Students find inspiration at Le Cordon Bleu

Published 10:56 pm Friday, December 2, 2011

Not often are high school students collectively impressed. But that’s just what happened to a group of Charles Henderson High School students and it happened at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts and Technique Restaurant in Atlanta.

Paula Hinson, CHHS Culinary Arts Academy instructor, thought her students would be somewhat impressed by the culinary college but she had no idea of the impact it would have.

“The students were impressed and I was impressed,” Hinson said. “Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts is outstanding and I think every student benefited from the experience.”

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Hinson said the staff of the culinary college was equally impressed by the CHHS Culinary Arts Academy students.

“We were the first school group to visit Le Cordon Bleu College and the students were attentive, cooperative and eager to participate,” she said. “The students were divided into five groups – proteins, starches and vegetables and one group had to wash dishes and the other was assigned to cleanup. But that’s the way it is in the commercial kitchen. You never know what you will be assigned to do.”

Reggie Bryant and Kasha Moody went to the culinary college with a different mindset from most of the other students. As seniors, they have their sights set on careers in culinary arts. The visit to Le Cordon Bleu College was confirmation that they are on the right career path.

“I love to cook and I know that I want a career in culinary arts,” Bryant said. “I wanted to learn everything I could while I was there. But I already knew of lot of the things the chef told us. I had learned them here in class.”

Bryant was most impressed by the professionalism in the kitchen.

“Everybody was working and they were working hard and fast,” he said. “In a commercial kitchen time is money and waste is money. When you peel a potato, you peel it in a hurry and you do it efficiently. Whatever is peel away is considered waste and you waste as little as possible with all the foods.”

The skill of the Le Cordon Bleu chef was more than amazing. It was incredible.

“He chopped vegetables with two knives at the same time,” Bryant said. “He held them both in the same hand and chopped so fast you could hardly see the knife blade.”

Moody found the culinary arts college to be equally incredible.

“We saw a lot of interesting demonstrations, like cutting up a chicken and the right way to peel vegetables,” she said. “It was a fancy restaurant we got to see where the food was being prepared and how sanitary everything was. But what impressed me most was how hard the people worked behind closed doors.”

Phoenicia Daniels, a freshman at CHHS, found her niche at Le Cordon Bleu. She was fascinated by the “dessert room.”

“They made so many different kinds of desserts and I like sweets,” she said. “I guess you would call the people that make the desserts artists because the desserts were works of art.”

The CHHS students prepared a meal and then were invited to dine on what they had cooked.

“It was a great experience,” Bryant said. “We got to see how a commercial kitchen is run. The food that is prepared there is served in the Technique Restaurant and it’s a fine dining restaurant.”

After visiting Le Cordon Bleu College, at least three of the students are committed to a career in the kitchen.

Bryant and Moody said they would like to own their restaurants – soul food restaurants.

“That’s the kind of food I like to eat and to cook and other people like it, too,” Bryant said and added that soul food is here to stay.

“My aunt moved up north and couldn’t wait to get home to get some real food,

Moody said. “She said they don’t know how to cook soul food up there.”

Daniels said she also hopes to pursue a career in the culinary arts field.

“After visiting Le Cordon Bleu College, I am very interested in the culinary arts as a career,” she said. “I know it would be hard work but that’s what I’d like to do.”

Hinson said scholarships are available to culinary arts colleges and she is proud that several of the culinary arts students are worthy of that assistance with their education.

“At the Culinary Arts Academy, what the students learn will benefit them no matter what career paths they take,” she said.” And it gives them a good foundation if they want to pursue careers in culinary arts.”