Rebeca Mazón Cabrera is the first exchange student from Madrid to study at Le Cordon Bleu Australia. A partnership between Le Cordon Bleu and Francisco de Vitoria University (Madrid) allows Rebeca to continue her Gastronomy degree as an exchange student in Adelaide.
At age seven, Rebeca saw a National Geographic documentary on Australia and told her mum “I want to live there when I grow up!” She has since fallen in love with Australia’s beaches, people, food, and relaxed lifestyle. “When I found out that I could go to Australia in the third year of my degree as an exchange student, it was my dream come true.”
Le Cordon Bleu Australia develops individual study programmes for participants in the Madrid exchange student programme. Rebeca’s individual programme covers subjects from Le Cordon Bleu Australia’s Restaurant Management degree and Advanced Diploma of Hospitality Management. She will study at Regency TAFE for 6 months, followed by a six-month Work Integrated Learning placement.
Her first goal is to be a chef, to explore the flavours and artistry of cuisine. An interest in food started with cooking for her brother and sister while her parents worked weekends. “My dad taught me to make pasta carbonara for everyone. I was always interested in the smell and combination of ingredients.” She believes that food is about the shared experience, and a way to connect. She says flavours become linked to memories.
A passion for experience is reflected in her hobbies - horse riding, surfing, visiting museums, photography, sketching, and reading. Rebeca’s favourite sport is a Spanish horse riding style based on classical dressage called Doma Menorquina.
With an eye to the future, Rebeca wants to experience all sides of the industry, from working in the kitchen, to mixing cocktails, to managing a business. To diversify her skills - which she believes is essential -she will study food and wine matching, and cocktail preparation. Later, she intends to do a Master of Hospitality Management to learn how to run a restaurant.
Rebeca sees work integrated learning as an important way to prepare for her career. She is keen to do her six-month work placement at Hamilton Island later this year. “It’s a really beautiful island, and I’ll learn a lot of valuable skills to help with my future.”
Industry heroes are the Roca brothers, Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca of El Celler de Can Roca, who she says are “inspirational… their artistry is so beautiful”. She also admires Jamie Oliver for his down to earth approach educating people about healthy foods.
When asked about her leadership style, Rebeca firmly believes in equality. “Working in the kitchen can be stressful, and if you’re a dictator it’s not going to work. You need to be a leader, not a boss. A leader cares about the staff, and builds a professional, close-knit team. Of course, the most important thing is the customer. But you need a happy team to have a happy customer.”
Rebeca is thrilled to be in Le Cordon Bleu’s student exchange programme and offers the following advice to fellow students:
If you’re thinking of doing a student exchange with Le Cordon Bleu, just do it! You’ll grow as a person. At the end of the day, it’s all about having adventures, which is why I came to this gorgeous place.
For students who have never lived away from home, Rebeca recommends Adelaide, saying: “I love it! Adelaide city is not big like Madrid - it’s easy to find things and to get around. And the people here are really nice.” With a Le Cordon Bleu education, and her passion for adventure, Rebeca is set to achieve all her dreams.