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Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America Takes Top Honors at Walt Disney World’s “Sweetest Pastry Competition On Earth”

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Atlanta Wins the Gold and California Culinary Academy Awarded Silver

Hoffman Estates, Ill. (February 27, 2006) – Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America today announced that teams from two of their culinary schools received Gold and Silver in the “Sweetest Pastry Competition On Earth” at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. As the only school competing that did not have its own baking and pâtisserie program, the first-place students from Le Cordon Bleu Atlanta used their real-world training and expertise to rise above the competition and receive standing ovations at each dessert presentation.

Under the guidance of pastry instructor Chef Albert J. DiFonzo, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Atlanta students Cynthia Krohn and James Bara won the gold. Chef Doug Basegio led California Culinary Academy students Naomi Okemoto-Davis and Shawn Williams to a silver finish.

“The performance of the Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America was outstanding and we congratulate the winners,” said Walt Disney World Master Pastry Chef Erich Herbitschek. “The judges were impressed with the skill level and dedication of each of the four teams.”

Over the course of eight hours, the teams created a number of intricate and impressive desserts, including:

  • Plated desserts drawing inspiration from one of Walt Disney World's new attractions. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Atlanta 's theme was “Soarin ' ” and California Culinary Academy 's was “Mission Space.”
  • A three-foot tall chocolate and sugar showpiece representing their take on “classic” Disney . Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Atlanta showcased classic Mickey Mouse and California Culinary Academy showcased Pinocchio.
  • Three different types of bonbons. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Atlanta made a pistachio with ganache filling, nougat, and peanut butter caramel and banana ganache bonbons. California Culinary Academy created passion fruit truffle, chai tea truffle and chestnut honey caramel bonbons.
  • Three variations of petit fours. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Atlanta's creations included raspberry compote with lime curd on lemon poppy seed shortbread, brandy nougat with mousse filling and chocolate glaze and an espresso mousse. California Culinary Academy made passion fruit ganache with chocolate mousse on a sable base, pistachio Bavarian with cranberry griotte on a pink macaroon and roasted pineapple with crème brulee on a hazelnut dacquoise base.
  • A pastillage tray.

A panel comprised of seven Walt Disney World Resort chefs evaluated each team on its creations' taste, artistry, implementation of theme and overall presentation. The winning team was awarded a partial scholarship prize of $6,500 for each student, as well the opportunity to interview for a post-graduate culinary internship at the Walt Disney World Resorts.

Walt Disney Resort hosted the student culinary contest as part of its annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. The contest also premiered February 26, 2006, as part of the hit show Food Network Challenge. The episode will re-air throughout the next week.

“We congratulate all of our schools that participated in this exciting contest,” said Kirk Bachmann, Vice President of Education for Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America. “Coupled with a strong educational background, the students' success is a direct result of their hard work, and is reflected by their outstanding achievements at this prestigious competition.”

Two additional Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America programs, Pennsylvania Culinary Institute and Orlando Culinary Academy , competed as well. Chef Jeff Ward of Pennsylvania Culinary Institute coached Sarah Ries and Elizabeth King. Orlando Culinary Academy was represented by instructor Chef Joseph Ralph and students Kevin Lyman and Katherine King.

About Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America

Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America is the largest provider of quality culinary arts education. Few institutions possess the distinguished reputation of Le Cordon Bleu, which established its first culinary school in Paris in 1895. Today, Le Cordon Bleu operates schools in London , Tokyo , Ottawa and Sydney in addition to its Paris location, and offers programs in Australia , Mexico and Brazil . There are currently 13 schools in the Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America network, offering programs in Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts, Le Cordon Bleu Pâtisserie & Baking, and Le Cordon Bleu Hospitality & Restaurant Management. For more information, please visit www.lecordonbleuschoolsusa.com .

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