Cooking with Class at Le Cordon Bleu
(Inspired by The Hundred-Foot Journey)
The Hundred-Foot Journey inspires you to step outside of your comfort zone. In this movie, we learn that every bite takes you home. What is YOUR one bite? When I close my eyes I can taste the Butterscotch cookies my grandmother would make just for me. They melted in my mouth. Every time I taste butterscotch, I remember my grandmother. She spoiled us all by making our favorite cookies for Christmas…so we always had 5-6 different cookies (dozens and dozens of cookies).
THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY is rated PG and arrives in theaters everywhere on August 8th!
I never thought I would have the opportunity to cook a meal at Le Cordon Bleu. Really, my four day adventure in LA was more than I could have hoped for. I feel honored in having this chance to work, learn, and taste exquisite foods with such esteemed chefs.
As soon as we arrived at the LA campus, one of the chefs took us on a tour of the campus. Our first stop was walking there their think tank/study room. They teach the students how to work on an order of how to get from the start to the finish. They have to present research papers on different countries and even create a mock restaurant and menu. On the wall they had an “inspiration station” filled with quotes from famous chefs…
and one caught our attention…
In the hallway you will find 4 cravats on the wall. Each cravat stands for a different level at the school. White cravats are for active students, blue cravats are for student ambassadors, camouflage cravats are for student veterans, and red cravats are externship site achievers.
We continued through the campus and stopped in one of the rooms where many of the students go through 28 countries in 28 days! AMAZING! To enroll at Le Cordon Bleu you need to be a high school graduate and dedicated with the passion to want to succeed. You will be working 5 days a week for 21 months. Not everyone can do it…but maybe you will be the next chef to walk out of this school?!?!?!
It was about time to cook… so we walked back into the tasting/cooking room (which has windows so those who pass by can watch the magic of cooking). On the tables were these delicious appetizers: Quiche Lorraine and Beef Bourguignon. We didn’t get a chance to cook these tasty treats, but they did share the recipes with us. They took these recipes and blended French and Indian together, just like they did in the movie.
- 12 slices of bacon (crispy fried, crumbled)
- 1 cup Swiss cheese (shredded)
- 1/3 cup onion (minced)
- 4 whole eggs
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 2 cups milk
- 3/4 t. salt
- 1/4 t. sugar
- 1/8 t. cayenne pepper
- Heat oven to 425 degrees F
- Sprinkle bacon, cheese and onion in a pastry-lined pan
- Whisk eggs slightly, beat in remaining ingredients
- Pour mixture into pie pan
- Bake for 15 min. reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F
- Bake for an additional 30 min.
- Check quiche doneness by inserting a knife (1 in. from the edge), if it comes out clean and no egg residue then it is done
- Once the quiche is done let it rest for 10 min. before cutting
- Plate and serve
- 1 T. good olive oil
- 8 oz. dry cured, center cut, apple wood smoked bacon (diced)
- 2 1/2 lb. chuck beef (cut into 1 in. cubes)
- 1 lb. carrots (sliced diagonally into 1 in. chunks)
- 2 yellow onions (sliced)
- 2 t. garlic (chopped) (2 garlic cloves)
- 1/2 cup cognac
- 1 (750 ml) bottle good dry red wine (Cote Du Rhone/Pinot Noir)
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 T. tomato paste
- 1 t. fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 t. dried thyme
- 4 T. unsalted butter (room temperature, divided into 4)
- 3 T. all-purpose flour
- 1 lb. frozen pearl onions
- 1 lb. fresh mushrooms (stems discarded, caps thickly sliced into 4)
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley (chopped, optional)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F
- Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add the bacon, cook over medium heat for 10 min. stirring occasionally until bacon is lightly browned. Remove bacon and keep oil set aside.
- Dry the beef cubes with paper towels then season with salt and pepper.
- In batches (single layers) sear the beef in hot oil for 3 to 5 mins. Turning brown on all sides. Remove cubes and place it with the bacon, continue searing until all the beef are seared. Set aside.
- Toss the carrots and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 tablespoons of pepper in the fat and cook for 10 to 15 min. Stirring occasionally until onions are browned. Add the garlic and cook for 30 sec. Add the cognac (stand back) flambe until all alcohol is dissolved put the meat and bacon with its juices back in the pot.
- Add the wine and beef broth to cover the meat. Add tomato paste and thyme, bring to a simmer. Cover the pot tightly and place it in the over for about 1 hr. 15 min. until meat is tender and vegetables are done (pierce with fork).
- Remove from the oven. Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and flour, stir then add to the stew. Add the frozen pearl onions.
- In a separate saute pan, saute mushrooms in butter for 10 min. until lightly browned. Add to the stew. Bring stew to a boil on the stove top. Simmer for 15 min. Season to taste.
- Turn off heat, plate then serve with garlic-rubbed toasted bread. Sprinkle with parsley for garnish.
