Day 1: ESCF-Ferrandi

Today was orientation day.

Went up to the school this morning to be greeted with croissants, cafe, tea and juice. I also met the people in my program, a diverse bunch, each presenting themselves – no one from Hong Kong sadly. We’re 24 in total and will be divided in 2 groups, A and B and under the supervision of either Sebastien Massard or Stephane Gabrielly, two well renowned chefs in their field with a lot of experience to absorb from – I can’t wait to work with either of them, we will know which group we will be in tomorrow!

We were given a tour of the school, and it is quite large, with 1-2 kitchens we will work in during the week and one larger one when we will prepare lunch and dinner service. It also houses the Prepa program (Those who already have culinary degrees, and a Superieure program of 3 years), it also provides services to those in crafts industry and restaurant management among others. I guess it specializes in a lot of areas as it is part of the French Chamber of Commerce.
I probably will get lost in the beginning with all the back stairways and front stairways to choose from, but I’m sure I’ll be getting the hang of it!

We were then escorted to the large cafeteria for lunch, reminded me of my school in Hong Kong (Lycee Francais) with the trays that you hold and the different meals to choose from and we sat in one long table, with maybe around 36 seats + professors and staff (including those in the Pastry program, perhaps around 12 as well) and a Kir 🙂 I turned a little red but not enough to show haha.

After that, we were given an introduction to the course, what to expect, what the schedule will be like, etc…It will be very intense, I expected it to be but I guess I just feel the need to reiterate on it. It is only 5 months, so it makes sense. Every week or so, we change themes; in the beginning it’s cutting, vegetables, stocks and soups, then gradually towards sauces (we have to know the mother sauces, I think there are 4 in total), hors d’oeuvres, chicken (there’s not just 1 chicken but a diverse bunch from the cheapest to the most expensive!), meats (including veal, lamb, suckling pig – yum!…my all-time favorite), fish. Every week or so, we have a pastry class and we can bring home the goodies! 🙂 We also have “boulangerie” (bread making and viennoiserie) every other week, history of french food (knowing where food comes from and why it’s named or made that way), french lessons (which I hope I can get exempt from!) and probably one of my favorites (wine/cheese classes – to know how to pair a certain wine to the particular meal). Every week is different so I can’t give you guys a  fixed schedule, since it varies. But once we start doing lunch and dinner services (at the end of september), the hours will be more intense, especially at dinner service which can end around 10 – 11 pm! Other than that, every friday (if not every other), we do a regional menu (we cook the meal of a particular region/province of France whether it is Alsace, Rhone-Alps, Provence, etc…) and then our group sits down together for a big lunch (Massard says no breakfast!) which includes an amuse-bouse, appetizer, meat dish, fish dish, dessert and coffee/tea…for this ‘challenge’, we work in pairs and produce a dish for 6-8 people whether we are in charge of appetizer, main or dessert.

We also go on field trips, there will be one to the Champagne region, one to RUNGIS, the world’s biggest food market (i think) where we can identify produce, how to pick them and even a local competition!, and at the end of the program, in January, a 3 day excursion (unfortunately the location is kept secret until the end)

We also talked about internships (stage) from February onwards from 3-6 months (we can do 1 for 6 months, or 2, both 3 months each). I’m very interested in either hotel restaurants or Michelin restaurants (which I’m sure others are too) but the food and beverage industry in hotels appeal to me the most, so depending on my progress, I will be recommended a certain ‘stage’ (with the approval of my supervisor of course). Am excited to see what I succeed/fail in (even Massard said people will succeed – beginner’s luck haha. and some will fail but we all learn from it and it’s definitely part of the process! That definitely makes me feel at ease!)

Tomorrow morning, we all meet to fit our chef uniform including hat, jacket, pants, apron, shoes and towel/cloth but also our knife set (just like in Top Chef)….apparently we have to lock it for security reasons in the French metro…but hopefully I will be able to leave in the locker as I’m sure it will be heavy carrying around 20 or so knives! Also, no earrings, no watch, only wedding rings….will have to take off my thread bracelets as they are flammable… too bad! Will definitely post of pic of the school and the uniform tomorrow, was too excited/scared today to even think!

To be honest, I didn’t even do much today but sit and listen to the presentation – can you imagine when I’ll be standing all day and cooking for 8 hours? EXCITEMENT 🙂 Can’t wait!

Am already in the school pattern, it’s 7.50 pm and I’m just so tired…off to bed (after I finish my glass of rose of course)…tonight not a big meal, just beef carpaccio that I picked up at the supermarket, surprisingly good, perhaps something I should keep getting when I come back from school and don’t even feel like cooking!

I just realized I’ve been rambling, but wanted to give you a clear image of what was going on, what is going to happen, etc…especially for those interested in the program (I remember when I was searching for some personal experiences on blogs and found them to be quite minimal).

It’s definitely going to be an experience, with a lot of back and feet aching (anyone offers free massage?) but I know I will learn a lot, it’s definitely an experience of a lifetime, something I’ve been waiting for for a very long time and I welcome it with open arms!

Bonne Nuit!

5 Responses to “Day 1: ESCF-Ferrandi”
  1. Adele Barlow says:

    Can you post that pastry homework… to, say, London?

  2. Adele Barlow says:

    And I mean like the ACTUAL pastries – not just the 'assignment' typed up in a Word doc

  3. G.Ginesta says:


    I hope this new adventure goes fantastically well. Though, I'm sure it will. I guess on CoD nights we wont be ordering Thai anymore – you will have to show off your skills instead!

  4. christy says:

    hi Jade. good to find ur blog here and that u r a graduate from ESCF where i am interested to enrol in! is it possible that i can contact u for some further advice on certain settling issues? thanks a lot!

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