I now hold the world's records in certificates! Some of my favorites include: college, teaching, marriage, and now – cooking! Woooo!!!
Our ceremony was held at the private estate of the Cointreau family located on rue St. Honoré. The famous liqueur company owns the Cordon Bleu schools world wide and they open up their gates in Paris for graduation. Quite the exclusive location surrounded by embassies and France's Maison Blanche (President's white house)
Mon Mari, Jamie, et Moi at entryway to Maison Cointreau
We entered into another world once through the gates; a luxurious era with gold plated fixtures, spiral stair cases, and manicured gardens. Guests were ushered upstairs to an old ornate ball room for the ceremony while students found their name tags and nervously awaited their 30 seconds of fame.
We listened to the opening speeches as the chef's talked about the different Intermediate and Superior classes. They were very forward with our strengths and weaknesses. Never ceasing to use even the last moments as an opportunity to teach. The Intermdiate pastry chef commented that several students would not be graduating this term and that he felt the level of commitment needed to be stronger. He encouraged students to do better in Superior pastry.
The Superior pastry chef commented on a recent tragedy where a student burned the flesh off his arm severely with hot sugar by carelessly placing the bowl on the counter, knocking it over, and then trying to catch it. He lectured students that safety is a number one priority in the kitchen. A somber reminder that accidents can cause serious damage in the kitchen.
Our beloved Suprior Cuisine Chef talked about what a great group we were but openly expressed his disappointment in our final exam results. He felt that many students did not work up to their capabilities. He did thank those that were creative. He said there was some problems with our cooking of the pigeon and that most were not done to the right temperature. Although his words were stern and fatherly, his point was well taken – you are not chef's yet, so don't get too comfortable!
Omri (#1 in Cuisine) and Jamie my cooking pahtnah
Their speeches were not flowery or hostile and I appreciated their honesty. That's what I love about the French chef's, they call it like it is. Any one who's actually spent some time cooking in a restaurant kitchen knows that culinary school gives you the skills to survive when the heat is on, but it doesn't teach you how to be a chef. Like all professions, being a chef is a life long learning journey. Similar to teaching or being a doctor. There is always room to improve. That is what makes the "belle profession" so fascinating.
After we received our diplomas everyone filed into another area of the mansion for champagne and hor d'oervres. My family and I drank a lot of champagne. One of the attendants took a liking to our family and made sure that our glasses stayed refueled. (hee, hee)
Chef Struil in charge of basic cuisine and former head chef of Maxime's and the Hotel du Palais in Biarritz
Didier Chantefort, Marc Thivet, Patrick Terrein, & Bruno Struil will forever be legendary to me. Bruno, is a teacher's teacher. He tells you what he's going to do, shows you how to do it, and then repeats what he just did. Had he not been my chef in Basic cuisine I would have been lost in Superior. Constantly patient and always professional.
No one could forget Chef Thivet, with his "petit histoire" for every dish and every situation or Chef Terrien with his beautiful presentations for Intermediate cuisine.
Chantefort, our Superior Cuisine chef, makes even the hardest dishes look simple. He adds humor and insight that keep students engaged – a difficult feat for a three hour intensive demonstration. Also, he really helped me pursue my apprenticeship at Guy Savoy.
All graduations are happy and sad at the same time. When confronted with one chapter of life closing and another beginning there's bound to be mixed emotions. I was sad to be leaving the family that I've found at LCB, and disappointed in myself that I didn't place in the top three (my pigeon was one of the undercooked ones – boohoo), but happy with the knowledge I've gained, friends I've made, and totally ecstatic over my upcoming internship.
I was also excited to be offered another apprenticeship by Chef Bruno in Perigord after my three months at Guy Savoy are over. He said he wanted to me to learn there – that made me feel really good! (Perigord is the land of truffles– yippeee!!!)
Tired but excited, we all drank, ate, and toasted to our graduation and upcoming endeavors. My family and I caught a taxi to eat at Chiberta (another Guy Savoy restaurant), and continued with our prolonged champagne rampage over delicious food. After a long day and night, we came home and crashed.
I went to bed like a kid with a new toy, mind reeling with how I will fare in my upcoming apprenticeship at Guy Savoy. Never a dull moment in the world of food....
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