Finally graduated from Cordon Bleu having completed my Grand Diplôme (Cuisine Diploma and Patisserie Diploma).
The graduation took place at the Landmark Hotel in London and consisted of a ceremony and a lunch.
There were about 80 people graduating in one diploma or the other, or both, and we each trooped up on stage to receive a large envelope containing the certificates and a silver medal for each diploma.
Then those who had completed the Grand Diplôme went up on stage again to receive an absolutely huge envelope containing the Grand Diplôme certificate, a gold medal and a chef’s hat.
By this time I looked like I had been successful in the olympics (though, with my lack of sporting prowess, this isn’t likely).
And here is my enormous certificate.
I also got my full transcript and found that I had achieved Credits in both Cusine and Patisserie (or Mention Biens in the French on the certificates) which means I got over 80% overall. Hurrah!
Next we had a lunch for all the graduating students, their guests and all the chefs and Cordon Bleu staff. The chefs had changed from their whites into suits, which made them look very different. At school we only ever saw them in their white uniforms and they were almost unrecognisable in civvies.
The lunch was surprisingly uninteresting, given that it was a 5 star hotel, with the crabmeat first course being the most interesting.
So that’s the completion of my time at Cordon Bleu. I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog. Feel free to leave comments.
We got our cuisine exam results for chef Eric on Monday. I got 85% in the cuisine exam which I am very pleased and quite surprised about. Hurrah!
On Tuesday chef Christophe gave us our patisserie exam results. I got 75% which is another good result (though I thought I’d done better in patisserie than in cuisine).
Which means I have passed both cuisine and patisserie and have earned my Grand Diplome. Double Hurrah!
The only thing left is the graduation ceremony and lunch at a 5 star hotel on Friday.
Monday saw 2 written exams, 1 each for cuisine and patisserie.
Each exam was 1 hour and consisted of some multiple choice questions and short answer questions. As happened in both basic and intermediate exams, it took the full hour to answer the patisserie exam and only half the time for the cuisine exam.
On Thursday we had the cuisine exam. 4 hectic hours to make 2 identical first courses and 2 identical main courses, exactly the same as we practiced in the mock exam.
I was quite happy with the end result, though another half an hour and it would have been much closer to perfect.
Friday was the patisserie exam. 6 hours to make brioche, chocolate truffles, sablé hollandais biscuits, a sugar centrepiece and 2 identical plated desserts of our own design.
All seemed to go ok, not perfect but less hectic than cuisine and I was quite happy with the results.
Chef John took us for the last demo of my time at Cordon Bleu and demonstrated a couple of dishes that we wouldn’t be cooking as the practical correspondng to the this demo would be our cuisine exam.
The 1st dish was seared peppered lamb with pressed tomatoes, goat’s cheese and pommes maxine.
Next was a Salmon Coulibiac, which is fillet of salmon with chopped boiled egg, mushroom duxelle, creamed onions and saffron rice, wrapped in crepes and then brioche and baked. It’s a bit like a beef wellington, but with fish and brioche rather than beef and puff pastry. It was served with a dill sauce.
Chef David took us for the demo today where we cooked the Onglet demonstrated yesterday. It was good to have him for a change – we have had him quite rarely in our time at Cordon Bleu. A very tasty dish and beautifully melt in the mouth fondant potatoes.
Next was a demo with chef Eric who made pan-fried medallions of monkfish with risotto made with langoustine stock and garnished with langoustines and squid.
We started the day cooking the Lobster with bortsch consommé from last week.
Next we had a demo where the chef prepared pig’s trotter stuffed with foie gras and wild mushrooms, which was braised and then glazed with the reduced braising liquid.
Next, he cooked onglet steak, which is a tougher cut of beef, with fondant potatoes, beef jus and egg and chive vinaigrette.
The last lesson was finishing and presenting our plated desserts.
It turned out to be another chef John day as we had had him for the previous practical and demo and we had him for this class too, which was surprising as he is a cuisine chef, not a pastry chef.
My plated dessert (we had to design our own) is a white chocolate mousse with a raspberry jelly centre, encased in a joconde sponge with an orange and cardamom sablé base and an orange glacage. It was topped with a fresh raspberry and a white and dark chocolate lattice circle. On the plate is a tuile crisp, fresh raspberries, chocolate curls, mango coulis and creme anglaise.
Today we had a day of making the items we would have to make for the final patisserie exam.
We made brioche
a sugar centrepiece
and prepared all the elements for our plated dessert, which we would finish tomorrow.
Another day with chef John, this time 2 practicals with a demo in between.
First was cooking the sea bream with rouille and a bouillabaise jus.
Next was a demo where he cooked pan fried lobster with nicoise ratatouille and bortsch consommé.
Lastly we cooked the saddle of rabbit with tomato and anchovy stuffing.
We had a day with chef John today, which was good. He is a relaxed chef from Canada, doesn’t get flustered, will joke and mix with the students and is quite quick in the demos.
We started with a practical cooking the venison dish from yesterday’s demo.
Next we had back to back demos.
In the 1st chef John cooked sea bream with confit fennel, oven-dried tomatoes, rouille and a bouillabaise jus, topped with a croute with rouille.
Next was a creme de menthe and chocolate chip soufflé. Terrible thing to do to chocolate is pairing it with mint.
In the 2nd demo the chef made a chestnut soup with parmesan foam and truffle shavings.
Then was a saddle of rabbit with a tomato, olive and anchovy stuffing with fried baby artichokes and a microleaf salad.
Chef John took us for the demo this morning and started with a dish of seared tuna rolled in four-spice powder with a ginger sauce and julienne of vegetables.
Next was medallions of venison with a white bean purée (flavoured with bacon, garlic and truffle), ceps, bacon, onions and a game sauce flavoured with chocolate.
Following this we had a technical class with chef Nicolas discussing dessert plating.
Lastly was yet another wine lecture which was as dull as all the previous ones but fortunately the last one I’ll have at Cordon Bleu. Wine, as any subject, can be a very interesting subject and I’ve had some really good lecturers on wine and spirits in the past. Unfortunately the lecturer here wasn’t one of them.