Chef school, here I come

Cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in London

Next week I begin studying at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Bloomsbury Square, London. My first day is Monday 25-March.

I’m enrolled on the Diplôme de Cuisine. It’s a 9-month curriculum that I must complete in 6 months. I went for the intensive option because I have to squeeze it in between snowboarding in February and donning my lederhosen at the end of September for my annual pilgrimage to Munich’s Oktoberfest. Homage must be paid to the god of beer, pig and friendship

I love to cook and I cook with love. I said so in my application with a heartfelt exposition. Shame about the passport photo I submitted though. With a shaved bonce and unruly beard I looked more Hells Angel than hipster. You’re not supposed to smile in passport photos which is just as well because smiling made me look psychotic. Thankfully the admissions department must have seen the funny side because I was accepted just before Christmas.

Shit just got real.

This corporate rebel is jumping off the hamster wheel. It was a big decision for me. It feels like I’m leaving a career path and rejoining my life’s journey—at least for 6 months, maybe longer, perhaps forever. I’m not sure I would’ve taken the leap without the encouragement of my friends and, of course, Roberta who reminded me that I have time to do this now and if I don’t, I probably never will. Thanks everyone.

Too old to play rugby. Too young to play dominoes. Instead I’m going to pursue my passion. I’ve spent the last 10 years wearing black to the office. Now here comes a stocky welshman in chef’s whites and a paper hat. It’s going to be hilarious.

But why Le Cordon Bleu? Three reasons really: The influence of French cooking is evident throughout the world. On Masterchef The Professionals Marcus Wareing often asks if the contestant is classically trained, so I figured it’s considered a good thing. And Le Cordon Bleu featured in the wonderful movie Julie & Julia. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a good romcom. Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci are fantastic in it, by the way.

I want to be a better cook. More confident. More creative. More versatile. I can’t ever see myself in a professional kitchen—I mean who would want a 48-year old commis chef? A supper club is more me. Or a food truck—that would be cool. Who knows! My focus right now is the next 6 months. The path is likely to be a curious course and hopefully full of imagination, discovery and expression. I’m excited to work with my hands, to be a novice again and learn a new craft, to whistle while I work. I tend to whistle in really happy moments.

If you’ve read this far, thank you.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.
— Izaak Walton

I plan to record my daily adventures at Le Cordon Bleu in this diary. I really hope you’ll follow along. All you have to do is enter your email address in the yellow form at the top of the diary home page and I’ll email you whenever there’s a new entry. Once and a while please let me know you’re here with the occasional wee likey or a share. Any support will be spiffing and shall embolden my efforts to straighten bananas and become a chef.

I’ll continue to post recipes, reviews and other foodie ruminations in the Peckham Kitchen.