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Meet our Alumni

Jump to: Maria Italia Rodriguez Lima  |  Diya Sethi  | Caitlin Paxton  | Fatma Mermer  | Luciana Berry
Adria Wu  | Brad Farmerie  | Georgia Green  | Caterina Loduca  | Lin Ter Horst
Chi Wai Wong  | Franco Lania  | Guan Chua  | Alexei Zimin  | Kong Suetrong
Sarah Thompson  | Grace Lee  | Alexandros Charalabopoulos  | Akshay Soni  | Nathalie Delormeau
Michael Swamy  | Hideko Kawa  | Devaki Apte  | Dhilmin Silva  | Chef Sunshine (Sanchayita Bhattacharjee Alam)
Sue Riedl  | Alice McNair


Maria Italia Rodriguez Lima, Grand Diplôme 2006

Maria Italia Rodriguez Lima

As a child, the most enjoyable days were those in which I would visit my grandmother and could step into her kitchen. Watching all those herbs hanging and pots boiling was fascinating to me. I always felt curious to know what each ingredient was, how it tasted and what was it for. Later on, my mother would allow me in to cook, using a wooden stool to reach the stove. It was during a summer in Siena that I took my first cooking course and fell inevitably in love with every part of it.

I rushed through high school and after some research, I did not hesitate on choosing Le Cordon Bleu to continue my studies, after all, who can go wrong with 120 years experience. Being at the school was a dream, just like in the movies. It exceeded my expectations of quality and excellence at every moment; the classrooms, ingredients, teachers, techniques, technology and recipes, it was all top notch. I will never forget when I got my knives and they said “knives for life”, but I also got skills for life. I had a great opportunity to complete an internship at the school. I was made responsible for the mise en place for the chefs, which is when I really learnt how to be a chef...I managed the scheduling, ordering and preparation of all the ingredients. Chef Julie, the only woman back then, she was my inspiration as she taught with such professionalism and tenderness. There were also the tough (but funny) chefs who became my family after dedicating their time and patience to pass on their vast array of knowledge.

I frequently heard that real life is not like being at school, but once I started working I realized how well prepared I was after completing my Grand Diplôme®. My first job was at an award winning French restaurant in Mexico City. Thanks to my credentials and knowledge I quickly escalated to head pastry chef for an opening of the first of what is now a great high-end chain. I continued my career in the hospitality business, working in several cities such as London, Cancun, Geneva, Seattle, Mexico City, Santa Fe, San Miguel de Allende and Playa del Carmen for companies like Meliá, Hyatt, Mövenpick and Rosewood. Nowadays I have my own consulting, risk management and catering firm and in my free time I blog about the pleasure of food and beverages.

More information about Maria Italia:


Meet our alumni

Diya Sethi - Diplôme de Cuisine, 2005

 Diya Sethi

In 1974, I was born in New York City, where my father was posted as a Diplomat, and for the next twenty six years of my life, I was constantly on the move: from New York to New Delhi to Peking to Kuala Lumpur to Harare to Abu Dhabi to Paris and finally to London.

In each new country, I found my bearings through food: it gave me a quick understanding of the local color and an easy identification with the people…until my relationship with food was destroyed.  I was so desperate in my search for a sense of belonging, I stumbled into the trap of addiction, primarily an addiction known as anorexia-bulimia.

After a ten-year battle with an eating disorder, I finally re-developed my relationship with food, in which each taste and sensation became a magical experience.  But I continued to have a regimented diet, and I wished to be able to eat and enjoy food without any formula…only flair.

It was then that I put myself and my recovery to the real test: I decided to learn how to cook, and where better than at Le Cordon Bleu, reputed to be one of the finest cooking schools in the world. 

It was one of the toughest battles I fought, but it was the one that finally broke the door to my prison of addiction; my time at Le Cordon Bleu, through all the trials and tribulations of having to face, taste and create food in the most rigorous environment each and every day, finally made my senses come alive…and I learned not only how to appreciate food in all its glory, but also to feel hungry and full, two feelings from which I had been divorced for twenty six long years.

I went on to train in the Kitchens of both Aubergine and Racine in London, and then I returned to India where I have worked in the capacity of a free-lance consultant chef.  I also write restaurant reviews for online food forums, and I have finally fulfilled my purpose: the telling of my story in THE ADDICT, A LIFE RECOVERED, with which I hope to be able to help other people suffering from all types of addiction.

To Le Cordon Bleu London, I owe great thanks.

Caitlin Paxton - Diplôme de Pâtisserie, 2012

Caitlin Paxton

For me baking is something I have done my whole life, my Grandfather was from Switzerland and was a chef and a chocolatier. He passed down a passion for food to my mother, who passed it onto me. I used to spend large amounts of the school holidays in the kitchen, initially with my mother and then by myself creating cakes and pastries for anyone who happened to be around.

As I was fairly academic at school I decided to study architecture and then worked in fashion, but baking was always something I did with my free time. After becoming disillusioned with the fashion industry I was looking for a new challenged and decided to apply to Le Cordon Bleu. I chose the school for three reasons; I could study just pastry singularly and not alongside cuisine, I could start my training in Paris, a city I love and finish it in London my home city and finally and most importantly because it is the most internationally respected culinary school. It was at Le Cordon Bleu that I fell in love with chocolate. I adore the way that when handled properly you can create delicious glossy masterpieces. I also learnt the importance of doing things properly and finishing everything to the most exacting standards.

Upon graduating I did a brief stint in a Michelin Starred restaurant but quickly realized that it wasn’t for me. Though this time I continued to feed countless samples of my new chocolate ideas to grateful friends and family, who always wanted more, and I realized that I could turn my chocolates into a business. I started online and pop up shops which received fantastic press coverage from the likes of the Sunday Times Magazine, the Observer Magazine and Elle Decoration. Eight months ago we opened the first boutique in Shoreditch and now have a client list including; Space NK, Jimmy Choo and YSL beauty to name just a few.

