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Certified Research Chef (CRC®)

RCA_CertificationLogos-CRC.pngThe CRC® designation is available to any qualified culinary professional, including members and non-members of RCA. CRC®s are recognized and acknowledged as being among the most knowledgeable in their field. They are leaders in the food industry and have proven competence in both culinary arts and food product research and development. 

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

The CRC® written exam contains 100 multiple-choice questions that test a baseline knowledge of food science (90%) and culinary arts (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.)

CRC® Certification Requirements

In order to become a Certified Research Chef, applicants must meet eligibility criteria in the following three categories: Education, Food Service 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 CRC® certification requirements  

CRC® Application

To submit an application for the CRC, 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

CRC® 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.

Click here for the exam study guide

CRC® Testimonials

  • Kurt Kulzer, CRC®

    Q: WHEN AND HOW DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT CERTIFIED CULINARY SCIENTIST (CCS) CERTIFICATION?
    A: I first heard about the certification process almost 4 years ago while attending the RCA Annual Conference and Tradeshow in New Orleans.

    Q: WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE CERTIFICATION?
    A: I did not intend to pursue certification at first. I simply wanted to attend the Culinology® 101 classes, which were offered at Rutgers. I was so impressed by the caliber of the people that I was with, that I decided to pursue the CRC after my first session. It was the idea of learning the information while studying, rather than the certification itself, which attracted me. Gaining the certification was just a bonus.

    The application process itself was pretty normal, although waiting for the acceptance decision was a little intimidating. My application overlapped a bit with the Savannah Conference, where I had originally wanted to take the exam. So I ended up being accepted after the Conference had ended, then I re-read the textbook and took the exam the following year in Montreal.

    Q: HOW FAR IS CRC CERTIFICATION RECOGNIZED AT WORK?
    A: Wegmans Food Markets does an excellent job of recognizing their people as a standard practice. Currently, I am the Product Development Chef for Innovation, but I have also worked for Wegmans as a Department Manager, a Quality Assurance Culinary Specialist, and a Culinary Team Member for Menu magazine. I was already practicing Culinology in my career and being recognized for it, not only throughout our company, but it also showed in some of the products that we were developing with our vendor partners. My boss was very supportive and helped to spread the message, and project results spoke for themselves. I was able to convey the principles of Culinology throughout our different departments and assist in speeding projects to shelf in a more efficient manner.

    Q: HOW DO YOU THINK CERTIFICATION WILL HELP YOU IN YOUR CAREER?
    A: Since it is very rare to have a CRC in the grocery industry that remains to be seen. However, using the knowledge gained is now commonplace in my communications with our vendor partners. First, I think it sets a common ground, and second, I think that it helps to set Wegmans apart. It shows that we take great pride in our Wegmans Brand products.

    Q: HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR EXAM?
    A: I attended all four sessions of the Culinology 101 workshops. But most importantly, I read the material three times from cover to cover and highlighted areas that I thought I needed to work on or wanted to understand better.

    I think it depends on the individual whether or not a CRC candidate should take the workshops. I thought that they were helpful, but not necessary to take the exam. Part 4 was my favorite; I thought that the hands-on education was valuable.

    Q: WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND CERTIFICATION CANDIDATES DO TO STUDY?
    A: I would recommend that candidates don’t downplay the importance of understanding the material. Do the work, and then do it again.

    Q: DID YOU FEEL THE EXAM COVERED THE CORE COMPETENCIES OF A CRC? 
    A: Yes, I think it actually covered an excellent range of disciplines, some of which I will probably rarely use in my field, but it is good to have been exposed to them.

    As noted in the Winter 2006 Issue of Culinology Currents

  • Gina Parisi, CRC®

    Gina Parisi, CRC
    Research & Development Assistant
    Gorton's, Inc., Gloucester, MA

    Q: WHEN AND HOW DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT THE CERTIFIED RESEARCH CHEF (CRC) CERTIFICATION?

    A: I first heard about the RCA in college at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island. Professor Paula Figoni was the first to tell me about the RCA and said it was good way to network and keep updated on current trends and events. I didn’t really know about the certification until I became a member. My first impression of the certification was, “Wow, this would be a great way to show that I am both proficient in culinary arts as well as in food science.”

    Q: WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE CERTIFICATION?

    A: It will help advance my career. My career goals are to be a respected person in the R&D industry who knows their job and knows how to do it well. By having the certification, it makes it more apparent to others that I have the experience from both sides of the spectrum, which can make me one of the best in food product development.

    Q: HOW FAR IS CRC CERTIFICATION RECOGNIZED AT WORK?

    A: People at work think it is a big accomplishment, but they don’t understand what it exactly entails. My superiors recognize the accomplishment; however people outside the department are not very familiar with Culinology®. When I tell others that I am certified, I get two responses: 1. If they are aware of the RCA, they think of it as a big accomplishment and congratulate me with great enthusiasm. 2. If they don’t know about the RCA I tell them what the criteria is to become a CRC – sometimes they understand, and sometimes they don’t.

