Thompson achieves certification
ELKINS — After years of honing his skills, Chef Tommy Thompson of Heston Farm’s Foxfire Restaurant recently achieved the rank of Executive Chef, a certification granted by the American Culinary Federation. This certification identifies chefs who have achieved the highest levels of professionalism in the culinary industry.
Applicants first must have at least 12 years of experience in running a professional kitchen. Then they must pass a comprehensive written test, after which their skills are tested live during a three-hour final exam where four national judges evaluate their performance.
“The final exam is only offered once a year,” Thompson said. “It’s costly, so you want to make sure you are really prepared. To pass the test, you have to be at the top of your game. My family and my Heston Farm colleagues helped me prepare by participating in practice runs. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Thompson’s love for the culinary arts first emerged as a young boy working side-by-side in the kitchen with his mother, Marie, an expert at preparing delicious, home-style meals on a tight budget. During those early years, he learned the joy of preparing classic recipes. At 17, Thompson found a job as a dishwasher with his friend. One day, his coworker who worked the salad station didn’t show up and he was promoted on the spot into the position.
“I was instantly hooked,” he said. “It was awesome. Ultimately, I decided to pursue a culinary degree at Le Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda, Maryland.”
After graduating in 1996, he returned to Morgantown to make his mark. There, he and his wife, Tasia, were best known for owning and operating two popular restaurants, Madeleine’s and the Golden Finch. His skills have earned him first place awards in the Best of Morgantown, Sweets for the Sweet, Taste of Morgantown and other competitions in multiple categories.
“It’s very rewarding to have earned this title; it’s a formal acknowledgement of the level of expertise I have worked to achieve throughout my career,” Thompson said. “The certification process was rigorous and it really challenged me to sharpen my restaurant management and culinary skills.”
At Heston Farm’s Foxfire Restaurant, Chef Thompson focuses his menu on farm fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and works with local farms, including Hawthorne Farms in Clarksburg and Gardener Farms in Shepherdstown, to ensure he receives the highest quality products available.
Now the Foxfire Restaurant is one of only a handful of restaurants in West Virginia that offers a menu prepared by a certified Executive Chef. At Heston Farm, Thompson uses his skills to teach the next generation of cooks how to use classic culinary techniques to create farm-fresh meals.
“I can’t wait to continue my involvement in the American Culinary Federation,” said Thompson. “They have asked me to become certified as a regional judge, where I can help other chefs advance their skills.”