"I did not want to let this experience go to nothing, so using my community experience, I plan to set up a social enterprise and a community tea room."
Bianca Tia Mesuria
Culinary institute, Le Cordon Bleu London announced the second winner of their coveted Julia Child Scholarship in September. Bianca Tia Mesuria from Hackney in London went home with the title after beating off immense competition for the prize. Women In the Food Industry, co-founder Mecca Ibrahim caught up with her to find out more about the competition meeting baking legend Mary Berry and appearing on BBC Saturday Kitchen Live.
At the time of the application Bianca Tia Mesuria had been made redundant and saw Le Cordon Bleu promoting the Julia Child scholarship on Instagram She applied on a whim in the middle of a number of job applications. After an online application, she got invited for an interview in person for the semi finals. This was made up of an interview with four judges, a sensory exam, a test about Le Cordon Bleu and a video submission too. A few weeks later Bianca Tia was invited back for the finals.
All of the finalists had a demonstration by Chef Julie Walsh and by Lois Farmer, the previous winner of the first scholarship, on de-constructing desserts. After that the finalists had a short while to prep and plan what they were going to put on their plates.
Of the experience Bianca Tia said "Being in an unfamiliar kitchen will throw you. I wasn't used to electric hobs so this definitely threw me when it came to making caramel. Then at the last minute when I was ready to give my plate to the judges, the pen which I had been doing notes with fell into my quenelle. But at the end it was all OK. You are then asked to talk about your dishes, your inspirations, the flavour combinations and then the judges go away and judge your plates".
Le Cordon Bleu alumni Mary Berry presented the awards at the ceremony in Bloomsbury. Bianca Tia said "She is lovely, such a sweet lady. When she announced my name as the winner. I just burst into tears. I remember her wiping away my tears which was such a lovely moment".
Since winning the title Bianca Tia has appeared on Saturday Kitchen Live and said "I only knew about it the day before, so had less than 12 hours, but felt so blessed on that day. It was great to be asked to do something like that".
Bianca Tia's prize value is over £40,000 which includes a year's scholarship at Le Cordon Bleu plus other mentorship opportunities with previous Le Cordon Bleu Alumni, an internship at The Savoy Hotel and prizes from brands such as Zwilling, The Business Show and Churchill tableware, Bianca Tia is excited about what the future holds. She described her plans
"One thing that Le Cordon Bleu ask, is what would your ideal business be and what would be unique about it? For the last five and half years I was working in community development and CSR in construction. I didn't want to let this experience to go to nothing, so using my community experience, I plan to set up a social enterprise and a community tea room. I want my own restaurant, but I want part of it to teach people who may not have gone down a route of formal education and I want it to help give people a sense of purpose".
Visit Women in The Food Industry to read the full interview with Bianca Tia Winner of Le Cordon Bleu Julia Child Scholarship 2019.