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‘I didn’t consider anywhere else’: studying at top culinary school Ferrandi Paris

A career in the culinary world is a pipe dream for many. But for those with the passion and determination to make it a reality, Ferrandi Paris is a clear choice.

'I didn't consider anywhere else': studying at top culinary school Ferrandi Paris
Photo: Ferrandi Paris

Paris has quite the reputation among foodies.

“It’s the culinary capital of the world,” exclaims pastry chef Jacek Malarski. “I knew I had to study there.”

Jacek had been running a little pastry shop in Poland with his partner, but he wanted to take his baking to the next level.

“I would visit Paris from time to time, and just gaze at the beautiful pastries in the shops, wondering how they did it,” he recalls. “I bought books and tried to replicate it, but it was impossible.”

Bruce Sherman, who graduated from the school over 20 years ago was also drawn to Paris.

“Where I come from in America, food is not so much a part of the culture. In Europe, in France, food is primary, essential, to life,” Bruce tells The Local. “I started to realise I didn’t need to pursue what I was brought up to do, and that I should follow my heart and soul.”

His heart and soul led him to the same place Jacek’s research did: Ferrandi.

Ferrandi Paris is one of France's most prestigious culinary schools, offering professional training not just in the primary culinary arts but also in restaurant management, F&B and hospitality management. This year the legendary school is launching its Bachelor and Master degrees in hospitality management (partially in English, partially in French).

Jacek and Bruce enrolled in two of the school’s famous Intensive Professional Programmes in English: Jacek in French Pastry and Bruce in French Cuisine, which now are both five-month programmes followed by three-month internships.

Ferrandi Paris graduates Bruce Sherman (l) and Jacek Malarski (r). Photos: Ferrandi Paris

“I didn't consider anywhere else,” Jacek says. “All my research and all opinions indicated that Ferrandi was the best.”

Jacek started out in Poland as a struggling actor. Bruce, with a degree in economics and business, had a top career in the financial world.

But neither was prepared for the intensity of culinary school.

“The sheer quantity of recipes and learning that occurred in such a short period of time – it was intense!” Jacek exclaims. “It completely changed how I thought about pastry and gastronomy.”

“The course was critical for making me who I am today,” agrees Bruce, now a full-fledged chef who runs a Michelin starred restaurant, North Pond, in Chicago.

But the two chefs learned a lot more than just how to cook at Ferrandi.

Find out more about how to enrol at Ferrandi Paris

“We learned everything – even simple things such as the structure of the restaurant,” Bruce explains. “Being a chef isn’t just the cooking – you start prepping before service, and you finish once you’ve cleaned up and turned the lights off.”

Jacek agrees.

“We were not only taught how to make cakes, but also how to organise, how to think, and how to run companies,” he says. “In fact, after I graduated my professor came to Poland to help me run my company – that shows the dedication on his part!”

Bruce recalls his amazement at the wealth of opportunities available at Ferrandi, and the unparalleled expertise apparent in each department.

“There were entire departments devoted to specialties,” he says. “There was such a diversity. It really allows students to dive deep.”

The sentiments of Ferrandi alumni Bruce and Jacek are echoed by student Emma Le Sellier de Chezelles, currently enrolled in the Hospitality Management programme.

“There’s a great spirit at Ferrandi, because everyone here has the same passion for food, and passion for the French way,” she explains.

As part of all three programmes, students are required to undertake internships. Bruce worked at three different places to gain insight in different areas.

“It was amazing to see a restaurant operate at a nuts and bolts level. I witnessed exceptional creativity but also a typical French dedication – the chefs were breaking their backs in order to make things work,” Bruce recalls.

Emma meanwhile, has landed internships in both Paris and London.

“The school is very well-connected which allows us to be challenged in new ways and experience new things,” she says.

Jacek completed his internship at a well-known patisserie in Paris, specifically recommended by his professor to suit his goals and needs.

Learn more about studying at Ferrandi Paris

“It was superb,” he says. “It made me realise even more that this is my passion.”

