Studying culinary management: a graduate testimonial
James Beadnall, who graduated from the Diploma in Culinary Management programme in September 2017, has gone on to work at Michelin-starred restaurant Marcus at the Berkeley. He exclusively tells us about his experience studying at Le Cordon Bleu London and his cooking inspirations.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get into food?
As long as I can remember I have held food in high esteem. As a young child I was a rather adventurous eater with English mustard and whole raw lemons being 2 of my favourite things to eat. It wasn’t until my early twenties at university that I took a real interest in cooking. My obsession has grown from there.
As a child I lived just yards away from my grandparents’ award winning pub where they cooked classic British dishes to a very high standard. It was perhaps a ‘gastro pub’ long before that ever became a buzz phrase! Using ingredients sourced from farms in the local vicinity and ales from breweries just 5 miles away, this was the epitome of a ‘hyper local’ that I was immersed in as a child. In contrast to this, I would be plunged weekly in to ‘Friday night dinners’ at my Jewish grandparents on my mother’s side. The food was equally delicious but with a vibrancy and a use of exotic ingredients sourced from specialist Israeli and Middle Eastern suppliers. Each dish highly focused on spice, fragrance, vibrancy, salads, fruits and vegetables. All of which were individually plated with no one dish taking centre stage.
How would you describe your cooking style?
I would describe my style as experimental with a focus on seasonality. I like to be bold and provocative with my flavour profiles. I love the idea of taking something classic and then adding an ingredient from a far off land that wouldn’t be typically associated. I find having contrasting textures and colours in my food to be very important too.
How did you decide to come to Le Cordon Bleu London?
I was working as an estate agent in Yorkshire and training to be a property surveyor. The thought of owning a restaurant had been manifesting in my mind for a while so decided to leave my job and work in a kitchen in Leeds. I soon realised that whilst I was keeping pace and learning quickly, I lacked a lot of the classical knowledge and all important foundations that I needed in order to become a chef.
Who or what inspires you to pursue a career in the culinary arts?
It may sound clichéd but I am an enormous admirer of the quality of both of my Grandmas’ cooking skills.
It was one of the best experiences of my life!
Why did you decide to study the Diploma in Culinary Management?
I wanted to expand my knowledge into the business and operational side of the culinary world. My ambition is to run my own restaurant and I want to know more about the procedures involved in setting one up. I also wanted to have the ability to discover my individual style and focus on a direction of where my ideas might go.
How has the programme helped you in your career?
The programme has been fantastic. It has helped me to secure a job in a renowned two Michelin-starred restaurant. I believe that as my career progresses I will continue to reap the rewards of what was learnt on Le Cordon Bleu course especially when it comes to setting up on my own.
What did you enjoy most about the programme?
We were encouraged to focus on our own culinary philosophy and urged to always have this in mind when going in to our kitchen session. I was able to take the training from the classic cycle and develop my ideas with a solid culinary foundation.
I also really loved the whole process of coming up with a concept restaurant and developing the idea all the way through to a viable business plan. When enrolling into the course, I didn’t think I’d enjoy learning about the operations side of the industry but I did.
Would you recommend Le Cordon Bleu to others?
Without doubt. It was one of the best experiences of my life!
What are your plans for the future?
I intend to continue my search for knowledge by working in kitchens for a couple of years. After that I would love to take my concept from the Diploma in Culinary Management and open up my first restaurant. It would be great to think that in the future I could be involved with several restaurant openings. However, my immediate future is focused on cooking.
Any advice you’d like to share with aspiring Culinary Manager students?
Ask as many questions as you can and take as much advice as you can. Try to have something in mind early.