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Interview With Ottawa Cuisine Diploma Student Semra Gulder

Semra Gulder is a Cuisine Diploma student at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa. She started the diploma program after she enrolled in 36 short courses with us and she can already see the change!

Can you tell a little about yourself?

I am a Turkish Canadian, born and grew up in Istanbul. I immigrated to Canada in 1981 (almost 40 years ago) and since then I have been living in Ottawa. For the last 30 years, I have been working for the federal government, as a researcher in telecommunication. Currently, I am semi-retired, working at the Department of National Defence.

Which program are you studying at LCB Ottawa now?

I am in the Cuisine diploma program, and I intend to enroll in Boulangerie afterwards.

How did you discover your passion for cooking / baking?

I come from a family of excellent cooks and foodies. My father had a reputation of being the best cook in the family, therefore, while growing up, both my sister and I developed the love for food and cooking.

We know that you started learning at LCB Ottawa with short courses. Can you tell us which courses you took?

Actually, my interest in LCB started way before I started taking short courses. I bought the whole “LCB Home Collection” series in late 1990s. The trend continued by buying all LCB related cookbooks, such as: “Complete Cook -Home collection”, The LCB Cookbook by Dione Lucas, Julia Child books, etc. When I heard about the LCB short courses, I started enrolling in everything offered. I was always waiting for new topics to be offered. I think I took over 30 courses, hard to name them all.

So, how did you decide you wanted more and enrolled in a diploma program?

Since the beginning late 1990s, I have been wanting to enroll in a diploma program, but the demands of my work did not allow me to do so until now. The short courses were teasers, in a way, showing me the quality of education and the teaching at LCB and the big culinary world that I wanted to explore. I attended other cooking schools, but they could not offer the same level of education as LCB. I could see a big difference in teaching and the content. I am serious about learning and I like to learn from the best. 

What do you think about your experience in LCB so far, including the short courses?

I love it. The LCB curriculum and the quality of teaching is impeccable. I know when I graduate, I will have extensive and excellent culinary skills and knowledge.

How do you feel about being a diploma student after all those short courses?

I enjoy being a diploma student immensely. More is better. I have a chance to learn and practice techniques every day.

What is the biggest difference you see in yourself since you started the diploma program? What do you think it added to your life, your view on yourself?

According to my friends and my husband, I look VERY happy, even though I have long days due to the school and the work. I would not change this rhythm a bit. I find serenity at two places: on my sailboat and in the kitchen.

How is your relationship with your chef instructors and your classmates?

Great! I love our chef instructors, they are excellent teachers and mentors. Regarding my classmates, they are a great bunch. We have a common passion therefore we easily established a comradery.  We love helping each other. I hope we stay together.

What are your favorite dishes, to eat or to prepare?

This is a difficult question as I have many favorites from different parts of the world. I usually cook Turkish/Mediterranean food. I can see myself implementing new techniques on Turkish cuisine and cooking more French dishes.

What are your plans after graduation?

I may become a food writer/translator, a teacher, a volunteer chef. Whatever I do, I plan to use my culinary skills for charitable causes, such as: teaching homeless youth to gain basic cooking skills; build a network of chefs to help youth find jobs; organize cooking events for fundraising to support young chefs in training, etc. Many people are ready to support me in these endeavours. For example, for the last five years, I have been offering Turkish cooking classes as a part of fundraising for the workplace United Way Charity Campaign. These classes have been very popular.