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Monday, June 10, 2013

[French Cookies] Short Baking Class at Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Institute

Even though I bake quite often and enjoy baking so much, I've never taken any kind of baking lesson. I taught myself how to baking, referring to baking books and magazines. Still I've been curious about the courses of Cordon Bleu, a legendary culinary institute originally based in Paris, France, but now has a few other campuses around the world, including one in Ottawa. And since I read "My life in France" of Julia Child a few years ago, taking a course at Cordon Bleu, even if it's an one-day course, was one of my bucket list. Now this one is fulfilled.

Then, By accident, when we had a Mother's day brunch at Cordon Bleu Bistro, I got to know there would be a half-day French cookies course in June (you can see my post about the brunch at Cordon Bleu Bistro here) And guess what? I signed up for the course the very next day. As the course was a hands-on workshop, there were only 15 spots available and those were almost filled up almost a month before the class. A friend of mine tried to sign up a couple of days later and there was no spot left. That is why I went to the class by myself. It turned out just fine.

 The class was to start at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning. I was told to arrive at least 15 minutes earlier, so I did. The workshop room or kitchen was not too big, but with full of equipment. 

I don't think I've ever seen any kitchen or any place with so many KitchenAid stand mixers. 

Instructor was Chef Hervé Chabert from France. The workshop class was composed of demonstration with technique instructions and practice & replication. 

I couldn't take the photos of the chef's demonstration as I had to write down the instructions. We were only given the ingredients list for each items we made. 

We were advised to write down the recipe, tips and techniques. I learned lots of small and big tips  from the chef. I had made macarons with Martha's recipe since, as I wrote a few times already, that I don't like recipes of which ingredients are measured by weight. North American recipes are all measured by volume which could be a little less accurate than weight. 

But, I agree that it is better to weigh ingredients for delicate/sensitive items such as macarons. So, I decided to use Chef Hervé's recipe for macarons.

By the way, I always wish somebody will measure and prepare all the ingredients for me, just like at class at Cordon Bleu. 

It became a dream kitchen thanks to this tray of fully measured ingredients. And also, there were assistant instructors, diplôme course students, who took care of washing equipements as well. But, probably this is only for the short courses. I figure regular students who pursue diplôme de pâtisserie must be measuring and washing everything by themselves.

(Chef Hervé's demonstration)
I tried to take photos, whenever I found time, which was not often. It looked so easy when the chef demonstrated, but it was not so easy doing it with not-so-artistic hands of mine.

Still it was quite an experience and I learned a lot. I'd love to take another mini-course, sometime in a not so distant future. 

I had been told to bring containers to bring back the results of my baking.
I put the macarons & éponges that contained nuts separately from tuiles & diamants de chocolats that don't contain nuts, for Pablo. All my guys enjoyed the result of my hard(?) work. :) Each time I bake macarons, I felt really sorry for my little guy. I wish I could find some substitute of almond flour to make nut-free macarons if possible. If I can't, hopefully some great person will find a substitute for almond flour... 

I will bake these soon again, at home. Then, I'll share the recipe and secret techniques of Chef Hervé, with you. :D

Baking Class at Cordon Bleu Ottawa


  1. Wow, it must be a wonderful experience! Baking in THE Cordon Bleu's kitchen!!! Bravo:) Hope you would share some of the recipes and tips that you learnt there soon.

    Have a great week!

    1. Hi Carolina,
      yes it was a wonderful (but somewhat pricey)experience. I will definitely share the recipes very soon.
      Have a nice evening~

  2. You are soooooooo lucky!!!! All of your hard work look really great. Yummy~~~~ :D

    1. Hi YH, yes I was lucky to be in that class. Thanks~ I'll share the recipes with you soon. :) Have a nice evening~

  3. Wow!! Macarons~ I want to try it someday, can't imagine making them with a nosy 4-year-old girl and a super big 7 month-old son(he is over 25 lb.!) When my daughter is as patient as Jeremie waiting for the finished goods to eat not licking the spatula when I look away!
    I wish I lived closer to Cordon Bleu~