Graduate: 2003, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale
Degree: Associate of Applied Science in Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts
Current Position: Founder and Owner – Gourmet Granola and Celebrated Cuisine
A Scottsdale local and owner of two esteemed culinary businesses, Chef Laura Slama recently became the star of her own interactive, web-based cooking show, "Celebrated Cuisine with Chef Laura" on the FoodiesLive network. Formerly, a dissatisfied technology professional, Chef Laura's passion for food led her to a life-changing education from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale (formerly Scottsdale Culinary Institute).
"Every day I continue to learn and have the opportunity to share that newfound knowledge with my students and clients," says Laura. "I love helping people achieve their full potential in the kitchen."
Chef Laura offers an instructional side of her catering company, Celebrated Cuisine, with a variety of classes that focus on technique, flavor combinations, palate balance and presentation. She also teaches classes at Sweet Basil, at a local gourmet store and cooking school in Scottsdale.
Laura got her start in 2003 following graduation from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Scottsdale by combining her culinary and entrepreneurial passions to establish a catering company. What began as a private chef service for small gatherings and culinary education has grown to accommodate upscale affairs for corporations and higher education. Slama focuses on technique, flavor combinations, palate balance and presentation. In 2004, she expanded her business to open Laura’s Gourmet and currently distributes four flavors of granola — Vanilla Almond, Pumpkin Pecan, Honey Roasted Peanut and AppleLicious Crunch — to specialty gourmet markets throughout the Southwestern United States and nationwide. Her granolas are used in a variety of recipes, and her AppleLicious Crunch Crumb Cake exemplifies their versatility.
Getting to Know Laura – Q/A
Le Cordon Bleu Alumni Chef Laura Slama Celebrates Culinary Creativity through Education and Custom Cuisine
When did you realize cooking was your passion and how were you inspired to enroll at Le Cordon Bleu?
I loved to cook and entertain and always thought about running a restaurant. However, I spent my entire professional career before 2001 selling a high technology solution to senior executives at major corporations around the world. Toward the end of my nearly 20-year high-tech career, I went to see the movie Tortilla Soup and literally called Le Cordon Bleu from the parking lot of the theater to arrange a tour. My plan was to own, operate and manage a restaurant immediately, but after formal training at Le Cordon Bleu, I discovered additional passions for a variety of aspects I had not considered.
What is one thing that you learned in culinary school that has proven to be indispensible throughout your culinary career?
There are truly too many to name, but knife skills are definitely very important. Seasoning properly is the most valuable Le Cordon Bleu foundational technique to master. Learning mise en place and to trust your instincts will take you a long way.
What was your first job after graduating?
I founded my catering company, Celebrated Cuisine. I provided private chef services for small gatherings and culinary education to home cooks of all levels and ages. I still own and operate Celebrated Cuisine today, but with a much more intense focus on technique, flavor combinations, palate balance and presentation. I’m proud to say we’ve grown to accommodate upscale affairs for corporations, private parties and higher education. Whether a private four course dinner for two, a wine dinner for forty, or an elegant buffet for 200, my clients enjoy all the aspects of fine dining in their own homes, featuring customized cuisine and wine options, five star service and unparalleled attention to detail.
What do you do in your current position?
I continue to own and operate Celebrated Cuisine, and in 2004 I expanded my business to open Laura’s Gourmet Granola at the request of my friends, clients, and family. Today, the four granola flavors - Vanilla Almond, Pumpkin Pecan, Honey Roasted Peanut and AppleLicious Crunch - are distributed to specialty gourmet markets throughout the Southwestern United States and shipped nationwide. Distribution continues to grow each year, and between Celebrated Cuisine and Laura’s Gourmet Granola, I am very busy! I have a great staff that helps me manage the companies and continue brand expansion throughout the country.
What has your involvement with Le Cordon Bleu been like following graduation?
I currently serve as the president of the Scottsdale chapter of the Le Cordon Bleu Alumni Association. I am also the Executive Leadership Board President.
What career goals have you accomplished since graduating from Le Cordon Bleu?
I have accomplished every goal I originally thought was realistic - so I keep making new ones! Every day I continue to learn and have the opportunity to share that new found knowledge with my students and clients. I love helping other people achieve their full potential in the kitchen. I added the instructional side of Celebrated Cuisine, offering a variety of classes that focus on technique, flavor combinations, palate balance and presentation. I also teach classes at Sweet Basil, a gourmet store and cooking school in Scottsdale and appear regularly on the local news, including ABC 15’s Sonoran Living, NBC Channel 12’s Valley Dish, Good Morning Arizona, and FoodiesLive, to demonstrate techniques and recipes.
What working chef inspires you?
Chef Lee Hillson, Royal Palms Resort and Hotel (and also an Iron Chef). He is regularly creating new and inspirational dishes served at his consistently fabulous restaurant, done with no ego - just a passion and love for his craft.
Chef Lee Hillson, (and also an Iron Chef). He is regularly creating new and inspirational dishes served at his consistently fabulous restaurant, done with no ego - just a passion and love for his craft.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a culinary career?
You will only get from it what you put into it. Leave your ego behind.
Career success will depend largely on the effort put into studies, job search efforts, experience and attitude. The experience of this alumnus is not representative of all students. This graduate story is unique and may not represent typical experiences or outcomes for our graduates. Graduates should expect to pursue entry-level opportunities in their chosen fields.