120 years at Le Cordon Bleu

25 Nov 2015
5 min read
Celebrating the world-renowned cooking school’s birthday, Sophie Cater chats with four chefs who emerged from Le Cordon Bleu to create waves in the dining scene.
Emil Minev

Executive chef at Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London

What are the four most important skills you learnt from Le Cordon Bleu?

I studied Pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu, so the four most important skills would be: baking, working with chocolate, sugar art and plated desserts, and techniques related to it.

What was your favourite part of your Cordon Bleu training?

To be part of this great institution and to gain some valuable skills from great chefs was probably the best part of the experience. I also enjoyed the networking opportunities;I met people who shared the same passion and love of food. Some of the people I studied with are still good friends of mine.

How do you use your knowledge from Le Cordon Bleu in your cuisine today?

If you want to exceed as a Chef, it is essential to possess good pastry skills. What I have learned at Le Cordon Bleu, helped me to get where I am today.When I became head chef, I was able to understand the art of creating a dessert and to produce my own signature puddings. Today I have fantastic pastry chefs in my team at Shangri-La Hotel, at The Shard, London.I don’t try to teach them what to do, but the skills I have learnt and gained at LBC, certainly helped me to better understand the ‘sweet side’ of our profession .

Describe you cuisine in four words or phrases…​

Emotional, local, global, seasonal.

Zoe McReynolds

Chef de partie at La Trompette in Chiswick, London.

What are the four most important skills you learnt from Le Cordon Bleu?

Working methodically and logically, the importance of cleanliness and appearance, time management skills in food preparation, and most importantly unshakablepersistence. Regardless of how slow, stupid or incapable people believe you to be, it isimperative that you come back each day and fight to prove them wrong. This might not ever be achieved, but giving up is absolute failure and so is not an option. My time at Le Cordon Bleu definitely taught me this.

What was your favourite part of your Cordon Bleu training?

Creative challenges in the later terms were greatopportunitiesto develop as well as hugely enjoyable, being givenlicense to alter recipes ensured that everybody in the class bought something new to the table, we learnt from each other’s interpretations. Our experiments with ingredients didn’t work 90% of the time, which was half of the fun.

The solid foundation of basic french techniques that LCB provides is reflected through most types of cuisine, the knowledge of classical cooking vocabulary is important in many London kitchens and so useful to have.

Describe you cuisine in four words or phrases…​

I’m currently working in a restaurant with many different cultural influences, French, Italian, Asian, British, from which my cuisine is developing. To summarise my own cooking in four words: flavour orientated, ingredient led.

Hideko Kawa

Consultant and Food Designer of The Sweet Art Lab

What are the fourmost important skills you learnt from Le Cordon Bleu?

First I learned team work, working with classmates sharing space, ingredients and equipment towards the same goal in a good spirt.Second – Skills on how to organise your work following the timeline.Third – I learned how to teach cooking to my chefs in the kitchen, to work in the most efficiently manner to avoid stopping and slowing down the project.Lastly, of course Internationalfundamental cooking skills.

What was your favourite part of your Cordon Bleu training?

I loved and enjoyed every single moment at LCB, where I met strongly bounded friends living all over the world. I liked the work station in the kitchen which was professionally equipped and very nice. Beyond that my most favourite part was tutors quality. They were very skilled, knowledgeable and generously taught me.

How do you use your knowledge from Le Cordon Bleu in your cuisine today?

When creating a new idea in addition to my inspiration, twist, sense, deliciousness and story, I use my broad fundamental technics and knowledge I learned at LCB. A great foundation for my creations.

Describe you cuisine in four words or phrases…​

My cuisine is unique, artistic, natural and delicious.It freely expresses my philosophy, internal and invisible emotions, thoughts which are influenced by my Japanese back ground and professional experiences as a human environmental researcher, teacher and three Michelin restaurants’ head pastry chef.

Irina Kupenska

Chef de Partie at theSavoy, London

What are the fourmost important skills you learnt from Le Cordon Bleu?

I think the most important skills I learn during my time at Le Cordon Bleu were; working in a team, creating a clean and organised work space, writing a proper mise en place list which is a key factor for a successful day, and managing to finish within a set timeframe.

What was your favourite part of your Cordon Bleu training?

I loved every single minute spent in Cordon Bleu but my absolute favourite part must be one of our final projects in the Superior module where we had to create an afternoon tea and work as a team to achieve the final product. It was the first time I got a glimpse of how it would be like to work in the industry.

How do you use your knowledge from Le Cordon Bleu in your cuisine today?

Le Cordon Bleu gave me a strong foundation to build my carrier as a pastry chef and it was one the best decision I’ve made so far in my life. Using the basic knowledge helped me a lot when I started working and it showed my chef that I am a true asset to the team. Now, I’m building on everything I’ve learned from Le Cordon Bleu and trying every day to practice and improve my skills.

Describe you cuisine in four words or phrases…​

Precision, Creativity, Passion, Love

An overview of the history of Le Cordon Bleu

Le Cordon Bleu is a world leading culinary school, one that issteeped in history with rich heritage spanning over 120 years.From 1895, the school has evolved from a small Parisiancookery school to an ever expanding international network.

On January 10th 1895 Marthe Distel launched a weeklypublication called La Cuisinière Cordon Bleu; this was to be thefirst real culinary magazine in France. The first culinary schoolfollowed shortly, opening its doors on October 15th 1895.

The publication lasted 70 years, with thousands of issues,which educated readers to the most unique recipe collectionfor its time. From here on in the international reputation ofLe Cordon Bleu grew rapidly with students enrolling fromoverseas–Japan and Russia.

It was the diverse network of alumni that really contributedthe most to Le Cordon Bleu, as in 1933 a former Parisstudent; Rosemary Hume opened L’Ecole du Petit CordonBleu in London. Twenty yearslater the school’s success wasconfirmed when it prepared the Coronation Luncheon for Queen Elizabeth II for which the Coronation Chicken recipewas created.

In 1984, André Cointreau was appointed president and CEO,and during his thirty years of leadership, he has alwaysbelieved that the future of Le Cordon Bleu will be held by the internationalisation of the schools and their diversenetwork of international alumni.

Le Cordon Bleu has become one of the foremost traininginstitutions in the world; maintaining a presence with 40schools in 20 countries, training over 20,000 students of morethan 70 different nationalities every year.

Le Cordon Bleu has expanded globally with schools beingestablished in Japan, Peru, Korea, New Zealand to list afew and is paired with universities across the world suchas Francisco de Vitoria University in Madris and ÖzyeğinUniversity in Istanbul.

Today a wide range of Diploma, Bachelor and Mastersprogrammes including the fi nest education in food, wine,and hospitality is on offer in our schools. The academicprogrammes are constantly adapted to the future needof hospitality services, particularly through our privilegedpartnerships with governments, universities and specialistorganisations.

Le Cordon Bleu has made a worldwide contribution to theconservation of the art of French living and French culture bysetting standards in both the culinary arts and the hospitalityindustry.

The Grand Diplôme® program, however, still remains at thecore of the Le Cordon Bleu curriculum, and is considered tobe the most intensive and comprehensive training in classicFrench cuisine and pastry techniques available today.

No other institution offers as many practical hours in ateaching kitchen, and with our focus on mastering technicalskills, our students have the confi dence and knowledge toapply what they have learnt to any style of cuisine.For more than a century Le Cordon Bleu has enabledaspiring culinary professionals to turn their ambitions intoreality, and in 2014 Le Cordon Bleu London responded toan overwhelming consumer and industry demand byintroducing the Diploma in Culinary Management. Studentsand professionals are now more aware of the exciting andpractical careers available.