I recently visited the internationally-renowned Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne to learn more about the new Master Class in Culinary Arts program, and even to take part in a few sample workshops — one of which required me to don an apron and help prepare a 4-course meal with a highly acclaimed French chef, Fabien Pairon! He taught me 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 the right fit for you.
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 an enrollment of 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.
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 – the Master Class in Culinary Arts. With 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.
Anecdotally, I heard from one of the admissions officers at EHL 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 have expressed interest in having a culinary program for themselves, as 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 with Christophe Gulli
- Wine Tasting and Pairing with Gildas L’Hostis
- Gastronomic Discovery with Chef Fabien Pairon
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, which 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! However, 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.
Wine tasting and pairing: Following our class in a 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 our time with him, we sampled three different wines — two Swiss and one French at individual stations in this special classroom, which somewhat resembled a science lab — except this time 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.
For a wine neophyte, I felt a bit intimidated at first, but Mr. L’Hostis made everyone feel very comfortable and stressed the importance of individual preferences when tasting wine. 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 wines, 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, who 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! I make meals for my family all the time at home, but it seemed like a daunting task to help prepare these complex dishes on time and 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.
Here’s the dinner menu created by Chef Fabien Pairon, some of which I helped to make:
- 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 all the teams finished their dishes, we sat down to a lovely meal, which included 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 of the wines during the classroom tasting, I liked how they tasted when paired with the dishes we prepared.
Opening a restaurant, bar or catering company requires knowledge and skills in many different areas, such as operational management, human resources, and legal requirements for disclosing and protecting customers from food allergens, among many others. EHL’s Master Class in Culinary Arts certainly won’t guarantee that your new entrepreneurial venture will be a success, but 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 in what can be a very competitive field. Plus, through your participation in this program, 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 learned a lot, including a better awareness of my culinary weaknesses, and picked up some helpful cooking advice that I will be putting into practice. I look forward to learning more about EHL’s new program as it begins next year and hearing 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!