Joseph Leonardi, a William Floyd High School graduate Class of 1993 and a 2010 William Floyd Distinguished Alumni Award honoree, recently earned the rank of “Certified Master Chef” (CMC) by the American Culinary Federation (ACF), the highest level of professional certification that a chef can receive in the United States. He is one of just three to become a CMC this year and one of only 68 in the nation who has achieved this milestone.
In order to become a CMC, Leonardi had to endure a grueling eight-day practical exam at Schoolcraft College in Michigan, in which chefs are tested on healthy cooking, buffet catering, classical cuisine, freestyle cooking, global cuisine, baking and pastry, continental and northern European cuisines, as well as “market basket,” a mystery basket of ingredients from which they must prepare a five-course meal. In total, Chef Leonardi successfully completed 90 hours of culinary demonstration over that eight-day span.
“This is a dream come true for me,” said Chef Leonardi. “A lot of time, dedication and sacrifice went into the CMC exam and it all paid off,” he said, adding, “I was mentally prepared and believed in myself and my abilities because as chefs, we train every day. At the end of the day, it’s just cooking at the highest level.”
“The American Culinary Federation is proud to honor our 2017 class of Certified Master Chefs,” said Stafford DeCambra, ACF National President. “The skill, creativity, and discipline called for by the exam are considerable, and the experience gained is invaluable to the chefs themselves and to the culinarians they mentor. We are inspired by their commitment to the culinary arts and congratulate them on an extraordinary achievement.”
Joseph Leonardi, CMC, is also a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Bachelors in Culinary, 1997; and Masters in Applied Teaching, 1999. He currently serves as the director of culinary operations at The Country Club in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. In 2009, he earned the title of U.S.A.’s Chef of the Year at “Cook. Craft. Create. ACF National Convention & Show.” Previously, Leonardi managed the ACF Culinary Team, which, in 2016, earned the title of World Champions in the Culinary Salon as well as in 2014. In 2012, he served as captain of ACF Culinary National Team USA, earning a silver medal in the hot-food kitchen and a silver medal in the cold-food presentation at the 23rd Culinary Olymics in Erfurt, Germany.
CMC Leonardi has been invited back to William Floyd to meet with students, tour the high school to see what has changed since his last visit in 2010 including the new Culinary Arts program which is part of the William Floyd School District’s Career and Technical Education program, which offers students opportunities in Automotive Technology, Business, Carpentry, Cosmetology, Culinary Arts, Medical Assisting, Small Engine Repair and coming soon, Barbering.
CMC Leonardi said he is looking forward to another return visit to William Floyd to tour and meet with students and share with them his successes.