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Certified Culinary Scientist (CCS®)

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The CCS® is available to any qualified food science or technology professional, including members and non-members of RCA. CCS® certification confers a new status on experienced food scientists and technologists who have augmented their training by learning about the culinary arts and who use this knowledge in the development of superior food products.

This RCA certification verifies the education, work experience, and expertise that the culinary scientist brings to the marketplace.

The CCS® written exam contains multiple-choice questions that primarily test a baseline knowledge of culinary arts (90%) as well as food science (10%).

The recommended study texts are: 

  • On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals (Sarah R. Labensky and Alan M. Hause)
  • Essentials of Food Science (Vickie A. Vaclavik and Elizabeth W. Christian)
  • Elementary Food Science by (Ernest R.Vieira)
  • Culinology: The Intersection of Culinary Art and Food Science (Research Chefs Association.)

CCS® Certification Requirements 

In order to be eligible to become a Certified Culinary Scientist, applicants must meet eligibility criteria in the following three categories: Education, Food Science Experience, and Research and Development Experience.  Once determined as eligible, candidates must pass a certification exam, with a score of 80% or higher, on their knowledge of food science and related subjects.

View all CCS® certification requirements  

CCS® Application 

To submit an application for the CCS, please click here. Please note, the application must be completed in one sitting. You will not be able to save and return to the incomplete application at a later time. If you have questions or concerns about the application process, do not hesitate to reach out to us via email at certification@culinology.org or call Liz Dombrowski at (202) 367-2491.

Submit an Application

CCS® Application Fee

The application fees for members and non-members are $550 and $1,000 respectively. 

If the application is denied, the applicant will receive a letter outlining the reasons for the denial, as well as an application refund of $275. Denied applications are subject to an appeal conducted by the RCACC.  

Interested in becoming an RCA member? For more information regarding membership, click here or contact RCA Headquarters via phone (312) 321-6861, or email.

Scheduling the Exam

Applicants have two options regarding the location at which they sit for the exam:

  • Approved applicants may take their exam at the RCA Annual Conference and Culinology® Expo held annually in March/April.
  • Exams may be taken at a local college/university or testing center, which may have a testing facility fee depending on the location.*

*Note: If the second option is selected, arrangements and payment to take the exam are made by the candidate. Many candidates make arrangements at Sylvan Testing Centers. We request at least two weeks of notice so we can: confirm the facility meets the RCACC Exam Policies and mail the exam to arrive in time for your appointment. Once you have made arrangements with the testing center, please send us the contact information and testing date/time and we will coordinate with them to send the exam.

Access the exam study guide

CCS® Testimonials

  • Natalie Pitchford Levy, CCS®

    Q: WHEN AND HOW DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT THE CERTIFIED CULINARY SCIENTIST (CCS) CERTIFICATION? 
    A: I am currently a Food Scientist for the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company and am always on the lookout for continuing education programs in my area. I first heard of RCA from an advertisement for one of the Culinology® workshops at Rutgers University. It sounded very interesting, and I was curious what “Culinology” was, as it seemed particularly suited to my background. I did more research on the RCA website, where I learned more about Culinology and the certification programs. I had heard of research chefs working in the food science industry, and it was a great resource to discover this organization and to learn that there were other professionals out there who shared my love of food and cooking, and appreciation of the science behind it. I decided to join the RCA and pursue certification immediately. 

    Q: WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE CCS CERTIFICATION? 
    A: I felt that it was unique in requiring experience and education in both the food science and culinary fields. I have a BS in Food Science and was involved in analytical research in herbal medicine and nutraceuticals as an undergraduate. I was also exposed to the flavor industry and R&D/product development through various internships. Throughout my past 4 years at A&P, I completed the Chef’s Training Program at the Natural Gourmet School in NYC, which focuses on natural and whole food ingredients, with an emphasis on vegetarian cuisine and a “medicinal cooking” approach. I was looking for a way to incorporate this new education into my food science/product development background.

    Q: HOW FAR IS CCS CERTIFICATION RECOGNIZED AT WORK? 
    A: I work in a small Quality Assurance Lab at A&P with both food scientists and chemists, none of which have formal culinary training. The RCA was new to my coworkers, and the terms “Certified Culinary Scientist”, and “Culinology” were unheard of before I pursued the CCS. Their appreciation was evident once I explained the mission of the organization and the certification requirements. Both my QA team and upper level management are proud to have a CCS on board and supported me throughout the entire certification process.