    Q: HOW DO YOU THINK CERTIFICATION WILL HELP YOU IN YOUR CAREER?

    A: It will let employers know that I am qualified in both culinary arts and food science, which is something that is rare in the food product development field. My certification was announced in the weekly newsletter at work, which provided some recognition. As for a pay raise or promotion, I had just received both right before I was certified, so I may have to wait a few more months to see results from becoming a CRC.

    Q: HOW DID YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR EXAM?

    A: I bought the required reading text and used the RCA study guide. I read the text cover to cover, and after I was through I would spend a half hour to forty-five minutes per night going over the study guide. I really wanted to pass the first time!

    Q: WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND CERTIFICATION CANDIDATES DO TO STUDY?

    A: Read all of the text and cover all of the points that are in the RCA study guide. Also, make notes on anything that sounds important that is written in the text that is not on the study guide.

    Q: DID YOU FEEL THE EXAM COVERED THE CORE COMPETENCIES OF A CRC?

    A: Since my career has been dedicated to food since high school, I thought the culinary questions were more of a review, but were still challenging enough that I had to really think before I decided on my answers. The questions geared toward food science were appropriate for experienced people in this field who are more focused in culinary arts. I would give the questions a 4 on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the most difficult.) If I hadn’t studied, I would have never passed the exam. I would have to say that working in the R&D field prepared me most for the food science questions. I have learned so much from the people I work with. Education is key, but there is nothing like experience.

    As noted in the Winter 2007 issue of Culinology Currents

  • Nigel Dawson, CRC® 

    Q: When and how did you first hear about Certified Research Chef (CRC) certification? 
    A: I heard about the certification program pretty much as soon as I joined the RCA back in 2001. From there, I believe it was a mixture of articles in the Culinology® Currents newsletter combined with conversations while networking at the RCA Conferences in Miami and New Orleans that really spiked my interest.

    Q: Why did you decide to pursue certification? 
    A: There are a few reasons. On a personal level, I like a challenge. I wanted to prove to myself that I could pass the exam. I am already considering taking the CCS exam, but I may need to wait a while on that.

    Another reason is that I noticed more and more of my peers were becoming certified as either CRCs or CCSs, or in some cases now even both categories. I wanted to be a part of that group. The third reason is that here at Tyson Foods we have Core Values in place that we all work by every day. One of the objectives is for Tyson Foods "to become the undisputed leader in providing value added protein-based foods to all targeted distribution channels." In order to achieve this, Tyson Foods has a very strong commitment to ongoing professional growth. I strongly believe this certification process does help with that growth.

    Q: How far is CRC certification recognized at work? 
    A: In recent months both the CRC and CCS certification formats have really come to the forefront in our department. Our R&D department has committed itself to enabling all our Food Technologists to gain the culinary training requirements required to make them eligible to sit the CCS exam. So far, 20 Food Technologists have already completed their first 40 hours of culinary training through the University of Arkansas, and another 10 will be started their training in October. Our department’s goal is for all our Technologists to attain CCS eligibility.

    Q: How do you think certification will help you in your career?
    A: By becoming certified I believe it shows my employers and customers, both internal and external, that I have the knowledge, commitment and passion to do my job.

    Q: How did you prepare for your exam? 
    A: Between work, traveling for work, and giving my undivided attention to my wife Valerie (who works long and irregular hours as a restaurant manager) and my two-year-old daughter Chloe, finding the time to review the material was quite a challenge. For the most part, I would try and study in the evenings, on my lunch break, and while sitting in airports or on the plane. I also attended the pre-exam session held at the RCA Conference in Montreal where you basically start at the front of the book and go through it page by page. I found this to be a great source of information and it really helped me get into the right frame of mind, as I could get a good feel for the level the questions would be aimed at without any of the answers being given away. While I would suggest everyone who can attend the session should do so, if you rely on the session to get you through the exam you are in for a nasty surprise.

    Q: What would you recommend certification candidates do to study? 
    A: Make time to study. Start reading the recommended textbook as a resource well in advance of your exam date as on either the CRC or the CCS pathway they are both big books with a lot of information to retain. The answers to all the questions are found in these two textbooks. I would suggest reading the book from front to back either weeks or months in advance and either highlighting any relevant points, or if you are like me and dislike marking your books, make lots and lots of concise notes. Then when you feel it is time to start the actual exam review, you can spend your time studying all your hopefully relevant notes.

    Q: Did you feel the exam covered the Core Competencies of a CRC? 
    A: I would say, yes, it does cover the core competencies in that you need to know a broad range of topics in order to pass the exam. However, I also felt the subject range was extremely broad going through numerous topics with a moderate level of detail. What I would love to see as a possible next step is certification on specialized areas, e.g. Meat, Poultry, Fruit, Vegetables, Thermal Processing, Stocks and Sauces, Nutrition, Hygiene, Microbiology, Beverages, Confectionary, Baking, Unit Operations, etc. to name just a few categories. These specialized areas could be open to either the CRCs or the CCSs and would show a person was really a specialist in that particular area.

    As noted in the Fall 2005 Issue of Culinology Currents

View all CRC® certificants