Visit Caitlin's boutique: Paxton Chocolate or follow her @paxtonchocolate on Twitter and Facebook.


Fatma Mermer - Diplôme de Cuisine, 2014

Fatma Mermer

In order to contribute to my future career in hospitality, I conducted research on how to improve my culinary skills, which led to studying at Le Cordon Bleu.  Before I joined I read as much as I could about the institution and found out that the school did not only raise good chefs, but chefs that studied here became easily recognizable and differentiated from others due to their professionalism and discipline. In order to make the most out of my own education, I decided to start my journey in Istanbul and end it in London.

I think studying in both my own country and abroad allowed me to absorb more opportunities. Whilst studying in Istanbul I was able to learn the basics of French techniques while using seasonal produce from my own country, which made it easier as the ingredients were of familiar taste.

During my education in London, I wanted to exceed my personal goals. I think by giving myself an international background gave me the opportunity to learn how to use seasonal ingredients in other countries, cook successful dishes and enjoy other cultures eating habits. Besides this I had the chance to learn from the best chefs and made friends from different countries.

At the school I was surrounded by the best facilities and equipment, local produce markets and exquisite restaurants, which created the perfect environment to learn and excel. Having the chance to bond with students from every corner of the world also helped to broaden my vision on how I see food and trends, which I took home to apply to our traditional ingredients. The whole experience completely exceeded my expectations.

It’s been a year since I graduated from Le Cordon Bleu, and I have continued to follow my dream to become a good chef. My family has started a new hospitality business and we are planning on opening a boutique hotel in Istanbul. I currently head up the food and beverage department and am about to begin menu planning for the hotel restaurant.

I still have strong ties with the school and would love to create my own team from the graduates of Le Cordon Bleu who share the same discipline and vision as me.  I’m very excited to share what I have learnt both in Istanbul and London, and hopefully I can give something back to the countries which gave me the knowledge to create an adaptive menu using French techniques, and the ability to satisfy guests from my country as well as guests from every other part of the world.

Luciana Berry - Diplôme de Cuisine, 2014

Luciana Berry

I was born in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil in a traditional Latin American family. Full of passion for food and for life. My parents always had an excuse to celebrate something, only to cook a big meal and have a house full of friends. I was raised in a house where every Saturday a "proper” BBQ full of different cuts of meat where placed on a charcoal bbq from 11am and the party lasted until 11pm

I never had an opportunity to cook in Brazil because my family were the greatest food lovers and would always make something special for us.

I put my Electrical Engineer Diploma on hold in 2004 and came to London for six months. I fell in love with the city and decided to live here for good, but after a few months, I began to miss my family and their food.

I started to cook some Brazilian dishes at the house that I was living in at Harrow School. The other houses at school started to ask me to cook for them. The word of mouth spread all over the school and I had to open a catering company. 

In 2013 I decided to bring my food to a different level, and not long after that I had an invitation to cook for Prince Edward when he came to Harrow School and for the rugby players from the Rugby Federation Union. I had the time of my life at Le Cordon Bleu London, and when it came to graduating in 2014, I felt very confident. 

A month after my graduation I applied for the biggest cooking competition programme on TV called Masterchef The Professionals. I made it to the semi-finals with 9 others male chefs, where I was eliminated with a dish that summed up Brazil on a plate. I wanted to show all my skills as a chef and my African culture from Bahia.

I was honoured when Le Cordon Bleu invited me to say a few words at the graduation ceremony in December 2014. It was a great feeling to be able to share my stories with the new chefs. 

People still recognise me in the street and the programme opened a huge door of opportunities for me. I am still running my catering company in London, whilst offering Brazilian cooking lessons and acting as a consultant for restaurants. 

All my live cooking photos can be found on my Twitter feed @brazilianchefuk or Instagram @lucianaberry


Adria Wu - Diplôme de Cuisine, 2013

Adria Wu

Creating food has always been my one true love.  Growing up, I constantly helped my mother in the kitchen and would watch in awe as she prepared beautiful meals for our family. I would gladly help manage our garden where we grew fruit and vegetables, and accompany her to the farmer’s markets, local butcher shop and fishmonger where I learned about the importance of fresh ingredients. My love affair with food started at a very young age and food was never far from my thoughts, despite graduating as an engineer and working in management consulting and finance.

Anyone who knew me knew that that aside from spending time with family and friends, my number one passion was cooking (closely followed by eating and balanced by working out). After spending thirty years of my life in a love affair with food, I decided to make a formal commitment to the culinary arts. I wanted to devote my life to creating food, and as a strong believer in education and preparation, I wanted to begin this next chapter of my life at Le Cordon Bleu in London - a lively, captivating and beautiful city with an abundance of food and culture.  I wanted to study at Le Cordon Bleu because of its traditional structured approach of preparation using fresh and simple ingredients to create the most wonderful tasting dishes. I loved the discovery of balancing flavours while building a culinary foundation at the tried, tested and globally recognized Le Cordon Bleu.

After completing my Cuisine Diploma in December 2013, I was left inspired by some of the world’s most talented chefs. This motivated me to combine my existing engineering and business management skills with a love for fresh food and a mastery of the culinary arts to launch my own restaurant in a city I love. I wanted to make honest great tasting food accessible to busy Londoners who don’t always have the time to make meals from scratch so the idea for Maple & Fitz was born! Maple & Fitz opened heart of Fitzrovia in March 2015 and we have already been featured in publications such as TimeOut, View London, Conde Nast Traveler, SheerLuxe, Glam UK, Vantage, Hot Dinners, Big Hospitality and The Caterer.

Follow Adria's Journey on twitter and instagram @mapleandiftz.


Brad Farmerie – Grand Diplôme, 1996

Brad Farmerie

In 1996 I decided to take a break from the pursuit of my engineering degree at Penn State University and follow my dream of cooking. I wanted professional training and an opportunity to travel, and Le Cordon Bleu London was my chance to turn both of these dreams into reality.

