In 2015, we had the pleasure to welcome Elisa Fernandes at the school; Elisa is the winner of MasterChef Brasil 2015 and she joined our Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu School in Paris. We met with her to find out more about her story, her impressions of the school and her projects for the future.
Meet Elisa Fernandes
Can you introduce yourself in just a few words?
Well, my name is Elisa Fernandes. I come from a small town in Brazil, in the region of Sao Paolo. I always dreamed of coming to live in Paris since I was a little girl and now, thanks to MasterChef, I am living my dream! I won Masterchef Brazil in 2015 and got as a prize to come study at Le Cordon Bleu Paris!
Where did you get your passion for cooking?
When I was living with my parents, I wasn't really interested in cooking. We had a person at home who took care of that. But when I moved out to live on my own to study philosophy at university, I had to learn how to cook for myself and it appealed to me right away. During my time at university I worked with an organization that looked after young children, and it was my job to prepare their meals. Later I went to work for an event planning company where I learnt a huge amount working alongside a French Chef. Cooking for dozens of people was a real challenge that enabled me to make progress fast.
What is your favourite memory from your adventure at Le Cordon Bleu Institute in Paris?
The demonstrations classes with Chefs Caussimon and Vaca! There are so passionate by their work and that totally inspired me. I also loved to do the internship with the “mise en place” for chef Frederic Lesourd’s classes.
What are your favorite recipes among those that you have learnt during your course?
I loved the vol-au-vent aux crevettes avec un œuf poché (prawn vol-au-vent with a poached egg), followed by poisson à la sauce au beurre servi avec un concassé de tomates (fish in a butter sauce served with concassé tomatoes) and for the dessert: pâte sablée avec une crème de pistache et des fraises (short crust pastry with pistachio cream and strawberries).
What is your favorite typically Brazilian dish?
It's canjiquinha com costelinha suina. It's a dish of pork ribs served with a special sweet corn that is a little like rice. It's really delicious.
Could you tell us briefly about your career path?
After getting my Basic Cuisine Certificate, I did an internship of 1 month at the school. I got to learn the first steps of the cook career.
A month later, I worked for 1 year and 3 months for Alain Ducasse at the Plaza Athenée, a 3 michelin starts restaurant, where I first started as a commis. I had to cook the vegetables for the hot station of entremets. I had to learn about “la naturalité”, Alain Ducasse’s new concept based in the trilogy of vegetables, cereals and sea products. A kitchen that rethinks the French techniques using less salt, less sugar and less fat. It was really a mind blowing experience to work with such a high standard and such a rich philosophy and resources. The vegetables come straight from the Versailles Castle, so I got to work with amazing organic products.
After that, I got the job as a chef de partie for Alain Ducasse at La Bastide de Moustiers, 1 michelin star in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. I got to work the Provencal products with an organic garden we grew in the property yard. The chef, Frederic Garnier taught me a lot about meat, sauce and of course, new approach to vegetables. I absolutely loved it and improved so much as cook.
Now I have moved back to Brazil where I’m holding private dinners and pop up dinners. These are events of menu degustation previously sold through the internet that are happening now in Sao Paulo: Elisa Fernandes Cozinha.
What advice would you give to future cuisine students?
Study hard, practice, focus, keep your head up and don’t pressure yourself in a negative way.
Try to think about the difficulties as a motivation to be better every day.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans are to open a restaurant in 5 years from now. For the moment, I am stablishing a business with catering / private dinning sessions in my country, where I hope to show my approach to food and to the dining experience.