Last three Tuesdays I have been writing about going to Le Cordon Bleu, which was one of the turning points in my life. A dream come true. I look at baking in a different way now, I look at life a little different. But when my friends at LCB Paris used to ask me what I plan to do after the course, my answer was simple : I want to have a baby soon and continue with my day job as a CA while baking and blogging on the weekends. They were surprised at this answer. But yes, at-least in the near future I don’t plan to start any baking workshops, or a little cafe or any patisserie. And hence I bring you three stellar LCB alumni, my friends and such awesome chefs and pâtissiers that I gawk at their work. And they have been very humble in sharing their life journey with us, a big thank you to them.
In alphabetical order :
Michael had just finished his diploma in hotel management and that’s when he decided to fine tune his skills by going to an international culinary school. He already knew that he wanted to do food styling, write books and be on TV. So to bring more authenticity to his work and writing, he specialised at LCB London and learnt the art of food and above all plating.
In 2010 Neha was working in MNC corporate marketing and while she was happy with her career trajectory, she was increasingly aware that she needed to do something more organic and creative with her life. That’s when she decided to flip a huge coin of fate and sought out LCB, Paris. Back then in 2010 the school/brand wasn’t that well marketed in India as it is today. So her motivation to go there was to have her “year in Paris” as well as get a solid foundation in French patisserie which everyone knows is the best in the world.
Her experience at LCB was magical and perfect. She got to hone her basics through the best chefs-including MOF’s, world-class teaching techniques and exposure to the cutting edge developments in the pastry world. She also made friends from all over the world and those endure till date.
Then Neha moved stateside and got an education in cake design. After which she apprenticed for a year under Colette Peters- the world-renowned pioneering artist in this field. Colette’s studio has made cakes for The white house, Whoopi Goldberg, Al Pacino, Yoko Ono, Sting, Kanye West, Rolling Stones etc, just to name a few.
Couture cakes don’t carry a standard pet kg price tag but she said that smallest and simplest averages at $1000 while the most elaborate ones have gone well beyond $15-20,000. (My god!)
Since then Neha has been practicing her skills traveling the world for inspiration, new experiences and to places where she gets to execute inspired projects. She works through word of mouth and through past connections and collaborations.
She realised that the solid foundation of her craft was formed at cordon bleu and the art aspect was honed at Colette’s cakes. The rest is a living tale which is still evolving under the name of “Ellesmira couture cake studio”.
So far she has done projects in Canada, USA, Norway, Greece, France, Czech republic, the Caribbean and India.
You can reach her at : Neha Verma
Rakhee runs a premier boutique culinary studio in Mumbai which has beautiful French vintage interiors with a warm kitchen feel. She is quite a self-taught chef over the years. She started very young in the kitchen sat the age of eleven. But she always wanted formal training and hence to enhance her skills and to take herself to the next level she enrolled in an extensive bakery programme at the London Cordon Bleu campus which has opened so many avenues for her and she considers it as her temple.
Rakhee first ventured into the culinary world with her partner chef Anita and ran a home based cooking studio. Then after taking a break to be a full-time mommy, she re-entered the industry after training at Sophia’s. Attending classes internationally changed her perspective and thus she wanted to open a small place where students could learn everything hands on.Hence Palate culinary studio was born in 2009 . Its seven years of successfully running the studio, she now wants to take it to the next level, i.e is a full-fledged culinary school. She is aware that not everyone can travel and achieve their dreams so at Palate she wants to bring higher level of courses like diploma in culinary to them. She also offers BBIC which is boutique bakery intensive certificate course with a full hands on experience to help small and budding entrepreneurs to set up their own ventures. Currently she has students from 5 to 80 year olds. Drop by her studio, perhaps you can see Malaika Arora Khan as her student.
You can reach her at : www.palateculinarystudio.com
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Chocolate Mango Vacherin
In continuation with French deserts with a tropical mango dessert, this week, is a French Vacherin with Chantilly cream and mangoes.
Vacherin is basically a meringue filled with creme chantilly and fruits. I have used mangoes to go on top of these vacherin and the combination tastes summery and light.
What you will need :
- 5 eggwhites
- 300 gm caster sugar
- 25 gm cocoa powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 250 ml whipping cream
- 5 tablespoon caster sugar
- Chopped mangoes
What to do :
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper and preheat oven to 140C for 10 minutes prior to baking.
- Beat egg whites at a medium speed with a stand mixer till frothy. Gradually add caster sugar and vanilla extract and beat till it forms glossy peaks.
- Fold in cocoa powder gently using a rubber spatula.
- Make round disks of this meringue on the parchment paper. Keep a dent in the centre where chntilly cream can be filled. The dent can also be made using the back of a spoon.
- Bake these meringue nests for 50-60 minutes till crisp till the bottom. Then leave the oven door slightly open for an hour and let the meringues cool completely before taking them out.
- Then transfer the meringue to a rack and carefully peel off parchment paper.
- To make the chantilly cream, whip the cold cream till medium peaks and gradually add the sugar while whisking. Put it in a piping bag with a medium nozzle.
- An hour before serving, pipe the chantilly cream on the meringue disks and put chopped mangoes on top. Garnish with mint leaves.