    Q: HOW DO YOU THINK CERTIFICATION WILL HELP YOU IN YOUR CAREER? 
    A: I believe that having RCA recognize and certify my education and training is a great asset to my career. In today’s world, there is an ever-blurring line between the food science and culinary industries. Neither exists in a vacuum, and the best chefs are furthering their inherent understanding of food science, and likewise, a good food scientist should understand culinary principles. Being on the ground floor of the Culinology movement, and being able to educate others on this important field is very exciting.

    Q: HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR EXAM? 
    A: Index cards! Lots and lots of index cards! I focused on the PowerPoint review presentation (supplied by the RCACC) as a guide to the key points to study in the On Cooking text, and literally made index cards for nearly every topic covered on the slides. This made the 1200+ pages much easier to digest. My husband very patiently reviewed the cards with me for weeks on end, and I think he deserves an honorary CCS certification for putting up with me! I also reviewed the core competencies for food science and culinary knowledge to ensure that I was comfortable with the required skills.

    Q: WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND CERTIFICATION CANDIDATES DO TO STUDY? 
    A: I would highly recommend speaking to RCA Headquarters and members of the RCACC for guidance on the format and focus of the exam. I found that I was overly focused on specific details within the PowerPoint presentation, which involved a significant amount of memorization. The exam seemed to focus on the bigger picture and the overall understanding that is achieved through working in the culinary and food science industries. Reviewing the core competencies and refreshing your memory on subjects that you don’t deal with on a day-to-day basis is also important.

    Q: WAS THE EXAM A SURPRISE IN ANY WAY? 
    A: Yes, definitely. It was difficult to foresee how all of the study materials could be distilled into only 50 multiple-choice questions! It was a bit daunting to say the least, and some of the topics that I had focused much time and attention on studying weren’t even included on my exam, while other subjects I had viewed as minor were there.

    Q: DID YOU FEEL THE EXAM COVERED THE CORE COMPETENCIES OF A CCS? 
    A: Yes. I feel that I could have only passed this exam with a strong culinary and food science background and a good amount of studying. I do wish that the exam was longer, including more questions on each topic to reflect the high volume of information. Although the 50 questions did not leave much room for error, the questions were very fair overall and directly related to the PowerPoint review and core competencies.

    As noted in the Winter 2006 issue of Culinology Currents

  • Peter Sorensen, CCS®

    Peter Sorensen, CCS®
    Food Scientist
    JR Simplot Co., Boise, Idaho

    Q: WHEN AND HOW DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT THE CERTIFIED CULINARY SCIENTIST (CCS) CERTIFICATION?
    A: I first heard about the RCA as an organization while finishing up my food science degree at Washington State University in 2000. This helped bring to light the opportunities available to those with a multidisciplinary background, and was a major factor in my decision to attend culinary school at Boise State University. The CCS certification first came to my attention in 2002 when I heard that the RCA would be introducing a variant of the CRC for food scientists. 

    Q: WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE CCS CERTIFICATION?
    A: I felt that the certification succinctly distilled my accomplishments from my food science degree, culinary school, and product development work. Plus, the prospect of adding three letters behind my name always seemed kind of cool!

    Q: HOW FAR IS CCS CERTIFICATION RECOGNIZED AT WORK?
    A: Management was very encouraging during the certification process. I feel they value having one of the few current CCSs on staff. I also think the combination of food science with culinary education, which can culminate in a CCS certification, is something they would look for when hiring future product developers.

    Q: HOW DO YOU THINK CERTIFICATION WILL HELP YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
    A: I feel the certification will allow me more chances to interact directly with customers and suppliers. As awareness in the industry grows of the CCS certification, I’ll have more and bigger opportunities. 

    Q: HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR EXAM?
    A: I read On Cooking by Labensky and Hause a couple of months prior to the exam. This was my textbook during culinary school, so it was a good review.

    Q: WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND CERTIFICATION CANDIDATES DO TO STUDY?
    A: Focus on the culinary competencies. Also, don’t stop with the book. Take your time and really delve into anything you’re not particularly strong in. Use the Internet as a resource, to break up the monotony of the reading.

    Q: WAS THE EXAM A SURPRISE IN ANY WAY?
    A: No, other than the fact that it seemed like a really long time since I’d taken an exam.

    Q: DID YOU FEEL THE EXAM COVERED THE CORE COMPETENCIES OF A CCS?
    A: Definitely. I think the exam was a good representation of what a CCS should be expected to be proficient in.

    As noted in the Fall 2007 Issue of Culinology Currents

View all CCS® Certificants

Questions?

Please contact RCA Headquarters.