‘Dare to dream.’
It’s the motto that our busload of foodies has in common; the ability to dream big and to act to make it happen.
I’ve joined Le Cordon Bleu’s Masters in Gastronomic Tourism course for a day as they take part in a four-day summer residential school.
In a unique collaboration between Southern Cross University and Le Cordon Bleu, this Master’s degree in Gastronomic Tourism is one of seven degrees offered by Le Cordon Bleu Australia.
Comprising 16 units of study, the degree is delivered online to students across the world who wish to explore the world of food and wine in depth, seeking a deeper understanding of food and drink cultures and the ethical, economic and social impacts of food and wine tourism.
As we embark on a bus tour of the Northern Rivers, most of the students are meeting for the first time, putting faces to the names they’ve encountered in their online study community, as well as learning about the unique culinary businesses and products of the region.
With the course covering subjects such as Principles of Gastronomy, Food writing, Aesthetics of food and wine and Gastronomic tourism, students have different motivations for undertaking the course of study. Some are in the food or hospitality industry already, studying to further their knowledge; others have more personal goals.
To Bill, a retired investment banker, the choice is more to do with passion than career.
“It’s something I always wanted to do,” Bill says. I’ve been involved with La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs [the international food and wine society] for many years, and I’m passionate about food. So far, the units have lived up to my expectations. The philosophy of gastronomy particularly fascinates me; exploring the origins of food and the changes to food service through history.”
“’Food’ is simply a brilliant way to study the world, cultural difference and history, while at the same time learning how to give pleasure and to increase our own sense of satisfaction…” Le Cordon Bleu
As we speak, we’re standing in the Stone & Wood Brewery, begun less than ten years ago, listening to a potted history of beer making. We owe so much to history; fascinating if we take the time to explore it. The very name ‘Stone & Wood’ refers to the medieval forms of brewing beer, we’re told. Beer was fermented in wooden barrels, with heated volcanic rocks dropped into the beer to caramelise the malt. It’s a tradition the brewery celebrates every June in their Festival of the Stone.
Belinda, employed in the dairy industry, cites her interests as being food and travel. She says that the course enables her to get deeper into a place, to discover why people are eating something where.
“I’m interested to see if I can ignite something to take into my later career,” she tells us.
For others, it’s about a change of direction.
Suzie is an ex-chef and cookery teacher who has started her own business, Bundy Food Tours.
“For me, it’s about the evolution of my business,” she tells us, “learning more to see where it can go.”
“…this degree focuses on the relationship of food to tourism and the role this relationship plays in the development of regional economies and their sustainability… studying management, marketing and other industry-focused subjects, within a hospitality and tourism context.” Le Cordon Bleu
For previous Cordon Bleu graduates, such as Samantha Gowing, resident chef of The Kitchens, Robina, and proprietor of Food Health Wealth, the course has taken her on a journey through nutrition to investigate food as medicine. Samantha talks to the group about the balance of taste we seek to achieve in each dish, the medicinal qualities or intentions of each ingredient, and the synergy of companion plants that work together to promote the health of the gut microbiome that’s central to our wellbeing.
At the gorgeous The Byron at Byron, surrounded by green foliage and shimmering pools, Samantha demonstrates several dishes that exemplify the principles of her research.
“There’s so much beauty in produce,” she tells us, the vibrancy of her table display almost as luminous as her passion for good health.
Paula, a fashion and food stylist who’s been involved with Le Cordon Bleu in LA, sees the course as a way to get back into the business in South Australia.
“My passion is sustainability. I want to achieve work life balance in a farm to table environment. The greatest thing is that this course has facilitated my understanding of how to do that,” she says.
The day ends with dinner at Taverna, Kingscliff, where we’re joined by Paul Messenger of Husk Distillery, who relates the inspirational story of his emerging business, the challenges, solutions and successes of his business, passion and commitment being obvious factors in his pursuit of excellence in his products: Ink Gin and Husk agricole rum.
“Dare to dream,” Grahame Latham, one of the founding directors of Le Cordon Bleu in Australia tells us as we conclude the day.
Who knows what directions these students will take as they complete their degree.
Dare to dream, and dare to do.
Details of courses run by Le Cordon Bleu Australia can be found at:
Days Road, Regency Park, South Australia, Australia 5010
Ph: +61 8 8348 3000 or 1800 064 802 (Toll free)