French chef Joël Robuchon to open international culinary school

Joel Robuchon intends to open an international culinary school in Montmorillon, France. — Handout via AFP
Joel Robuchon intends to open an international culinary school in Montmorillon, France. — Handout via AFP

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PARIS, Nov 21 — French culinary master Joël Robuchon, the chef with the most Michelin stars worldwide, has unveiled his plans for an international culinary school. It will be located on the site of a monastery-hospital, which is a French listed building, in Montmorillon, in the Vienne region of western France. The school could be welcoming its first students in 2018.

Financed by an Asian investment group, the Joël Robuchon culinary school is aiming to be a highly prestigious school of gastronomy, which will train the chefs of tomorrow. A range of courses will be offered, some of which will be suitable for fans of the culinary arts who are looking for a career change. The training will last for between two months and three years, and will cover the various skills required in a restaurant (cooking, desserts, chocolate, ice cream, sommelier, waiter, etc.) and a hotel (housekeeper). The students will have access to 20 classrooms organised around large meeting tables, 19 laboratories, a multimedia lecture hall and a kitchen garden.

A total of 523 students are expected in the first year, 857 in the second and 1,175 in the third. The long-term plan is for the students to receive a French culinary qualification (a Certificat d’Aptitude Professionnelle or CAP).

An international culinary school 

Joël Robuchon’s culinary school will not only welcome future award-winning French chefs. The plan is for an international learning environment with teaching in French and English. The school will be able to award a bachelor level qualification to the students, as part of a bilingual program, including the option of a third language. Intensive English language courses will also be on offer to those who are changing career.

And while French gastronomy will form the basis of the school’s teaching, the other great cuisines of the world will not be left out. Also, in this era of new technologies, training will be interactive via an e-learning department which will provide digital teaching content.

The Joel Robuchon culinary school project will cover 10,000 square metres. — Handout via AFP
The Joel Robuchon culinary school project will cover 10,000 square metres. — Handout via AFP

Vienne will symbolise the culinary arts worldwide

Joël Robuchon has been involved in many projects since he began his career with the Compagnon du Tour De France apprenticeship program. But this project stands out because of its emotional value. The school will open in the area where the chef grew up. Robuchon has chosen the Maison-Dieu seminary, where he almost became a priest, as the location for the school. Students will attend their courses in the prestigious setting of a classified historical building in Montmorillon. They will also use local products where possible -- truffles, melon, lamb, onions, etc.

These centuries-old buildings will remain identical on the outside, but the interiors have been entrusted to Pierre-Yves Rochon, who has already designed the Shangri-La and the Georges V hotels in Paris and the Peninsula in Shanghai. The campus has been designed to showcase Montmorillon’s green landscape.

A large-scale project 

Joël Robuchon’s project will cover 10,000 square metres and will be more than just a culinary school. A restaurant will be created in the Saint-Laurent church to give the students a place to put their training into practice. They will be situated at the altar and the customers will be sat at tables in the nave. The wine cellar, located in an octagonal-shaped chapel, is likely to be a big attraction.

A 2,000 square metre hotel will also be built. Around 15 suites with the charm of a private house will accommodate visitors in search of peace and quiet. — AFP-Relaxnews

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