Get to Know Los Angeles Campus Lead Chef Herve Guillard
The dean of students and Pastry & Baking Arts lead chef shares his path from France to Los Angeles, followed by 18 years and counting in culinary education.
Students at ICE’s LA campus recognize Chef Herve Guillard’s unmistakable French accent. Though he’s called the United States home since 1995, the dean of students and Pastry & Baking Arts lead chef was born in Bourges, France, where he was raised by a stay-at-home mother and banker father whose career at Société Générale relocated the family every few years.
The youngest of three children, Chef Herve fondly remembers summers during his youth working for his uncles in the hospitality business, either at one’s auberge (inn) or the other’s patisserie, where he did everything from kitchen prep to bussing tables to kneading dough.
At age 14, when French teenagers determine a major, he chose science and focused on mathematics, biology and chemistry. After high school he went on to study environmental engineering in Perpignan, just across the Spanish border, where he would often go to explore the culinary scene. Perpignan was followed by Grenoble where he received his health and safety engineering degree and, of course, relished in the cuisine of the French Alps.
“Food was always a big part of me,” Chef Herve says. “In college, we’d gather our friends and do a meal, potluck style, and talk about politics and the world. Socialization around food is critical.”
He believes sharing a home-cooked meal together is the key to understanding one another. “That conviviality around food makes it so you just talk, but not enough people take the time to gather in real life as so much socialization is done online.”
Chef Herve references a quote from Civil Rights activist Cesar Chavez: If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him... the people who give you their food give you their heart. “You give a part of yourself when you feed someone,” Chef Herve echoes. “That’s my relationship with food; it’s not technical, it’s emotional.”
Though he studied science, his passion and background growing up around the food industry drove him to become a private chef after moving to Los Angeles. Eventually, that career change led to instructing culinary and baking students, and after 18 years of educating, he became the dean of students at ICE’s Los Angeles campus.
“My role is two-fold: understanding the students, their own path, their own situation, and helping them to succeed in our school. The other side is policy-driven. I want to understand the student and their needs within the framework of our policies and regulations,” he explains. Though in his new role, he’s no longer a full-time instructor, one of the places you’ll often find Chef Herve is in the kitchen helping students with Skills Enhancement.
“The purpose of Skills Enhancement is for students to revise or acquire a skill they missed, but I have a fair amount of students who just come to discover new things,” Chef Herve explains. Case in point: On a recent Thursday afternoon, he and Culinary Arts student David Shuck spent time creating and plating a Thai beef salad with presentation fit for a private, catered affair.
“I bring them recipes as they request to work on something that’s not in the syllabus,” Chef Herve says. “That’s a place to experiment. I want it to be an open lab, an open kitchen and an inviting environment where they have the equipment, time and input of a chef to help them tune their culinary voice.”
He also leads ICE LA’s Pastry & Baking Arts instructors. A critical part of that role is ensuring instructors not only have the desired resume but that they share Chef Herve and ICE’s sensibilities. “What’s foremost for me is someone who wants to share their expertise, who is thrilled by the success of others and their students and who rejoices in their students’ growth and that eureka moment when you witness students ‘get it.’”
Chef Herve says a few key factors distinguish ICE’s pastry program, namely that it’s accelerated and there’s creative freedom.
“There is a large space for experimenting with the recipes in the curriculum,” Chef Herve says. “Our instructors give freedom to students after they have a solid base then we fly with it — i.e. a different filling for a pie, flavoring in an éclair, etc.” It is his belief that once a student grasps the main concept, they can build upon what they’ve learned. The other key distinction, according to Chef Herve, is making deep, meaningful connections.
“We try to understand our students and where they want to go with the information and education,” he says. “It’s not just about mimicking what we do, it’s about understanding — that’s the difference between a hands-on education and online learning: The chef is there to guide you, to troubleshoot, to explain what could be better and to push you to excel.”
In order for our students to find success, the lessons and education go beyond the classroom. Chef Herve can attest to that guidance going beyond what’s in the curriculum. “You want them to excel and to do that, you need to reach that seed: Why did they come to school? What are their ultimate aspirations? It’s not always evident. Some students are quiet while others are frank, but many of them don’t know yet where they want to go,” he says.
After years in education, Chef Herve believes that a good instructor will listen and allow students to realize their own potential and path after their formal education is complete. “Some people consider school as a beginning and an end,” Chef Herve says. “I want to see it as a continuation of a student’s past through their long career — we are a component of their growth and ultimate achievement.”
He also believes a culinary education is a vocation in the truest sense of the word with French Latin at its root. “Vocational school, to me as it is in French, has a sense of calling. It is a term that’s used for monks, a spiritual calling,” he explains. “You’ve been chosen to follow this path, which makes sense as with food, there is always that spiritual component.”
Last, he believes there is a deep connection between cooking for others and teaching how to cook for others. “I would hope for students entering ICE to create a network and a family while they’re here,” Chef Herve says. “And that network is with students, faculty, staff, Career Services, etc. When they graduate, they are still part of this family.”
For students interested in career training at ICE, Chef Herve offers this advice: “Come in with an open mind. Although you may have a career path or expectation in mind, we’re going to give you more than what you’ve bargained for. Your aspiration may change as you cover new things. Be receptive and inquisitive so you can get the best out of your education and be an active learner versus a passive student. The more research you do and the more you pick the brains of your instructors, the more worthwhile it will be. Remember: Your education doesn’t stop after the four hours you’re in class each day.”
Bring an open mind to ICE's Pastry & Baking Arts program in Los Angeles.