October 21, 2016

Open House at Le Cordon Bleu Paris

Just for you, Le Cordon Bleu Paris is opening its doors today and I am going to be your tour guide. Ready? So please follow me.

Le Cordon Bleu Paris

Did you know Le Cordon Bleu institute was founded in 1895 in Paris by the journalist Marthe Distel and Chef Henri-Paul Pellaprat? Me neither.
Marthe Distel started the culinary magazine “La cuisinière Cordon Bleu” that she soon after supplemented with cooking classes. It got so popular that she teamed up with Chef Henri-Paul Pellaprat to open the first Cordon Bleu school in Paris.
Today Le Cordon Bleu is a worldwide network with 35 schools across the world welcoming students from all over to learn Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management. Art comes from creativity, speaks to our senses, conveys emotions and, opens heart and mind. I like the idea of touching people’s heart with only flour and chocolate… In a kitchen we can all be artists. It is very powerful and inspiring.

The campus

Back to our topic. The school takes up 4,000 square meters, with 7 practical rooms, 3 demonstration rooms, a wine cellar for the wine programs, 6 regular classrooms, a workshop for amateur culinary classes, a vegetable rooftop garden… as a former accountant, I still like numbers very much.

Time to head toward the Epicure classroom where you will be presented a culinary demonstration and a food & wine pairing.

Chef Philippe Groult, awarded with the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (One of the Best Craftmen in France) medal will tell you that the best chefs in the world are not necessary French but they learned the French culinary techniques and adapted to their local products and own culture.
Most of our chefs have a long professional experience in France and abroad as well. Chef Groult worked 10 years in Japan and 5 years in Hong Kong, Macao and Shanghai to enrich his culinary experience.

The passionate Chefs

Today Chef Maxim Baïle will conduct the cuisine demonstration with a Red mullet fillet on the skin, sauce with Provence flavors and heirloom vegetable. Meantime the Pastry Chef Xavier Cotte will demonstrate Macaroons filled with Chocolate under the watchful eye of Franck Ramage, the Head of Wine department for a food and wine pairing.

Let the show begin!

On the left Chef Cotte is starting the meringue for the Macaroons shells. “For a nice shell, avoid to put too much cacao, pistachio or any other ingredient in the shell. It is better to play with the ganache for the flavor…”

Chef Baïle is cleaning the fish on the other side of the working table. “The Red Mullet is more fat than most fishes. The flesh is very delicate so you need to stab as less as possible not to damage too much the flesh… A good cook doesn’t waste and will use the remains of the fish to make a sauce…”

“So I will use coloring for the shell instead of cacao powder…”

The forgotten vegetables

… “For my recipe, I want to use forgotten vegetables such as Jerusalem artichokes, rutabaga and parsnips. Our grand parents were eating them a lot during World War II; they got tired of them and wanted to forgot them…”

And the head of wine department steps in. “The wine expert must know the dishes in order to find the best wine to compliment the food…”

Chef Baïle has all his ingredients ready and is starting to cook. “The vegetables must be steamed. If you blanch them in hot water, the flavors are going to disappear in the water…” Chef is adding salt, sugar, pepper and oil with the vegetables. Then he covers the vegetables with a baking sheet to keep the flavors… “Always start with oil and finish adding butter at the end…”

Red mullet fillet cooked on the skin, sauce with Provence flavors and heirloom vegetable

The wine expert is not missing a thing of the show. “If the texture of the fish is delicate, the wine must be elegant and fine. If a meat is cooked for a long time you will use a powerful wine… Here we have a Provence flavors with the tomatoes and olive oil, so I will go for a wine from Provence…”

… “This is my personal belief, the ganache should not be sweet. Macaroons are usually too sweet and people don’t like macaroons because it is so sweet. I like a Chantilly Ganache without sugar…”

Chef Baïle is preparing purple potato chips using naturally purple potatoes. “The purple fruits and vegetables are healthy like blackberries, blueberries, aubergines or blood oranges. They contain an anti-oxidant…”

The Earl Grey ice-cream with a playful smile

The Macaroons are ready and Chef Cotte is plating the macaroons with a scoop of Earl Grey ice-cream with a playful smile. And, this was not planned. The wine expert explains he receive the recipes in advance in order to study the ingredients and choose the right wine. “The tea flavor is not a problem but the ice-cream is, as it numbs the taste buds. So we will serve the wine before…”

Chocolate Macaroons

Now it is time for the tasting. First the wine to prepare the palate.
“This wine from Provence is special. This is not a fruity wine but a wine with a touch of minerality. The saline hint in your mouth is very rare and comes from the environment. This wine is from the Porquerolles island where the soil is very mineral…”

Food and Wine Pairing

And then the Red Mullet with the forgotten vegetables is served. This is so refined and different. Next will be a red wine to pair the chocolate macaroon and the tricky ice-cream. I am very impressed with the ice-cream. Very creamy and flavorful.

Mouthwatering isn’t it? I know. I am going to study for the Pastry diploma but learning cuisine is very appealing too. Oh! And, I am so interested in the oenology initiation program…

I hope you enjoyed the visit.
Thank you for coming and I will see you next week in class.
Remember to wear black socks. Uniform must be clean and ironed.
- Yes Chef!


  1. I know our paths crossed for just those few days in Northern Ireland some years back but I am cheering you on from the USA!

    1. Sometimes it takes only a few days. Thank you Elisabeth!

  2. Replies
    1. You are very welcome, don't forget your black socks next week!