With a prize worth over £35,000 – including a place on the coveted Diplôme de Pâtisserie, accommodation in central London and an internship with three-Michelin-starred chef Clare Smyth – it’s no wonder this year’s Le Cordon Bleu Scholarship Award received a record number of applications. Applicants were required to prove their passion for pâtisserie through a short video, and were then whittled down to just thirty-seven semi-finalists.
There were five semi-finals which took place across April, with a partnering chef in each location – Will Holland for Wales and the Midlands, Simon Hulstone for the South West, Anna Hansen for London and the South East, Mark Greenaway for Scotland and Northern Ireland and Frances Atkins for the North. We went along to the London heats, at Anna’s restaurant The Modern Pantry, to see how the semi-finalists would be tested.
‘To pursue a career in cooking you have to have passion,’ says Anna. ‘It gets you out of bed when you know you’re going to be standing up all day and makes you more interested in what everyone else is doing. Those with passion are the people who have something extra – instead of just being a chef, they become something truly brilliant.
‘Everyone who came here today was obviously passionate, but it definitely stood out more in certain people,’ she adds. ‘We needed to find out about their backgrounds and get certain things out of the applicants. It’s a brilliant opportunity and they were all very eager to win.’