So after over 6 years of living in London, I stepped through the doors of the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu London for the first time. Don’t worry, I was only there for an evening workshop and not for a full-on cookery course – I don’t think the world is quite prepared yet for my (non-existent) knife-wielding skills.
As I approached the reception desk, I spotted my name from the array of name-tags before being asked to scan my fingerprint to be registered on the system, which I then used to gain access through the barriers – all very high-tech!
Hosted by Parma Ham, we were of course offered tasty Parma ham canapés and nibbles alongside glasses of Prosecco. The lovely Georgie then introduced us to Chef David Duverger, who is part of Le Cordon Bleu’s team of Cuisine Teaching Chefs, before we donned our aprons and were whisked off to the kitchen.
We each perched ourselves at our individual stations where we were provided with all the utensils that we would require that evening. The first dish that Chef David demonstrated was a Parma ham crème brûlée which was to be our starter.
He then demonstrated each step for our main dish which consisted of three main elements: a potato, mozzarella and Parma Ham gratin, pan fried lemon sole, and virgin dressing.
Making the gratin wasn’t too bad, although I did struggle a bit with the slicer initially, and may have slightly burned some bits of my potatoes … not that you could tell once it was all layered up, topped with cheesy mozzarella, and popped into the oven!
The next step was probably the most challenging for me as it involved us having to fillet a whole lemon sole each. I have never filleted a fish, and I just happen to be the kind of person that shops for fish off the bone in supermarkets – don’t judge me! As much as I don’t usually handle raw fish, I definitely got very hands-on with my poor lemon sole that was slightly butchered up by the end of it. I don’t think I scored brownie points with Chef David with my filleting skills as I caught the look of dismay in his eyes …
Making the virgin dressing was thankfully easier – a concoction of diced shallots, red wine vinegar, tarragon, crushed black peppercorns and tomato. In the midst of the chaos, I was unofficially made the ‘Fig Girl’ and helped to garnish the blow-torched crème brûlées with my sticky fig fingers.
The last step was plating up our dish: we observed Chef David as he skillfully plated one up, and although mine may not have looked as elegantly presented, I must say that it sure tasted good. Somehow the struggle of the process made it all so much more satisfying and tastier than I thought mine would turn out to be. Thankfully no cuts, burns, or food-poisoning for me that evening – WIN!
We all later gathered round our tables and enjoyed the fruits of our labour with a deliciously fruity white wine (Le Rocche Malatestiane, Antica Marineria, Rubicone, Emilia Romagna, Italy NV). And we even received a certificate at the end of it. It’s surely been a while since I last received a formal certificate – I might just have to frame it up … you know, for the memories.
A word of thanks to Parma Ham and Le Cordon Bleu London for hosting a challenging but fun experience, and to the lovely photographer who made me look like I knew what I was doing in the photos!
The Cheekster, signing out x
* I was invited as a guest.