Meet the Chef: Thierry Le Baut

May 20, 2019

Chef Thierry Le Baut is a world-renowned chef who’s headed kitchens of Michelin-starred restaurants, including Martin Berasategui in Spain, Hotel Traube in Germany, and Hôtel de la Poste in France. He’s cooked for Princess Diana, too. Today, he’s in the Philippines as the founding Technical Director of the Le Cordon Bleu (LCB)-Ateneo de Manila, the first LCB school in the Philippines.

He has loved food since he was a child, crediting all those lunches and dinners at his grandmother’s house to be the foundation of his passion for the gastronomical arts. “I’ve loved food since I was young,” he shares. “My grandma cooks very well. When I visit her house, there’s always something. We’re a little bit like Filipinos, if you will. We like to meet with friends or family with a lot of food around.”

He’s had over 20 years of culinary experience and he’s trained under the most influential chefs across Europe. In December 2018, he relocated to Manila upon the invitation of the dean of the Ateneo Graduate School of Business, Rodolfo Ang. But his arrival in the Philippines had always been a long time coming. When he was working in Spain and Malaysia, he had met a lot of Filipinos. “We’ve always had a very good relationship and I’ve always said that I want to come to the Philippines,” he says. “When I heard Le Cordon Bleu wanted to open a new school here, I said, ‘I want to go! It’s my place!’”

Director of the school’s daily minutiae

Eventually, Le Baut hopes to create a program that centers on Filipino cuisine, but before that, students must first learn French techniques. “It’s important for them to know it because it’s used all around the world in different cuisines.” Le Baut himself is a student, too. When asked what Filipino dish he’s most excited to try, he answers, without skipping a beat: “Everything. The staff here always tells me I’m a bit crazy because I taste everything.”

Admittedly, the biggest challenge that he’s facing is the quality of ingredients. He’s met with a few organic farmers as well as seafood fishermen from Negros, but the difference in quality poses a problem in learning the French technique, he says. “French cuisine has different ingredients from Philippine cuisine. Even if they’re the same produce, it’s still different. A French cauliflower is different from your Asian cauliflower.” And he would know: Le Baut hails from Brittany, a farmland in his home country which is the leading grower of cauliflower—“in the world!”, he adds.

Le Baut is playful and lively, entering the kitchens with three chopping boards corresponding to the colors of the French flag.

Le Baut looks forward to the Le Cordon Bleu building, situated on the ground floor of the George SK Ty Learning Innovation Wing of Arete, get filled up with students. “We have very few students so far—only 12. But I’m excited for June, when we open our new program. We have to go little by little. The students are very interested in what they’re doing. They’re trying to make the best and we have good fun sometimes.”

A meal shared with someone

If he hadn’t fallen head over heels in love with food, he admits that being a doctor was something he had in mind. “But it was too long to study. I’m a bit lazy for it,” he says in jest. “So maybe I could’ve become a photographer. I’m interested in photography and art. I like painting and making sculptures.” In the end, it all comes back to food. “I can do that with food! I can do that with chocolate, in butter, in ice, in a lot of things. Food is perfect for me,” he says.

When Le Baut began cooking school at the Lycée Chaptal, he didn’t even know how to hold a knife. “When I got to school, most of my classmates were the son or the daughter of chefs already, or their parents own restaurants, so most of them had more knowledge than me. In the beginning, it was quite hard because everybody was finishing before me in the first year. But in my second year, I was finishing before them.”


“You have to be constant and you have to work a lot to get it,” he says, reflecting on his time as a culinary student. His also emphasizes the importance of being a patient chef. “Patience is very important. If you lose your patience, I think it’s better to stop being a chef. If you are in a bad mood or if you’re stressed, it shows in your cooking and your customer can see that there is a problem.”

Even during the quickest of chats with Le Baut, his passion and love for food still rises to the top, something which he hopes to impress upon his students at LCB Ateneo.