Applied Ability Awards - Introduction
Four Steps to Understanding the Triple A, and One to Participate
Acknowledgements - developing the Triple A has involved much time and many inputs......
FAQs on the Triple A
Who is behind it?
Who is behind it? The Triple A was initiated by the British Food Trust, and developed by chefs from the following chefs organisations: Academy of Culinary Arts; Association Culinaire Francaise; British Culinary Federation; Craft Guild of Chefs; Federation of Scottish Chefs; Masterchefs of Great Britain; Welsh Culinary Association. Representatives of these organizations form the AAA National Committee, which oversees the organization, and ensures the standards and delivery of the AAA through the industry-led British Food Trust executive.
What? An independent qualification for professional chefs designed and delivered by industry for industry in order to provide the national benchmarks that will define, develop and promote craft skills. Currently the Award can be achieved at two levels: the AAA Foundation Chef certificate denotes those who have “demonstrated under test conditions the professional standard expected of a capable Kitchen & Larder Chef working under supervision”; and the AAA Chef Certificate denotes those who have demonstrated “the professional standard expected of an accomplished Kitchen & Larder Chef working without supervision”.
How? By providing the direction and structure to enhance in-house training and mentoring; thereby making best use of existing resources and investment by cloning skills and sharing best practice. The AAA has been purpose-built to deliver not only trainees with demonstrable skills but also the trainers that will make them so.
Who? Anyone can enter. Most candidates will be employees who wish to have their skills certified by a recognized qualification. They might be highly skilled, but without formal qualifications, trained cooks wanting to progress their skills, or overseas workers wanting to obtain a British award. But they may also be adult returners to work needing to boost their confidence by gaining the AAA, or newly-qualified college students wanting an industry 'top out' cookery award.
Method? Candidates will be entered by their mentor - normally their Head Chef or immediate boss in their working kitchen who will use the one-page 'skill scan' to help them identify strengths and weaknesses against a common syllabus underpinned by a single body of knowledge (the latest edition of 'Practical Cookery'). Mentor and candidate then create an action plan tailored to individual need, which is implemented in-house but culminates in the external AAA exam. Candidates not currently in work, and without a mentor, can take the exam unassisted, or can be put in touch with a local chef prepared to mentor them.
The Exam? Three components over one day: firstly, a 3.5 hour Practical (worth 70% of the marks) with two Chef Examiners overseeing a maximum eight candidates conducting a range of blind tasks or, at AAA Chef level, given various recipes notified two weeks beforehand; all tasks/recipes taken from the AAA syllabus. Secondly, a one-hour, online Knowledge Test (20% marks) comprising multi-choice questions from practice tests available online throughout the action plan period and covering every part of the syllabus. Thirdly, an employment and Aptitude Appraisal (10% marks) by way of a 20-minute interview with a third Examiner, whether employer, manager or senior chef.
NVQs & Apprenticeships? These are universal qualifications comprising optional tasks modules, which are appraised on the basis of continuous assessment through recorded observation; the AAA is a no-option practical examination testing cooks' skill at Foundation and Chef level. As well as being a stand-alone qualification, the AAA can function as a value-added complement to the NVQ.
Background? With financial support from the Savoy Educational Trust, The Forte Foundation and Edge, the AAA was developed over a year through consultative chefs workshops and a core working party prior to a pilot programme from September '05 to April '06. The pilot comprised 100 candidates in two rounds totalling 13 exams, each round preceded by workplace training with an in-house mentor; 74% of candidates passed.
Current Programme? The success of the pilot in testing the principles, content and delivery of the AAA, has led to the next phase: 'early adopter' employers entering 1,000 paying candidates over eight exam points between September '06 to November '08. This schedule is designed to facilitate rolling, in-house programmes over a contract period that starts with candidate registration, at any time, and concludes with the exam, to be taken at any of the four exams following registration. Exams run in a continuous cycle over the year: early March, early May, late September, late November.
Costs? The cost per candidate is £500, payable on registration. Employers may wish to share this fee with their candidates, with the latter making a commitment of, say, £100 recovered by the employer over 20 weeks. The cost covers all aspects of the AAA including fee-paid examiners, their selection and induction, venue costs, online servicing and support training, exams authorship, certification, quality assurance and the various aspects of administration and governance.