MCA Ships cook certificate of competency

Regulation :

It is a requirement by several flag states that commercial vessels with 10 crew or more to carry a Ships Cook certified and qualified as such and onboard at all time. This is because of changes in the law brought about by the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006).

The MCA Ship’s Cook Certificate of Competency is recognized globally and allow to work on any vessels worldwide.

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

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 in order to obtain MCA Ships Cook Certificate by having their skills objectively assessed in a controlled environment. Secrets de Cuisine in conjunction with Bluewater Training in Antibes provide the assessment to 2.5 days.

Assessment :

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

Training is also available to prepare for the assessment.

The 2.5 day assessment consists of the following :
– 1 day practical assessment in soups, starters, meats, fish, poultry and vegetables with a pass mark of 65%
– 1 day practical assessment in pastry, bakery and deserts with a pass mark of 70%
– ½ a day written assessment of a total of 60 questions with a pass mark of 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


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 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, for sure! Despite the fact that the assessment is not technical, we know that pastry and bakery is not in everyone's comfort zone. Therefore you can take a practical prep course on the Tuesday, prior the assessment, so you can brush up on the techniques required during the exam. 

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 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 paramount importance.

Our MCA approved trainers have extensive experience in working on cruise ships, sailing and large motor yachts, and have been providing training 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.​

Preparation course :

  • Mini prep course : demonstration of the skills and techniques that are required to pass this assessment


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