Executive chef earns American Culinary Federation certification

Very few chefs in metro area earn federation certification

Chef Anthony Lyons

Chef Anthony Lyons

By BILL MILLIGAN

The Sunset Country Club’s executive chef recently joined a select few cooking professionals when he earned American Culinary Federation certification.

Chef Anthony Lyons has been a member of St. Louis Chefs de Cuisine since moving to St. Louis 18 years ago.

Nationwide, 2,590 chefs have earned the certified executive chef designation. In St. Louis where there is an average of one restaurant for every 100 people, 33 chefs carry the designation.

“It’s something that distinguishes you,” Lyons said. “There are a lot of really great chefs out there who have never taken any kind of exam and never held any kind of a certification.

“If I was going to hire a young cook and I saw he had a certification level, I would know that he would have a broad range of skills I could count on and that he would understand the language that goes along with being a cook as well,” he said. “If I told him to make a hollandaise sauce, they would know how to make it properly.”

Certified chefs are responsible for all culinary units in a restaurant, hotel, club, hospital or food service establishment. To qualify for the designation the chef must supervise five or more full-time employees and pass a practical exam in front of peers.

To pass, the chef must write and produce a three-course menu including fish, salad and main course. Chefs must adhere to strict guidelines — their work is timed, ingredients are specified and they are judged on taste, presentation and technique.

“When I started out 25 years ago, there were a lot of people who got out of high school and just went in the kitchen and started cooking,” he said. “That doesn’t happen anymore. It’s probably a good thing because it’s a really hard industry to break into.”

A native of Tipperary, Ireland, Lyons graduated from cooking school in Galway then moved to St. Louis.

He lives in Creve Coeur with his wife and two daughters, ages 15 and 8. He’s worked at Green Briar Hills Country Club, Old Warson, St. Louis, University Club and St. Albans. He was hired at Sunset two years ago and will start in Forest Hills in about a month — “as soon as I hire my replacement,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate to have been here at Sunset Hills for the last few years.”

There isn’t a day that goes by when Lyons doesn’t cook in some way.

“My youngest really likes cooking,” he said. “I taught her to make pasta about a year ago, so we’ll crank it up and roll it out.

“My wife might ask me to make something. She’s really into eating healthy. We make pizzas from scratch.”