Jacques Wilson, CEC, AAC and President of the ACF Monterey Bay Chefs Association asked Vinnie DeAngelo what his journey was like going through the certification process.
Question: What inspired you to take the CEC Exam?
Answer: My inspiration for taking the American Culinary Federation certified executive practical exam was after selling my restaurant and catering company of 25 years. I felt receiving recognition of my skills from the most respected chef’s organization in the country would give me the confidence I was looking to gain in a continually challenging the executive chef platform.
Question: What was the most challenging portion of the exam?
Answer: While I found the entire program challenging, I feel the practical portion to be the most challenging in the aspect of planning, organizing and then executing the meal within a timeframe. Planning the endless considerations of menu items, skill sets and techniques I wanted to utilize, and organizing it to fit within the guidelines of the exam truly consumed most of my time during this journey. Practicing my vision enabled me to present my meal as I visioned it.
Question: What was the most rewarding portion of the exam?
Answer: Passing! Receiving the results of my practical exam from the evaluators was a huge sigh of relief and feeling of accomplishment. The post exam review was educational with its constructive feedback, and was by far the most rewarding part of the exam.
Question: Would you take the exam again?
Answer: I would definitely take the exam again, but with a little different approach to some things. I would practice the entire exam more thoroughly in order to have a better grasp on the timing element. Half way through the exam, I was still prepping my mise en place, one of the evaluators said, and I quote, “I think we need to see some cooking now”. At that moment, I realized that I needed to refocus fast. I shifted into high gear and started moving more quickly and multi-tasking in order to get everything done.
Question: How would you explain to those that are not yet certified, how important certification is to you?
Answer: Getting my certification was a huge boost in my confidence. Being able to display the CEC patch on my chef coat and all personal branding was a huge boost to my image and credibility as a knowledgeable chef and culinarian. I feel privileged to be part of this community and the American Culinary Federation organization. Being involved within this networking team of professionals is truly an honor, and I would like to thank all the Monterey Chapter members who encouraged me along the way; especially Chef Jacques Wilson, CEC, AAC and Chef Mitch Vanagten.
Thank you Chef Vinnie DeAngelo, CEC for a walk through your experience of the certification process. Understanding the journey, we have traveled gives us a better perspective of the new journeys that are ahead.
BIO: Vinnie DeAngelo, CEC
Vincent DeAngelo, Certified Executive Chef, grew up in a traditional Italian family in New York. His father worked as a chef, and his mother cooked at home for the family, using skills derived from her native Napolitano heritage. This exposure to the very best in Italian cooking led him to follow his own passion for cooking on a professional level, attending the prestigious Culinary Institute of America (CIA) Hyde Park. It was at the CIA that his skills began to shine as his team took home the top award at the Boston Food Show. Graduating in the top 10% of his class, Vinnie’s passion was elevated, and his professional career was born.
After working in restaurants and hotels in Manhattan, he relocated to Southern California with a dream of entrepreneurship. Within a few years, he made his way to Northern California; eventually landing in the Central Valley where he put down roots, showcasing his talent with a series of successful restaurants, cafés and catering companies. Most recently, after over two decades of service to the community he’s called home, he sold the last of his restaurants in 2021.
After years of working in his establishments, retirement was not in the cards for Vinnie. He continued to enhance his knowledge. In 2022, Vinnie began the first step in the quest to earn his Certified Executive Chef (CEC) accreditation, which was successfully completed in June of 2023.
Along his culinary journey, Vinnie created the persona “The Valley Chef” as a vehicle to showcase the Central Valleys bounty of agricultural, beverage, and food products. Along with numerous television appearances, Vinnie was invited to participate at the California Food Expo “Expolicious” event in 2015. He led his team to victory three years running, with coveted awards, including Best Use of Local Ingredients and the People’s Choice award, presented by Simon Majumdar, of the Food Network. In 2018, Vinnie was selected as the brand ambassador for the “Expolicious” event.
Outside of creating culinary masterpieces, Vinnie enjoys continuing his quest for culinary knowledge, traveling, and spending time with his family.