The quiche and beef were both mouth-watering! I wanted more! Luckily while we were eating the chef began walking us through the recipe we were about to create in the kitchen: Parisian Mumbai Salad. He showed us how to hold the food and how to cut properly. He was fun to watch and very helpful when it was time for us to get up and put on our aprons (oh yes, we had The Hundred-Foot Journey aprons).
Parisian Mumbai Salad
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 t. ginger (freshly grated)
- 1 t. garlic (minced)
- 1 t. ground cardamom
- 1 T. curry powder
- 2 (6 oz) skinless, boneless chicken breast (cut into 1/3 strips)
- 2 t. salt
- 2 t. pepper to taste
- 4 oz. mixed greens
- 1 mango (julienned)
- 1 apple (w/skin, julienned)
- 2 T. salad oil
- 1 t. red wine vinegar
- 1/4 t. Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pc. Naan bread (cut or tear into cubes)
- 1/2 oz. salad oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 oz. grape seed oil
- 2 t. granulated sugar
- 1/2 t. curry powder
- 2 oz. walnuts
All of the ingredients were measured out for us and set up so we could cook in pairs. I partnered up with Jana from Merlot Mommy. Cooking is fun, especially when you are cooking with friends.
I worked on the chicken, while Jana started making the Naan bread and curried walnuts. I had to combine the yogurt, ginger, garlic, cardamom, curry powder, salt, pepper, and chicken into a plastic bag. I then squeezed the bag to mix the ingredients and begin marinating the chicken. Once mixed I set it to the side so we could start cutting the fruit for the salad. According to the recipe, you should marinate for 45 minutes, but we only allowed it to set for about 15 minutes (still tasted great).
Jana tore the Naan bread into 1 inch pieces and spread the bread and walnuts onto a lined cookie sheet. Then she sprinkled salad oil, salt and pepper on top of the bread. On the walnuts she sprinkled grape seed oil, granulated sugar and curry powder. She put the bread and walnuts into the over (at 375 degrees F) for about 8-10 minutes. We were told that halfway through baking, you should check your bread and toss it around to give it an even cooking.
I peeled the mango and attempted to Julienne it with style and flair…while my partner in crime, Jana, was complemented on her Julienne of the apple. No matter how we sliced it, it was tasty!
When it was time to grill the chicken, the chef reminded us of a wonderful technique to get the perfect crisscross marks onto our chicken… place the chicken on the grill at 10 o’clock, then switch to 2 o’clock.
As soon as the walnuts, bread and chicken were done…it was time to mix the vinaigrette and toss the salad. To make the vinaigrette, start by placing the Dijon mustard into a bowl and slowly whip in the red wine vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste, then set aside. The salad was very simple to make. I just grabbed two handfuls of mixed greens, some mango and apples, then tossed gently with the vinaigrette.
You can either keep the chicken whole or cut into strips. We cut them into strips at a slight angle (tip from the chef).
Jana was kind and plated my dinner for me. She placed mango slices in a star burst design, then plated the salad into a mound on top of the mango. We placed the chicken strips around the salad, then tossed the Naan bread and walnuts around the edge. It looked delicious…and I could wait to eat our creation.
After dinner, we had an opportunity to use a torch to burn the sugar onto of the Chai Tea Creme Brulee (that they graciously made for us). Yes, they trusted us with a torch! And I am happy to say no one burned anything! (Except for the sugar…which is what we were supposed to do).
Le Cordon Bleu:
It’s a new decade and a new opportunity to nourish the creative passions of our culinary college students. At Le Cordon Bleu, we recognize that our students need more than a well-rounded education in order to pursue success in today’s competitive world. They desire the sense of accomplishment that comes through constant practice, refinement and exposure to new experiences.
Le Cordon Bleu is dedicated to preserving and passing on the mastery and appreciation of the culinary arts. Each year, over 20,000 students who attend one of the Le Cordon Bleu family of schools receive hands-on training and unrivalled experiences in culinary arts, pâtisserie and baking arts, and hospitality & restaurant management. Our philosophy of pursuing excellence is one that remains strong. Whether you plan to move on to restaurants, hotels or other venues in the hospitality and foodservice industry, Le Cordon Bleu will encourage you to strive for your best, so that you can follow your passion towards achieving whatever you set out to do.
Le Cordon Bleu College for Culinary Arts fosters a unique multi-cultural and educational environment, encouraging you to learn and grow in the lessons you undertake in the fundamentals of classical cooking. It is our privilege to be able to give students from all walks of life the opportunity to overcome your toughest challenges and embrace your creative passion, while working alongside our dedicated professional chefs. We’re delighted to provide an environment that encourages culinary college students with unparalleled facilities and with a focus on your ability to pursue great things upon graduation.
We invite you to share our knowledge and look forward to working with you as you learn the way and explore where your passion can take you.
Edward G. Leonard, CMC, AAC
Vice President, Le Cordon Bleu
Executive Chef, Technique Restaurants
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Disclosure: Disney invited me on this press trip and paid for all of my expenses (except travel). All opinions are always 100% my own and honest.