Chef hopes to crack Cordon Bleu

Katie Leslie. Picture: Jon Savage

Katie Leslie. Picture: Jon Savage

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AN aspiring chef from the Capital has told how her “dreams had come true” after being chosen to bid for a scholarship at one of the world’s most prestigious cookery schools.

Katie Leslie said she was overjoyed after beating almost 100 applicants to compete for a funded spot at Le Cordon Bleu London.

The semi-final event for candidates from across Scotland and Northern Ireland is to take place tomorrow at Andrew Fairlie’s two Michelin-starred restaurant in Gleneagles.

If she wins the competition, Katie, 24, from Morningside, will begin a gruelling 12-month training course aimed at equipping her with classical and advanced culinary techniques, as well as in-depth management expertise.

Led by Andre Cointreau, Le Cordon Bleu ranks among the world’s best cooking schools and operates in 20 different countries.

Katie said: “It’s the best culinary institute but it’s always been out of reach. It just never seemed possible.

“It seems like a dream that they’re offering the scholarship. Even going to Gleneagles and meeting Andrew Fairley is amazing.”

She said some of her earliest memories were of cooking, with much of her ambition and determination to succeed coming from her family.

“My mum has been my main inspiration,” she said. “She has equipped me with a love for cookery from a young age.

“Having these skills instilled in me throughout my childhood has allowed me to go on to develop my own style and build on my existing knowledge.”

Worth in excess of £35,000, the Cordon Bleu prize includes accommodation for the entirety of the course, as well as an internship at The Square under the guidance of chef Phil Howard.

But while attracted by the bright lights of London, Katie said her long-term goal would be to open a business in her home town.

“I would love to move back - Edinburgh is moving forward,” she said. “There’s so much opening and so many great chefs.

“There’s so much to learn. I like to try new dishes. Scotland has amazing produce. It can be so fresh and simple. You don’t have to do anything to it.”

Gleneagles resort executive and head chef Andrew Fairlie said he was delighted to be able to help Katie and the other candidates advance their careers.He added: “It’s a huge honour to work with the world-renowned culinary institution Le Cordon Bleu.

“The scholarship award is the perfect way to invest in the talents of our country but most importantly a once in a lifetime opportunity to be trained by master chefs and an experience opening the doors to a range of career opportunities within the culinary world.”