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Ecole Ferrandi: A sweet taste of success

Bruno de Monte, the man in charge of the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts, spoke to The Connexion about the school’s role and ethos. We also present two tasty desserts to create at home

Tell us what you do at the school
I have been working for nine years at Ferrandi Paris. I’m the general manager. When I took up my duties, the school had 1,200 students and only one campus (the one in Paris, at St-Germain des Prés). Nine years later, we train 2,500 students and 2,000 adults, as well as professionals who want to improve their skills or change jobs.

From a single campus, we went to four (three in Paris and the Paris area regions, one in Bordeaux). By 2020, we will open two new sites: a 5* hotel school with a gastronomic restaurant in close proximity to Paris (Issy-les-Moulineaux) and a campus in Dijon, within the international city of gastronomy and wine.

Can you give us a little history?
The school was founded in 1920 by the Paris Ile-de-France Chamber of Commerce. That is almost one hundred years of existence, with constant renewal and questioning of our training courses, as well as innovation, which always allows Ferrandi Paris to be the school of reference in gastronomy and hotel management.

Who are your students?
Our originality also comes from the diversity of our students. Aged from 15 to 26 years old for the diploma courses (we have curricula up to Bac +6), we also have a lot of adults. They come from all over the world and we have technical courses in English.

Who are your teachers?
Our teachers come first and foremost from the business world. They must have had a successful ten-year career in beautiful “houses” (restaurants, hotels) before they plan to enter
Ferrandi Paris as a teacher.

Can foreigners register to study?
Of course, especially in our higher education courses but also in our “intensive programmes”.

Are your exams/certificates known/accepted all over the world?
90% of our courses lead to diplomas awarded by the French State. Two of our bachelors courses – “Culinary Art and Entrepreneurship” and “Food and Beverage and Hospitality Management” – received this year’s accreditation from the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, a “must” in terms of official recognition. It allows our diplomas to be recognized all over the world.

What does it take to succeed?
Passion, work, skill, curiosity, entrepreneurial spirit, sharing with others.

And what does it take to be a great chef in your opinion?
All that, and talent.

Is the main goal to make your students employable?
Yes, but not only that. It is to give them a taste for entrepreneurship, to create their own business. And beyond that, it is also to help them to build themselves personally; on solid human values.

The public can come and eat in the restaurants of the School. In terms of quality for the price, it must hard to beat!
I have to say, customers don’t complain!

How do you keep up to date with the latest kitchen trends?
We “live” cooking all the time and the school is at the heart of culinary evolution. The most prestigious culinary competitions are held at the school, and alongside our 80 permanent training chefs, each week we have one or two outside chefs, with their own restaurant, who come to teach.

We have also created two online MOOC courses: culinary trends and culinary design; the third will be released in spring 2018 on the theme of culinary styling.

We are committed to transmitting the fundamentals of great classical cuisine because before composing, you have to know the musical notes. But, of course, the school always listens to trends. We would no longer be the reference school after 100 years of existence if we just lived in a museum of traditional cuisine! It is necessary to know how to mix the two: teach the fundamentals and leave room for students to be creative.

Most important question: do you take restaurant tickets?!
No, sorry!

Why a book on baking?
Two years ago, we published our first book, Le grand cours de cuisine de Ferrandi Paris, dedicated solely to cooking because we had chosen not to treat cooking and pastry in the same book. But the pastry book was already planned. You know, we write our books ourselves to be faithful to our teachings and to the Ferrandi Paris pedagogical culture. We put the necessary time into our books – two years on average.

The first book won the prize for the best cookbook in the world, you must be very proud?
Very, because we put all our know-how and seriousness into it. Our job is to share knowledge. Before our first book, we had never done such an important work before. So we didn’t really expect this recognition.

How did you choose the recipes?
The recipes come from the great classic families of French desserts and were chosen by a committee of school leaders. It’s a very pedagogical approach – first there are the basic techniques for preparation, then the recipes.

To make the link between tradition and modernity, each recipe is proposed to you through three different approaches: the classic initial recipe and the recipe interpreted, both by teachers of the school, then the third recipe seen by a great French pastry chef. Some thirty internationally renowned pastry chefs collaborated with us.

Are there plans for more books? Meat? Fish?
Yes, we have other projects, but I don’t forget that our main job is to teach, not to publish, even if it helps to transmit knowledge of course.

Your favourite recipe in the book?
I love tartes!

