Grand Diplôme® student Lorena Salinas Chirinos tells us how she found the transition from workplace to kitchen after an established career.
What is your background?
I studied a Bachelor in Business Management before working as a Senior Analyst in the department of Revenue Management for an airline.
I’ve always had a strong interest in food, but as you can imagine, when you have finished school and are confronted with the question of what profession you want to hold for the rest of your life, it’s very overwhelming. I wanted to be everything; from a dentist to a lawyer. I don’t think I was ready to make the big decision of being a chef.
I still love my career, but my desire to open my own restaurant prevailed and after many years in the corporate world I decided I needed to take the plunge!
It’s funny because years ago I came to visit London, and while trying to get back to my hotel from the British Museum I got lost and stumbled upon Le Cordon Bleu. I remember thinking ‘it would be amazing to study here,’ and now here I am, learning the skills I need to open my own restaurant, probably back in South America.
What are you studying and at what stage are you in the course?
After successfully completing basic and intermediate certificates in both cuisine and pâtisserie I’m currently at Superior level, the final element of the Diploma and enjoying everything!
Considering the Grand Diplôme® is a combination of the Diplôme de Cuisine and Diplôme de Pâtisserie, how do you find the workload?
I think it is completely manageable. We do have full weeks, however I still have time to practise at home all the time – I can’t help the perfectionist that is in me.
Superior level is fantastic as not only do we have to complete the tasks that the chefs set, we also get to put our own mark on dishes and do what we want to do – of course with the guidance from the Master Chefs.
How did you find coming away from a position in your company back into education and being answerable to a chef?
I’ve always loved studying, so leaving the corporate world wasn’t too difficult for me, but my brain had certainly forgotten how to study, but if it’s what you’ve always wanted to do then it’s absolutely worth making that sacrifice.
I was so nervous about leaving my secure career, and to be honest I still am nervous about what I’ve left behind and what lies ahead, but if you think it’s what will make you truly happy then it’s worth it – it really was now or never.
In my opinion if you want to be a chef you should be knowledgeable of both Cuisine and Pâtisserie.
How do you find pâtisserie and cuisine complement each other?
I have to say that I don’t feel like I’m either cuisine or pâtisserie, I don’t even think I could say which discipline I prefer, but the most fantastic benefit of the Grand Diplôme® is that you get double the practise in the kitchen and double the opportunity to increase your speed and efficiency. I know lots of my fellow classmates have a favourite and prefer either cuisine or pâtisserie, but I get such a thrill out of seeing the two complement each other!
To be honest I don’t think you can study one without the other - in my opinion if you want to be a chef you should be knowledgeable of both, not one or the other. You don’t usually have a savoury meal without a sweet dessert, just like you wouldn’t normally go to a restaurant for a dessert without having a main dish first.
Do you think honing both cuisine and pâtisserie techniques will open more doors for you in the industry?
I think it will. There will be a point where you’ll need to have the knowledge of both, and having been taught your knowledge from Le Cordon Bleu London sets a secure standard.
So what does the future hold?
My ultimate goal is to own a restaurant, but first I want to continue my studies at Le Cordon Bleu with the Diploma in Culinary Management in October.