Alumna Margaux Stepczynski discusses her time at Le Cordon Bleu London and how studying the Grand Diplôme® and the Diploma in Culinary Management has helped her start her own business: Goat in the Garden.
Since graduating from Le Cordon Bleu London's Grand Diplôme® in 2015, Margaux Stepczynski has experienced life in Michelin-starred kitchens at The Square and Restaurante Martín Berasategui, The Gordon Ramsey Group, a delicatessen in Chelsea and is now co-founder of Goat in the Garden.
How did you enter the culinary world?
"While studying at university, I discovered I was celiac and looking after myself became a priority, so through researching nutrition and learning more and more, I realised it was a genuine interest for me. It was a challenge, because back home in Switzerland there wasn't much food available that catered for me, so I felt I needed to know more about it and it just led on from there."
With no previous culinary experience before enroling in Le Cordon Bleu London, Margaux has learned everything from the basics, right through to complex gastronomy, holding her own in Michelin-starred kitchens in both London and Spain's Basque Country.
"I didn't know anything - I couldn't even cut a carrot - but I wanted to know everything, so Le Cordon Bleu's Grand Diplôme® seemed like the right course to build my career upon.
It taught me the fundamentals, so once working in the industry, even if I didn't know completely how to do something, I knew the basics which helped me cope when learning new skills."
How did you decide it was the right time to start your own business?
"I believe that in creative art you need to set yourself up with the right foundations and having the experience of working in Michelin-starred kitchens and smaller high-end businesses, I felt the time was right to pursue my own route.
Studying the Diploma in Culinary Management helped me to start my business because I had a lot of support from the chefs and it taught me the right process, so I could tell whether my ideas work."
What does your day to day look like?
"Working with local farms to source the best ingredients, and as we change the menu every week, we need to look at the availability of local produce and create the menu around this, preparing all the food in house."
As we are a small business, it can be tricky to secure the best produce at the right price, as the markets can change based on how much is produced and if a supplier has other larger clients with bigger orders, then it can be challenging to make it worthwhile for both parties."
Where does your inspiration come from?
"I draw inspiration from my belly! The question I have to ask is do I want to eat this and the answer has to be yes, before it would make it onto a menu. Various different chefs across the industry also inspire me - it's so interesting to see what they are doing across a wide range of cuisines and how that could influence something I am working on."
What are your plans for the future?
"Well initially I am focussing on our four-month residency at Authentique Epicere & Bar in Kentish Town which will really test out our concept, but we will be looking for a more permanent fixed space here in London. In the long run though, I'd like to go back home to Switzerland and have a restaurant there, perhaps on a farm so that I can grow my own food and cook my own food in my own restaurant."
You can find out more information regarding our Grand Diplôme nad the Diploma in Culinary Management in our programmes section.