Ship’s cook certificate

Ship’s cook certificate

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What is the MCA Ships’ Cook Certificate of Competency (CoC)?


In August 2014 changes ratified by the Maritime and Labour Convention (MLC 2006) were brought into effect and subsequently adopted by several flag states, requiring commercial vessels registered with 10 or more crew to have a certified and qualified Ships Cook on board at all time.

The MCA Ships' Cook Certificate of Competency was introduced to meet this legal requirement and is now globally recognised. While certain flag states currently choose not to enforce these regulations, gaining the qualification provides greater career enhancement, helping candidates stand out to Captains and Recruiters.

The Ships Cook Assessment in Marine Cookery is applicable to all cooks/chefs, qualified or not, to have their skills objectively assessed in a controlled environment and awarded the Certificate of Competency after passing a two and a half day assessment.

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


What is the Assessment in Marine Cookery?


Since the 7th August 2014, it has been a legal requirement for at least one crew member (Chef/Cook) on board at all times, to hold the MCA Ships' Cook Certificate of Competency on commercial yachts with 10 or more crew members, in accordance with changes to the law brought about by the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006).

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 Yachting, is the first MCA approved assessment centre for the Ships’ Cook Certificate and has been offering the 2.5 day assessment since its introduction to the maritime industry.

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.


Who is eligible to complete the assessment?


To be eligible Chefs/Cooks must be able to prove they have 1 year experience at sea or 1 year experience on land as a Chef/Cook + 1 month sea service.
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. Please see below for more information.


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%)




  • 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.

To download the Guidance to the Ships’ Cook Assessment, please click here.


1-Day Practical Preparation Course for the Ships' Cook Assessment


This 1-day Practical Preparation Course is intended to prepare candidates for the practical element of the Assessment in Marine Cookery. It is designed for cooks/chefs to understand the parameters of the assessment and brush up on skills that may not have been used in some time, i.e. puff pastry, shortcrust pastry, sugarcrust pastry, flaky pastry, etc.

On the Tuesday prior to the assessment, candidates go through and practice practical techniques which will be required during the pastry, bakery and savoury assessments with guidance from one of the assessors. This is also an opportunity to ask any questions related to the assessment.

Feedback from previous successful candidates indicates that they felt more much confident going into the assessment:

"A fantastic course with excellent and helpful instructors. Well worth doing the prep course before the final assessments."
"The four days onsite were perfect. Cedric was wonderful in putting us all at ease and pointing us in the right direction."
"I found the bakery and pastry prep course excellent..."

Cost: 300 euros Length: 1 day


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 euros Length: 3 days (plus online VLE study time).


Ships' Cook Certificate Assessment only (includes the Online Theoretical Preparation Course)  Cost: 1,250 euros Length: 2.5 days.


1-day Practical Preparation Course Cost: 300 euros Length: 1 day.


Food Safety Level 2: Cost: 200 euros Length: 1 day

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.​