I suddenly found myself in London, during the foment of England’s food revolution, studying among a respected group of chef-instructors at one of the most highly regarded culinary schools in the world - it was certainly a great way to get started in cooking. Outside the classroom, the opportunities for further learning were unique: London presented the chance to work in Michelin-starred restaurants; plus its proximity to Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa, made it relatively easy to sample some of the world’s most interesting cuisines.

I had originally intended to pursue only the savoury side of life, but thankfully, the Le Cordon Bleu staff convinced me to follow the route of the Grand Diplôme (the combination of a Cuisine Diploma and a Pâtisserie Diploma). This enabled me to become a much better rounded chef and allowed me to more fully understand the skills and science involved with cooking.

I was able to translate the classic technique and attention to detail that I learned at Le Cordon Bleu as well as the cultural influences absorbed in such a multi-ethnic European capital as London into opening PUBLIC restaurant in New York City in 2003.  I received many accolades along the way, including a Michelin star in 2008. Our second restaurant, Double Crown, followed on this success and opened at the end of 2008.

The curriculum at Le Cordon Bleu has not only given me the day-to-day skills that help me in the kitchen, but the knowledge that allows me to teach younger cooks so that they can improve their own techniques. This solid foundation also continues to fuel my passion for travel, allowing me to cook at prestigious events, demonstrations, and guest chef dinners around the world.

Georgia Green – Intermediate Pâtisserie, 2012

Georgia Green

From architecture to fashion design to textiles to animation, the career choices I explored since graduating from secondary school never seemed to satisfy me. Only recently have I discovered that cooking, particularly cakes and desserts, was where my underlying passion lay. I had to take the bold move (and a lot of persuading from my parents) to leave London College of Communication where I was studying animation, to redirect my career into the culinary world and apply to Le Cordon Bleu, London.

The day I stepped into the pristine white building in Bloomsbury Square (September ’12), I knew I had finally found where I belonged and have never looked back. I completed and passed the Basic and Intermediate Pâtisserie courses and learnt so much throughout. From learning how chocolate is made to actually making it myself, there is such a variation of opportunities to learn from. No matter what time of day it was, whether 8 in the morning or finishing 9.30 at night, I enjoyed every lecture and practical class there was and now I miss it so much!

I chose pâtisserie rather than cuisine mainly because the two subjects I excelled in most at school were maths and art (hence the initial choice of architecture). Pâtisserie has a lot of similarities to maths; exact measurements, precision, logic and the correct method will produce correct results. In regards to art, every pâtisserie product is an art in itself – visually stunning and the more attractive, the more appetising it looks!

I currently work at a deli in Belsize Park where I can let my creativity run wild while cooking savoury dishes as well as sweet ones. As well as this, I have my own private orders specifically for cakes and pâtisserie goods under my own company Georgia’s Cakes. The most important factor in my cooking (especially cakes) is that they taste just as good as they look.

My most recent ‘claim to fame’ was the cake I made for the supermodel Cara Delevigne for her collection launch at DKNY. I have also been in the press recently due to a jewel encrusted gingerbread house that will be worth nearly £50,000 that I have agreed to make if it’s ordered. Since this has gone public, I have had numerous phone calls from news reporters and television producers who have been very interested in me and what I do. So who knows, I may be the next TV chef!

I owe all my success so far to Le Cordon Bleu London as I would not have my level of skills and determination without it.

Caterina Loduca - Grand Diplôme, 2009

Caterina Loduca

As an Italian, food has always been very important and a defining part of my life. I grew up watching my grandmother and mother making food from scratch using the finest and freshest ingredients.

Cooking and an appreciation of good food came naturally to me. Since I was very young I started playing around in the kitchen and never stopped enjoying it. After ten years in a totally different career, I took a risk and decided to change my professional life to pursue my true passion.

I chose Le Cordon Bleu (Grand Diplôme) because I believe it's the best culinary school in the world and it has always been my dream. The course of study exceeded my expectations both in terms of learning and the friendships I made.

Since I graduated I have worked for several fine dining restaurants in Europe until I found an opportunity to utilize my skills in an entirely different way; working as development chef in the food industry.

I now live in Singapore and as development chef for Ingredion, a global supplier of food ingredients, I marry my culinary skills with food science and technology to create practical solutions for new commercial products.

I am confident that what I learned at Le Cordon Bleu provided me with a real advantage in my current role.

Lin Ter Horst - Diplôme de Pâtisserie, 2008

Lin Ter Horst

I was born in Shanghai and grew up with my extended family.  My family loved to cook and enjoyed great meals together.  When we immigrated to New York, everything changed.  We didn’t know how to use the ingredients in American supermarkets, and we didn’t understand why the chickens tasted like wood.  So I wasn’t exposed to fine cuisine until well into my adulthood.  When I lived in Kyoto Japan for a year, I acquired a taste for Japanese food and sushi, and appreciated the country’s infatuation with perfectly packaged products.

In 2005 when I was living in London as a trailing spouse, I came upon the best croissants I’d ever had, in a tiny neighborhood coffee shop.  I checked out a few culinary programs in London, including Le Cordon Bleu.  In 2008 I was nearly divorced and living and working in China as an investment banker.  When the financial crisis unfolded, I promptly enrolled myself in the 6-month long intensive patisserie diploma program at Le Cordon Bleu London. 

In fact, what I learned at Le Cordon Bleu was beyond my wildest dreams.  I was totally unprepared, and had no idea what exactly I was going to learn. Every day I went to class and stared at my recipe sheet, which included the name of the pastry product in French, and the ingredient list. Needless to say, as someone who didn’t understand what it meant to “soften” the butter, I had a steep learning curve. After a few classes, I decided I had to write down everything that was happening in front of my eyes during the demo classes, so that I could attempt to replicate it during the practical class.

