New Culinary Arts Program for Food Entrepreneurs

Floating Islands that I helped make with a lot of support from Chef Fabien Pairon

I recently visited the internationally-renowned Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne to learn more about its new Master Class in Culinary Arts program. I even had the chance to take part in a few sample workshops. One workshop required me to don an apron and help prepare a 4-course meal with French chef, Fabien Pairon! He taught us how to slice up some octopus tentacles and shared his secrets for making meringue. If you’re thinking about starting your own restaurant or breaking into the food and beverage industry as a second career, this program may be for you.

That’s me in the red apron with my fellow cooking teammates and Chef Fabien Pairon. Photo credit: Alex Stephen Teuscher © AST Photography & Design

EHL’s Master Class in Culinary Arts

Founded in 1893, EHL offers bachelor and master-level degrees in hospitality management and administration. With a reputation for being one of the best of its kind in the world, this institution of higher education currently has approximately 2,600 students from 107 countries. With over 25,000 alumni from its various programs, the school also has a strong and active network of hospitality professionals.

The bar at EHL’s Berceau des Sens – Could you identify these alcoholic beverages in a taste test?

For people wanting to become a restaurant or bar owner, caterer, or food and beverage manager, EHL has designed a new fast-track program to prepare them for this industry. Its new Master Class in Culinary Arts gives students access to highly-qualified and experienced faculty. This intensive 6-month program is designed for entrepreneurs eager to start their new business venture or career change. After completing the program, you also have the option to participate in a 6-month internship in Switzerland or elsewhere.

Here are some quick facts about EHL’s new Master Class in Culinary Arts:

  • Application deadline: November 15, 2016, for applicants requiring a visa; and December 1, 2016, for non-visa applicants.
  • Program start date: February 20, 2017
  • Tuition and fees: CHF 30,155
  • Areas of specialization: Entrepreneurship or Food & Beverage Specialist
  • Language: Courses are taught in English.

Also, it was just announced that Joël Robuchon, the chef who has received the most Michelin stars in the world, as well as a “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” — a nationwide competition that awards outstanding chefs, has been selected as the patron for the first cohort of this new program. The estimated size of this first cohort is 20 students.

One of the EHL admissions officers said that part of the impetus for designing the new Master Class in Culinary Arts came from the parents of students enrolling in its other programs. After learning about the educational opportunities for their children, these parents wanted a culinary program for themselves. They may already have the business acumen or culinary skills, but just need some extra instruction in particular areas to help them reach their goals.

My Introduction to EHL’s Master Class in Culinary Arts

Here’s a list of the sample classes I attended during my visit to EHL:

  • Immersion in the World of Bars
  • Wine Tasting and Pairing
  • Gastronomic Discovery

The world of bars

For my class with Mr. Gulli, I was seated in the bar of the Berceau des Sens – EHL’s gastronomic training restaurant. It has received 14 out of 20 points from Gault & Millau. In front of me, I had six stemmed glasses, each filled with a different alcoholic beverage. Mr. Gulli, who has years of experience managing bars in Europe’s luxury hotels and leading bartending programs in Egypt and India, instructed us to try and identify the contents of our glasses. I failed miserably! At the same time, I enjoyed learning about some well-known brand names, the ingredients for making these distilled beverages and how they are blended to make signature cocktails.

A classroom experience at EHL – tasting distilled alcoholic beverages in the bar of the Berceau des Sens

Wine tasting and pairing

Following our class at the bar, we entered the Peter Michael wine-tasting laboratory for our class on wine tasting and pairing with Gildas L’Hostis. As the senior lecturer of oenology at EHL, Mr. L’Hostis leads the various courses on wine and viticulture. During the class, we sampled three different wines — two Swiss and one French at individual stations in this special classroom. It somewhat resembled a science lab, except we were drinking wine instead of experimenting with beakers and test tubes. Each station had its own sink, should we choose to spit out the wine we sampled, rather than drinking it all and becoming tipsy before our next class! The stations also had a special light panel, where we could closely examine the color and clarity of the wine.

Learning about wine pairing in EHL’s Peter Michael wine-tasting laboratory

As a wine neophyte, I felt a bit intimidated at first. Yet, Mr. L’Hostis made everyone feel very comfortable and stressed the importance of individual preferences. Everyone is an expert in terms of their own palate and determining what they like and don’t like, right? He discussed the provenance of each of the wine. And, as a class, we talked about our impressions of the smell and taste. All three wines he selected for the class had very different characteristics — smell, flavor, acidity, depth, color and more. I really enjoyed comparing my impressions of them with those of the other students. For example, I thought the third wine smelled like nail polish remover, but I hesitated to share my negative opinion with the rest of the class!

Gastronomic discovery

For our final class, I had a bit of a surprise… We met in one of EHL’s professional kitchen’s with Chef Fabien Pairon. He earned the distinction of Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 2011. Our task — don an apron and help prepare a 4-course meal under the instruction of this highly-acclaimed French chef! While I make meals for my family all the time at home, it seemed like a daunting task to prepare these complex dishes under the watchful eye of an award-winning chef and cookbook author. Thankfully, we had teams of three people to share the responsibilities, and Chef Pairon was very patient and supportive.

A photo of me plating the octopus, courtesy of EHL.
A photo of me plating octopus, courtesy of EHL. Photo credit: Alex Stephen Teuscher © AST Photography & Design

Here’s the dinner menu created by Chef Fabien Pairon:

  • Pan-seared octopus with ratatouille and pesto;
  • A soft-boiled egg coated in breadcrumbs and sesame seeds served on a potato pedestal and surrounded by mushrooms and thyme foam;
  • Roasted cod with a parmesan-citrus crust, squid ink risotto and sautéed zucchini; and
  • Floating island in crème anglaise.

After the teams finished their dishes, we sat down to a lovely meal. Our dinner featured the same wines we sampled in the tasting workshop with Mr. L’Hostis earlier in the afternoon. Despite my less than favorable opinions for two wines during the classroom tasting, I liked how they paired with the food.

“Fried Easter Egg, Mushrooms & Thyme Milk Espuma”

Not suprisingly, opening a restaurant, bar or catering company requires knowledge and skills in many different areas. These include operational management, human resources and legal requirements for disclosing and protecting customers from food allergens, among others. EHL’s Master Class in Culinary Arts certainly won’t guarantee that your new entrepreneurial venture will be a success. However, it will hopefully give you some useful tools and experiences to assist you in preventing and responding to challenges as you pursue a new career path. Plus, you will gain access to a network of successful EHL alumni working in the hospitality industry throughout the world.

During my limited time there, I gained better awareness of my culinary weaknesses and picked up some helpful cooking advice. I look forward to learning more about EHL’s new program as it begins next year. It will be interesting to learn about the students’ post-graduate endeavors. Thanks again to the wonderful staff members and instructors at EHL for allowing me to participate in this exceptional event!

Updated: December 30, 2022

2 replies »

  1. Really wonderful piece, Heddi. It’s an amazing place. BTW, the smell of nail polish remover is a wine fault and is attributable to acetic acid. It is called volatile acidity and most likely results from a stuck fermentation, or “over-heated” fermentation. It has other causes as well but is considered a grave fault if obviously noticeable. Very cool story.

    • Thanks so much, Dennis! It was my first time at EHL. Such a great place, and lovely people. And, thanks for the info. If I ever have a wine question, I can always count on you to know the answer! Hope you’re having a good weekend.

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