Eric Bédiat, Le Cordon Bleu

The Staff Canteen
Eric Bédiat

Eric Bédiat discusses his role as Head of Technical cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu and his own inspirations with regards to pursuing a career as a Chef.

Name: Eric Bédiat

Place of work: Le Cordon Bleu

Role: Head of Technical cuisine

Bio: Chef Eric graduated from the catering school in Grenoble, before spending the next two years learning the basics of traditional French cuisine under the guidance of Chef Jean-Marc Tachet at La Diligence, Morestel. Upon moving to England, Eric worked for the Michelin-starred Waldos, Buckinghamshire and under the renowned Michel Roux at three-Michelin-starred Waterside Inn, Bray. Eric spent seven years at the Waterside Inn under Roux, split by an 18-month stint at three Michelin-starred Le Grand Vefour, Paris, for Chef Guy Martin. Eric has taken part in numerous competitions including the Academie Culinaire de France in the UK and the Delaveyne Trophy 2005 in France. Eric joined Le Cordon Bleu’s experienced team of cuisine teaching Chefs in April 2006.

Chef Skills

Eric Bédiat takes us through his personal experiences whilst being in the Culinary Industry. These key skills that young Chefs and industry professionals learn as part of their basic training.

How long have you been in this role?

Coming up to eight years now.

Was teaching something you always wanted to do?

No, I wouldn’t say so. But I’ve done my time in the industry. I started at 16 and to be honest I always worked with Chefs who, despite the fact that they were running a business, also liked to pass on their knowledge and so I always saw that as part of it. I always liked teaching and eventually, I got to work in a school.

What does your role involve?

At the moment I’m Head of the cuisine team. We have a team of nine teaching Chefs in cuisine and my role on a daily basis is to basically manage it. We all teach at different levels, from basic cuisine to intermediate cuisine. There’s consultancy - going and teaching at other schools around the world for Le Cordon Bleu International. Obviously, we run gourmet courses, so there’s a lot going on here. And still very much cooking, so doing demonstrations and practical sessions with the students. I’m teaching very much on a daily basis.

Have you noticed an increase in the number of students at Le Cordon  Bleu?

Of course. In 2012 we moved premises from Marylebone Lane to  Bloomsbury Square and for us that has been a massive change. We’ve  seen an increase in all levels really - an increase in teams and an increase in business and students at the school.

Would you say it is important to attend a cookery school?

 I am not trained in the UK, I trained in France, where the system is slightly different. You would be able to do an apprenticeship or go to an employer on a two-week basis and then you would spend two weeks at a cookery school. This has proven to be quite popular in France, however nowadays there are different ways of doing things – you can be consistently in a school and learn the basics. I think it is still very important to attend one as a starter to learn the basic information. It’s very important to have a very strong base. After that you can expand your knowledge and go from place to place, growing your experience.

What are your top tips for anyone considering attending a cookery school?

We’re not talking about work, we’re talking about going to a cooking school here. Absorb as much knowledge as possible from everyone around you. Be committed to learn and be committed to be open to what is around you, maybe not so much in terms of the cookery school, but obviously in terms of food and your own background. Be open to all of the knowledge that is out there already. Learn the basics - it’s only by repetition that you’re going to become proficient at it. And persevere basically, I mean persevere is a good one as it is what is going to make all the difference. I have seen so many who are actually not necessarily talented but they have passion and they persevere and they will go through all the challenges. So there’s a long road to go but it’s a very enjoyable career to have.

Are many of your courses exam based?

Yeah, definitely. All of them have exams.

What can a student expect to get out of a course at Le Cordon Bleu?

Many things. Some things are obvious, such as a diploma. But also, you will have seen many things, as you can imagine. You will experience a team of nine teachers over a period of nine months. All of them have their own 20/25 years of experience. Basically, you watch, you see and understand and then you go and practice and experience it before being marked. Also proficiency – Proficiency in the foundation of French cuisine and other things as well. Another thing comes from the number of ethnicities we have here. You may have a class of students from all over the world and they will have experienced so many other things food-wise and all of this is shared automatically, making for a very purposeful, productive environment.

What experience and how many years of training do you think it takes for someone to get to the top level of their profession?

They used to say that it should be about 10 years. However, sometimes you will find Head Chefs that are 20 years old, which can sometimes be seen as a bit ridiculous. But everybody is different. I just think that you need a baggage of experience which you can expand. It is good to go around, experience as much as you can whilst you are a Commis Chef. Go to the big places, absorb the knowledge and get connections. This will make it easier, later on, whether nationally or internationally. You will then find it easier when you get to be a Sous Chef. From there you will find it narrows down and you will be given the opportunity to become a Head Chef. Once you are at that point you will be proficient and the world will be your knowledge. So, it is possible for it to take less than 10 years and there are many examples of Head Chefs at the age of 20. I think that is just too early in my opinion, but everyone is going to be different.

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The Staff Canteen

Editor 16th March 2017

Eric Bédiat, Le Cordon Bleu