About this Blog

4 years ago, after I graduated from High School I decided to take a gap year in Spain. I started this blog to share my adventures and experiences. Now, I’m back! Following my gap year, I returned to the US and began studying at American Univerity in Washington DC. 2.5 years later I graduated with a degree in business and a minor in computer science and a job offer following graduation from Accenture in San Francisco. With the pandemic, I’ve decided to take some time before I start work pursuing a new passion of mine, cuisine. I now find myself in Paris, gearing up to begin a 6-month diploma in French Cusine at Le Cordon Bleu. I’ve decided to start blogging again to share my new experiences as this most unusual year progresses!

AU Graduation Photo

Why Culinary School?

If you’re curious why I’ve chosen to attend culinary school, I’m happy to share with you the cover letter I wrote in conjunction with my application to Le Cordon Bleu:

Le Cordon Bleu Admissions Jury,

This letter is to express my interest in the Intensive Diplôme de Cuisine beginning January 6th, 2021. I’ve been in contact with Philippe C. Rocheron regarding this program in addition to no less than 10 alumni who I’ve found through various means; and I’m very excited at the prospect of joining next year’s class!

My culinary experience really began about two years ago when I moved into my own apartment (with my own kitchen) for the first time. As I have always loved filet mignon, one of the first things I tried to find in my new neighborhood was a stellar steakhouse. I eventually found a good one, but was quickly acquainted with the exorbitant cost of living in Washington DC, where a decent filet typically costs upwards of $50. 

It was while dining at one of these expensive restaurants that I had my epiphany. I thought, ‘There are maybe 3 or 4 ingredients on this plate… How hard could it be to make this dish myself? With that in mind, I went to the grocery store and purchased my first cut of beef. After some Googling and a return trip to purchase rosemary, I heated up the pan and started cooking. To my delight, the end result was actually pretty good!

Over the next 2 years, I gradually expanded my culinary horizons. Considering Fillet Mignon alone, the first big leap was purchasing a Sous Vide cooker and learning how to use it. Then came cast iron pans for proper searing and homemade truffle-herb butter for topping and, of course, honing my mashed potato recipe. Next, I made friends with a local butcher (big improvement) and started buying my meat from him. Eventually, I was able to judge doneness by touch alone, and now my steaks taste better than ever!

The culinary arts have quickly found a place in my heart and while I yearn to improve my technical abilities, I also enjoy the relationship between food and different cultures and my passion for travel. Prior to moving to Washington DC and my time in college, I spent 9 months living in Spain. During my year abroad, I seized every opportunity to travel around the country and to also visit approximately 20 other countries across Europe. This love of travel persisted as I visited Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan  and Japan last year as well as Central and South America prior to that. In all of these places, my favorite thing was discovering the food. The more I see, do and taste, the more I want to continue to explore and learn. With every new dish, I find a dozen more that I want to try to make! 

Over time, my skills and techniques have improved. I’m better able to tackle new recipes and improvise on the fly. I’ve learned to trust my instincts, and have expanded my culinary horizons. But, the more I learn, the more I am aware of how much more there is to learn, and for all these reasons, I am eager to study at Le Cordon Bleu Paris.

Best Regards,

Riley Shelby