Le Cordon Bleu
Le Cordon Bleu (French for "The Blue Ribbon") is the world's largest hospitality education institution, with over 50 schools on five continents serving 20,000 students annually. Its education focus is on hospitality management, culinary arts and gastronomy.
The origin of the school name might come from L'Ordre des Chevaliers du Saint Esprit, an elite group of French knights that was created in 1576. Each member was awarded the Cross of the Holy Spirit, which hung from a blue ribbon. According to one story, the group became known for its extravagant and luxurious banquets, known as "cordons bleus". While these dinners ended at the time of the French Revolution, the name remained synonymous with excellent cooking. Another theory has it that the blue ribbon simply became synonymous with excellence, and this was later applied to other fields such as cooking.
The name was adopted by a French culinary magazine, La Cuisinière Cordon Bleu, founded by Marthe Distel in the late 19th century. The magazine began offering lessons by some of the best chefs in France. This grew to become a cooking school that opened in Paris in 1895 and which became recognized as one of the most elite cooking schools in the world. The school closed during the German occupation of Paris (1940–44). After the war, Madame Elisabeth Brassart relaunched the school both on rue du Faubourg Saint Honoré in Paris and at the Chateau de Montjean.
Madame Brassart managed the school until 1984; at the age of 87 she decided it was time to retire. She sold the school to the previous owner, André J. Cointreau, a descendant of both the Cointreau and Rémy Martin dynasties.
In 1933, former student Dione Lucas helped to open a school under the Le Cordon Bleu name in London, England. In 1988, shortly after buying Le Cordon Bleu, Cointreau purchased the London school, and has since launched schools in Adelaide and Sydney, Australia; Seoul, South Korea; Ottawa, Canada; Tokyo, Kobe and Yokohama, Japan; Lima, Peru; Mexico City, Mexico; and Bangkok, Thailand. Le Cordon Bleu was due to open its first rural outpost with partner UCOL in Martinborough, New Zealand in early 2009, but the deal fell through, causing controversy there. In total, more than 20,000 students attend a Cordon Bleu school each year. Le Cordon Bleu has also expanded, issuing cookbooks and a line of kitchenware.
In the United States, 18 schools operate under the Le Cordon Bleu name through a marketing relationship with Career Education Corporation (CEC); the deal was renewed in 2008 to continue until 2013.
Apart from the culinary programs, Le Cordon Bleu also offers hospitality management education with up to 2000 students studying Bachelor or Master's degrees. They have Master's degrees in Korea and Australia and an on-line gastronomy tourism program. Their Bachelor programs in Hotel Management, Restaurant Management, Food Entrepreneurship and Wine Entrepreneurship programs are delivered in Mexico, Australia, Peru, and Korea.
Aside from the CEC-run schools, each Cordon Bleu school offers its own list of culinary short courses, matching local demand. Most diploma programs consist of three ten-week courses; three in "cuisine" and three in "pâtisserie" (pastry making). Each course leads to the award of a certificate at basic, intermediate, or advanced level. Students who complete all three levels in the same field are awarded the Diplôme de Cuisine or the Diplôme de Pâtisserie. Those who complete all six courses are awarded the Grand Diplôme. The "Grand Diplome" is one of the few culinary credentials that signify mastery of both pastry and culinary fundamentals.
Following Cointreau's purchase of the school, Le Cordon Bleu began to clamp down on unauthorized use of its name. As one example, in 2006, Cordon Bleu threatened legal action against a small family-owned restaurant in Ste. Anne, Manitoba, Canada, for trademark infringement. Although the restaurant had been operating under the name "Cordon Bleu" since 1963, and the owners asserted that no one could have mistakenly believed any connection between their "little hick restaurant" with the corporate giant, they felt that taking the issue to court would have bankrupted them. As a result, the Ste. Anne owners agreed to change their name and reached an undisclosed settlement with the larger company to pay for new signage and other costs.
In 2008, a student at the London school reportedly pulled out a chef's knife and threatened to kill himself after being told that he'd failed his Basic Cuisine exam. London papers reported that the ordeal led to a four-hour standoff with police.
