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Become a French Certified Cook CAP Cuisine - Overseas guide

If you aspire to become a chef in France, the main training/certification to obtain is the CAP Cuisine

The Certificat d'Aptitude Professionnelle (CAP) Cuisine is a vocational education and training (VET) qualification that provides comprehensive training in the fundamentals of culinary arts. It is also well recognized overseas because of the French fondations of fine dining cuisine. It covers essential skills such as food preparation, cooking techniques, kitchen organization, hygiene and safety, and menu planning. It is actually very similar to the Commercial Cookery Cert III as there are based on the same Escoffier (French Chef who laid the fondation of the gastronomic cuisine) and French influence fondations. 

While it is absolutely possible to become a self-taught chef through experience, following the CAP Cuisine program in a reputable vocational school can provide benefits such as a better salary, networking opportunities, employment recognition, and foundational skills. With the right training and education, aspiring chefs can lay a strong foundation for a successful career in the culinary arts industry! But work and experience will be key to your success! 

Disclaimer: this article will evolve as I am going through the program to produce a final version in 2024 and clarify some aspects of it so let me know if you have any question/missing info via the contact page.

So what is it?

The CAP Cuisine is designed for individuals who are interested in starting a career in the culinary arts industry, and it is open to students who have completed their compulsory education (usually around 16 years old). Graduates of the CAP Cuisine can work as commis chefs, kitchen hands, or other entry-level positions in restaurants, hotels, and other food service establishments.

The CAP Cuisine is an exam that can be taken as a "candidat libre" (you need to register and then show up for the exam day session), it also means you don't have to go via a training provider to take it. However if you do, the learning program typically takes two years to complete. You can find condensed training and you will find a range of learning options from 6months (bare minimum if you start from scratch) to 3 years. It includes both theoretical and practical components, providing students with hands-on experience in a professional kitchen environment. The program is usually offered at vocational schools, also known as lycées professionnels, which specialize in practical education.

Photo by Todd Quackenbush on Unsplash

Who can take it?

Basically everybody of age who is motivated to take it! Well Almost...!  There are actually some criterias:  

  • You don't need to be a french resident but you need a postal address in France to get allocated an exam center and receive the convocation

  • You need to be  aged of 16 (at the year of the exam)

  • You need to register (registration are open from october to mid-november the year before) 

  • Be present in France at the day of the exam (you will receive the letter about a month (a month to 2 weeks) prior to the exam so be prepared usually it takes place in May/June 

  •  Basic French language notion (speak and writing)  

    • The official test is TCF:

    • If you are based in Australia some options are available to get it in country (via Alliance Francaise) :

  • And finally this part may be a bit tricky. You can bypass the general exam part if you have an equivalent diploma but it needs to be recognised by the French academy. To do that you need to contact ENIC-NARIC... If you are not french, in a French territory and not part of the EU with existing recognition agreements it will be a case by case review (you will need to be in touch with them).  ( you need to send a form  and request, it costs about 70 euros and it can take up to a month to get an answer: ) 

So for the rest of this article I will assume you :

    - either have your TCF or you speak French.

    - are able to get an equivalence to avoid to have to go through the general exam part otherwise you will have to go through the EG units.

The exam : 'l'épreuve'


So as stated in the previous chapter if you are able to get the exemption for your test language and general education you should only be concerns by 

- UP1: Production Management in the Kitchen

- UP2: Delivery of a Production in the Kitchen 

In the same session after UP2, the jury discusses with the candidate about their production. The candidate is also invited to speak about their professional project. (but this part is not part of the actual evaluation criterias)

This link is the official link to find the description it includes the entire overview of the certification

Here the competencies that will be assessed

Competency 1: Receive, check and store goods in compliance with regulations and applying risk prevention techniques related to the activity.

Competency 2: Collect all information and organize culinary production in compliance with instructions and the allotted time.

  • Check their foodstuffs

  • Set up and maintain their workspace

  • Implement good hygiene, safety, and health practices

  • Implement good practices in sustainable development

  • Carry out preliminary techniques

  • Cook

  • Use and enhance local products

  • Choose and set up dressing equipment

  • Dress their culinary preparations

  • Send their culinary preparations

  • Evaluate the quality of their culinary preparations

  • Communicate in a professional situation

  • Report on their activity

  1. First part (20 minutes) (UP1)

  2. Second part (10 minutes) (UP1)

  3. Third part (4 h 30)(UP2)

EP1/UP1 - Organisation de la production de cuisine - Coef. 4 - 2Hours

This exam focuses on the following competencies under the "Organization of kitchen production" pole:

The candidate must organize a kitchen production based on a identified professional context. The evaluation may be done through a written case study (2-hour duration) or an in-course control evaluation consisting of a written exam and an oral interview. The latter assesses the candidate's experience in line with the two competencies covered, and they must present professional documents collected during their training.

