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History of Le Cordon Bleu

Learn more about the history of Le Cordon Bleu and how this culinary institute became a premier teaching center.

Few culinary institutions possess the reputation and history of Le Cordon Bleu. This internationally known culinary arts school is synonymous with expertise, innovation, tradition, and refinement – qualities that are meticulously nurtured by Le Cordon Bleu.

The Rich Heritage of Le Cordon Bleu

The name "Cordon Bleu" [meaning Blue Ribbon] is rich with history and heritage. It has been synonymous with excellence since 1578, when King Henry III created the "L'Ordre des Chevaliers du Saint Esprit" [The Order of the Holy Spirit]. It was the most exclusive order in France until 1789. Because the members, royalty included, were awarded with the Cross of the Holy Spirit, which hung from a blue ribbon, they were called "Cordon Bleus". The sumptuous banquets which accompanied their award ceremonies became legendary.

In 1895, Marthe Distel, a French journalist, founded a weekly culinary publication entitled "La Cuisinière Cordon Bleu,” which was published over the next seventy 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: informative demonstrations, hands-on teaching by experienced instructors, fine ingredients, and foundational techniques.

Following the popularity of the publication, the first Le Cordon Bleu school officially opened its doors as a culinary school in Paris in 1895. The first Cordon Bleu cooking class was held on January 14, 1896, in the Palais Royal. From the beginning, celebrated Chefs of the time came to teach at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, including the legendary Chef Henri-Paul Pellaprat. The cooking classes were an immediate success. The reputation of the school spread rapidly worldwide. Students in the United States have been able to locally participate in Le Cordon Bleu inspired cooking courses since 1998 and share in the rich heritage and history of Le Cordon Bleu.

Today, there are 30 Le Cordon Bleu schools worldwide, spanning 5 continents, including 16 campuses throughout the United States, each with students and alumni from culturally diverse backgrounds. Le Cordon Bleu in North America ushers in a new educational era in culinary arts, pâtisserie and baking, and hospitality & restaurant management that combines classical European techniques with contemporary American technology and training. As a result, students are afforded opportunities to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary in the culinary, pastry and baking, and hospitality world.

As a testament to their accomplishment, graduates will receive a coveted Le Cordon Bleu Diplôme, in addition to the specialized degree, diploma or certificate awarded by Le Cordon Bleu in North America.


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