 After I received my diploma, I felt empowered. I returned to Beijing to set up my own bakery business and to teach pastry classes.  The bakery business never got off the ground, as it was extremely difficult to obtain an operating license due to my identity as a foreigner, but I did get permission to give pastry classes. I taught expats and locals to make western pastries and even some Chinese pastries, and honed my own skills in the process.  I acquired a lot of recipe books, particularly by Pierre Herme, to test recipes and develop my art.  I made quite a few wedding cakes that were featured in the Cosmopolitan Bride Magazine in Beijing, after I improved my cake decorating skills. 

In 2012, we decided to move to Maui. I became so overwhelmed by the abundance of exotic fruits we found there, that I decided to make pâtes de fruits.  We started our pâtes de fruit business in 2012 under the brand name of Maui Fruit Jewels because our confections glisten like jewels in the sun.  In 2014 our Hana Collection was named a finalist for the 2014 sofi (Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation) Awards in the confection category.  The Candy Magazine featured our products as one of the “Top 10 confoundingly outstanding confections”, and we won the honor of “Best Candy” in the Best of Hawaii October 2014 issue of the Hawaii Magazine.  Currently our products are available in over 30 high-end gourmet shops in Hawaii and in continental USA.  We are continuing to develop our production process and packaging to make our products more accessible to the masses.

Chi Wai Wong - Diplôme de Pâtisserie, 2011

Chi Wai Wong

I love eating as well as making pâtisserie very much. Before I attended Le Cordon Bleu Pâtisserie Diploma course, I could only obtain the knowledge and techniques of French pâtisserie by viewing websites and books. In 2010, after 10 years in an internal audit job, I decided to follow my dream: Pâtisserie.

Since Le Cordon Bleu is the worldwide leader in Culinary Arts I absolutely believe that choosing Le Cordon Bleu was the best start for me to develop a new career path.

After completing the nine months Pâtisserie Diploma program, I find that the students can build a strong foundation, learn the basics of French pâtisserie, gain a thorough understanding of pâtisserie theory and develop artistic skills through the demonstrations and practical sessions. The program really helped me to develop my potential fully in order to enhance my confidence in learning to be a successful professional in the relevant field. Therefore, for anyone with a passion for the culinary arts Le Cordon Bleu can make dreams come true.


During my studies, I worked in the pastry kitchen at the Hilton London Metropole Hotel.

In 2011 after graduating, I came back to Hong Kong and decided to turn my dream into reality. I ran my own online cake business then also a café in conjunction with a coffee company until July 2013. I eventually opened my own cake shop in August 2013: J’aime bien Pâtisserie. Through all of these platforms, I enjoy having the opportunities to share my pâtisserie stories. At our shop, you can enjoy impressive selections of pâtisserie made from the finest quality ingredients. We also offer a customization service, creating one-off desserts (macaroons, chocolates, cookies, etc.) for special occasions.

Since August 2014, I have launched the exciting programme ‘Fun Gathering’ in order to share my passion for pâtisserie with customers. I share my professional knowledge and concepts learnt from Le Cordon Bleu, to let them understand the story and principles behind desserts and how to distinguish the outlook, texture and flavors in different pâtisserie. For each gathering, the topic is not repeated and the related pâtisseries are made accordingly. Welcome all ‘Sweets’ Fans to join!

“Professional, sharing, friendly” is our style . Visit for more information about J’aime bien Pâtisserie in Hong Kong.

Franco Lania - Grand Diplôme, 1995

Franco Lania

I developed a passion for the culinary arts in a very indirect way- through a part time job. I was basically told by my parents that I had to get a job as I was beginning my freshman year in college to study Social Work.  The part-time job was supposed to give me some extra spending money and fill in the gaps of “free time” while not in school. It was at a local Gourmet Food Store called Kings. I spent 6 years with the company, working in various departments (deli, fish, butcher and catering). The store prided itself on offering high-quality products and foods.  I became enamored with learning how to prepare and cook these foods. I enjoyed learning from the in-store chefs.  It was here that a deep passion for cooking was ignited inside of me, and I traded in my Social Work studies for a Culinary Arts degree.

I chose to attend London’s Le Cordon Bleu after I had graduated from a two-year culinary program in New Jersey, U.S.A. Upon graduation, I had a great desire to delve deeper into learning more about French Cuisine and French Cooking Techniques.  After months of researching various culinary schools, Le Cordon Bleu seemed to be the only school that would deliver a true French cooking experience.  Also, it is world renown as one of the best.  Since I didn’t speak French, I opted for Le Grand Diplôme London.  This decision turned out to be an overall wonderful educational experience. The school helped me secure a job in the pastry kitchen of the famous Dorchester Hotel where I worked with a French pastry chef. I also took a job at a French Brassiere in London called the Soho-Soho, again working with another talented French Chef. So, my choice to attend Le Cordon Bleu, London surpassed all my expectations- not to mention that this experience has made me a lifetime fan of Le Cordon Bleu and the city of London.    

Since graduating from the Le Cordon Bleu and moving on from London I have truly surpassed my culinary expectations.  My diploma from the school opened up numerous cooking opportunities that were all stellar.  I’ve cooked in some of the great cuisine cites of America (New York, Miami, Los Angeles) and in a two Michelin Star restaurant in Milan, Italy.  I went back to school in Italy and became certified as a Master in Italian Cuisine.   I’ve worked for various luxury cruise lines and have owned two of my own restaurants, one on Miami Beach and another in New York’s, Little Italy.  I had the good fortune to have twice been on TV-Food Networks 24 Hour Restaurant Battle.

Currently I am an active member of the Culinary Advisory Board for ConAgra Foods (the largest food company in North America.) I’m completing work on my first book and I’m coming out with my own product line of foods.I write inspirational food articles for The Huffington Post. I give cooking demonstrations and speak to international audiences, on land and at sea, about the positive and invigorating energies that can be derived from cooking and the healing nature of it all.
Keep cooking & Cheers!