The final score is the average of the four written evaluations and the oral exam.

  • Skill 1 : Receive,  control, and store goods in compliance with current regulations and by applying risk prevention techniques related to the activity .

  • Skill 2: Collect all information and organize culinary production in compliance with instructions and the allotted time

Writing evaluation: 

This first part consists of several written assessments that focus on competencies 1 and 2.

At the beginning of the training, the professional culture teaching team (cooking, applied management, applied sciences) defines common professional contexts.

Each trainer prepares case studies inspired by these professional contexts. They target 4 that will be identified as "significant," and therefore, certifying.

The significant assessments are carried out within the usual teaching activities

Oral/interview evaluation:

This evaluation is in 2 phases:  

  • 1st phase: The candidate reports on their activity and/or experience. The materials are "conversation starters."

  • 2nd phase: The candidate answer questions asked by the evaluation committee

EP2/UP2 - Production of kitchen - Coef. 14 - 5 Hours

Purpose and objectives of the test:

The test assesses the mastery of the following skills: "Preparation and distribution of kitchen production"

  • Skill 3: Prepare, organize, and maintain one's workplace throughout the activity in compliance with current regulations.

  • Skill 4: Master basic culinary techniques and produce while respecting instructions and hygiene and safety rules.

  • Skill 5: Analyze and control the quality of the production, set up, and participate in distribution according to the professional context.

  • Skill 6: Communicate according to the professional context and respecting the usages of the profession.

Content of the test:

The candidate produces a kitchen production that they must plan according to the given instructions. For this, they have:

-  production technical sheets

-  personal book of professional techniques

- personal equipment

(phone or computer are not allowed)

This test is in the context of a professional production situation.

First Part : (20min)

The candidate becomes aware of the production to be carried out.

They have two production technical sheets and a blank scheduling table to complete (simplified model) to plan their work within the allotted time. This written phase is not evaluated as part of the EP2 test.

Second Part : (10min)

At their workstation, the candidate checks their foodstuffs using the technical sheets. In compliance with conservation and packaging procedures, they verify and set up their workstation, select the necessary equipment.

Third Part : (4h 30)

   First phase - culinary production (4 h 20)

In compliance with professional constraints and usages, the candidate must make the two imposed recipes (provided technical sheets):

. A main dish with garnish

. A starter or dessert

One of the two recipes involves making a basic dough.

The jury evaluates the production, presentation, and tasting successively.

  Second phase - activity report (maximum 10 minutes)

This phase takes place in the kitchen after production. In a short "clarification interview" type discussion, the candidate is asked to assess their work.  

What are the main options for studying?

Unlike in Australia, where the training and assessment are integrated into a single certification program, the CAP Cuisine training and the formal practical and theoretical assessment are separated in France. The practical and theoretical assessments are typically held in May/June, and students can register through a vocational school or as a candidate libre (independent candidate). The practical assessment includes cooking dishes from a set menu, while the theoretical assessment covers topics such as food safety, kitchen organization, and menu planning.

There are various options available to study for the CAP Cuisine program, depending on the mode of study and previous education:

  • Full-time study: Students attend vocational school full-time for two years to complete the CAP Cuisine program. This is the most common option for students who have completed their compulsory education.

  • Apprenticeship: Students work in a professional kitchen while attending vocational school part-time for two years to complete the CAP Cuisine program. This option is available to students who are at least 16 years old and have found an employer willing to take them on as an apprentice.

  • Validation of prior learning and experience: Students who have previous experience or training in the culinary arts can apply to have their skills recognized and validated, which can shorten the length of the program. This option is available to students who can provide evidence of their skills and knowledge.

Choosing a training provider

When choosing a vocational school to study for the CAP Cuisine program, students should consider the following factors:

  • Quality of the teaching staff: Look for schools that have experienced and knowledgeable chefs who are experts in their fields. These professionals should have experience working in the industry and be able to provide students with practical advice and guidance.

  • Quality of the facilities: Ensure that the school has a well-equipped and clean kitchen that is suitable for student needs. This is where students will be spending a lot of their time, so it is essential to choose a school with suitable facilities.

  • Reputation: Look for a school that has a good reputation within the industry and among employers. You can research this by reading reviews and speaking with chefs or students.

  • Job opportunities: Look for a school that has a good track record of placing students in jobs after graduation. This can be an indication of the quality of training provided.

  • Location: Consider the location of the school and its accessibility for students. It is essential to choose a school that is convenient to attend.


You can consult and review previous exams topics here, good way to practice:

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