October 8, 2016


Chef Didier Chantefort at Le Cordon Bleu Paris (Photo: McK)
To look and feel young, make sure you enjoy “red wine, love and travel”. That was just one of the many memorable quotes from Chef Didier Chantefort, who gave WICE members a private course at the famous Cordon Bleu cooking school on Sept. 29.

The course attracted some 40 participants, most of whom had won a prize at the WICE Fall Open House for this exclusive demonstration. Amid witticisms, life lessons and responses to questions, Chantefort showed guests how to prepare a perfect “pike-perch with hazelnut crust, carrot cream and red wine sauce”.

Chantefort answers a question.
(Photo: McK)
Without missing a beat, he chopped, stirred and tasted (“ah, c’est excellent”), while WICE members took notes and looked forward to sampling the masterpiece themselves. And it was indeed a work of art that Chantefort eventually presented – ladling food onto two regular platters at first, then on little plates for all to enjoy.

It looked almost too good to eat: the portion of baked fish sitting on a rich mousse of carrots in a ring of wine sauce, and topped by multi-hued greens. But that didn’t stop participants from clearing their plates.

The delicacy of the dish was of course to be expected from Le Cordon Bleu. Since its founding in 1895, the name of the institute has become synonymous with superior cooking, and it now has over 35 schools in 20 countries.

According to its Marketing and Communications Manager Sandra Messier, the group trains 20,000 students of more than 100 nationalities every year. In addition to guiding professionals in the culinary arts and hospitality management fields, Le Cordon Bleu offers a “wide range of culinary workshops in French and English … for private individuals, groups of amateurs and professionals”.

Sandra Messier, LCB's marketing and communications
manager, and Camille Jullien, sales and development
manager. (Photo: McK)
These lessons take the form of either visual demonstrations or practical workshops, Messier said. For WICE members, the private course qualified as a demonstration as the chef and his assistant did the preparing and cooking, while an interpreter translated the lesson into English throughout the various steps.

But members also got a chance to see the facilities designed for practical workshops, as Messier and her colleague Camille Jullien later led them on a tour of the new campus overlooking the Seine. The impressive features included huge kitchens with gleaming counters and utensils for creating pastry, baking bread, tasting wine and producing complete dishes.

Among the courses available in these classrooms are: the art of French cuisine, the art of cooking like a chef and the art of making sauces and jus. Furthermore, those who have always dreamed of being a pastry master can learn to make macaroons, tarts and cakes, while wine buffs can become skilled in food and wine pairing, for instance.

Creativity is key in cooking.
Children also have their place at Le Cordon Bleu, with tailor-made workshops for those aged 8 to 12 as well as for teens from 13 to 17 years old, Messier said. These youngsters get to work under the supervision of a chef and can take home their culinary or pastry dishes after the workshop.

Apart from the food, what many participants in the courses will leave with is the knowledge that cooking is an art, where creativity is of paramount importance.

“Just as you can pair a pink tie with a green shirt in fashion, it’s the same in the kitchen,” Chantefort told WICE members. “Dare to be different.”

WICE members watch Chef Chantefort in action at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. (Photo: Sipurzynska)
Members sample the finished dish: pike-perch with hazelnut crust, carrot cream and red wine sauce.