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SAIT instructor a bona fide Master Chef

SAIT chef and professional cooking Michael Allemeier earned his Master Chef certification.

"It's been an interesting voyage of knowledge and skills and personal discovery," says SAIT instructor Michael Allemeier.

SAIT chef and professional cooking instructor Michael Allemeier has earned his Master Chef certification from the Canadian Culinary Institute, becoming only the third in Canada to receive the prestigious designation. Four years of intense study, assignments and exams went into becoming a Certified Master Chef (CMC), giving Michael Allemeier the rare chance to be a student and instructor at the same time.

"I've always been committed to education; I consider myself a lifelong learner," he says.  

Canadian Culinary Institute - Master Chef MedalPassing on recipe for success

From his father, Allemeier was schooled from a young age to understand the hierarchy of masters and apprentices — that those who have mastered a craft are responsible for training the next generation and preparing them for their professional development until they can then challenge the title of master.

"This journey started when I became an apprentice," says Allemeier.

The CMC program in Canada began in 2011 and has seen only two other chefs successfully get certification, Judson Simpson, the executive chef at the House of Commons and Tobias MacDonald, a Vancouver Community College instructor. For Allemeier, it wasn't a matter of if he would sign up to go through the certification program, but when.

Although a gruelling task, committing up to 30 hours of week for study, online discussions and assignments, outside of teaching at SAIT and spending time with his family, Allemeier says he now loves cooking even more than when he started.

Passion for teaching

Allemeier, who led the kitchens at acclaimed restaurants such as Teatro, Mission Hill Winery in Kelowna and Vancouver's famed Bishop's — where he was the executive chef under John Bishop himself — across his 31-year career joined SAIT in 2009. He currently teaches students in the Professional Cooking program.

He credits his colleagues for helping him through the four-year certification program, answering questions and sharing their expertise, and to Tom Bornhorst, Dean of the School of Hospitality and Tourism, who was unconditionally supportive.

"He was a great force in getting me through this program," says Allemeier.  

Turning up the heat

Through 11 components — seven academic portions and four kitchen exams held in Toronto at Humber College — chefs are tested on everything from garde manger and baking theory through nutrition and food allergies to entrepreneurship, tourism and hospitality marketing.

At one point, Allemeier even had to learn AutoCAD in order to redesign a restaurant kitchen to meet food safety and menu demands.

But his favourite task was the two-day pastry and baking exam when he baked bread and rolls, formed chocolates and created classic cakes and tortes. The precision and science required by baking and pastry appeal to his "Type A personality," he says with a laugh.

Master educator

One perk of the process was seeing the enthusiasm from students — past and present — who followed his progress. When he posted a photo on Instagram Sunday after successfully passing the final component of the certification, it was all students commenting.

With master chef certification in hand, he is eager to bring his continued passion for the cooking arts to his students at SAIT.

"This has made me a better educator," he says. "Teaching is a privilege and a responsibility, one I take very seriously and I am lucky to have that opportunity."

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