

Chef Lawrence T. McFadden, CMC, is General Manager/COO of the 146-year-old Union Club of Cleveland. In February 2018, Chef Arnaud Berthelier, the club’s Executive Chef, successfully completed the CMC exam as well, making the Union Club of Cleveland the only club in the world with two Certified Master Chefs on staff. We recently talked with Chef McFadden about his chef’s achievement and what it means for their kitchen.

Recently, your chef, Arnaud Berthelier, earned the ACF Certified Master Chef designation. What was the motivating factor for you to encourage him to pursue this certification?

Arnaud is a unique chef in the fact that he is completely self-motivated. In fact, just get out of the way. He arrived with us already enrolled in the examination, so my role was support, understanding and slight mentorship of what those eight days might look like. Russel Scott and others had worked with him the previous years getting him ready in a sense of requirements. Chef is a tremendous cook so none of us can take credit for his talents, but we can all be proud to support his successes.


Do you have any other chefs or cooks who are certified that work for you? What differentiates a certified cook versus a non-certified cook, in your opinion?

Yes, we have two other CECs in the kitchen. The difference is the visionary view these individuals have with their careers. They understand that education will continue to create opportunities during the span of their work lives. Much like a person who has a bachelor’s and then enrolls in an MBA program, they are lifetime learners.

What value does ACF Certification bring to your business? How can it improve your bottom line?

As stated above, the individuals who continue to advance their careers are individuals who will continue to learn in other aspects such as financial literacy, leadership tactics and of course technical knowledge. These certifications should attract prospective employees, enhance the establishment’s brand and generally add value to the professional view of our profession.

Why would you encourage cooks and chefs to earn certification?

Encourage or expect? When you create a brigade of certification the peer pressure of belonging is heightened as everyone wants to become part of the same tribe of certification. So, professionally and personally, the kitchen manages itself regarding continued education and advancement. Harvard Business Journal says you will re-learn your job four times in your career, so certification is no different. Those who don’t get education are left behind.


How did you help and enable Chef Arnaud to take the CMC? What can an operation do to encourage ACF Certification?

I simply got out of his way, allowing him to do what was needed to be successful. Allowing him to take the examination on his terms, not my interpretation, void of politics, past practices or traditions. It helps when you are working with one of the best chefs you have ever seen was a major plus. An operation’s responsibility is to be goal-setters, challenge those who need a slight push or explanation of the important for continued education. It’s not the certification but the journey, exploration and research that gives back to the individual and organization.

Did you notice a change in your employees when you became a CMC? Did you notice a change in the staff when Chef Arnaud became a CMC?

Of course, pride and joy, bragging rights and the ability to inspire themselves to the next level. The CMC is just the start of the journey, and as stated above, 17 years later I am a far better professional than in 2001’s examination. For Chef’s staff, many don’t understand what he has accomplished yet as he has only been with us for five months. He was already a great cook, and the fact that he was a great cook and stepped into the arena of potential failure is probably the most impressive part.

Any other comments?

CMC is a lifestyle, not a cooking test. Those who have passed and continue into the career ladder are well educated, healthy, driven, have re-invented themselves several times and aren’t afraid to learn what they don’t know.