Right now, CEC manages 18 schools under the Le Cordon Bleu moniker, most of them in schools that already had a culinary arts program, but adopted the moniker when they entered into a marketing/licensing agreement with Le Cordon Bleu. It is now now possible to become a “Cordon Bleu-trained chef” all over the place, and about 22,000 people graduate from a Cordon Bleu-named school each year, according to the Paris school.
In October, as part of my book tour, I was invited by the Miami outpost of LCB and learned more about the U.S. operations. My key contact there was an affable chef who gave me a tour of their operation. It’s a huge school, with the kind of gleaming kitchens with masses of stainless steel that I expected from the Paris school. This school has about 800 to 900 students going through its coursework at any time; the Paris school has about 200. One of the chefs used to be a health inspector, so the school’s focus on sanitation is intense. (He even stages mock health inspections in the kitchens…) They have an entire fleet of cubicles in which people labor to admit students and then help them get jobs after they graduate. The program is longer, and requires an externship, but still focuses on core principles of classic training, driven by recipes that teach technique.