Gourmand says traveling is spice of life

Updated: 2012-06-04 14:51

By Ye Jun (China Daily)

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It is the first time Edward G Leonard, corporate executive chef with Le Cordon Bleu North America, came to Jiangyin, Jiangsu province.

Leonard, who constantly travels around the world for culinary events, is one of the world's 72 certified master chefs (CMC). He says he noticed remarkable changes in the country, compared to when he first came to China five years ago.

"I love China, especially because people here appreciate their food. Food is their life," says Leonard, whose family is of Italian origin.

The master says he is here to observe the competition, while trying to connect and discover. As vice-president of culinary education with Le Cordon Bleu North America, he hopes to share knowledge and skills with Chinese chefs and bring the culinary level up to international standard.

"Traveling influences my food so much. Although I also cook American, my cuisine is global," he says. "I understand in Chinese culture, many chefs never leave the place. It is always important for chefs to learn and share, so that they become better."

Leonard thinks competitive cooking helps chefs grow.

Eating at the rotating restaurant on the 60th floor at Long Wish Hotel, Huaxi village, Leonard finds some dishes very tasty. He's even changed his diet a little.

"In the States, we don't eat so much rice, fish and vegetables," he says. "There is so much marketing today. Americans eat too much processed food."

He also finds food portions here smaller compared to the US. In comparison, Leonard says Chinese food in the US contains too much fat and grease.

"But it's better here," he says.

"Americans think their culinary level is high, but the majority don't understand food. Chefs just need to care more."

Leonard says he tells students at Cordon Bleu "don't come to be chef but to be a professional cook".

"The cook always comes first place. What is important is your passion, your discipline and open mind to the world, because if you don't learn from other people in other parts of the world, you will never realize your full potential," he says.

The chef believes today, with Internet and technology, it's much easier to share with the world and understand one another.

"Food is what brings us together," he says. "It makes life better."