Submitted by Okemo Mtn Resort
Okemo Mountain Resort Executive Chef Michael Breen was recently designated Certified Executive Chef by The American Culinary Federation. The Executive Chef certification identifies those chefs who have demonstrated a level of culinary competence and expertise through their education, work experience, culinary knowledge and skills consistent with the executive chef level. The ACF Executive Chef certification is the fourth level of official recognition in the organization’s Cooking Professional category. It is eclipsed only by the elite Master Chef designation.
In addition to educational and work history requirements, Candidates must complete a written examination and a three-hour practical examination demonstrating skill proficiency before a panel of judges.
“it’s not quite Iron Chef,” said Chef Breen, “but the timed practical examination required me to create a fish course, a salad course and an entrée, using 17 or 18 items from a market basket, in front of ACF judges who were observing my organization, sanitation and utilization skills.”
Chef Breen has held the position of executive chef at Okemo since the resort broadened its culinary offerings with the opening of The Jackson Gore Inn and Coleman Brook Tavern in 2003. He began his culinary career as an apprentice at The Westin Copley Place, Boston, at the age of 27. He was promoted to sous chef at the Westin before accepting a position as banquet sous chef with the Equinox, in Manchester, Vt. Prior to Okemo, Chef Breen held the position of executive chef at the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort, in Pa.
Chef Breen pauses when he considers how to categorize his culinary style. He describes his cooking as comfort food – hearty American cuisine. He is quick to add that he utilizes many influences and doesn’t like to label his culinary approach.
When he is not working behind “the line” in the kitchen of Jackson Gore’s Coleman Brook Tavern, Chef Breen likes to cook comfort food for his wife and two children, Jonah, age 11, and Cecily, age 8. He admits that he owes a lot to his wife, Kristine, and identifies her as the inspiration behind achieving his certification.
The American Culinary Federation, Inc. was established in 1929, the combined vision of three chefs’ associations in New York City. The organization provides accredited educational programs, certifications, competitions and networking designed to enhance professional growth for all current and future chefs and pastry chefs.