A History of Le Cordon
What's in a name?
Since its foundation in 1895, Le Cordon Bleu has maintained the
traditions of classical French Cuisine and Pâtisserie.
name Cordon Bleu meaning blue ribbon, is rich in history and heritage.
It has been synonymous with excellence since the 16th century when
King Henry III of France created the l'Ordre des Chevaliers du Saint
Esprit or Order of the Knights of the Holy Spirit in 1578. It was
the most exclusive order in France until 1789. This was due to the
fact that it's members (including royalty) were awarded with the
Cross of the Holy Spirit, which hung from a blue ribbon known as
a Cordon Bleu. The sumptuous banquets accompanying their award ceremonies
In 1895, Martha Distel, a French journalist, founded a weekly culinary
publication entitled 'la Cuisiniére Cordon Bleu', which was
published over the next 70 years and became the basis and reference
for what is now perhaps one of the largest recipe collections in
the world. It contributed to the codification of French Cuisine
and in essence established some of the guiding principles of Le
Cordon Bleu; hands on teaching, top quality chefs from the food
industry and the best ingredients and techniques combined with vibrant
Following the success of the publication, Le Cordon
Bleu officially opened its doors as a culinary school in Paris in
1895. The first Cordon Bleu class was held in January 1896 on rue
St Honoré (named after the saint of Pâtisserie Chefs)
near the Palais Royal. An electric stove was used for this demonstration,
the first time an electric stove had been used in demonstrating.
From the beginning, famous Chefs of the time came
to teach at Le Cordon Bleu, including the legendary Chef Henri-Paul
Pellaprat. The cooking classes were an immediate success. The reputation
of the school spread rapidly world-wide with the first Russian student
admitted in 1897 and the first Japanese in 1905.
Chef Pellaprat, a disciple and personal friend
of Auguste Escoffier taught for 32 years at Le Cordon Bleu, where
he wrote his masterpieces, L'Art Culinaire and La Cuisine Familiale
et Pratique, which are considered to be modern classics to this
day. L'Art Culinaire sold over a million copies before the second
world war. Le Cordon Bleu grew and evolved over the following decades
into the leading international culinary institution attracting students
from all over the world. In 1927, the London Daily Mail commented,
'it is usual to find up to 8 different nationalities in the classes,
it is a label of nationalities'.
In 1933, one of Chef Pellaprat's students, Rosemary Hume, established
L'Ecole du Petit Cordon Bleu in Victoria, London. This marked the
expansion of Cordon Bleu from France. After World War II, the Paris
school was taken over and re-located by Elizabeth Brassart, who
reigned as the Grande Dame of Cordon Bleu, welcoming 2 generations
of cooks from many different countries and revising the curriculum.
The London school then re-opened after the war in 31 Marleybone
lane. As the reputation grew, the London school relocated to its
present site of 114 Marleybone Lane.
In 1945, after the liberation of Paris, Le Cordon Bleu was accredited
by the Pentagon for professional training of young GI's after their
tour of duty. As a former member of the OSS, Julia Child (Americas
best known Chef) earned her Chef's toque at Le Cordon Bleu and proceeded
to monitor the teaching of French cooking in the United States.
She was also the first Chef to demonstrate French cooking on television
in the US.
Twenty years after the opening of the London school,
the success of the school was confirmed by its participation in
preparing the Coronation luncheon for Queen Elizabeth, for this,
the famous dish 'Coronation Chicken' was created.
The Paris school was further immortalised in the
legendary 1950's film 'Sabrina', staring Audrey Hepburn as a young
débutante who came to Paris to study at Le Cordon Bleu.
Compiling and moving on
For over a century, Le Cordon Bleu has grown to become a leading
authority on culinary techniques, training and development. In 1984,
André J. Cointreau, part of the family who own the Rémy
Martin Cognac and Cointreau Liqueur companies, became President
and C.E.O. of Le Cordon Bleu. He strengthened the curriculum by
introducing the Le Cordon Bleu Classic Cycle, recruited the finest
Chefs of French Cuisine and Pâtisserie and re-located the
Paris school. The London school became fully part of the Le Cordon
Bleu group in 1990 and other schools were then opened in Tokyo,
Ottawa and Sydney.
Le Cordon Bleu continues its rapid expansion process,
with courses in the culinary arts, restaurant management degrees
and a Masters in Business Administration and more recently a Masters
in Gastronomy. Academic alliances have been established as well
as an extensive culinary product line and a wide range of publications
for culinary professionals and enthusiasts. Le Cordon Bleu Master
Chefs share their knowledge with students from over 50 different
nationalities whilst also maintaining close links with the culinary
industry world-wide when they travel to participate in culinary
Le Cordon Bleu
London Culinary Arts Institute
L'Art de Vivre
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