Ex-cop swaps weapons for whisks
Le Cordon Bleu Adelaide Alumna Belinda Moore has shared her inspiring journey from working in the police force, to achieving her lifelong dream of becoming a pastry chef. Find out what it’s like to return to school after 25 years and how it is never too late to achieve your dreams.
Please tell us about your time in the military?
When I was 18, I joined the army to become a chef. It seemed like a way I could break into it, as well as becoming a solider, getting trained, etc. It turned out that they didn’t have any cook courses available at the time, so I ended up being enlisted to another corp in the Northern Territory. After two years, I changed to become a military police officer. To be honest, it was one of the worst career choices of my life. I didn’t really do much ‘policing’ per say, I felt more so like a security guard. It was quite a toxic environment too so I did not enjoy my time there at all. The military is good for discipline, motivation, responsibility, loyalty - all those good qualities that a human being needs. But in the end, you are just a number.
Pursuing a culinary career was always in the back of my head during this time, even though it wasn’t something I talked about. I used to bake on weekends and bring in any cakes or things I made into work. My maternal grandmother was a big influence for me in this domain as she was such a good cook. The older I got, the more I started to think it was out of my reach. The dream was always there, even though I kept talking myself out of it.
How did you end up pursuing a career as a pastry chef?
When my husband Tony Henrys unexpectedly passed away, my love of policing died with him. Tony and I were both Northern Territory police officers and we had a daughter who was only 18 months old at the time. After he died, my life internally fell apart. I thought, I can’t do this (policing) anymore. I went through a long state of undiagnosed depression after that, and I was uncertain about where to go next in terms of a career.
In 2019, I was watching a program called The Little Paris Kitchen: Cooking with Rachael Khoo. I was intrigued by Rachel and looked her up on the internet, where I learnt she had studied pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. This was my light bulb moment! I knew I had finally found my destiny career: A pastry chef.
I chose to study at Le Cordon Bleu because of their history, their training, their skills, their reputation, their prestige and knowing if I became qualified as a Le Cordon Bleu trained Pâtisserie Chef, I could work anywhere in the world should I choose to do so. After looking into different campuses, I decided it would be best to move to South Australia as it was close to my late husband’s family. So, I visited family on a holiday to Adelaide first and went intoLe Cordon Bleu Adelaide for an Open Day - which happened to be held during the time I was visiting. I went in and had a look, got the paperwork and ending up signing up for the course. And the rest is history!
I studied the Diplôme de Commis Pâtissier (Certificate III in Pâtisserie) and I graduated in August 2021. I actually won an award at graduation; the Tod Dolphin award and I am very proud to have won it. It is the industry award and to me, it meant more than winning an award from doing the course because I was recognised for the work I had been doing on my industry placement (at Adelaide's Mayfair Hotel) in a real work environment.
What sort of challenges did you face going back to school after 25 years?
Not only am I a single parent, but I had a whole household to run, and I was studying full time. It was a big plate of things to juggle. I found it was all about organisation and routine. I was very lucky that I had some support from my late husband’s eldest daughter Abbey, who was there for me when I needed the quiet time to complete my assignments. I was very lucky, but other than that it was a full plate.
I was also grateful to have lecturers who were more than happy to help me figure out any pâtisserie problems I did not understand. The breadth of knowledge and skills from my lecturers was completely outstanding in my humble opinion, and I really was in awe of the amount of knowledge they all had.
There were times when I thought, ‘how I am going to get through this?’ But there was never a moment where I thought ‘I couldn’t do this’. My main motivation was knowing I absolutely didn’t want to go back to policing, I needed to push myself and prove that I could do it. I didn’t need another person to be my anchor or someone to guide me. I knew I had the strength within myself.
I couldn’t imagine what my life would be like now if I had stayed in policing. I know there are so many people out there who feel inside of themselves that there is something that they need to do. The way I look at it is, I don’t want to be running around as 60-year-old elderly lady chasing criminals. I want to choose something I can enjoy until the day I fall off my perch [laughs].
What would you say to someone who has always wanted to be a pastry chef, but they are hesitant to return to studying?
Don’t keep making excuses - just do it. You won’t regret it. You are different on the other side once you’ve achieved it. You have nothing to lose and it’s another skill to gain. It’s a lifelong career. Short term pain, long term gain. Also, no matter what age you are you can always catch on to the trends evolving, but there are fundamentals that you go back to as your trained skills. You’ll always have those skills and everything else will evolve with them.
Where are you now?
I currently work at a childcare centre as a cook. I also have an Instagram page as a tribute to my late husband, @henrysandmoorepatisserie because his superannuation afforded me to go to Le Cordon Bleu. Henrys & Moore Pâtisserie is where I showcase the cakes and cupcakes that I bake for family and friends.
My specialty is probably chocolate mud cake. Currently, I love making birthday cakes and decorating them with Italian buttercream. I love when I can tap into my creative side and turn a yummy cake into something that not only tastes delicious but looks awesome too. All of my products are made from scratch. I love my products to be as perfect as I can possibly make them and also for my product to be as pretty as possible.
In future, I would love to set up my own commercial kitchen from my home or nearby so I can pursue my pâtisserie goods as a business. Ultimately, I'd love to have a classy little cafe somewhere, where I can make all French pâtisserie products.