Superior Cuisine Students Face Up To The
Mystery Box Challenge
LE CORDON BLEU MALAYSIA
Filled with trepidation, 17 students from Sunway Le Cordon Bleu trooped into the kitchen of the Espace Andre Cointreau hall as early as 7am to await their instructions. These were Superior Cuisine students in the final throes of their culinary journey, approaching the final hurdle of the Diplôme De Cuisine, the Mystery Box.
Much like the Mystery Box Challenge in Master Chef, these aspiring young chefs would be put to the ultimate test as this practical class would be a test of skills and nerves, to see how they would fare in the real world of gastronomy. Would the guests like their food or send it back? Would the students be able to handle the critique by the guests? More importantly, would they be able to finish cooking in time for the lunch crowd?
Of course, they are not totally unprepared for this challenge as they would have had several months of learning under the tutelage of world-class chefs before this. When culinary students sign up for the Diplôme De Cuisine, they are taught the basics right up to advanced cooking techniques in French cuisine. The full course comprises three certificates - Basic, Intermediate and Superior – to be completed in nine months with three months industry placement.
As part of the curriculum, students are required to come up with a full-course meal several times during the duration of their Diploma de cuisine course with invited guests from the industry in attendance.
For the Mystery Box Lunch, Superior Cuisine Students have to prepare a three-course meal for guests to the best of their ability with hardly, if any, supervision at all from the Le Cordon Bleu cuisine chef instructors. However, the catch is – the menu would only be revealed when the mystery ingredients are given out that morning itself.
Under the watchful eyes of Chef Stéphane Frelon and Chef Sylvain Dubreau, they are given a list of ingredients at their disposal with the freedom to give their own interpretation to the dish in question as long as it fulfils the dishes’ namesake. This means that they would be allowed to play around with flavours and textures, and dress up their presentation any which way they liked. During this practical class, the students would be judged based on preparation, food safety, organisation, team work, presentation and feedback from guests.
Each student is allocated a table with two guests who would then assess the dishes and provide constructive criticism, and they have until 12pm to complete their tasks.
This June 2022 Mystery Box Lunch, the starter dish is Salmon Tartare, followed by Duck Breast, Duck Leg Parmentier with Honey and Ginger Sauce as the Main Course, ending with Passion Fruit and Vanilla Crepes Facon Suzette for Dessert.
“This is a good learning opportunity for the students to get a taste of how it is like to cook in a real-life situation. The comments may not always be positive and some of the food may even be sent back to the kitchen. It is a tough lesson but a very good experience for the students as it gives them an idea of what to expect in the future,” explained chef Stephane.
Indeed, it was a fun and fruitful time for all as students scrambled to produce everything in time and the guests got to taste the fruits of their labour. The different nuances of each student were obvious in the dishes that were created, and likewise, the visually different plating styles gave an indication of each student’s target audience.
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