With Martinborough and Masterton fighting it out to be home to New Zealand's only Le Cordon Bleu International School of Cuisine, I had to ask: why not Wellington? Sure, Wairarapa has the wine, but Wellington has the population, the infrastructure and a formidable culinary reputation. For the 300 students, wouldn't it be more educational and inspirational to be based in a city with a thriving metropolitan restaurant scene? After all, the major Pinot Noir NZ events aren't held in the vineyards, but in the capital.
The promoters seem to be looking for a greenfields site for a purpose-built facility, and while such sites are rare in the city, there could be plenty of places at Harbour Quays or on the waterfront (Kumutoto sites 8-10; the OPT) that would make fantastic locations for such a school. Cordon Bleu schools around the world often offer top restaurants and public cooking courses, both of which are likely to attract more customers in downtown Wellington than in the Wairarapa.
All this speculation is presumably too late, however. According to the press release from UCOL, "The International School of Cuisine is a central component of the Major Regional Initiative (MRI) developed in partnership with UCOL, Go Wairarapa and the Wairarapa Wines Promotion Group", so the school was always intended to be in the Wairarapa. Of the two, Masterton might be better for Wellingtonians, since it's directly accessible by rail. On the other hand, Martinborough is more visitor-friendly, and represents the new, gentrified side of the Wairarapa. I remember a Speights ad on the outskirts of Masterton not that long ago: the young Southern Man said "I could murder a Pinot Gris", and the grizzled Southern Man replied "You hold it down, son, I'll shoot it". Hardly Cordon Bleu!