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Meet John O'Connor

diplôme de cuisine intensive format 2020

John O’Connor completed the Intensive Cuisine Diploma during the pandemic. He was still able to discover French cuisine and return to his home in the United States with a solid foundation of techniques to achieve success in his career as a Chef. 

Could you describe yourself? 

My name is John O’Connor. I’m a 23-year-old, just beginning my career in New York City. During the global pandemic, I spent 6 formative months in Paris learning the fundamentals of French cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu Paris. During my time in Paris, I familiarized myself with the culture through trips to markets and eating my way around the city


Why did you choose the intensive formula?

I personally liked the agenda and timeframe of the intensive program. Initially, in Beginner and Intermediate, the course load is quite dense, which allows for the repetition needed to gain a foundation. The ladder part of the program, Superior, allows for more exploration of the city, exploration of your own ideas, and time to begin searching for a job post-graduation.

What did you learn at Le Cordon Bleu Paris? 

I learned a lot at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, under very talented professionals - though they have some different technical approaches, comparing each was very valuable. In terms of specific techniques, I developed a great technical foundation for sauce work, specific knife cuts that I use every day in the kitchen, and seasoning. Beyond that, the most valuable thing I took away from my education was cleanliness, both in terms of your work surface, but also as a cook (I.e. clean uniform, tools, how you carry yourself, etc).

Is three months of training enough to learn French cuisine?

Three months of training allows for a strong foundation in a cuisine that could take 50 lifetimes to learn and master. I think what Le Cordon Bleu Paris teaches about cuisine is that learning extends outside of the institute for students and chefs alike. 

What are the strengths of the Intensive Programme?

I think the Intensive Programme comes closer to replicating the physical demand that is required to work in a top-notch professional setting. 


Have you had time to visit Paris?

My classmates and I were in a unique situation due to the Pandemic - lockdowns made it difficult to see much of the city. Luckily, I lived in a homestay with a wonderful couple, which was a rich cultural experience. Towards the end of my stay, I was able to eat out with friends, visit museums, and take in Parisian life

What is your job now?

I work at SAGA, a new fine dining venture in New York City. The executive chef is James Kent, the long-time Chef de Cuisine at Eleven Madison Park (3 Star Michelin). The food is rooted in French technique, but also globally inspired. I am currently a garde manger line cook.

3 words to describe your experience at Le Cordon Bleu Paris?

Challenging, rewarding, unique.