Master of Culinary Arts

Master of Culinary Arts


Inaugurated in 1987, The Master of Culinary Arts (MCA) is held every four years and is seen to be the ultimate accolade, awarded in recognition of outstanding craftsmanship, for Chefs, Pastry Chefs and Restaurant Managers in the UK.  Inspired by Michel Bourdin, then Chef de Cuisine at The Connaught and supported by Albert and Michel Roux OBEs the MCA was based on the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) and was originally known as the Meilleur Ouvrier de Grande Bretagne.


The MCA was, and still is, intended to instill the same respect and appreciation of craft that exists in France.  It represents the very best in Culinary Skills, Pastry and Restaurant Management and Service and is a priority in the Academy’s continuing efforts to improve the standards of food, cooking and service in the UK, whilst raising the professional status of Chefs, Pastry Chefs and Restaurant Managers.

Who can enter?

To enter the Master of Culinary Arts (MCA) candidates should be currently employed full-time within the United Kingdom as a chef, pastry chef or in restaurant service and management.  Applicants must also have:

  • At least 10 years full-time experience in their specific trade (not necessarily consecutively).
  • A range of industrial experience at various levels within their specific trade, including at least three years at a senior level.
  • Undertaken a range of activities as part of their own continuing professional development.
  • A broad knowledge of traditional and modern gastronomy.
  • The ability to demonstrate a range of their specific trade skills at an advanced level.
  • Contributed to the training and development of others.

Format and how to enter

Candidates must qualify through demanding entry requirements, regional Quarter and Semi-Finals, and Finals held at Le Gavroche for Restaurant Management, University College Birmingham for Chefs and Westminster Kingsway College for Pastry Chefs.  This is followed by one of the industry’s most prestigious award ceremonies, at Claridge’s.  The judging panels are formed from members of the Academy, MCAs and significant professionals from within the industry.  The MCA is an award rather than a competition, all or none of the entrants can achieve this coveted prize depending on their ability to reach the required standard.  To reach the Final is a significant achievement in itself.y one of the industry’s most prestigious award ceremonies.  The judges are all Academicians, MCAs and significant professionals from within the industry.  The MCA is a mark of achievement, not a competition.  The judges may select all or none of the candidates depending upon the pass mark.

"This prestigious award is based on perfection.  The judges, experienced industry professionals and many MCA holders themselves, are looking for candidates to deliver the highest standards under the extremes of pressure that working in the catering industry demands on a day to day basis.  It is for this reason that only the best and therefore only a handful of candidates ever achieve this standard.  It takes real courage to enter the MCA and exceptional skill to reach the Finals.  The tough judging criteria should not deter any future prospective entrants for the awards.  Winning an MCA often marks a turning point in the career of a Chef, Pastry Chef or Restaurant Manager, elevating confidence and gaining respect from other culinary professionals."  Brian J. Turner CBE, President of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts.

More information

Footage from the Master of Culinary Arts 2013 is available on Click here to watch the programme.

For more information visit