Guan Chua - Diplôme de Cuisine, 2013

Guan Chua

Born and bred in Malaysia, I grew up in an environment where food often takes centre stage be it round the family dinner table or out in one of the country's countless eateries.

I have fond memories of the kitchen from my younger days where I pretended to be my godmother’s gung ho sous-chef, pounding away with a pestle and mortar to help her make traditional Malaysian spice pastes. So you could say I caught the cooking bug from a very young age! Living in London over the past 12 years and having Europe on the doorstep has given me the chance to explore a whole host of gastronomic cultures. In the process, my affinity with food has only grown stronger as has my love for cooking. As I reflected on my love for food, I came to realise that the home cooking, food writing and photography I was doing on the side as a hobby just wasn’t enough. What I needed was a new experience to provide me with a platform from which I would be able to start a career in the food industry.

Le Cordon Bleu's vast international network and world-renowned reputation struck me as the perfect launch pad for that next step. I found the structure of the Cuisine Diploma particularly appealing and was drawn to how there was a strong initial grounding in the fundamentals of classic French cuisine with more complex, contemporary techniques successively layered on top as the learning curve steepened. I was also very impressed by the investment that had gone into the new state-of-the-art facilities at Bloomsbury Square. Reflecting on my experience at the school, the huge array of techniques I learnt continues to amaze me. Everything from juicy, evenly browned meats to moist, perfectly cooked fish. The clearest of consommés to well-risen soufflés. Having the chance to work with premium ingredients like Dover sole, lobsters and foie gras has been a real revelation – I never would have dared to buy, yet alone use such produce in the past. Plus, the opportunity to learn from such a highly accomplished team of teaching chefs with Michelin-star studded CVs has been a real privilege. But it wasn’t all plain sailing and easy, that I can assure you. There were cuts. There were burns. There were overcooked meats and leaky pastry cases. Hours of blood, sweat and tears down the kitchen sink. With time and under the watchful eye of the teaching chefs however, I started to master the skills I needed to succeed and began to enjoy the pressure of cooking against the clock and the adrenaline rush that comes with it.

Since completing my Cuisine Diploma in September 2013, I’ve gone on to compete on Channel 4’s new cookery competition The Taste featuring celebrity judges Nigella Lawson, Anthony Bourdain & Ludo Lefebvre. Aside from the excitement of cooking on national television and being mentored by one of my food heroes in Anthony Bourdain, I also run a Malaysian Supper Club out of my flat in London a few times a month. Guests at my Supper Club have the chance to taste many of the signature dishes of Straits-Chinese cuisine I grew up eating as a child in Malaysia. It’s BYO drinks and there’s no set cost to the meal - people donate whatever they feel the meal is worth into an envelope at the end of the evening. Although it’s hard work, it has been a truly rewarding and exciting experience hosting everybody from close friends to complete strangers and seeing them enjoy my food! Who knows what’s in store next? I’m already looking into hosting larger scale ‘Pop-up’ events outside of my flat and will aim to get a foot into London’s increasingly vibrant street food scene in the coming months and years!

Meet Alexei Zimin - Diplôme de Cuisine, 2008

Alexei Zimin

I have been cooking since I was five, and for many years food was a hobby, an adventure and a great pleasure for me. I always liked the simplicity of transformations, how something turns into something else: sugar into caramel, chicken into curry and tripe into trippa. I studied philology at Moscow State University and began writing food columns for newspapers and magazines before deciding to start my own food magazine.

I visited the kitchens of many great chefs: Raymond Blanc, Michel Gerrard, Martin Berasategui, Heinz Winkler, and Gordon Ramsay. I had a general idea about food, had read hundreds of cook books and tasted the most interesting dishes but I lacked professional consistency and precision which one can only gain from regular classes at a great school. That is why I went to London to study Le Cordon Bleu’s Cuisine Diploma. I chose London because I like both the city and French cuisine. It used to be an anti-gastronomic city that over some twenty years changed completely. It was especially interesting because Moscow is going through similar changes at the moment.

Obviously, I had high expectations of Le Cordon Bleu but it turned out to be grander and more exciting than I could imagine. Enthusiastic teachers, well-designed courses and high standards in everything – this was exactly what I needed.

After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu I launched Afisha-Eda food magazine and food website, which now have a combined audience of three million people per month. I host a weekly food show on NTV – one of the three major Russian TV channels and wrote three best-selling cook books – Cuisine of Supermarket, Cuisine of Market and Cuisine Forever.

In 2010 my friends and I opened Ragout Café in Moscow. Over three years we received all possible restaurant awards in Russia and became the best café in Moscow according to Tripadvisor. In 2012 we opened another Ragout Café which now includes a gastro pub and culinary school. Since 2013 our restaurant group Ragout has managed CDL Restaurant, one of the oldest and most famous in Moscow. We transformed it into a restaurant offering innovative Russian cuisine, where traditional flavours, classic kitchen techniques from Le Cordon Bleu and modern tools meet.

Meet Kong Suetrong - Diplôme de Pâtisserie, 2012

Kong Suetrong

Life in the kitchen has always been my passion, but I was not sure how I could turn it into my profession.

After living in many cities and working in various types of businesses around the world, I never stopped thinking about pursuing my dream of working in a kitchen. As Le Cordon Bleu is very well recognised worldwide, I knew an education from them would open many doors in the culinary industry no matter where I lived. Finally, in 2011 I decided to join Le Cordon Bleu London, studying for the Pâtisserie Diploma.

The teaching chefs at Le Cordon Bleu not only taught me all the foundations and techniques of classic pâtisserie, but they also taught me to be organised and to believe that perfection is not an option but the only way, with no compromise. The techniques I learned from my teaching chefs in nine months here would have taken me years to learn somewhere else.

With my Le Cordon Bleu education, it was not a challenge after graduating to find a position in five-star hotels in London. My work has been recognised by the media in Thailand, and I was offered an opportunity to design and produce desserts for Harper’s Bazaar Magazine Thailand, April 2013 issue. I am currently working on a food television show in Thailand which I am a presenter and creative director for.