In books and films
In her memoir My Life in France (Knopf), Julia Child, aided by her husband's great-nephew Alex Prud'homme, discusses her experiences attending the school in the late 1940s. This is one part of Julia Child's life portrayed in the feature film Julie & Julia (2009).
In 2007, an American writer, Kathleen Flinn, wrote The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, the first insider's account of attending the modern Paris flagship school. Flinn's best-selling memoir recounts the modern day-to-day trials of the program, and provides a further history of the school. The film rights for Flinn's book were purchased by the TV division of 20th Century Fox; an adaptation is expected to be filmed in Paris.
In 1991, Le Cordon Bleu published its first English-language cookbook, Le Cordon Bleu at Home. As printed in the inside cover, the book:
|“||provides a solid understanding of the philosophy and skills taught for nearly a century in the school's nine-month 'Classic Cycle' course. Moving through three stages, from basic to advanced techniques, this approach to classical French cuisine offers a series of menus and recipes that correspond to classes at the school. Nearly three hundred color photographs depict finished dishes, serving ideas, and cooking techniques at each stage through completion.||”|
Another book about attending Le Cordon Bleu was published in 2008 in the United Kingdom, Sacré Cordon Bleu: What the French Know About Cooking by Michael Booth (Jonathan Cape). Like Flinn's book, it also features numerous classic French recipes.
It is often assumed that the character Audrey Hepburn played in the 1954 film Sabrina attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris; however, the school's name is never mentioned in the film. She did visit the school for the film's launch.
In the Artemis Fowl series, the Butler Family is taught Cordon Bleu cooking as part of their training to protect a Fowl. This is why Artemis has no other servants because Butler can do it all.
List of affiliated schools
- Le Cordon Bleu Paris
- Le Cordon Bleu London
- Le Cordon Bleu Madrid
- Le Cordon Bleu Adelaide
- Le Cordon Bleu Sydney
- Le Cordon Bleu Tokyo
- Le Cordon Bleu Kobe
- Le Cordon Bleu Korea
- Le Cordon Bleu Dusit
- Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand
- Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa
- Le Cordon Bleu Mexico
- Le Cordon Bleu Peru
- Le Cordon Bleu Malaysia
- Le Cordon Bleu Taiwan
- Le Cordon Bleu Shanghai
- Le Cordon Bleu Istanbul
- Le Cordon Bleu India
- California Culinary Academy
- Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago
- Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Atlanta
- Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Boston
- Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts – Dallas
- Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Las Vegas
- Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Los Angeles
- Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Miami
- Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Minneapolis/St. Paul
- Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando
- Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh
- Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Portland (formerly the Western Culinary Institute)
- Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Scottsdale (formerly Scottsdale Culinary Institute)
- Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Seattle
- Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in St. Louis
- Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin
- Orlando Culinary Academy
- Texas Culinary Academy
- For full list, see Category:Alumni of Le Cordon Bleu
- "About Us". Le Cordon Bleu. Retrieved 2012-01-23.
- Davis, Janel (December 19, 2014). "Le Cordon Bleu culinary colleges for sale". ajc.com (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution). Retrieved January 22, 2015.
- Le Cordon Bleu. "A Brief History". Ibiblio.org. Retrieved 2012-01-23. correlates to accounts in the school's introductory text of Le Cordon Bleu at Home and other books.
- "Dione Lucas - A tribute". Adgitadiaries.blog-city.com. Retrieved 2012-01-23.
- A message from school president André J. Cointreau[dead link] at Le Cordon Bleu
- Wairarapa Times-Age: UCOL pulls plug on cuisine school[dead link]
- "Le Cordon Bleu schools in the U.S". cordonbleu.edu. Retrieved 2012-01-23.
- "Le Cordon Bleu course information". cordonbleu.edu. Retrieved 2012-01-23.
- Cordon Bleu sues Manitoba eatery, Winnipeg Sun, January 23, 2008.[dead link]
- Sears, Neil (2008-06-06). "Cookery school siege standoff". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2012-01-23.
- Grimes, William. "Julia Child's Memoir of When French was Scary", The New York Times, 8 April 2006.
- Flinn, Kathleen. "NPR's Talk of the Nation: 'The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry'". NPR.org. Retrieved 2012-01-23.
- LCB International history[dead link] at Le Cordon Bleu