Le Cordon Bleu pen - Food Gypsy

The most expensive pen… EVER

Published On August 15, 2010 | By Gypsy | Gastronomy, Kitchen Tales

From the heart of Canada’s western fruit belt, the beautiful Okanagan, there came a sudden change in plan.

I’d set my heart on further gallivanting, visiting and general merriment when there sprang to light the reality of living the dream.  While summer dances on, autumn draws near and for this Gypsy that means it’s time to go “back to school” but this time instead of packing a lunch, I’ll be making one.

Not quite sure how I got my dates muddled but I could have sworn I had more time. Never mind, a mad dash across the country brought me to our nation’s capital; Ottawa, Ontario where I did the unthinkable; I committed to things. Things that take MONTHS.  Things that involve showing up on time, being accountable and taking tests.

In exchange I received a very nice piece of paper reading (in part) “We would like to take this opportunity to welcome you to Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa Culinary Arts Institute. Basic Cuisine. Start date: October 4th, 2010”


“Let’s fit you for your uniform” says Peter, the man who has answered every query and taken my every call for two years as I made the well informed decision as to the next steps in my culinary education.

“Woo hoo!” says I, as I bound off to change.

The white jacket, finishing at top of the thigh, double-breasted (buttoning from both the left and the right, so you can switch if you get dirty. Ummm… IF?), the mandarin collar with blue piping, French sleeves that roll back and the blue school crest on the left breast.

I am enamoured with my reflection, suddenly feeling very ‘official’.

The pants are expandable at the waist (what exactly do you mean by that?!) and long enough to make a second pair. I roll them up.

“No, no” tuts Peter “don’t cuff them, food will fall in there.”

Dude, seriously.  I only did that so I would not kill myself parading about the lobby like a beauty queen. (Someone pl-lease bring me my tiara!) “I’ll have them hemmed.”

I like the checked pant (with the, ahem, ‘buffet’ waist) they’ll hide the (ugly) steel-toed, lace-up, non-slip shoes they make you wear. What? No clogs? I begin my “If orange Crocks and shorts are good enough for Mario Batali…” rant only to be stopped. “Yeah, yeah, yeah… safety first.” (Rolling eyes, behaving like 14 year old) “WhatEVER!”

Long pause, catching my reflection again in the gift shop window.

“Do I get to take this with me?!” I ask, slowly turning, smoothing my white, CLEAN, new jacket.

He shakes his head. “No” he says. It’s a firm no.

“What about the pants?” (Worth a shot, right?)

“Not yet.”

“HAT!” I say holding out greedy hands, cursing myself for not bring a camera.

“No, not right now.” He smiles at me.

WHAT? I’m standing in Le Cordon Bleu, shelling out thousands of dollars for the privilege of chopping onions and being yelled at for the next few months and I get nothing?!  Then I spy it… the Cordon Bleu pen in his hand.

“Gimme your pen!”— I swear to God I stomped my foot.

He laughs and hands me his pen.

Lustily I grip it… examine it… weigh it carefully. Mine. ALL MINE. It’s… very… blue.

Turning the page to the next chapter… the chopping, the mincing, the dicing, the slicing and julienning… then if I’m really lucky… they’ll let me boil water! (OH BOY!)


Apologies Dear Readers (all six of you) between family and social commitments and the matter of moving… my life… I’ve fallen woefully off the blog. Jumping right back on, so much to share.  If I promise to bake a cake in my new downtown, deco apartment as atonement, will you forgive me?  There’ll be butter frosting… :)  Love, Gypsy


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About The Author

"Gypsy" is not my real name." A freelance food & travel writer & photographer based in Aylmer, Quebec. Corinna Horton trained at Le Cordon Bleu, spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn, and is currently between big, shiny kitchens as she focuses on family and what's next in this delicious life.

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