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The Assessment in Marine Cookery: Nothing to be scared of!

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We’ve had an interesting few months at Tante Marie Culinary Academy since starting delivery of the Assessment in Marine Cookery - a key requirement for the Ship’s Cook Certificate of Competency.

We have been teaching and assessing professional cookery and hospitality courses to Level 5 (foundation degree level) for over 60 years at Tante Marie so adding the Assessment in Marine Cookery into our portfolio of courses was a fun challenge, but one we are able to take on very quickly.

We have the space and resources so the challenge was really one of adapting to the huge amount of administration involved. We have had a massive reality check: our staff are all cooks first and foremost, but they are also qualified teachers, accustomed to teaching to Level 5: that’s really advanced cooking… but the Assessment in Marine Cookery is a Level 2 qualification.

We’ve had to really examine the way we assess candidates to make sure we are adhering to the standards of a Level 2 assessment. “What is Level 2?” I hear you ask?

Level 2 is quite basic: Annexes 1 and 2 of MSN 1846 are the bits which tell you, the candidates, what you will be assessed on and which tell us, as assessors, what to assess you on.

There seems to have been confusion over the standards required and mixed messages going out into the industry: there should not be. It is these standards which form the basis of assessment. In the world of education, any college or organisation which is assessing candidates, should be doing so in accordance with these standards. They are not open to interpretation. They are set in stone and it is a Level 2 assessment.

The instruction from the MCA is that the assessment outcome is either ‘Compliant’ or ‘Not Compliant’. In other words, you can either make a correct Crème Anglaise, or you cannot. How you make it is up to you – the classic way or using your own technique: it doesn’t matter. If you can make it correctly, and in line with Food Safety and Hygiene legislation, (and in adherence to any other requirements set out in Annexes 1 and 2 such as “demonstrating safe working practices” while cooking), then you are compliant, and will pass.

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The Assessment in Marine Cookery is nothing to be scared of!

Ask yourselves a few basic questions:

(1) Do you know how to cook? I don’t just mean, “Can you follow a recipe?” I mean, “Do you have the skill and knowledge expected of someone who works in a real, professional kitchen environment? Someone who exercises best practice and takes pride in their work? Are you doing this because you love it and genuinely want to cook beautiful food which your guests will love?”

If the answer is “Yes”, then you’ve really got nothing to worry about.

(2) Are you just in it for the money and this is just a job which means you get to spend a bit of time at sea and soak up the sun? Do you take the approach: “I don’t care too much about the food… Someone else will clean up after me? It doesn’t matter if I’m a bit disorganised in the kitchen, as everything will be ok in the end.”

If the answer is “Yes”, then the Assessment in Marine Cookery will probably catch you out.

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