B-School With A Sizzle: HEC Paris Cooks Up A New Dual Degree

The new Gustave Restaurant on the campus of HEC Paris. Courtesy photo

When students get down to actually cooking, the first part of each recipe involves information about how to use the proper tools and ingredients. The second part is cooking the recipe with the help of an online chef.

“When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a baker,” current student Alix Truelle says. She has Tuesday afternoons free to watch online videos about using the proper tools and ingredients for a recipe, and she has Friday afternoons to cook. “The chef is cooking in front of me,” Truelle says. “We can text him and he answers right away.”

Like the French themselves, the course takes every morsel of food knowledge seriously. “We had to learn everything about milk, what does it bring to our body and how to cook it,” Truelle says. In June, she will take a “three-course” exam to get her diploma. The test consists of a written section, a part-recipe section, and a section in which you make up your own dish.

She likes the break from all things business. “Business courses are very theoretical and technical,” Truelle says. “This is more down-to-earth. It offers something you can sink your hands — and your teeth — into.”


Thomas Lacassin, a native of the city of Nancy in the northeast of France, applied to get the CAP this month. He says he has always been interested in cooking. “This hobby grew when I came back from being an exchange student in Singapore, and I found it hard to find that kind of food here,” he says.

Lacassin started experimenting with Asian dishes, especially curries, which vary from country to country and chef to chef. “I wanted to take this hobby to the next step,” he says. “I probably won’t be a chef, but it’s fun. It’s an end in itself — to perfect my skills in cooking.”

If he does go into catering, Lacassin says would like to work on the business side of a restaurant group like the trendy and rapidly expanding Big Mamma, founded by HEC graduates Victor Lugger and Tigraine Seydoux. The Big Mamma series of Italian trattorias caters to millennials with varied menus of authentic Italian food in spaces designed to be brash, edgy, or very Italian.

“Concept restaurants want to try something unique and entertaining,” Lacassin says. ‘The restaurant industry is very competitive right now.”


Bergerault, who runs the business side of the L’Atelier des Chefs, says actual cooking knowledge is important to have for those on the business side of the hospitality and catering industry. “It’s important to know how to market, manage — and cook,” he says. A restaurant’s chef could walkout at a crucial moment, he says, leaving you holding the spoon.

Elisa Long, who hails from the suburbs of Paris, is in her second year at HEC. She says she always loved French food but didn’t know how to cook.

“This is a skill that is really useful in daily life, but I never thought of having a professional degree,” Long says.  She also mentions the success of the Big Mamma Group as an example of the possibilities. “Plus it’s a way to gain new knowledge about French gastronomy because food is such a big part of the whole culture.’’

As the semester gets underway, she looks forward to meeting — and eating — with her fellow cooks in the new kitchen.


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