With my passion for food and the fundamental skills I have learned from Le Cordon Bleu, my creative horizon is limitless.

Sarah Thompson - Diplôme de Pâtisserie, 2013

Sarah Thompson

I have always been passionate about food, from a very young age I watched cookery programmes and baked cakes. The ability to be creative with pastry and produce items that ‘wow’ people has always amazed me. After beginning my studies at university I soon realised that I should have followed my passion, so I left and applied to Le Cordon Bleu to study for the pâtisserie diploma.

As I’d left university, I felt pressure to do well at Le Cordon Bleu. Going into my first term I had never made choux pastry, puff pastry or even genoise sponge before, all I knew was what I had read in cookery books. Despite this I felt at home at Le Cordon Bleu, the teachers were amazing and the topics we covered were extremely interesting. My best achievement by far was receiving a distinction in my basic certificate practical exam. I felt I had finally proved to everyone that this is what I was meant to do, and my determination to do well carried on throughout the final two terms. My favourite level was superior, as the opportunity to be creative during each lesson helped to increase my confidence.

At the beginning of the intermediate term I applied for a job as a commis pastry chef at a fine dining restaurant in Peterborough called Clarkes. The opportunity to work here during my studies was extremely beneficial. I had one-to-one training with their pastry chef, which alongside my studies at Le Cordon Bleu increased my confidence further.

After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu, Clarkes opened a new restaurant called Café Clarkes, where I gained the position of pastry chef at the new restaurant. This was a daunting yet exciting opportunity, especially so soon after graduating and only being 19 years of age. The culinary style is British classic with a modern twist, which allows me to refine my techniques whilst applying the creative skills I developed at Le Cordon Bleu.

I have been incredibly lucky with the opportunities that life has given me, and I hope that my passion and dedication will carry on so that I can make the most of my career and make those closest to me proud. Le Cordon Bleu has been the stepping stone for me to achieve my dream, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Meet Grace Lee - Diplôme de pâtisserie, 2009

Grace Lee

I currently work and live in London, but I grew up in multi-cultural, multi-ethnic Malaysia. Such diversity and rich cultural heritage provided a wonderful melting pot of culture and cuisine - food is a big part of Malaysian culture and no visit can be complete without a food tour! So the culinary passion was with me since I was little.

My journey to Le Cordon Bleu was rather indirect. During my four year stint in the finance sector, I decided to submit an application for the Basic Pâtisserie course in London in the hope that I could follow my passion. The course, as expected, was full then, but I got a phone call right before it was due to start asking whether I am still interested as a place had become available at the last minute. Such opportunities only happen once, so in the course of 36 hours I found myself literally swapping my City office garb for chef’s whites.

It was the best time of my life. You meet a lot of dedicated and talented students at Le Cordon Bleu, and you finally feel you belong somewhere (people talk about food most of the time!). The teaching was amazing - it assumes no prior knowledge and I managed to build up my skills despite having no previous baking or pâtisserie experience. To this day, I still remember my first chocolate piping lesson, where my Master Chef instructor basically described mine as “chocolate toothpaste” (I’ve gotten much better at that since!). It was intimidating at first as some of my peers were experienced, but everyone is really helpful and there to share and exchange knowledge and techniques.

Learning about eggs and the biochemical properties of protein coagulation during the course triggered my interest in the scientific aspects of cooking. Since I left Le Cordon Bleu, I continued exploring business ideas related to food, and soon became heavily involved in sous-vide cooking. I was fascinated by the brilliant simplicity of this cooking technique.

Realising that current devices are mainly tailored for chefs and restaurant use only, I was eager to introduce this simple yet amazing technique to enthusiastic cooks at home. We spent nearly a year designing and building our sous-vide device called Codlo, and it’s now ready for manufacture.


Although I have followed an unconventional career path, I would have never achieved all of this without the exposure I had at Le Cordon Bleu. The network and experiences I gained there are invaluable and will be part of me forever.

Meet Alexandros Charalabopoulos - Basic Cuisine Certificate, 2005

Alexandros Charalabopoulos

I was born and raised in Athens, and when I was younger I would spend my summers near my grandmother in the south of Greece in a village near Kalamata. I recall a rich variety of fruits and vegetables, and cooking in wood ovens, experiences which inspired me greatly. Everything I tasted was so flavoursome, even if it was a humble tomato or milk pie. These are the reasons for my passion for cooking.

I wanted to further my culinary abilities and began searching for somewhere to study. It wasn’t a difficult decision, many of my peers believed that Le Cordon Bleu was the best destination for me, and I wasn’t disappointed. Everything was so organised, and the chefs that were teaching us had a great attention to detail, it was exactly as I was hoping for. After I graduated from Le Cordon Bleu and returned to Greece, many of the chefs recognised that my education gave me an advantage.

Since graduating I have worked in a number of restaurants and hotel kitchens, which helped me realise how beneficial my Le Cordon Bleu education is. I currently work at the Titania Hotel, Athens, as head chef of their Olive Garden restaurant. In addition, I co-authored the SENSES cookbook. I owe much of the success in my career to Le Cordon Bleu and their teaching chefs.

Meet Akshay Soni - Diplôme de Cuisine, 2010

Akshay Soni

I was born and raised in India where my Father wanted me to join the family business, but my passion was for food. I would see my Mother cooking great food and my ambition was to do the same, so I got a job working in a restaurant kitchen. During my time working, I always felt that something was missing, and I wanted to study. I looked into all the different culinary schools and colleges available, and quickly realised that Le Cordon Bleu is the best there is, so I came to London to study the Diplôme de Cuisine.

