Le Cordon Bleu is a world leading culinary school that is steeped in history and has a rich heritage spanning over 120 years.
Our story begins on the 10th January 1895 when French journalist, Marthe Distel launched a weekly publication called La Cuisinière Cordon Bleu, which was to be the first culinary magazine in France, and educated its readers with the most unique recipe collection for its time.
The magazine grew from strength to strength, which resulted in the opening of a small Parisian cookery school on the 15th October 1895, from which the first Russian student was welcomed in 1897 and the first Japanese student in 1905.
The culinary school gained much publicity from the French and international press.
"It’s not unusual for as many as eight different nationalities
to be represented in the classes."
London Daily Mail, 16th November 1927
It was however the diverse network of our alumni that really contributed to Le Cordon Bleu, as in 1931 former Paris students; Rosemary Hume and Dione Lucas were given the right to take the Le Cordon Bleu tradition to London, where they founded L’Ecole du Petit Cordon Bleu. After Hume secured a loan of £2,000 from family and friends, the pair were able to base the school in two ground-floor rooms which they rented in Jubilee Place, Chelsea. The large room was the kitchen, the smaller the office, and in a corridor to the street, they set up a few tables and chairs for passers-by to enjoy the efforts of the students. The loan was given on the premise of being paid back within 15 years, but in only two years the loan was repaid in full.
1935: the opening of Au Petit Cordon Bleu in London
In 1935 a tea shop at 11 Sloane Street became vacant, so Hume and Lucas took the opportunity to move the busy school to this site, from which they opened a restaurant called Au Petit Cordon Bleu – this was also the title the partners used for a popular book of recipes published in 1936.
School was suspended in 1939 due to the Second World War, but the restaurant remained open and dishes were created with substitute ingredients such as powdered eggs which was seen as a remarkable feat.
Lucas later left London in 1942 to open a culinary school in America.
After war: the relaunch of the school
Following the war, the school was relaunched in 1945, but this time in partnership with the influential flower arranger Constance Spry. She had managed to rent premises in Victoria Street to re-start the flower school; she suggested that Miss Hume’s cookery school should also be re-started alongside, enabling both schools to offer professional courses. Determined to also form a residential country school, a base was also established at Winkfield Place in Berkshire, teaching flower arrangement, cooking, dressmaking, secretarial and social etiquette. For a time it was also the home of Rosemary Hume.
1953: The ultimate recognition
The schools success was confirmed in 1953 when it was asked to prepare the Coronation Luncheon for Queen Elizabeth II, for which Rosemary Hume created the recipe “Poulet Reine Elizabeth” which is now widely known as Coronation Chicken.
1953 also saw Au Petit Cordon Bleu move to 31 Marylebone Lane, where Hume was joined by her new partner and Co-Principal, Muriel Downes. They ran it as a training ‘kitchen restaurant’ for the students, though it was also open to the public. At this stage, Hume would spend her time commuting between both London and Berkshire.
Au Petit Cordon Bleu went through some considerable expansion, with a restaurant being opened later into the year of 1953 and a large demonstration kitchen on the opposite side of the lane appearing in 1959, but one of the most noteable dates is 1968, when the school moved to a specially designed building, 114 Marylebone Lane.
In 1984, André Cointreau was appointed president and CEO of Le Cordon Bleu, where he was then able to purchase the London school in 1990. During his thirty years of leadership, Le Cordon Bleu has become one of the foremost training institutions in the world, and maintains a presence of over 25 schools in more than 18 countries, training over 20,000 students of more than 130 different nationalities every year.
From Marylebone to Bloomsbury Square
In 2012, Le Cordon Bleu London moved from its base on Marylebone Lane to its new state-of-the-art premises, where it now sits at 15 Bloomsbury Square.
Traditional French culinary techniques remain at the heart of Le Cordon Bleu, but the academic programmes are constantly adapted to include new, innovative technologies and the future need of hospitality services.
Le Cordon Bleu Master Chefs and culinary experts continue to respond to the overwhelming consumer and industry demands, by introducing new courses such as the Diploma in Culinary Management or Diploma in Gastronomy, Nutrition and Food Trends and one of the most innovative and professional wine programmes available in the UK today, the Diploma in Wine, Gastronomy and Management.
2017: Partnership with Birkbeck University
Le Cordon Bleu London and Birkbeck University partnered up to provide a unique Bachelor of Business Administration in Culinary Industry Management. The programme is delivered by two expert institutions in their fields and combines the study of business and management with modules in culinary arts and hospitality. It has been carefully designed to respond to the evolving needs of the industry and to equip students with the skills set and knowledge to develop international careers.
Furthering this partnership, Birkbeck, University of London and Le Cordon Bleu London launched the Master of Sciences in Culinary Innovation Management in October 2019, with the first intake taking place in October 2020. This innovative Msc degree programme combines the study of culinary arts, business and management in a global context with a focus on innovation, sustainability, customer experience and entrepreneurship, preparing students for the complex and evolving global culinary industry.