Former students in the 90s and still friends, they look back on their studies in Le Cordon Bleu Paris
Ileana Gomez and Maria Fernanda Olavarrieta are both Le Cordon Bleu Paris alumna during the 1990’. Today, Ileana is Academic Director at Le Cordon Bleu Mexico and Maria Fernanda is the owner of a Du Blé bistro, a restaurant in Mexico. She invited Ileana to cook at her restaurant on June 29th. Together, they look back on their experience in Paris: their studies, what they learned, their relationships with other students and their current life.
Why did you choose Le Cordon Bleu Paris?Ileana:
In my country, Mexico, there were no gastronomy schools. Nor did the career exist professionally at the undergraduate level. Guest chefs from Le Cordon Bleu always appeared in the national newspapers. But my parents wouldn't let me attend. However, my motivation to study gastronomy was big. I approach then IFAL, the French consulate and find out about cooking schools in France. It could not study in any other than the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Paris. My dream came true, entering the institute as a student in September 1993.Maria Fernanda:
As Ileana said, because when I studied a long time ago, there were no schools available in Mexico or in the state. And Le Cordon Bleu is known worldwide.What is your favourite memory from your adventure at Le Cordon Bleu Paris?Ileana:
Really many! But 2 marked my stay. The first one is the 1994 World Cup, where France played against Mexico. French Chefs Instructors were crazy because France lost. We cooked snacks and we all watched the game. A great conviviality time with everybody. The second one is the final exam with my teammates: Nino and Martine. Supported by our fellow assistant Cinthya, we cooked in front of all the Chefs Instructors. A great moment, stressful but everything went very well. Just a detail commented by Chef Terrien to me "The cassoulet sauce is salty, but hey, we know you're in love" That made me die laughing. Well, it was true!MF:
I have so many, all the people from around the world that I met, all the chefs, all the cooking and learning... for me it was the best experience ever!What did you learn?Ileana:
My learning was very intensive. I learned how to apply the techniques, have an order in the kitchen, have a clean work plan. But above all the speed and sequence of my preparations. In conjunction with cleaning, washing pots, accessories, etc. So far, I apply it in my daily life.
In the same way, I learned the terminology and processes in French very quickly.MF:
I learned a lot from the Chefs and from other students, how to master the techniques, how to handle food, how to season food so it has the best taste.What have you accomplished since graduating from Le Cordon Bleu Paris?Ileana:
First of all, having had the opportunity to carry out my stages in places of great prestige:
Hotel Crillon, Fauchon, Maison Lucas Carton, Plaza Athénée, Joel Robuchon. Later, through Chef Christian CONSTANT and Chef Christophe FELDER, I had the opportunity to come to Mexico with the Ambassadeurs brigade to present the restaurant's menu at the Club de Banqueros Mexico.
I decide to live in France, and I started professionally at the head of the Catering at La Grande Epicerie de Paris. Then I have the opportunity to create my company and dream; my own restaurant "Mi Tierra Linda" specialty of Mexican food. And so the years went by... Realizing myself as a professional chef and mother of a family.MF:
I first opened a cooking school, I was very happy, and I had 100 students, then I opened a French restaurant called Du Ble, and now we have 3 restaurants in Leon, Guanajuato-Mexico.How did your arrival in France go?Ileana:
I went to a French immersion family. It was the perfect thing to adapt myself to the culture and learn from its customs. My room facing the Eiffel Tower was spectacular!MF:
Excellent. I went to Paris with a friend of mine who I was going to live with, and my mother who stayed with us for 1 month. Paris is a wonderful city, I really loved it!Can you share a special memory from your time in France with us?Ileana:
My stay at Le Cordon Bleu is one of the most wonderful things and experience that have happened to me. But I will always remember the graduation when I received my Grand Diplôme. My parents and my brother had the opportunity to come from Mexico. I will always thank them for who I am now.MF:
Everything was special, but the thing I liked the most is all the traveling we did in the weekends and the people we met, the wonderful food we ate.Are you still in touch with Le Cordon Bleu alumni?Ileana:
Yes of course, I just think that one of the great things that happens when you are a Le Cordon Bleu student; is that you connect with people of different nationalities and that over the years I have managed to preserve and give continuity. Although we are in different countries and continents. MF:
Yes, with some!How comes Ileana will do a cuisine demonstration in your restaurant? MF:
This year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Du ble, and every year we invite chefs from different cities and different cooking styles. This year I wanted to celebrate my school. So Ileana is the perfect person, since we studied together in Paris. We are very excited she is coming to cook and give us an update of the school!What will you cook at Du Ble Bistro? Ileana:
We will prepare a 3-course menu.
First course: Grouper Ceviche, Tomato Granita - Variation of Garden Tomatoes, Roasted Watermelon, Creamy Burrata, Red Pesto
Main course: Sea bass tube confit at 55°C, saffron fumet, spaghetti -
Dessert: Light mascarpone mousse, raspberries, coffee ice cream - Mango Crumble, Earl Gray Tea Ice Cream.