By Caitlin Raux
There’s a new school of chefs — those who wax on about ingredients and sourcing; who want to elevate or demote the act of dining out; who want to change the way we eat. Ashley Merriman (Culinary Arts ’04), co-chef of Prune, does not belong to that school. She’s a rare breed of chef nowadays, one who’s passionate about the job mostly because she loves the actual work — the sound of the ticket machine; the chopping during prep; the firing up of grills; the rush during service; and the cleaning — lots and lots of cleaning, as anyone in the industry knows. Ashley’s experience “on the line” dates back to high school, but ICE handed her the keys to the world of fine dining in New York, where she’s had the opportunity to work with some of the city’s great chefs.
I caught up with the former Top Chef competitor on a Monday afternoon before the crush of dinner service (yes, even on a Monday, the house at Prune is full). Ashley and I chatted about her love of the job of being a chef.
From ICE student to chef at the East Village’s favorite restaurant: Read on to learn more.
By Michael Laiskonis—ICE Creative Director
In the past, I’ve written about the parallels between architecture and pastry. I recently judged a competition where architects were asked to express their favorite iconic buildings in the form of cake. Once again, the topic of architecture and pastry arts came to mind.
I think a lot about architecture and design. It’s a closet interest of mine, though I must admit that my passion is limited to: I don’t know much about architecture, but I know what I like. One of the benefits of urban living is being surrounded by so much of it. I’m fascinated by the juxtaposition of various styles, shapes and sizes — sometimes even more than the individual structures themselves. While the streets of Manhattan may be more chaotic than, say, the carefully planned vistas of Paris, a glance down any street or avenue can be just as awe-inspiring. Without overreaching, there are some great analogies to be made between cooking and architecture. Both are seen as lofty arts and technical crafts. Both provide a vehicle for fashionable trends and practical function. Both reflect their immediate environment and in turn, give that place a sense of unique identity. Occasionally, both incite controversy. As two of the three necessities of life, food and shelter hold the kind of sociological importance that can even spawn whole philosophies.
Read on for more thoughts on food + architecture from Chef Michael.
By Caitlin Raux
On a Friday evening in November, when the weekend held the promise of a just-ordered ShackBurger, I nabbed a seat in ICE Director of Wine Studies Richard Vayda’s course: Great Holiday Wines for under $20 and over $50. Armed with an open palate, I tasted nearly a dozen wines, from sparkling rosé and viognier to rich red and sweet fortified; two of each, one a (relative) bargain, the other a splurge. While we swirled, sniffed, sipped, and nibbled, I gleaned some grape wisdom — about wine varieties and my own tastes. In the spirit of holiday giving, here are five surprising takeaways from my wine course at ICE.
- Catalunya makes impressive under-$20 sparklers. The moment you utter “sparkling wine,” everyone’s mind zooms off to the famed region of France: Champagne, where due to a combination of tradition and soil, the best sparklers in the world are made, so they say (especially if “they,” like my wine course companion, happen to be French). But at $18, a Catalunya-grown Brut Reserva Rosé made by Marqués de Gelida was a delicious steal. Really, I was tempted to steal the bottle (but I didn’t, of course). Medium-bodied, refreshing and with a faint aroma of ripe cherries, this wine is the perfect choice to kick off any holiday dinner.
Keep reading to discover the surprising things Caitlin learned while swirling and sipping at ICE.
By Brooke Bordelon — Student, Culinary Arts ’17
Chefs are no strangers to the world of charity. In addition to filling hungry patrons’ bellies, superstar chefs use their clout to make the world a better place. Philanthropic organizations that help different groups — from struggling farmers and low-income families to at-risk youth — have flourished, largely due to the support of culinary heavyweights like Eric Ripert, José Andrés and Christina Tosi.
With her organization Emma’s Torch, ICE student Kerry Brodie (Culinary Arts, ’17) hopes to join the ranks of these culinary visionaries in the fight for a better tomorrow. Inspired by the words of the famous American poet and refugee advocate Emma Lazarus, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” Kerry’s organization aims to empower refugees in the United States by training them in the culinary arts to gain employment in the culinary industry.
I recently chatted with Kerry to discuss her experiences as a culinary student at ICE and as the CEO of Emma’s Torch.
How did you first come up with the vision for Emma’s Torch?
I’ve always been intrigued by the idea that food and cooking are things that make us human. I’m the child of immigrants and most people I know are descendants of immigrants or of refugees. I’ve always wanted to do something that would engage immigrants and refugees in the food world to use this universal experience of cooking, eating and sharing meals to create social change.
