I am in group A this term (and maybe all 3 terms) and there are 16 of us in the group. We were shown around by Chef Franck, a friendly chef from France. At least half of the chefs are French, not surprising as it is French cuisine we are learning.
Group A has all its classes together – demonstration lessons and practicals. The reason there are 16 is that there are 16 places in each kitchen. There are several groups and we have the demonstrations together and split up for the practicals.
Lessons (demos and practicals) are at one of the following times: 8 am, 11.30 am, 3 pm and 6.30 pm and last 3 hours, with a 30 minute break between lessons. We have lessons Monday to Friday and on some Saturdays too, though only until 3 pm on Saturdays, I think.
As part of the 1st day we were given a welcome by the school principal, filled in a few more forms and received our uniforms and tool kits.
The uniform consists of a chef’s jacket (white with Cordon Bleu logo), checked trousers, white necktie, small cap (hat) plus white apron, oven cloth and tea towel. We have to wear the jacket, trousers and necktie to all classes and the apron, hat, cloth and tea towel in practicals. We get marked on our uniform – it must all be present, clean and ironed. We also have to wear suitable shoes and we have to provide these ourselves. I’ve got a pair of black shoes with steel toe-caps. Here’s a picture of me in my full uniform:
The knife set consists of a black fabric case with a set of Wusthof knives plus lots of utensils. It’s pretty heavy and I’ll list all the contents later. I’ve already got them all engraved with my initials (thanks to my lovely wife who had a much better engraving hand than me) as everyone has an identical set and it’s hard to prove it’s yours otherwise if someone else picks up one of your knives.
Fortunately I haven’t had to carry the knife set back and forth every day as I’ve been able to leave it in my locker. We each have a locker in the basement changing room. Not a particularly big locker, but just enough to squeeze my uniform, knife set and bag into. What’s more challenging is the amount of space to get changed in. It’s pretty much just the square foot in front of my locker. There’s nowhere to sit down or put your things on except the floor and people are constantly squeezing past to get to or from their locker. The room basically is reduced to a long corridor and everyone trying to change into or out of their uniform. It can be a bit challenging!
Well, I’ve already completed one week at Cordon Bleu. Wow, that went fast.
The 1st day was Friday 13th January and it was a registration day. Something like 200 students were being registered for the 1st time or re-registered if they were there last term.
So we all turned up at 9am as requested and chaos ensued. We were all trying to squeeze into the small reception area, while having our name ticked off a list and assigned to a group with one of the teaching chefs. Then we were given a somewhat random tour of the building though it largely consisted of trying to find a place to put us.
Part of the confusion stems from the new building. It’s not quite finished yet. Fortunately all of the teaching areas (demonstration rooms and kitchens) are complete but areas such as the student lounge and library are still works in progress and won’t be complete until the end of the month at least. It does mean that there really isn’t anywhere to wait in between classes.
The biggest problem so far has the entry/exit system. It works on fingerprint recognition. On the registration day we each had our index finger scanned and stored in the computer. Theoretically we can now go in and out by placing our index finger in the scanners and the gates open to let us in or out. The problem is that most of the time it doesn’t recognise my finger at all. I stand there scanning and re-scanning and re-scanning my finger and am rejected time after time 😦
And I’m not the only one. Even the school principal says it rarely lets her in. I’m finding it quite frustrating as it’s taking me about 25 attempts to get in or out each time. I’ve had my index finger scan taken again twice already, plus my thumb scan, and the thumb seems to work a little more consistently (though my index finger was pretty consistent!). The reception staff have had to manually open the gates to let people in and out all week.
More details of the 1st week to come.
When I went past last week they were still fitting it out.
I hope they have it finished for registration day on Friday
Well, here I am in London, waiting for my course to start at Cordon Bleu Cookery school.
My wife, Dani, and I moved into our tiny 4th floor flat in Soho a week ago and are getting used to the stairs. No lift!
We’re about a 10 minute walk from the new Cordon Bleu premises in Bloomsbury Square. The school has just moved there and I’ll be one of the first students to use the new facilities.
I am going to be studying for the Grand Diplome, which consists of 3 terms (9 months) of both cuisine and patisserie.
I hope to blog here regularly about my classes, what I’ve cooked (and eaten) and life in London.
Meanwhile we are getting to know our way around, though I do know London a bit as I grew up not that far away and visited regularly.