What’s your favourite dish to serve for dinner with friends?
I don’t really have a fetish dish, but among friends, what I love is to be able to sit at the table with them. So I don’t do “like at the restaurant” service! A beautiful recipe from good “bourgeois cuisine” where you bring a single dish that you put in the middle of the table and share with conviviality – this suits me perfectly!


Molten chocolate cakes

serves 6-8

3in. (7cm) cake rings or other moulds
Pastry bag without a tip
Silicone baking mat

3.5 oz (100 g) chocolate, 65% cacao, chopped
7 tbsp (3.5 oz/100 g) butter, diced and softened, plus extra for greasing
8.5 oz/240 g lightly beaten egg (about five eggs)
4.75 oz/130 g egg yolk (about seven yolks)
4 tbsp (1.75 oz./55 g) sugar
2.75 oz/75 g flour

1. Grease the cake rings with butter and chill them in the refrigerator while you prepare the mixture.

2. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter.

3. In another bowl, mix the eggs, egg yolks, and sugar together with a spatula, and then stir into the melted chocolate and butter. Whisk in the flour until combined.

4. Spoon the mixture into the pastry bag and place the cake rings on the backing mat. Snip off the point of the pastry bag and pipe the mixture into the rings.
Freeze for 1 hour.

5. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C/ Gas mark 6). Bake from frozen for 7–10 minutes, until the tops feel firm. Allow to cool a little before unmolding while still lukewarm.

Chefs tips
The uncooked mixture freezes very well. A small piece of chocolate can be tucked into the center of each cake before baking.

Coffee yule log

serves 6-8

Silicone baking mat
Electric hand beater
Instant-read thermometer
Stand mixer
Pastry bag fitted with a large, serrated,
basketweave tip
Paper piping cone

½ cup (3.5 oz/100 g) sugar
⅔ cup (5.25 oz/150 g) lightly beaten egg (about 3 eggs)
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (2.75 oz/70 g) flour
3 tbsp (1 oz/30 g) cornstarch

½ cup minus 1 tbsp (110 ml) water
½ cup (3.5 oz/100 g) sugar

Scant ½ cup (100 ml) water
1 ⅓ cups (9 oz/250 g) sugar
Scant ½ cup (3.5 oz/100 g) lightly beaten egg (about 2 eggs)
2 sticks plus 7 tbsp (11.5 oz./325 g) butter, diced, at room temperature
2 tbsp (30 ml) coffee extract

Green food colouring
1. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C Gas mark 8). Lay the silicone mat on a baking sheet. Using the electric beater, whisk the sugar and eggs together in a bowl over a pan of hot water until the temperature reaches 113°F (45°C).

Remove the bowl to a work surface and whisk until cold.

The mixture should be pale and thick and when you lift the beaters the batter should fall off in a thick ribbon that stays on the surface for several seconds.

2. Sift the flour and cornstarch together and, using a spatula, lightly fold in until just combined, taking care not to deflate the mixture.

3. Pour onto the silicone mat, spread lightly in an even layer and bake for about 5 minutes until just springy to the touch.

1. Heat the water and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves and then bring to a boil.

2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before using.

1. Put the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and, when the sugar has dissolved, heat to 243°F (117°C).

2. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a bowl until pale and frothy.

3. When the syrup is ready, pour it onto the eggs in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until the mixture cools to 68°F–77°F (20°C–25°C) and then beat in the butter until smooth.

4. Spoon about ½ cup (3.5 oz/100 g) of the buttercream into a separate bowl. Stir the coffee extract into the rest and spoon this into the pastry bag with the basketweave tip.

1. Brush the syrup over the sponge to moisten it thoroughly. Using a spatula, spread it with a very thin layer of coffee buttercream, about 2 mm thick, and roll up from one short side like a jelly roll.

2. Cut a diagonal slice at 45 degrees off each end and lay the slices, cut side down, on top for knots. Spread plain buttercream over the ends and knots, with a dab of coffee buttercream in the center. Pipe the rest of the coffee buttercream in lines down the length of the log to cover it in a thick layer. Roughen the surface with the tines of a fork dipped in ice-cold water to resemble bark. Warm the blade of a knife and smooth the ends and knots neatly.

3. Colour the remaining plain buttercream green, spoon it into the paper cone and pipe a winding green stem with ivy leaves down the log.

4. Add decorations of your choice such as fir trees, holly leaves, and snowflakes.

Extracted from French Pâtisserie: Master Recipes and Techniques from the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts by École Ferrandi (Published by Flammarion, £45).
Photography © Rina Nurra 2017

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