Prestige school aims to serve up top chefs
Top culinary school opening in WellingtonSOPHIE SPEER
CULTURE AND CAPITAL DAY REPORTER
Dressed kitchen whites and armed with knife sets, more than 50 students will begin their culinary training when Le Cordon Bleu opens its doors in Wellington.
The $13 million refurbishment transformed the old Regent cinema into a state-of-the-art institute where students - the bulk of them from overseas - will hone their cooking skills.
Among the first wave of students will be 27-year-old Chris Turner, from Christchurch, who will be completing a diploma in patisserie in the hopes of one day opening his own bakery.
Turner, a contestant on this year's MasterChef, said he was looking forward to mastering the basics of French baking and pastry making so he could bend the rules to develop his own quirky designs and recipes. The institute's reputation as one of the most prestigious cooking schools in the world and its long history were major drawcards, he said.
The school first opened in Paris in 1895 and now there are 35 institutes on five continents, with more on the way. Schools in Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul and Shanghai are opening in the next two years.
Director Cath Hopkin said a qualification from Le Cordon Bleu was seen as the badge of credibility by many students.
Graduates would be able to get jobs anywhere in the world as their degrees would be internationally recognised, Hopkin said.
About 70 per cent of students were from Asia, Europe and North and Central America, and the number of overseas students was likely to grow, she said.
The first three floors of the four- storey facility are completed and house the WelTec hospitality course and a restaurant as well as the kitchens, demonstration rooms and classrooms of Le Cordon Bleu.
Work will continue on the fourth floor. Once completed, 300 students will study at the institute.
Logan Brown head chef Shaun Clouston said he would be looking to employ Le Cordon Bleu graduates in the future.
"In Sydney I worked with Le Cordon Bleu students . . . [and they were] very highly trained. I never had any issues. They were awesome and really dedicated, which is down to their training."
Restaurant Association national president Mike Egan said it was a great affirmation to the cuisine industry. "One of the big problems in the industry is that we are really short-staffed with professionals. These students will be able to work part-time while studying, which will add real depth in labour here because they're all culinary professionals."
The benefits were already being felt, with local experts being employed as tutors, including chef de cuisine Adam Newall and chef de patisserie Sebastien Lambert, and the benefits would continue as students graduated and entered the workforce, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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