Everything was so organised, the teaching chefs were always available to help and they really taught me to focus on detail to achieve perfection - whether I’m in the restaurant or at home. My time at Le Cordon Bleu was about more than gaining a qualification, it was a true culinary education. When I graduated and entered the work place, many employers recognised my education with Le Cordon Bleu due to their reputation for excellence; this definitely gave me an advantage over other candidates.

Since graduating from Le Cordon Bleu London in 2010, I’ve worked for a number of high quality restaurants across the capital. In two years I have worked my way up to the position of chef de partie at The Arts Club, an exclusive private members club in Mayfair where I currently work with three other Le Cordon Bleu graduates. Because we all studied at the same institute, it is like being part of a family, and we like to help each other out in the kitchen. I strongly believe that my education with Le Cordon Bleu has helped me to achieve the success I have since graduating.

Meet Nathalie Delormeau

Nathalie Delormeau

Nathalie Delormeau graduated from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu French culinary academy in London at the age of 20. She has always been passionate about the food and creativity that are embodied by the culinary world. Her early career saw her working in fashion and decoration, Nathalie has a natural taste for colors and materials, excellent attention to detail, as well as a love of all things beautiful, appetizing and appealing.

In 2001 Nathalie launched her culinary career with the catchy and innovative concept “Natachef”, where her imaginative cuisine attracted a clientele with both a refined palette and a desire to discover new things. While staying true to her passion, Nathalie enjoyed receiving her diners as friends. Through her cuisine, she shared her desires, creativity and personal favorites. It was a natural progression for her to offer services in the art of fine dining to her customers, changing her dishes according to the season and her imagination. Thanks to the concept of exchange and conviviality, as well as the quality of her original menus, the business was a success.

On the back of her accomplishments in Paris, she returned to her first love – all things British. Nathalie decided to revamp the humble sandwich shop, creating British Sandwich, a restaurant where concept and recipe are united in deliciously balanced harmony.

Nathalie is active and dynamic, and never ceases to invent and innovate, launching her high end sandwich boutique and delicatessen featuring only English products. The menu changes depending on the season and Nathalie's current favorites. The ideal new meeting place for gastronomes in a hurry, “British Sandwich” is Nathalie's latest challenge, her current passion.

The idea reflects her desire to share her love of fine foods as well as her taste for creative combinations. Staying true to a concept of elegance and gastronomy, she has reinterpreted bygone recipes with the eye of a chef, and returned the sandwich to its noble – English – roots.

Meet Michael Swamy - Diplôme de Pâtisserie, 1996

Michael Swamy

I am from Mumbai, India. I chose Le Cordon Bleu as it was the best place to learn culinary skills after graduating with a qualification in hotel management. I wanted to learn finishing techniques and hence I chose the school. I decided on the London campus as I had travelled to London before and really enjoyed it. Also I see London as a kind of culinary Mecca!

What I most enjoyed about the programme was the professionalism of the lecturers and chefs. They instilled in me a sense of perfection for the culinary arts and I liked the systematic manner of the course. I would advise any potential students to go to Le Cordon Bleu.

After graduating, I went to Kuwait and worked for Kuwait Airways for a year, before doing some travelling and heading back to India. I then worked on my own personal cookery book entitled The East Indian Kitchen and wrote cookbooks for various food clients. I then moved into the area of food media, food styling and photography which I have now been doing for the last 10 years. Currently, I head up the food team for Masterchef India and have now completed two seasons. I will also continue doing freelance food styling and writing on food related topics.

Meet Hideko Kawa - Grand Diplôme, 2005

Hideko Kawa

I’m from Japan. I was always interested in cooking from an early age and I wanted to develop this with formal training. I knew that Le Cordon Bleu was the best culinary arts school in the world so it was here that I chose to study. London has a dynamic culinary scene, with influences from around the world. That’s why I chose the London school - great city, great school, a great combination!

The part of the course I enjoyed most was the Superior Pâtisserie level. I remember creating an amazing chocolate centrepiece with an Alice in Wonderland theme! Overall, the programme was excellent and the staff and instructors were professional. Le Cordon Bleu school provided expert training preparing me to enter the international culinary market.

Since graduating with a Grand Diplôme, I have worked in a number of internationally acclaimed restaurants, including Gordon Ramsey's Royal Hospital Road restaurant where I worked for 6 years. In November 2010 I joined the team at the three Michelin star The Fat Duck as Head Pastry Chef. My skills and love of experimentation with desserts has made it the optimal great fit. Responsible for the running of the pastry department, I also worked closely with the Development Team on new desserts and chocolate work. 

In 2014, I launched my own company as a consultant and food designer: "The Sweet Art Lab" which is amazing. I am enjoying a fantastic culinary journey since graduating from Le Cordon Bleu!

Meet Devaki Apte - Diplôme de Pâtisserie, 2010

Devaki Apte

I come from the city of Mumbai in India. I have had a passion for food since childhood, and from a very early age I was always in the kitchen cooking or baking something - when I was just 12 years old I made some amazing brownies that everyone loved! That is when my mother told me about Le Cordon Bleu. From then on I knew that my career would be in food and that I wanted to be a chef. After researching the school my mind was made up, so after completing a three year degree in Hospitality at Mumbai University I then left for London to join Le Cordon Bleu.

London has always been my second home. My mother's parents lived in London, so every year during summer we would visit. With the familiarity of the city and the school’s location I didn’t have to think twice about choosing the London school.

I started my Pâtisserie Diploma in October 2009, graduating in June 2010. I remember telling my mother on the first day "Mum, I have waited 10 years to wear the Le Cordon Bleu uniform, and today finally I am wearing it!". Every class was completely different from the previous one, always with something new and exciting to learn. There are several moments during the course that I will never forget, such as Chef Graeme’s amazing caramel swans at Basic level, and bread making and the Tea Party Event at Superior level. It was great to see the way the chefs made it seem so easy! Yet while it was difficult for us in the beginning, we knew that with their guidance we could do well.

