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Alumnus Micah Judah
Diploma in Culinary Management

Micah is the Owner and Managing Director of Pavilion, a Delicatessen, Fine Food Store & Cookery School he launched in December 2021 with the first site located in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.

We caught up with Micah to find out what its like to take a business from concept to reality, and how his culinary journey has influenced the way he runs it.

What drove you to study the culinary arts?

"I’ve worked in food retail for 14 years now, initially running a number of Food Halls around the UK, before moving into central head office roles in Food Supply Chain and Product Development. Whilst in many ways, working in Food Product Development was a dream job, I’ve always had a burning desire to launch my own food business and build something from scratch that I could call my own. Despite my experience, setting up on your own requires a different skill set to that of working in a large multinational. I wanted to consolidate my knowledge and ensure I could quickly identify any blind spots to ensure I was as well prepared as I could be for the next stage in my career. Having previously studied at Le Cordon Bleu, I knew the quality of teaching and support network that would be available to me would be hugely beneficial in preparation for launching my own food business."

How did the knowledge gained from the Diploma in Gastronomy Nutrition and Food Trends and Diploma in Culinary Management help your career?

"They have both had a huge impact. Having completed culinary training previously, the Diploma in Gastronomy, Nutrition and Food Trends was a great lead into Food Product Development, particularly the nutrition element of the diploma as consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about diet and sustainability. The knowledge I acquired whilst studying the Diploma in Gastronomy Nutrition and Food Trends helped provide a solid grounding from which I could build my expertise in developing products for food retail.

More recently, studying the Diploma in Culinary Management was a great way of consolidating my knowledge, whilst gaining invaluable support from the amazing team of chefs and lecturers in perfecting my business plan. The relationships formed whilst studying at the school have been just as valuable as the teaching itself and I regularly speak with the team at Le Cordon Bleu London and its been great to have a number of the team visit the new site in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, Pavilion."

What would you say is your most valuable learning experience so far?

"To make the most of every class, every practical, every conversation. The courses are full on and can at times leave you feeling pretty overwhelmed. However, there is always support there should you need it, and before you know it, you’ll be completing your final practical, submitting your last assignment, and collecting your diploma certificate and medal. Make the most of the amazing teaching on offer and lasting relationships that Le Cordon Bleu London has at your fingertips."

What does Le Cordon Bleu represent for you in one word or sentence?

"Le Cordon Bleu can be a place to build a solid foundation for a new career, or the icing on the cake for the more experienced – that’s the beauty of Le Cordon Bleu, it can be whatever you want it to be, its up to you to make the most of it."

Was it always your goal to open a delicatessen, fine food store and cookery school?

"Food has always been my passion. I’ve been involved in the opening of over 250 food halls in my career to date, and over this time I’ve certainly developed a good feel for what I like and don’t like, what works and what doesn’t. Opening my own delicatessen and food store in some ways has been a natural progression, being able to create a ‘greatest-hits’ in one location from everything I’ve learned to date. Studying at Le Cordon Bleu has certainly had a strong influence on what I’ve created, with the cookery school in particular being inspired by the great teaching and passion for food that is there in abundance"

How did it feel bringing your Diploma in Culinary Management project to life as a business?

"The first time I really reflected on this was when I came back to Le Cordon Bleu for an evening with the students. Sometimes its hard to step back and pause as you just keep moving from one task to the next with an ever expanding ‘to-do’ list. I’ve actually found it really useful going back to my portfolio to ensure I’ve achieved everything I set out to do. Its been a rollercoaster ride but I’m delighted with whats been achieved so far and have so many exciting plans for the coming weeks, months and years."

What does your average day look like?

"As most business owners will tell you, there is no such thing as an average day! Whether it be recipe development in our kitchen and with suppliers, recruitment, photoshoots for marketing and social, meeting with and tasting product from new and potential suppliers, admin and paying bills, serving on the deli counter and assisting the chefs at the cookery school, the role is hugely varied and no day is ever the same."

What would you say are the best and most challenging aspects of your role?

"That’s a difficult question! I’d say one of the most satisfying things is seeing the team develop and help transform my vision into a reality. Its been great to see them grow in confidence and engaging with our customers about our amazing products or creating new and exciting dishes that go down a storm. Being able to inspire a customer to try something new or develop new skills and knowledge at our cookery school is something that was always hugely important to me and its great to see it beginning to happen.

The most challenging part of the job is also one of the best parts of the job. Having to be involved in absolutely everything from finance and legal, to marketing and buying – when starting a business from scratch, it’s relentless, but you just keep going."

What inspires you every day?

"My family, my team, my suppliers, my customers, you can find inspiration from everywhere. When I hear the great feedback and see the reaction from our customers to products on our shelves, dishes from the deli counter or an experience at the cookery school, it makes all the hard work worth it."

What advice would you give to someone looking to follow in your footsteps?

"If not now when? Just to go for it. It will be a huge amount of work, and if you think it will be hard – it will be harder! However, the satisfaction of creating a business of your own, building your own brand and identity, seeing your vision come to fruition, and ultimately, having a supportive team and happy customers that buy into the vision, is hugely rewarding."

Finally, what are your plans for the future or any final words?

"Firstly its about getting the business fundamentals in a good place and ensuring the new store in Henley is everything that I want it to be. Having just launched the cookery school, we have a fantastic schedule of fun and educational courses and collaborations over the next few months. We’ll continue to develop more products under the Pavilion brand, we have some exciting plans linking with local schools and the community, our range of hampers and picnics is set to grow, and we are due to launch our e-commerce platform in the coming weeks. There is loads to look forward to at Pavilion so watch this space!"

Inspired by Micah's journey? Find out more about our Diploma in Gastronomy, Nutrition and Food Trends, Diploma in Culinary Management or visit our programmes page to view the full list of courses available to start your culinary journey today.