Talented young Welsh chef Lloyd Pinder hit the headlines last year when he won a scholarship to Le Cordon Bleu in London. That might have been enough for the 17 year old student from Cardiff to focus on but Lloyd is a young man with a mission. Prior to taking up his place at the world renowned culinary school Lloyd established 4 Cause Meal, a project that aims to improve the relationship that young people have with food.
Lloyd joined the food theatre team at the Welsh Menu Live in Swansea last August, supporting top chefs including Matt Tebbutt, James Sommerin and Anand George. Since then he’s been immersed in learning new skills from some of the best in the business whilst studying for Le Grande Diplome
Chris Williams met with Lloyd, whilst he was on a flying visit to Cardiff, to chat out about his progress at Le Cordon Bleu and future plans.
How did the scholarship come about?
It came about when I was in high school (Willows High, Cardiff). I was in my final year when Le Cordon Bleu came to one of my catering lessons promoting the scholarship. With some encouragement from my family and friends I applied and went on to win it!
Are you the only student in your year to win a scholarship?
When I started there was one other person was also awarded a scholarship and since then two more people have won the scholarship one of whom is currently taking the course alongside me.
So how many students are on the course with you and how is the course structured?
In my section of the course there are around seventy to a hundred students, with around that number starting each term (every 3 months).
My course (Le Grand Diplome) is structured over five days per week, roughly two days for patisserie and three days for cuisine. My week is balanced out to a 33 hour week minimum.
How different is it from your college studies?
It’s fairly different as in college we would go into the kitchen and do the practical work alongside the chef. With Le Cordon Bleu we first have a demonstration on the dish then we are given 3 hours to recreate it. We also have technical lectures as well as cheese and wine seminars once a term.
What new skills have you developed?
My cooking skills have improved a lot – I’m learning new techniques and adapting ones I previously learnt. With regards life skills I have managed to develop my timekeeping in terms of plating a dish which has proved crucial in this course.
What has been the most challenging part of the course?
I would say re-creating the dishes demonstrated to us by the chefs to a high, professional standard. I’m currently in my final term where I get to be creative with dishes and I would say it’s difficult making sure I do things that work well and are to a level that the teaching chefs will accept as some things they deem ‘too creative’!
And what has been your best moment?
I would say watching chef Alain Roux cook two dishes for us in my first term.
It was a massive privilege watching him cook and then meeting him afterwards. I grew up watching the Roux family cook so it was one of my best moments of the course
As well as the coursework have you been out into any working kitchens for work experience?
I’ve been working with chef Tom Aikens at his restaurant in South Kensington and I’m about to start working at his restaurant in Chelsea.
What chef’s have you met and who was the most inspiring?
So far in this course I have met Alain Roux, Atul Kotcher and the most recent chef Marco Pierre-White.
So you’re enjoying the course at Le Cordon Bleu?
I am enjoying the course so much….. it’s been a truly life changing experience!
Tell me more about The 4 Cause Meal Project
I set 4 Cause Meal up not long after I won the scholarship as I always saw people my age eating take outs and unhealthy food. I thought it would be an amazing thing to teach some of them a new life skill in cooking as well as incorporating healthy food into their diet.
No doubt your studies have taken priority over The 4 Cause Meal Project in the last year. What is your ambition for the Project now?
I want to take the project in a direction that we havent before, Hopefully with the right funding/help I want to have a team that can learn new skills and then for us to run a mini pop up cafe/restaurant all day so they learn what its like to work in the restaurant industry.
When we first met last year your personal ambition was to become a successful chef and to run your own restaurant serving high quality food – does that still stand?
It still stands in a way. I still want to be a successful chef and run my own restaurants but I also want to do some travelling and do more demonstrations like I did with the Welsh Menu last year. Teaching people new things has recently came a passion of mine as well as cooking.
Do you have to do the cooking when you go home?
Haha yes! When I’m back home my family always want me to make things for them that they’ve seen me do in school. It’s a nice thing to do.
How important is local food to you?
Local food is important to me as I’ve always believed in supporting local farmers and producers. It’s always good to stick to your local roots.
What’s your food love and hate?
Ooh this is a tricky question – I would say my food love is vanilla. I’ve always been a “sweets over savoury” guy and vanilla is my absolute favourite.
My food hate would have to be aniseed. Don’t get me wrong I use star anise in my cooking when it comes to it being a subtle back flavour, but as a main flavour I find it truly displeasing.
What does Welsh food mean to you?
Welsh food means so much to me as to me it’s always important to stick to your heritage. There are so many truly beautiful dishes that can be made with Welsh food and it helps to support local producers.