Ships Cook Assessment Explained – what to expect on the assessment?

Ships Cook Assessment Explained – what to expect on the assessment?

Galley News, Ship’s Cook Certificate, Tips & Advice, Training & Education, Yacht Chef News

25th October 2014 Update:

The Ships Cook Assessment is here to stay and needs to be embraced as chefs have until 15th February 2015 to get assessed and certified and comply with the requirement to have a certified Ships Cook onboard all commercial vessels with more than 10 crew.

Personally I feel the MCA should have approved the introduction of a compulsory Food Safety Level 2 Certificate for all food handlers across the industry first on all commercial vessels. Eg all cooks, yacht chefs, crew chefs, stewards and stewardesses.. eg anyone who serves, handles or prepares food onboard, no matter the size of the vessel or number of crew.

A comment from Chef S who emailed me agrees and read: I believe setting equal standards in this area in galleys across the globe is far more important than someone’s ability to be able to make puff pastry. Technical skills in the galley are important to ensure yacht crew are fed properly but we are talking about luxury yachts here and when does a crew chef make his own puff pastry for crew?

So the Ship’s Cook Certificate is an assessment, not a training course. Chefs need to understand this.

You are continually assessed over the two and a half days on your technical skills and knowledge, your galley management, your understanding of Food Safety in a galley and of course the actual, delivery of what the assessors ask you to cook.

Presentation and time taken to ensure the food is plated and garnished correctly plays an important part! Obvious maybe but sometimes overlooked in the heat of getting your dishes out in the service window you are given!

Day 1: you are asked to prepare and demonstrate your technical knowledge for around 5 dishes (starters and mains). You have a 30 minute window to serve the 5 dishes to the assessors and they then mark each dish accordingly!!

Presentation and plating up is key here as is tasting your food as you work! Think of it that you need to impress the assessor with your presentation skills as well as your technical knowledge!

Day 2: Pastry and bread making skills are tested to the full here. If you are not sure what to expect contact Cedric or Duncan to ask for more information. After all you are paying over Euros1250 for a course so it is not unreasonable to ask for more info so you can prepare for the assessment.

See the assessment criteria at the bottom of this post to see the full range of what you need to know!

Day 3: the written half day exam, make sure you know about different dietary requirements, food safety topics, HACCP etc… you will be asked about this!

WHEN TO BOOK? Finally try to book it on a quiet week when there are six or less on the assessment. Just a tip as cooking with 11 other chefs around you is going to be harder than 4/5 chefs..

So here is a rough summary to help give you an idea of what to expect. If elements of this change then so be it.. this example is for guidance purposes only!




Arrive 0930

Proceed to bench and collect your work list for the starter and main menus

0945 – 1330

Prep time to prepare the 5 dishes listed on your menu


Food service Window

1400: Tasting and marking of your individual dishes

The assessor will mark you based on the following so take your time with service, present well and have clean and tidy plates!

1430 onwards clear down kitchen and answer some questions on dietary requirements and food safety

Arrive 0930

Proceed to bench and collect your work list for the pastry & bread making menus

0945 – 1330

Prep time to prepare the 5 dishes listed on your menu


Food service Window

1400: Tasting and marking of your individual dishes

1430 onwards clear down kitchen and answer some questions on dietary requirements and food safety

Arrive 0930

Proceed with half day written exam on food safety and dietary requirements, costing and galley administration and management

NOTE: the assessors will watch you preparing the dishes for your menu and take note that you will be assessed on:

  1. technical skills, knowledge and ability

  2. presentation and taste

  3. food safety on the kitchen and adhering to correct practices

NOTE: this is a pastry and bread making day so make sure you know the basics!

If unsure ask Cedric prior to doing the course what elements you need to be competent in and practice before attending the assessment!

Examples of dishes chefs have had to prepare:

Day 1: prepare and serve prawns, fillet a fish and serve with green veg and a carb, lamb, consommé, eggs benedict, chicken curry

Day 2: make puff pastry, choux buns, genoise sponge, creme patissiere, lemon cream, creme anglaise, Italian meringue, bavarois, mille feuille, quiche, brown and white bread

The following is an extract from the website at

It shows you all the elements you will need to know for the assessment!

Good luck and the more time spent preparing for it will ensure an easier 2 and a half days!

Efrem Founder

MCA Ship’s cook certificate of competency

The level required for the MCA Ship’s cook certificate is equivalent to a city and guilds level 2 in catering. The assessment consists of three different modules which all need to be validated

  •  1 day practical assessment in cookery.

  • 1 day practical assessment in pastry and bakery .

  • 1/2 written assessment 



As per MSN 1846 annex 2 the syllabus is the following :


Written exam syllabus

Health and safety in catering in the maritime industry
  • Understand the importance of health and safety in the maritime industry

  • Be able to identify hazards in the catering workplace onboard ship

  • Understand how to control hazards in the workplace

  • Understand how to maintain a healthy and safe workplace

Kitchen operations, costs and menu planning
  • Describe the organisation of a kitchen

  • Plan and prepare menus for catering operations

  • Demonstrate awareness of basic costs associated with the catering industry

  • Apply the basic calculations used in catering operation

Applying work place skills
  • Be able to maintain personal presentation

  • Be able to work effectively with co workers customers and colleagues

  • Be able to prepare for a job application 

  •  Be able to produce a plan to develop skills 

Healthier foods and special diets
  • Understand how to plan and provide special diets

  • Outline current governement nutritional guidelines for healthy diets 

Cultural and religious catering requirements
  • Undersatnd how to plan and provide dietary requirement for people from different cultural and religious backgrounds 

Dietary requirements of shift workers
  • Understand how to plan and provide the dietary requirements for shift workers 

Practical exam for cookery

Prepare and cook soups ans sauces
  • Prepare and cook stocks 

  • Prepare and cook soups 

  • Prepare and cook sauces 

Prepare and cook fruit and vegetables
  • Prepare fruit and vegetables 

  • Cook fruit and vegetables 

Prepare and cook meat and offal
  • Prepare meat and offal 

  • Cook meat and offal 

Prepare and cook poultry
  • Prepare poultry

  • Cook poultry 

Prepare and cook fish and fish and shellfish
  • Prepare fish and shellfish

  • Cook fish and shellfish 

Prepare and cook rice, pasta, grains and egg dishes
  • Prepare and cook rice 

  • Prepare and cook pasta 

  • Prepare and cook grains 

  • Prepare and cook eggs 

Practical exam for pastry and bakery

Prepare and cook desserts and puddings
  • Prepare hot and cold desserts and puddings 

  • Demonstrate how to cook and finish hot and cold desserts and puddings 

Prepare and cook bakery products
  • Prepare paste, biscuits, cake and sponge products 

  • Cook and finish paste, biscuits, cakes and sponge products 

  • Prepare fermented dough 

  • Cook and finish fermented dough products 


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