With Chef Collin Westal | Knife’s Edge

By Krishna Bahirwani November 28, 2017

Le Cordon Bleu is one of the best known culinary schools in the world. Alumni from the institute have made waves all over the gastronomical world, earning the establishment an impeccable reputation. When we heard Chef Collin Westal, Cuisine Master Chef at Le Cordon Bleu London was in town for a collaboration with Rachel Goenka’s House of Mandarin, we took the opportunity to sit down with him and chat about his culinary journey.

Edited excerpts from the interview –

What made you take up cooking?

From the age of 12, I knew I was either going to be a Chef or an RAF Pilot (Fighter Pilot). I have always been an adrenaline junkie, and I was not academic enough to be an RAF Pilot, I opted for the hands-on approach of being a Chef, and if anybody knows what it is like to be involved in a busy service at a restaurant, that’s my adrenaline.

What is it like teaching at Le Cordon Bleu? 

The only difference between working for Le Cordon Bleu and working in a restaurant is Le Cordon Bleu doesn’t have the restaurant service adrenaline. However, every day I get to cook with the best quality ingredients and to teach the future of the restaurant industry, and that can’t be bad.

What advice would you give an aspiring chef? 

Taste! Taste! Taste!

In your experience, what are the most common mistakes you see young chefs make? 

Most young chefs want to be a head chef after three years of working in the industry. Once we have trained our students at Le Cordon Bleu, they become cooks and not chefs. They become a chef with time and experience.

What is your favourite dish to cook and why?

I don’t have a favourite dish, but it will have to be any dish using my favourite ingredients – Sea Food.

What has been your most challenging experience as a chef thus far? 

My most challenging experience till date would have to be the last 12 months of my apprenticeship where I ran the vegetable garnish section at what was then the 3 Michelin Star Le Gavroche with my good friend James.

Do you have a favourite restaurant in London?

I don’t have a favourite restaurant, no. But what I do like is the family style service restaurants and small plates such as Brindisa and Terro