Nurturing passion is perhaps what Ferrandi does best. The school allows students to delve deep into what really interests them and turn dreams into reality. Indeed, 90 percent of graduates land jobs within six months after graduation and more and more are launching their own businesses both in France and internationally.

Jacek, who runs one of the best pastry companies in Poland, and Bruce, with his Michelin restaurant, are not exceptions – they're the norm.

“Ferrandi was a thousand times better than I could have imagined,” Jacek says. “I came back from my education refreshed and inspired, and three years later, I still feel the same energy.”

“I would recommend Ferrandi to everyone – to anyone who is serious about a career in the culinary world,” he continues.

With the development of tourism and the food/restaurant industry worldwide, there has been an exponential growth in job opportunities. And with the new programmes at Ferrandi Paris in the works, there have never been more opportunities for foodies from around the world to achieve their goals.

Click here for more more information about Ferrandi Paris

This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by Ferrandi Paris.

 

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CULTURE

Skulls, beer and a ‘cathedral’: Discover the secrets of underground Paris

You've certainly heard of the Metro, maybe the catacombs and perhaps even the Phantom of the Opera's underground lake - but there are some things lurking beneath Paris that might surprise you.

Skulls, beer and a 'cathedral': Discover the secrets of underground Paris

One of Europe’s most densely populated cities, Paris has over two million people living within its boundaries. As those inhabitants walk along the Champs-Elysées or Rue de Rivoli, they might be entirely unaware of the extensive underground world that exists below their feet. 

These are some of the hidden gems beneath the famous monuments in the City of Light:

Skulls, beer and police

The final resting place for over six million Parisians – the catacombs are the most well-known part of underground Paris, but did you know that the 1,700 metres of catacombs that are open to the public represent less than one percent of the whole of the catacombs in Paris? In fact, the underground network is thought to be around 300 km in size.

The catacombs are also known as the Ossuaire Municipal, and they are located at the site of former limestone quarries. The Ossuaire as we know it was created during the 18th century, because the city’s cemeteries could not withstand its population growth and public health concerns began to be raised. Gradually the remains of millions of Parisians were moved underground.

The bones of Parisians only comprise a small section of Paris’ ‘carrières‘ (or quarries), which can be seen in the above map.

These subterranean passages have fascinated cataphiles for many years – with stories of secret parties, illicit tunnel exploration and much more. During the Covid lockdowns, the catacombs infamously served as a location for clandestine parties. At one point, over 35 people were ticketed for participating in underground raves

The network even has its own police service, the Intervention and Protection Group, known colloquially as the cataflics, who are a specialised police brigade in charge of monitoring the old quarries in Paris.

Though these quarries might be a location to secretly throw back a few pints, they are also connected to beer for another reason, as they are the ideal environment to both store and make beer – with consistently cool temperatures and nearby access to underground water sources.

In 1880, the Dumesnil brewery, located in the 14th arrondissement, invested in the quarries underneath its premises, using them to store the thousands of barrels of beer that it produced each year. Over the years, the brewery simply turned its basement into a real underground factory. 

If you really want to visit the ancient underground quarries specifically, you don’t have to just go to the catacombs. You can also do so by visiting the “Carrières des Capucins.” Found just below the Cochin hospital, located in the 14th arrondissement, access to these tunnels is allowed to the public (with reservation) in small groups.

As for entering the rest of the old quarry system, that has been illegal to enter the old quarries since 1955, which has not stopped several curious visitors and explorers from trying to discover what secrets might be underground. 

Sewer Museum

Recently renovated, this museum might not be at the top of a tourist’s list in the same way the Louvre or Musée d’Orsay might, but the museum of sewers actually has a lot of fascinating history to share. It took almost a century to build Paris’ sewage system, and it is largely to thank for the city’s growth, protecting the public health of inhabitants by helping prevent disease outbreaks. 

Visiting the sewers is not a new activity either – according to the museum’s website, “as early as 1867, the year of the World’s Fair, visits were met with immense public success, the reason being that this underground space had always been hidden from the curious eyes of all those who dwell on the surface of Paris.”

