When I was little, if the food we were eating was particularly fancy (it was the 80s in Sydney, so I’m talking cubed cheddar on Jatz crackers and olives stuffed with capsicum), one of the grown-ups would say ‘Mate, that’s so Cordon Bleu.’
It’s a phrase that has fallen from the vernacular of late, probably because of the rise of the wise-arse celebrity chef coupled with the home-cooking, know-it-all foodie boom. But that’s not to say that the legendary French (now international) cooking school has lost any of its prestige. Students still come from all over the place to study within its hallowed halls. And yesterday, I was lucky enough to enjoy a high tea at the Mandeville Hotel put on by a bunch of very talented and creative graduating students.
We revelled in mousse and whips and pistachio crusts. There were scones and jam and melt-on-the tongue macaroons stuffed with whipped cream. Choux pastry was bothered into a flock of elegant swans, citrus was crystalised into twirls of faint-worthy deliciousness, and there was enough chocolate, if melted, to fill a lake of the Willy Wonka variety.
OK, I’m going a little over-the-top, but you get the picture. The food was phenomenal. The sugar rush was more effective (and tongue loosening in some cases – not naming names, you know who you are) than ten tequila shots. And the students, when quizzed, knew their stuff. Yes, the diet went straight out the hotel’s elegant double doors, but do you blame me?
The course at Le Cordon Bleu is incredibly intensive and rigorous, but it’s amazing to think that the students who prepared this food only began learning their new trade seven months ago. No doubt, they’re going to go far.
So, if you’re a sucker for a brilliant high tea, this one is unmmissable. The food is top notch, and, at £15 per person, it’s as cheap as hand-cut chips sourced from a Cornish organic farm run by those aforementioned foodie types. The next graduate event is being held at the Mandeville Hotel on 2 August. For more information or to book, click here.
To find out more about Le Cordon Bleu school and its programme, click here. And, if you’re UK-based and between the ages of 16 and 19, you can also enter to win the Grand Diplome Scholarship, which is worth £30,000. Visit here for more details.
All images © Kate McAuley