Le Cordon Bleu
Le Cordon Bleu [lə kɔʁdɔ̃ blø] (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 may 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.
United States closure
In the United States, 16 schools have operated under the Le Cordon Bleu North America name through a marketing relationship with the Career Education Corporation (CEC), a for-profit education company.   Their deal in 2009 was estimated to be worth $135 million. 
However, in 2015 CEC attempted to sell the 16 campuses, but failed to find a buyer.  It announced on 16 December 2015 that it will close all 16 Le Cordon Bleu campuses in the United States in September 2017.   CEC also announced then that it will stop accepting new students in January 2016, and that its current students will be taught out by 2017. The North American campuses of Le Cordon Bleu generated $172.6 million in revenue and $66.6 million of operating losses in calendar year 2014.
Apart from the culinary programs, Le Cordon Bleu also offers hospitality management education with up to 2000 students studying bachelor's 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
- "About Us". Le Cordon Bleu. Retrieved 2012-01-23.
- 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 at Le Cordon Bleu Archived August 15, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
- Wairarapa Times-Age: UCOL pulls plug on cuisine school Archived July 20, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- Cordonbleu.edu/usa: Official Le Cordon Bleu USA website . accessed 21 December 2015.
- Inside Higher Ed Blog: "Career Ed Corp Closing Down Le Cordon Bleu Operations", 17 December 2015.
- "Le Cordon Bleu schools in the U.S". cordonbleu.edu. Retrieved 2012-01-23.
- Cordonbleu.edu/usa: Le Cordon Bleu USA discontinuing in the USA acknowledgment . accessed 21 December 2015.
- Davis, Janel (December 19, 2014). "Le Cordon Bleu culinary colleges for sale". ajc.com (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution). Retrieved January 22, 2015.
- http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Le-Cordon-Bleu-to-End-Culinary-Classes-in-US-362705821.html/ |Retrieved December 17, 2015
- "Owner Shutting Down 16 Le Cordon Bleu Campuses - CoStar Group". www.costar.com. Retrieved 2016-01-11.
- "Le Cordon Bleu course information". cordonbleu.edu. Retrieved 2012-01-23.
- Cordon Bleu sues Manitoba eatery, Winnipeg Sun, January 23, 2008. Archived January 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- 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 at Le Cordon Bleu Archived September 22, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- Le Cordon Bleu USA: Campus Locations . accessed 21 December 2015.