Cold Call with Arthur Heilbronn (NB)

Cold calls. Your professors love them. You fear them. Your ed rep crushes them. We think it’s about time that this HBS staple gets the rebranding it deserves. Each week, The Harbus chats with a randomly selected member of the student body. This week, Katie Peek flirted with the man, the myth, the charmbomb, Arthur Heilbronn.

KP: Why don’t you tell me what you were doing before school?

AH: I was at Goldman Sachs in investment banking for three years, and then I left to go to culinary school in Paris at Le Cordon Bleu for about 7 months.

KP: What precipitated that decision?

AH: It was mostly because I was at a point where I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life. I was working 100 hours a week on what were supposed to be the most fun deals [ed note: contradiction in terms?] but it just wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I realized if I didn’t make a decision to leave, I would probably get stuck there forever. I love to cook, though I wasn’t necessarily very good at it, so…

KP: How did you spin culinary school on your HBS app?

AH: I’ve always been really interested in restaurants and hospitality management, so I think while I was in culinary school that was probably the link I saw, which probably got subconsciously integrated into my application process.

KP: Are you still leaning towards the same? Admittedly you’re only at the six-week mark…

AH: I’m still thinking it, I just don’t know how far from a finance route I want to deviate— at the end of the day that’s my background, and where my interests lie. Right now I’m thinking VC growth equity stuff, which is as much as I’ve been able to narrow it down in six weeks but is still really broad, so we’ll see. [Finance guy who cooks? Be still my beating etc etc!]

KP: Was Le Cordon Bleu as imposing and haughty and French [HARBUS: bravely embracing stereotypes!] as one might expect?

AH: I’m lucky because both my parents are French, I’m fully fluent, we have an apartment there, so all the infrastructure was pretty set-up [obsessive authorial intonation of “THAT’S SO AWESOME” recurrent throughout above.] As a result I was able to focus more on the school aspect, which was a huge culture clash coming from banking. The hierarchy’s probably more rigid than banking, the chef is at the absolute top and you’re at the bottom of the pile, and it’s 12 hours a day six hours a week. I thought sitting at a desk pulling all-nighters was hard, but when you’re doing 12 or 14 hours a day on your feet it’s extremely tiring, kitchens are a hundred something degrees, and I was completely in over my head. I was with guys who had worked in kitchens, or had gone straight from high school to Le Cordon Bleu, and on the first day we had to make soup, and I managed to cut myself on soup day. I basically cut myself opening the knife bag. Plus we had these badges with our nationalities on them, and I had applied as a French citizen, so every time I screwed up they were like ‘You should just renounce your citizenship, you’re an embarrassment to the nation.” Then anytime I did something well, it was like well, your French, you should have done this right from the get-go. [Momentary pause as Katie strikes culinary school from bucket list.]

KP: French girls vs. American girls?

AH: [Long, diplomatic silence.] There are definite positives to both. French girls are classier [Katie too preoccupied with Extreme Nacho Even Cheezier Doritos and recap of ‘RHONJ: This Time, They’re Hookers’ to take offense] and a little bit more worldly, but I think American girls are fun and relaxed.

KP: We’re funny—

AH: No actually I said fun—



AH: Uh, yeah, you guys are funny. [More silence, malevolent KP stares.] Uh, I think I might have a penchant for European girls though.

KP: Are you hoping to go back to New York?

AH: I could do New York, but I kind of have an itch to get back to Europe, so it’s probably East Coast or London.

KP: If a section-mate were headed to NY for the weekend, what’s the Arthur Heilbronn-approved perfect New York day?

[Much consternation, consultation of iphone, requests for more time, and, finally, firm authorial insistence]

AH: Under duress, I submit: J.G Melon’s burger for lunch, ice-skating at Wollman rink in the afternoon, for dinner definitely Little Owl in the West Village, and Jane hotel for drinks after.

KP: Lastly what are you guys doing for Priscilla Ball, and your feelings about the same?

AH: For Section B, coincidentally for me, the theme is French Men and French Maids, so I’ll be going as a French Maid. As for my feelings about it, first off I think Tom and Bob are great [A shared, and well-documented, Cold Call opinion!] so I believe them when they say it’s the best event I’m likely ever to attend [RC: Real Credulous! [Also, acronym jokes?? File under “giving the people what they want!”]] Plus inflatable breasts! So look for that HBS.

KP: Any last words of wisdom?

AH: You look beautiful today.

KP: Aaaand I think you’re going to do just fine here.

October 19, 2012
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