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hsrsmith's avatar

What Was Your Experience Like at Le Cordon Bleu?

Asked by hsrsmith (121points) September 8th, 2008 from iPhone
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Harp's avatar

I must preface this answer by saying that my experience dates back (OMG!) 26 years, and I’m sure much has changed since then (the location, for one thing).

When I went there, I was expecting a far more rigorous, “professional” training environment. This was the beginning of a career change for me, and I was looking for skills and knowledge that could really get me in the door of a commercial kitchen. But that’s not what I got.

I didn’t realize at the time that no Frenchman training as a cook goes to The Cordon Bleu. There are schools for culinary training in France that do coach teens through the beginning stages of the craft, but they’re not at all set up to include foreigners. The Cordon Bleu, on the other hand, exists for foreigners. But, at least when I was there, it was geared strictly to introducing the home cook to the classics of French cuisine.

The dishes we were taught were already considered old and stodgy. I don’t know that I’ve ever cooked more than two of the recipes I learned there since leaving. Most of the benefit I derived from the classes was from watching the instructors’ demos (and these were indeed skilled guys). What they made was way less important than how they worked.

I went on to work in the food biz ever since, but in retrospect, I’d have to say that the Cordon Bleu contributed nothing to that. When I did get a job in a kitchen, it wasn’t because I’d been to the CB, and I was still as lost as a little kitten when faced with the real kitchen world.

I think that there are far better culinary educations to be had at the best US schools (CIA, Johnson & Wales…). Americans tend to be far better at explaining the science of cooking, which is, I think, very important. A restaurant in the states would far rather see a CIA grad at their door than someone out of the Cordon Bleu.

Having said all that, I did meet my wife there :)

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