Read on to learn more about Kerry and her organization, Emma’s Torch.
By Caitlin Raux
What’s the number one rule of drinking wine? There are no rules. That’s the ethos of ICE’s Director of Wine and Beverage Studies, Richard Vayda. The experienced sommelier and former chef (who was also an opera singer once upon a time) appreciates wine in all of its varieties and for all occasions. Just as there’s a time and place for a grand cru from Bordeaux, there’s also a moment to enjoy a crisp white zinfandel (preferably with potato chips, on the beach). As he teaches students at ICE, the important thing is to keep an open mind and worry less — after all, wine is about enjoyment.
We caught up with Richard before one of his popular Introduction to Wine courses to chat with us for an ICE blog interview.
How did you become interested in wine?
I’m from the Midwest – Chicago, originally – and my grandparents owned a beer and wine warehouse. Alcohol was always around us. When I turned 15, I got really interested in food and wine, so I started making wine in my bedroom. There was no internet then so I had to do everything by books and magazines. I would buy grape concentrate from California – chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon — and I made wine in vats in my bedroom. I didn’t tell my parents right away, but they of course figured out from the smell. Eventually I got to the point where I made sparkling wine.
Read on to learn about Richard’s path to becoming ICE’s wine expert.
By Emily Peck
Emily is a nutritionist, personal chef, Kitchen Assistant at the Institute of Culinary Education, and the blogger behind The Greener Palate. She’s been a vegetarian for over a decade and is passionate about plant-based, whole-food cooking.
Vegan Thanksgiving fans, anyone? From the sausage stuffing to the gravy to the big ol’ turkey, it’s hard to imagine a meatless Thanksgiving that’s still mouth-watering and traditional. If you’re someone who’s inclined to save a bird this year, you might worry that all the tofurkeys and lentil loafs in the world won’t convince your family that eating plant-based foods is in any way comparable to a juicy turkey. But it’s our duty, my fellow plant lovers, to find ways to persuade the skeptics in our lives that we can enjoy the fruits of the earth in so many unique and appetizing ways, while staying true to some of the classic holiday recipes. That’s why, when I was given the opportunity to take Vegan Thanksgiving, a course taught by Chef Peter Berley at the Institute of Culinary Education, I jumped at the chance. He shared a handful of recipes plus ideas for modifying any dish to make it both delicious and entirely plant-based. The following are some tips I took away from the course.
Keep reading to get Emily’s tips for a healthier turkey day plus the recipe for this delicious vegan almond-raspberry cake.
By Robert Ramsey — Director of Advanced Culinary Center
Searching for inspiration for your holiday table? ICE Chef Robert Ramsey, a specialist in Southern cuisine, is sharing three sides so good it almost hurts to call them “sides” — because, really, any one of these could easily steal the show: creamy sweet potato soup with brown butter, sorghum syrup and sage croutons, Southern-style collard greens with black eyed peas, grilled Chesapeake Bay oysters smothered in garlicky, bacon-y butter… hungry yet? Keep reading to get the recipes. Your holiday guests will thank you.
Read on to learn how to make these show-stealing Southern sides.
Recipe by Jenny McCoy — Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
So your sister-in-law likes it sweet but your uncle loves a tart dessert and the rest of the family just wants something delicious to end their holiday meal— what’s a baker to do!? Chef Jenny has the perfect pie-idea for you: a flaky double-crust apple-cranberry pie that’s the perfect mix of tart and sweet — the best of both worlds. Bake, serve (preferably warm and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a spoonful of crème fraîche) and let the compliments roll in.
Keep reading to get the recipe for this lick-the-plate delicious pie.
Recipes by Ted Siegel — Chef Instructor, School of Culinary Arts
On Thanksgiving, turkey is always in style. A juicy bird with salty, crunchy skin is the pièce de résistance of this highly anticipated meal. But if you’re looking to shake up your usual turkey prep method — add some spice or brine to the table — ICE Chef Instructor Ted Siegel has some ideas for you. Below, Chef Ted shares two different methods for preparing your turkey when it’s time to give thanks this year, plus his expert roasting tips.
1) A Caribbean kick: try a Jamaican jerk turkey marinade.
Marinating delivers the double benefit of infusing meat with flavor and keeping it tender.
Read on to discover new ways to up your turkey game this Thanksgiving!