The Cordon Bleu culinary arts training institute, based in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, has just opened its doors to a class of 30 students from Saudi Arabia. A first, which is included as part of the Vision 2030 plan.
For the past 2 days, a new class has been walking the corridors of the prestigious Cordon Bleu Institute in Paris. It is a delegation of Saudi students who came to complete 14 months of training in the culinary arts. Following this period of theoretical instruction, students will complete an internship in the best kitchens in France.
Improving the quality of life
The program, which aims to provide Saudi youth with access to recognized skills, is run by the Misk Foundation. It is part of the “Quality of life” section of the Vision 2030 plan, dear to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Dr. Ibraheem Sheerah, Chief Executive of the business sector of the Quality of Life Program, is certainly the one who speaks best about it: “The Quality of life program covers a wide range of “Livability” aspects, such as infrastructure, transportation, health, and “Lifestyle” aspects, such as sport, art and culture, entertainment, and, in this case, the culinary arts. This collaboration is, therefore, a real step forward in the “Lifestyle” aspect, aimed at promoting Saudi culture through cooking, and at ensuring that our young people acquire valuable skills”.
An international network
The Institute is proud to expand its extensive network of international collaborations. As chef Eric Briffard, director of Cordon Bleu Paris and the Culinary Arts section points out: “Today, we are the world’s leading network of culinary arts and hospitality management with more than 35 institutes. In Paris, we have more than 62 nationalities, and more than 110 around the world. We have always been open to the world, and we are very happy to welcome this class of 30 students from Saudi Arabia.
French gastronomy is a must
Among the students, the eyes are full of stars, as France, and Paris in particular, embodies fine cuisine. They all come from different backgrounds but share the same admiration. Some are already professionals in the food industry in the kingdom, such as Oday Wafa: “France is the best place in the world where you can find good food, good chefs. I’m sorry, not just good, the best food, and the best chefs“; others have made a radical change in their careers, previously engineers, or even doctors, like Abdelatif: “I think French cuisine, in general, is something very international. It is not only French cuisine but French know-how, the basics of cooking. They teach you everything from the ground up and you can then apply it to any other sort of cuisine you want.
It is certainly not the sponsors of the promotion who will contradict them. The first is none other than Denny Imbriosi, an Italian chef at three restaurants in Paris, who has lived in France for the past 10 years. This former Top Chef candidate, who has collaborated with the greatest chefs (5 years as an assistant chef for Alain Ducasse, thank you very much!), is enthusiastic about the idea of accompanying and supporting the young promotion: “French gastronomy is a pillar of world cuisine. I myself, as an Italian, came to France 10 years ago, especially to learn this cuisine. For me it’s very formative, you have to learn French cuisine before you can create your own personal cuisine”. Saudi chef Mayada Badr, alumni of the institute and patron of the promotion, agrees with this view, and does not hide her joy at seeing the kingdom bet on the culinary education of its young people: “I have the impression that Saudi Arabia is not only taking steps, but leaps in changing, and it is very exciting for me that they are now taking 30 students to come and study here as I have done. I feel like we need more Saudi leaders in Saudi Arabia, and whoever is looking for a job, I will hire them as soon as they graduate”. The latter is the head of a restaurant in Beirut, and a bakery-pastry shop in Jeddah. Let it be known …