"You can have a fabulous chef with lots of experience but if they don't have empathy, they won't necessarily be a good teacher."
Julie Walsh Patisserie Head Le Cordon Bleu London
Chef Julie Walsh joined Le Cordon Bleu London in 1995, following an impressive 10 year career as a Pâtisserie chef at a number of the UK's top hotels and restaurants. Julie has demonstrated her skills at several international food festivals and appeared on a number of radio & TV shows. Women In the Food Industry co-founder, Mecca Ibrahim, got the chance to speak to Julie about her role at Le Cordon Bleu.
Julie's entry into the hospitality industry was a fairly traditional route. She said "I started cooking with my mum who got me cooking at home. When I went to secondary school, as I asked about being a chef and I was told by a careers adviser: "you don't want to do that, you're far too clever ". In those days, it wasn't deemed as a thing you did, unless you couldn't do anything else. But when I left secondary school I really wanted to be like my Home Economics teacher as she had really inspired me."
When asked what she enjoyed the most about working at Le Cordon Bleu, Julie replied "It's really very varied and we get to do so many things. I get to write the courses about the things I want to teach and if I see a gap in the market, I can create a course for it. I saw that there weren't many people going into cake decorating so I wrote our cake decorating diploma. Now we run this three or four times a year and it's always full and we have people setting up their own cake decorating businesses as a result.
Julie has trained a number of students who have gone onto be famous chefs. Peggy Porschen, trained with Julie around 15 years ago. Some of Le Cordon Bleu students are now working for Peggy's company. Julie also taught Hideko Kawa who went onto The Fat Duck as their pastry chef. She now has her own consultancy business - The Sweet Art Lab .
For those looking to teach professional standard patisserie, Julie has some wise words. "You really need to have empathy. You have to empathise with what students are going through to be able to be sympathetic to their needs. You can have a fabulous chef with lots of experience but if they don't have empathy, they won't necessarily be a good teacher." She continued: "Some chefs are quite insular and they want to keep their glory to themselves. You need to be giving with your knowledge. You need to want your students to shine rather than you being the centre of attention."
You can read the full interview with Julie Walsh Head Pâtisserie Chef of Le Cordon Bleu London on Women in The Food Industry's website.