Le Cordon Bleu: To Be A Patissier

Fat Shneep beckons! I hope you all remember when I was at the Churpremiere Screening of The Hundred-Foot Journey thanks to ChurpChurp because today's post is also thanks to them...for letting me win tickets to the cooking demonstration at Le Cordon Bleu that was prepared exclusively for Disney Malaysia!

Thank you, ChurpChurp for the vouchers and Le Cordon Bleu for teaming up with Disney Malaysia for this amazing opportunity!

While I was initially lazy in the morning (And so was my mother!) to attend the cooking demonstration, I puckered all of my energy to get roll off bed and prepared myself to look out for Le Cordon Bleu at Sunway University College at Sunway. For those who don't know, Le Cordon Bleu was set up in 1895 and has embodied the spirit of French cuisine as well as culture in providing the ultimate training in the culinary arts of the contemporary hospitality sector education.

Sunway Le Cordon Bleu.

A place where tradition meets innovation.

Pictures of kitchens all over the walls.

Set up in January 2012, Le Cordon Bleu Malaysia offers 3 month Certificate Programmes in either cuisine or patisserie and by successfully completing all 3 levels of each programme, the student will earn either the Diplome de Commis Cuisinier or Diplome de Commis Patissier. From what I've heard, fees are also fairly competitive!

 Chef Thierry Lerallu.

Our first demo was done by Chef Thierry Lerallu, a chef lecturer at Sunway Le Cordon Bleu who hails from France, Normandy and has always had a passion for bakery and patisserie. Having set foot in Malaysia in several 5 star international hotels, Chef Lerallu moved onto Seoul in South Korea before joining Constance Hotel and Constance Academy and Mauritius IVTB in Mauritius to share his professional knowledge in patisserie.

 Chef Lerallu explaining what it's like to get the perfect temperature in boiling down sugar, glucose and water to make the perfect meringue.

Still hailing with traditional methods like testing with his hands and not with the thermometer.

Students from Sunway Le Cordon Bleu were handpicked by Chef Lerallu to aid him with the demonstration on that very day.

While he prepared us two variants of nougats; the nougat provencal and the nougat au chocolat, Chef Lerallu remained quirky and upbeat with a fun spirit to follow. We were told that this is a no holds barred place and this is how he is in classes too, making me believe that his class would be a fun one. Seriously I've had a lecturer who once put me to sleep because he wouldn't stop yapping and it really didn't help that his classes was ultimately boring subjects.

Chef Lerallu was different however; always chirpy and extremely traditional to a stage where he once dipped his hand into the boiling mixture of glucose, sugar and water to show us what it used to be like for them to know if the temperature was right before the invention of cooking thermometers! Imagine, it's over 148 degrees hot and all he did was dip his hands in cold water for several seconds and plopped his fingers into the heat before popping them in the cold again. I would have been screaming in pain!

Showing us what "soft crack" sugar looks like. By hand.

Pressing down the nougat provencal...

Before slicing them into such goodness that melts in our mouths.

Having loved nougats all my life but not wanting to risk my set of teeth for them is quite a pain, to be honest. According to Chef Lerallu however, there are two types of nougats and what he was preparing were the soft ones and watching them come up from scratch is amazing! Each step was done with such precise care; from the heating to the whipping of meringue and careful care of spreading the nuts around, it made me rethink my every bite of nougat that I've had outside. Imagine all the work these chefs have done for us!

Our bite sized nougats, cut to perfection.

And displayed under a cling wrap...THAT NOBODY CAN SEE!

Slabs of delicious nougat provencal.

We were of course offered little pieces that I couldn't stop eating even when I haven't had breakfast because I absolutely love nougats. Even my mum who isn't much of a fan for sweet things had a go at these nougats and went for thirds or fourths! They were soft and chewy while the nuts gave it such an aromatic tips and a great bite in our mouths so it wasn't just slabs of gunk.

Having said that, I believe that Chef Lerallu definitely makes for a great lecturer and chef as he always believes in teaching his students the basics before handing them what makes their life easier. That would definitely mean there are no mixers in the first few lessons, forcing these students to whip up everything by hand. I cannot, for the life of me imagine what it is like to whip up a meringue because as far as I know, meringues are really difficult. I remember making buttercream by hand once and it was such a horrendous process, I never wanted to make buttercream again! Now, these students would have to do them over and over before they could proceed to learning everything else!

With Chef Thierry Lerallu.

The classroom where Chef Lerallu shows his students how to whip up magic...

And the kitchen where the students ACTUALLY whip up magic.

With over RM 6 million invested in the four kitchens set in Sunway University College, students of Le Cordon Bleu are limited to 16 a class and everyone gets their own counter-tops as well as appliances such as mixers (For the later stage of course. Basic classes are just whips!) and refrigerators just to name a few. We were given a grand tour around the campus to see what it was like and these marble counter-tops was what greeted us in the patisserie kitchen. 

We've been told marble is used so students could leave chocolates or knead dough without the fear of the heat affecting the ingredients. In fact, so much meticulous thought has been put to these preparation that even little things like the temperature of the kitchen has been considered. Entering the patisserie kitchen gave us a chill because it was set significantly colder so the ingredients wouldn't be affected in any way as minor items like sugar, eggs and chocolates could easily give out a different punch should the temperature run just by that little bit.

So this was what it was like to be a patissier and to pick up the ropes on being one at Sunway Le Cordon Bleu. Of course, our demonstration didn't end right there because we were shown back to the hall where a cuisine chef took the center spot so all of us were in awe once again by the professionalism these chef lecturers had. I won't be talking about that just yet though because then this post will be REALLY long. 

If you are free this weekend however, you should just drop by the Malaysian International Gourmet Festival happening at the Sunway Convention Centre from 11 AM onwards (I think?) because that's where Sunway Le Cordon Bleu will be having a booth for such demonstrations and little chances of scholarships for those who are interested in their courses! I'll probably be there on Sunday too so if you're around, remember to holler at me!

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