MCA Ships cook certificate of competency

MCA Ships' Cook Certificate of Competency


It is a requirement under several flag states on commercial vessels with 10 or more crew members that at least one chef/cook onboard at all times must hold a Ships' Cook Certificate of Competency. This is because of changes in the law brought about by the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006).

While it could be interpreted differently under each flag state at present, gaining such a qualification provides great career enhancement and enables candidates to aim for better jobs. The MCA Ships' Cook Certificate of Competency is not only a legal requirement, it also sets a level playing field on which captains/recruiters are relying on to make their hiring decisions.

The MCA Ships' Cook Certificate of Competency is recognised globally and allows you to work on any vessel worldwide.

As stated within the latest MCA guidance and application form, the Ships' Cook Assessment in Marine Cookery is necessary for all cooks/chefs, qualified or not, to have their skills objectively assessed in a controlled environment, in order to obtain the MCA Ships' Cook Certificate of Competency. Secrets de Cuisine, in conjunction with Bluewater Training in Antibes, provides the assessment in 2.5 days.

Assessment in Marine Cookery:

The assessment consists of three different modules, all of which need to be completed in our MCA approved kitchen facility.

Training is also available to prepare for both the theoretical and practical elements of the assessment.

The 2.5 day assessment consists of the following:

1 day practical assessment in soups, starters, meats, fish, poultry and vegetables (passing grade minimum 65%)
1 day practical assessment in pastry, bakery and deserts (passing grade minimum 70%)
½ day 60 question written assessment (passing grade minimum 70%)

The assessment covers the following subjects:

Health and safety in catering in the maritime industry
Kitchen operations, costs and menu planning
Applying work skills
Healthier foods and special diets
Cultural and religious catering requirements
Dietary requirements of shift workers
Prepare and cook soups and sauces
Prepare and cook fruit and vegetables
Prepare and cook meat and offal
Prepare and cook fish and shellfish
Prepare and cook rice, pasta, grains, and egg dishes
Prepare and cook dessert and pudding
Prepare and cook bakery products

Booking options:

  • Ships' Cook Certificate Bundle: Food Safety Level 3 + Online Theoretical Preparation Course (candidates are able to prepare for the written element of the assessment at their own pace and in their own time through access to a Virtual Learning Environment VLE) + Assessment. Cost: €1,500 Length: 3 days (plus online VLE study time)
  • 1-day Practical Preparation Course takes place on the Tuesday before the assessment. This highly recommended course prepares candidates for the practical element of the Assessment in Marine Cookery for the MCA Ships' Cook Certificate of Competency. Cost: €300 Length: 1 day
  • Ships' Cook Certificate Assessment only. Cost: €1,250 Length: 2.5 days

For further information prior to booking please Contact us


I have heard that the Ship's Cook Certificate Assessment is difficult, is that true?

No, this is a basic Level 2 exam which can feel rather intense but technically it is not difficult. One candidate summed it up well:

"I feel like I have been tested but I never felt that what was being asked was beyond reasonable expectations of a chef or the MCA ships cook criteria. The instructors bring ample skills and teaching ability to the course providing a well-rounded preparation for the assessment phase. The written exam is thorough and tests depth of knowledge. Both practical assessments were enjoyable and I particularly appreciated how hard both instructors work to keep you at ease under exam conditions."

I am not feeling overly confident in pastry and bakery, can you help me?

Yes we can! Despite the fact that the assessment is not technically difficult, we know that pastry and bakery is not in everyone's comfort zone. Therefore you can take a 1-day Practical Preparation Course on the Tuesday prior the assessment, so you can brush up on the techniques required during the assessment. 

See what other candidates are saying about the Practical Preparation Course:

"A fantastic course with excellent and helpful instructors. Well worth doing the prep course before the final assessments."
"I found the prep course very useful, I am glad I have joined this part as well."
"Revisiting Pastry was great and I enjoyed getting back to basics as I had not done so for a long time."

"The four days onsite were perfect. Cedric was wonderful in putting us all at ease and pointing us in the right direction."

Everyone talks about NVQ Level 2 for the assessment, but how much of the maritime aspect is actually involved?

Being a chef/cook on a yacht is not quite the same as being land-based.

Aspects such as nutrition for shift workers, Marpol, Health and Safety at sea, dietary and religious requirements have a more significant importance on a vessel.

Our MCA approved trainers have extensive experience working on cruise ships, sailing and large motor yachts, and have been providing training to over 450 chefs for the Ship's Cook Assessment since September 2014. Offering  a complete training package for the shipping and luxury yachting industry, they are on hand to give you professional guidance and a real insight into the business of cooking at sea.​

What is the timetable for the Assessment and how often is it scheduled?

Courses at Secrets de Cuisine are available all year, non-stop. We run the Ships' Cook Certificate Assessment every other week at our training centre in Antibes (with a few exceptions in the summer months).

Tuesday 9:00am (all day) Practical Preparation Course

Wednesday 9:00am Classroom-based Food Safety Level 3 refresher course followed by the 2-hour exam 

Wednesday 1:00pm Ships' Cook Assessment 60 question written exam.

Thursday 9am (all day) Practical Assessment of pastry, bakery & desserts.

Friday 9am (all day) Practical Assessment of savoury cooking.


Searching Availability...


Secrets de cuisine is a cookery school located in Antibes, France.