BTC Culinary Program Earns Top Designation

February 25, 2021

The Blackhawk Culinary Arts program recently earned the highest honor from its accrediting body, the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFEFAC). According to ACFEFAC, Exemplary Programs symbolize the highest educational standards recognized by the Commission. Blackhawk’s program was the first in Wisconsin to earn this designation in 2006. There are currently 13 accredited culinary programs in Wisconsin and Illinois, and only 4 of those have earned this distinction.

The Exemplary distinction is presented to programs with proven full compliance with all ACFEFAC accreditation requirements and demonstrates excellent management of the program. This award is the final seal of approval for the maximum accreditation award of seven years.

According to the Culinary Program Coordinator, Chef Mark Olson, “In receiving the longest period of accreditation possible (7 years) gives us the distinction of going above and beyond the requirements and having zero areas of non-compliance in our program and curriculum. This places us in the upper 25% of all culinary colleges across the U.S.” 

When it comes to making the grade, the Exemplary distinction gives BTC the highest marks for meeting all of the competencies and skills that students entering the workforce need to be successful. “The accreditation status proves that we have been evaluated by an outside, objective agency in all areas of our program,” continued Chef Mark.

Four uniformed culinary arts students stand in a row in the BTC culinary kitchen

Students come from all over south-central Wisconsin and northern Illinois because of the valuable, hands-on experience that leads to high job placement rates upon graduation. Graduates of the BTC Culinary Program become restaurant and food truck owners, executive chefs, pastry chefs, personal chefs, and more.

Students appreciate that BTC’s culinary educators are well-rounded, coming from diverse backgrounds with global culinary experience. Ultimately, that diversity enhances the learning experience of students.

There are many aspects of the BTC program that make it unique. When asked about this, Chef Mark replied, “We tailor our classes to our diverse student body as much as possible following American Culinary Foundation (ACF) accreditation requirements.”

ACF currently has 16 levels of accreditation. The benefits of teaching to these levels include embracing continuing education in the field, providing a reputable, challenging, and quality-driven industry credential, training chefs who uphold the Culinarian’s Code of Ethics, and proving the ability to collaborate with others to cultivate new and innovative culinary techniques.

The BTC culinary program first received accreditation by the American Culinary Federation in 1999. At that time, Chef Mark was an adjunct instructor who contributed to the initial accreditation process. ACF awards one, three, five, and seven-year accreditations based on compliance (or non-compliance) to their lengthy lists of knowledge items and competencies. The current official ACFEFAC Grant of Accreditation is the highest seven-year award and is effective through Dec. 31, 2027.

Learn more about BTC’s exemplary Culinary Program at

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