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Erin Ghattas speaks about
her HEG experience

Interview with Erin Ghattas, HEG alumna

Canadian, Erin Ghattas has had a career in finance for over 15 years. Passionate about gastronomy from an early age, she trained at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa, taking various cuisine and boulangerie courses. As soon as she heard that the Advanced Studies in Gastronomy (HEG) programme was starting, she decided to cross the Atlantic for an experience that exceeded her expectations. She tells us more

Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Erin Ghattas, I’m from Ottawa, Canada. From a young age, I was always very opinionated, open minded and passionate about food.  Growing up, I was never taught how to cook, but it was something I always enjoyed and was interested in. Over the years, going out to restaurants became my preferred pastime and I began to truly appreciate and value the quality of food I was eating.  My love of travel further indulged my appetite for gastronomy, and I now plan most of my leisure trips based on interests in local foods and restaurants.

What is your professional background?
I own a financial services business.  I personally never saw myself working directly in the restaurant industry, however, the pandemic allowed me the time to pursue some of my interests further by enrolling in the short courses offered at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa. I started with the “Introduction to Bread Making workshop” and the short “Plant-Based in Culinary Arts” course. I quickly noticed how incredible the Chefs Instructors were and I decided to challenge myself by applying for the Cuisine Diploma. Clearly not wanting my time at Le Cordon Bleu to end, I immediately applied for the Diplôme de Boulangerie the following term, which was equally enriching.

Why did you choose the Advanced Studies in Gastronomy (HEG) programme?
At first, I wasn’t sure if the timing was ideal with my schedule. However, after seeing a brief overview of the topics that were covered and some of the amazing Chefs Instructors and speakers that would be there, I knew I would have regrets if I didn’t attend. Looking back now, I’m so glad I decided to go for it. 

What is your favourite memory?
The course was amazing and fully exceeded my expectations. Being able to ask meaningful questions to industry leaders is not something you get to do every day. I would definitely say that it was my most valued and treasured memory and experience in the HEG program. 

What did you like the most?
I thoroughly enjoyed the variety of topics covered. There were so many unexpected facets discussed and I could see there was something that resonated uniquely for each of us. Personally, being vegan, I especially valued the awareness and importance placed on the topics of sustainability. To see this view shared among industry leaders gave me a lot of hope for the future.
Moreover, the Chefs Instructors and speakers were the best of the best, each in their own unique and diverse ways. Everyone within the program clearly shared a genuine passion for gastronomy. Our group was fabulous, and our minds evolved in ways we didn’t expect throughout the course, even though we all came from various backgrounds and with our own purpose.

What were your expectations?
Going into the program, I didn’t know what to fully expect. I wasn’t sure if I was going to relate to some of the topics covered, I wasn’t sure if I was going to have anything in common with my classmates, and I wasn’t sure if they were already experts in these fields.  However, my goal was to make the best of it and learn as much as possible in the brief yet intense two weeks. Luckily, I think we were all relived to find out we were there for surprisingly similar reasons, and a common passion is enough to bring such a diverse group of people together.

What are your suggestions to anyone considering the Advanced Studies in Gastronomy (HEG) programme?
Don’t turn down any opportunity you get, you keep these memories forever. Immerse yourself in the entire experience, go see the vineyards even if its pouring rain and enjoy the company your fellow classmates over dinners at night, the time passes too quickly to have regrets.

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