Ukraini­ans en­roll in French culi­nary schools in search of best chef train­ing

Kyiv Post - - Lifestyle - BY NATALIYA TRACH [email protected]

France is known for style, fash­ion, beauty — and trend-set­ting culi­nary schools that have at­tracted a fol­low­ing among Ukrainian chefs.

One of them is Kyi­van Olena Che­ba­nenko, who grad­u­ated from two French culi­nary schools — the In­sti­tute Paul Bo­cuse in Lyon and the Ecole de Cui­sine Alain Du­casse in Paris.

“Nowa­days it’s be­com­ing very pop­u­lar among Ukraini­ans to study in French culi­nary schools,” Che­ba­nenko noted. “I per­son­ally know many Ukrainian chefs who stud­ied in France.”

France has lots of culi­nary schools of­fer­ing a va­ri­ety of pro­grams for those who want a ca­reer as a chef or who sim­ply seek to im­prove their cook­ing skills.

Many schools have classes taught only in French, like L’Ate­lier des Chefs, which has sev­eral schools that of­fer sim­ple classes like tart or bread mak­ing, which last two hours and cost be­tween 17–76 eu­ros.

Pro­fes­sional culi­nary schools, like the schools of the French fa­mous chefs Alain Du­casse or Guy Martin, or Le Cor­don Bleu, have classes in English.

Al­though get­ting an ed­u­ca­tion at a French culi­nary school is ex­pen­sive — the cost of a six-month course varies be­tween 15,000–25,000 eu­ros — the num­ber of Ukraini­ans study­ing pro­fes­sional cook­ing in France seems to be in­creas­ing.

Che­ba­nenko says the lack of qual­ity ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions in Ukraine made her turn to France. “Our cook­ery ed­u­ca­tion is at the level of a school can­teen,” she said.

Dima Borisov, a restau­rant owner in Kyiv, agrees. In Ukraine, as­pir­ing cooks are taught the­o­ries from 20th cen­tury text­books, or there are “schools for house­wives” that only teach how to copy a recipe or a dish.

“Good French schools pro­vide a fun­da­men­tal ba­sis,” Borisov said. French-ed­u­cated chefs stand out from the rest with their dis­ci­pline, mo­ti­va­tion and knowl­edge of fun­da­men­tals, he said.

Nina Be­lik, a chef in Bes­sara­bia restau­rant, grad­u­ated from Le Cor­don Bleu culi­nary school in Paris two years ago. The hard­est part was obey­ing “the rigid, army dis­ci­pline,” Be­lik said. “I can hardly imag­ine our culi­nary col­leges kick­ing some­one out for hav­ing a sin­gle crease on a tu­nic or for be­ing 30 sec­onds late.”

Apart from ba­sic culi­nary train­ing, like work­ing with knives, cut­ting meat and fish and pre­par­ing ba­sic sauces, stu­dents of the Ecole de Cui­sine Alain Du­casse have to know lots of gas­tro­nomic se­crets.

“We learned how the di­ges­tion process goes on, how and why vari- ous al­ler­gies ap­pear. We also learned the the­ory of a taste, the the­ory of han­dling food, chem­istry, wa­ter re­quire­ments and lists of the best French food providers,” Che­ba­nenko said.

How­ever, an ex­cel­lent French ed­u­ca­tion does not al­ways make find­ing a job eas­ier for Ukrainian chefs.

“When you grad­u­ate from a well- known culi­nary school and you burn with new ideas, you don’t want to work just as an or­di­nary cook. But th­ese are the chefs that are pri­mar­ily needed in Ukrainian restau­rants,” Be­lik said.

Che­ba­nenko com­plained about low salaries and lack of re­spect that chefs get from many restau­rant own­ers in Ukraine. “In France a a is treated with re­spect, while in Ukraine the sit­u­a­tion is dif­fer­ent,” she said.

Che­ba­nenko is look­ing for a job in Europe or the United States. “My dream is for the restau­rant where I work as the main chef to get a Miche­lin star,” she said.

Nina Be­lik, a chef at Kyiv’s Bes­sara­bia restau­rant, is in charge of cold snacks. Be­lik grad­u­ated from the fa­mous French culi­nary school Le Cor­don Bleu in Paris two years ago. (Yu­lia We­ber for The Vil­lage Ukraine)

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