Ghost stations

A total of 16 Metro stations go unused underground in Paris – some were built and never put into use, others were decommissioned after World War II.

The most famous is Porte des Lilas – a working Metro station that has an unused ‘ghost’ section which these days is used for filming scenes in movies and TV.

If you’ve ever watched a scene set in the Metro, chances are it was filmed at Porte des Lilas, which has a section of track that Metro cars can move along if needed for action sequences. 

The extra section was taken out of commission in 1939 due to under-use, and in the 1950s it served as a place to test new metro cars.

Beware if you find yourself in Haxo station – it does not have its own entrance or exit and is only accessible by following the Metro tunnels. It is one of the six that never opened, similar to Porte Molitor, Orly-Sud, La Défense-Michelet, or Élysée-La Défense.

Other stations were closed for being too close to other stations, such as the Saint-Martin station, which was closed after World War II as it was too close to Strasbourg-Saint Denis. 

These phantom stations are usually off-limits to the public, but sometimes access is allowed for special guided tours or events.

Reminders of World War II 

Paris’ underground played an important role during the Second World War.

First, there is the French resistance command bunker, which is now part of the Musée de la Libération at Place Denfert Rochereau.

It was from here that Resistance leaders co-ordinated the battle for the liberation of Paris in 1944.

There is also the anti-bombardment bunker near Gare de l’Est. Normally this is closed during the year, but it is opened on Heritage Day in September. (Journées de patrimoine). 

The bunker was originally commissioned in 1939 to keep trains running, even in the event of a gas attack, and it was completed by the Germans in November 1941. It is located between Metro tracks 3 and 4. The bunker itself – which can fit up to 50 people – has basically been frozen in time, featuring a control room and telephone. 

Another river

You’ve heard of the Seine, but what about the underground river that flows through the city of Paris? Prior to the 20th century, the Bièvre river flowed through the city as well, running through Paris’ 13th and 5th arrondisements. Once upon a time, tanners and dyers set up shop next to the Bievre, shown in the image below. 

The river eventually became quite polluted and concerns arose that it might be a health hazard, so in 1875, as part of his transformation of the city, Georges-Eugène Haussmann decided that the Bièvre had to go. It was mostly covered up, and now what remains of the river flows beneath the city, with some parts of it joining Paris’ sewage system.

The Phantom’s lake

If you are a fan of Phantom of the Opera, you would know that the Phantom’s lair is below the Palais Garnier (the Opera house), and that Christine and the Phantom must cross a subterranean lake to get there.

This body of water is not a figment the imagination of Gaston Leroux – though not an actual lake, a large water tank can be found below the grounds. It is even used to train firefighters to swim in the dark.

The Phantom’s not real, though (probably).

‘Cathedral’

The Montsouris reservoir is one of Paris’ primary drinking water sources, along with L’Haÿ-les-Roses, Saint-Cloud, Ménilmontant and Les Lilas.

But while it’s undoubtedly very useful, it’s most famous for its looks.

The structure resembles a kind of underground water cathedral and is home to over 1,800 pillars, which support its numerous vaults and arches. It’s closed to the public, but its rare beauty means that it’s often photographed by urban explorers.

Mushroom farms

And last but not least – the ‘mushroom houses.’ Les champignons de Paris have been grown below the capital’s soil for centuries.

READ MORE: Inside Paris’ underground mushroom farms

“Paris mushrooms” have been grown since the 17th century. The rosé des près (meadow pink) mushrooms were a favourite of Louis XIV and were originally grown overground – their colour comes from the limestone that Paris is build on.

By the 19th century they went underground, which provided more space and allowed the fungi to be cultivated year-round, but eventually the construction of the Paris Metro pushed many growers out of the capital.

Today, there are just five traditional producers in operation – Shoua-moua Vang runs the largest underground mushroom cave in the Paris region, spread across one and a half hectares of tunnels in a hill overlooking the Seine river. 

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