Since graduating from Le Cordon Bleu London, I have set up my own catering company Dee's Yummies, making and delivering business lunches to various individuals. I also cater for parties of around 30 people, working with 2 other chefs who assist me. The dishes are cooked in my kitchen at home and have to be ready by 11.00 am every morning to meet the lunch demand. Catering is a very difficult business, particularly when you are catering to a group of established clients on a daily basis who expect you to meet the highest standards at all times. I have to constantly think about food and keep my clients in my mind. Although I am catering to the Indian market, the skills I learnt at Le Cordon Bleu have been invaluable in the way I manage my kitchen and my way of working. A 10-year long dream came true when I joined Le Cordon Bleu London, which in turn allowed me to fulfil my dream of joining the food industry by creating Dee's Yummies.

Meet Dhilmin Silva - Diplôme de Pâtisserie, 2011

Dhilmin Silva

I am a young pastry professional from Sri Lanka. Unusually, my previous exploits were in the professional football arena where I captained college teams from under-12 to under-19 and represented my country in two prestigious Asian soccer tournaments in Uzbekistan and Vietnam. After deciding to change direction and follow my passion for food, I began training at an elite hotel in the Sri Lankan city of Colombo, before moving to Switzerland to obtain a Certificate in International Hotel and Tourism Management. For my next step, Le Cordon Bleu was an obvious choice. I realised that if I wanted to become the best I had to study with the best. I chose London because for me, it is the heart of the culinary world, a truly international city, where students from all over the world are taught by the best pastry professionals.

The Pâtisserie Diploma course was amazing. Le Cordon Bleu students must really be dedicated to get the maximum from the course which I feel I tried my best to do. I not only loved the course, but also the teaching chefs who are world renowned for their expertise and were exceptionally good mentors. What I enjoyed most is the manner in which they recognised the talent of their students and let them work with their own creativity, while guiding and motivating them to become better artists throughout the course and beyond. To cite one instance, after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu, I was called upon by Chef Julie Walsh to assist in the creation of intricately decorated, 6-foot, 4-tier cake, for the Tate and Lyle Royal Wedding Cake Exhibition to mark Prince William's royal wedding to Kate Middleton.

I am currently in the process of finalising my plans for a move to the USA to work and develop my skills for one year at the 5-star Chateau Elan Winery and Resort in Atlanta. To anybody with a serious passion for food and the culinary arts, I would strongly recommend that they enrol on a course at Le Cordon Bleu.

Meet Chef Sunshine - Grand Diplôme, 2005

Chef Sunshine (Sanchayita Bhattacharjee Alam)

I am from Kolkata, the capital of the state of West Bengal in India.

I come from a strictly academic background and was doing my Doctorate in International Relations when my lifelong passion for food finally won through and lead me to take the leap into the culinary world. As this was such a huge step for me, I chose to attend Le Cordon Bleu because it is the most authentic institution in the world, only ever teaching meticulously recorded, traditional techniques. I was thrilled with my training.

My French not being so fluent, I chose the London school. Another vital reason was that as the training here is mainly in English, students can work with a cross-section of some of the most brilliant teachers that any institution can boast. What I most enjoyed while studying for my Le Grand Diplôme in Cuisine and Pâtissiere was the intensity with which knowledge was imparted, with no shortcuts. My training also gave me so much confidence in the real world of food preparation

I now run my own Indian cuisine restaurant in Kolkata - authentic Indian food preparation mirrors the intensive French techniques in many ways - called The Restaurant on the First Floor. I also regularly teach classes on continental food preparation and ingredients for my students here. The thoroughness of my training at Le Cordon Bleu has certainly stood me in good stead!

I recently published my first cookbook - Chef Sunshine's Travelling Flavours - a collection of recipes from The Mediterranean, Middle-East and Africa, designed for cooking in the Indian kitchen.


Le Cordon Bleu will be with me forever, particularly as the name Sunshine, which was given to me by the chefs at the school, has now become my working identity in the culinary world!

Meet Sue Riedl - Diplôme de Cuisine, 2007

Sue Riedl

My journey to the Cordon Bleu in London was rather indirect. I originally began my career in the film and TV industry as a producer, however in 2006 my husband had the opportunity to work in London and I felt it would be foolish not to tag along on the adventure.

I signed up to pursue a Cuisine Diploma at Le Cordon Bleu London to take advantage of my mini ‘sabbatical’ from work. I fell in love with French cuisine and returned to Toronto to hone my skills in the fine-dining industry.

My passion is writing and I was fortunate to be able to meld my food skills with my musings by writing about my Le Cordon Bleu experience for the Globe and Mail’s Life section. This led to my bi-weekly column for The Globe and Mail called The Spread (launched in 2007) where I write about the artisanal cheese scene. I no longer work in the kitchen but I am writing and hosting a web cooking series for The Globe and Mail called Chef Basics. We’ve created over 80 videos since 2010.

I currently freelance write, blog (cheese and toast) and create recipes for clients such as Dairy Farmers of Canada, the international ad agency Sid Lee and the LCBO Food and Drink magazine.

I’m looking forward to dipping my toe into teaching by hosting a series of seminars on cheese appreciation through Provincial Fine Foods in Toronto.

Meet Alice McNair - Diplôme de Pâtisserie, 2009

Alice McNair

I’m from the UK and chose to go to Le Cordon Bleu London because of it’s renowned reputation and because it was highly recommended to me by a former pâtisserie graduate.

I loved the course and had a thoroughly good time. The best part for me was the relationship the students had with their teachers. They are approachable and teach in such a clear manner.

While in my final term at Le Cordon Bleu I started working for a company called Konditor and Cook as a cake decorator. Once I graduated with a Pastry Diploma, I began work there full time and after around 7 months went on to start up my own company Blue Bow Bakery.

I moved from London back to my hometown and have been growing my business in the Berkshire area since October 2010. I am so grateful to Le Cordon Bleu for everything they have taught me and in February 2011 I started teaching cake decorating myself. I also have plans to open a shop hopefully in the next year or two.