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LCB, Lesson One - Food Gypsy

Le Cordon Bleu, Day 3 – “Listen, it sings…”

Day Three – Le Cordon Bleu, Ottawa  – BASIC CUISINE.  First day in the kitchen and our first day with new knives.  Shiny, sharp knives in the hands of twelve novices making precision cuts.  Millimetre by millimeter.

Blood is part of the work.  Our instructor, Chef Benoit Gelinotte has first aid skills and when it’s beyond him, off you go to the walk-in clinic.  Thank God for Canadian health care.  One classmate lost some skin today.  Ouch.


 The pairing knife is wickedly sharp but it is nothing in comparison to the nine inch blade.   Now THAT’S a knife!    My Julienne needs work.  Not consistent.  Paysanne… too big, too small, too thick pick one. “It will get better” says Chef Benoit.

Tension.  Pressure.  The constant thought of… “Why the hell am I doing this?!”  This afternoon I came home, had a huge cry and took then myself  off to the supermarket with every intention of practicing my knife skills.  But I was so weary of precision without results.

Today I cooked nothing.  I cut for two hours.  Carrots.  Turnip.  Leeks.  Onion.  Parsley.   Julienne, Mire Poix, Ciseler, Brunoise, Emincer, Paysanne, Comcasser, Hacher and at the end had a bunch of raw vegetables.  It was like sex without the finish line.   Clearly, I was on my own for that.

So I came home with all the ingredients to what we didn’t get to cook; Potage Cultivateur (cut vegetable soup) and started cooking.

Potage Cultivateur, ingredients - Food Gyspy Butter, singing - Food Gyspy

Rather than be exact I got comfortable with that big steel, nice easy cuts.  I let the knife LIVE in my hand.   Then I gently sweated carrots and leeks and turnips in butter… and… I listened to the butter.

In cuisine we do not ‘cook on a stove’ we ‘play a piano’.  Food is music,” says Chef Benoit “listen to the butter, it will sing to you.”

Tonight I heard the butter as it bubbled.  It sang a melody about a people, living though war in the country side, a song about making enough to go around out of what little they had and making it – beautiful.

This was an austerity soup, root vegetables in a simple broth made with butter and stock, when they had it.  Salt pork is a poor man’s meat.  Simple.  Finished with greyer and croutons,  a heel  of bread and a bit of cheese.

It was a lovely little song.    Comforting.    

That lesson fed my neighbours and me.  My simple soup was not as refined as Chef’s but, the notes were just sweet.    Threw in extra butter and pink rock salt, because hey, I gotta’ be me!  (Chef Benoit would approve.)  A simple soup with a sence of grace, survival and community.  It was – poetry.

I heard the butter,  so long as keeps singing, I’m gonna’ be just fine.

Potage Cultivateur a la Gypsy…

Fearlessly cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer, food marketing consultant, recipe developer and sustainability advocate. A Cordon Bleu trained chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn and now shares all things delicious - right here.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. I can smell the savory warm sweet aroma of homemade soup all the way here…to the Coast! Lucky neighbors to have such a generous culinary student too, just like during those years of struggle in war times, nothing tastes as wonderful as a shared pot of warm soup made with love. love the blog Ms Gypsy.

    1. Thank you Suzie, it was a mystical moment in the kitchen. If nothing else, my studies at Le Cordon Bleu have lifted the lid off Pandora’s box… can’t wait to see what’s next. Food without love… what’s the point!? Love that you love it! (MUCH more from class on our facebook page… )
      More soon!

  2. Hey, I finally got around to reading your site thoroughly. Doing great in school, from what I can see! Yeah, the knives are a little bigger than what I usually get used to. (I was easy on myself one day and treated myself to a nice Japanese Mac knife and I never looked back.)

    1. Hi Justin –
      WOW Mac Knife… wow. Now… I want one! As for doing great, I seem to require great quantities of wine on a regular basis… but then I’ve been learning to be comfortable in an uncomfortable situation for many months now… pushing comfort zones with sport, travel, romance, adventure and now… knowledge… ain’ t it… GREAT?! (lol… aaaaaaa, that am I DOING?! ;)

      Just finding my sweet spot…
      It’s all good!

  3. I survived the culinary arts and learned to live the life and love of food. What is cooking without love? Tonight my soup was made without thinking………….. just done by the basics, devoid of the love that should be there…. The butter did not sing for me……….. The flavor may have been here but my heart was not in it.

    1. Phil –
      Sounds like someone needs a hug. Gypsy prescription: You get back in that kitchen and cook some bacon! SMELL the bacon… feeeeeel the love. Eat it with your fingers over the stove. We need to get some love back in ‘ya~! I’ll mail soup… ;)

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