After a full day of piping, whisking and plating, it was twenty-nine-year-old Kieron Murphy, from Leeds, who came out on top and secured a place on Le Cordon Bleu’s Diplôme de Pâtisserie. This will be followed by a three-month Diploma in Culinary Management course, luxury accommodation in central London and an internship with three-starred chef Clare Smyth MBE.
The aspiring pastry chef had no idea he enjoyed being creative with food until he enrolled in a cake decorating class for one day a week. He quickly fell in love with pâtisserie, and is now set to hone his skills at the prestigious culinary school.
‘All I think about is cakes and cake decorating,’ says Kieron. ‘I can’t wait to pursue my dream and gain all the skills I need in pâtisserie. There are so many things I want to learn; not just how to bake, but how to develop a recipe from scratch and how to pair flavours that complement one another. Being given the opportunity to train at Le Cordon Bleu is a privilege that only a few people can claim. The calibre of talent and prestige that the institution holds is phenomenal. I feel honoured.’
On the day, Kieron and thirteen other finalists were tasked with whipping up a simple crème anglaise and an Italian meringue. They were then required to show off their piping skills, and plate up a lemon meringue pie to express their creativity. ‘The day has been building up for the past six months, and I was surprised to get into the semi-finals, so all day I’ve been on tenterhooks,’ says Beth Marsh, another finalist who passed through the northern semi-finals hosted by Frances Atkins. ‘I’ve been patiently waiting and fretting all morning, but when we started in the afternoon and got our chef whites on we felt a bit more relaxed. It’s funny – crème anglaise isn’t the hardest thing to make, but when you’re in there and everyone’s watching you it’s a different story.’
Graeme Bartholomew, Le Cordon Bleu’s pâtisserie master chef and a member of the judging panel, noted that the calibre of candidates was higher than ever before. But it was Kieron who stood out the most. ‘Kieron showed dedication and was clearly inspired,’ he says. ‘He knew he was in a job he didn’t want to be in, so he took a chance on a cake decorating course which showed him where his true passion lies. His motivation and eagerness to learn new techniques and skills in management to develop his own business was what really made him stand out.’
For the next generation of budding chefs, the scholarship will return in the new year.