By Shannon Mason
I find eating a plant-based diet extremely rewarding, but I’ll be the first to admit that it is especially to challenging to do so during the colder months. Eating a raw crunchy salad never seems to sufficiently warm me up after a long commute through freezing puddles and heavy winds. However, after taking ICE’s Five-Course Winter Vegan Dinner class with Chef Louisa Shafia, author of the IACP nominated Lucid Food: Cooking for an Eco-Conscious Life and The New Persian Kitchen, I have found that vegan cuisine can be just as warming as the heartiest of meat dishes.
Louisa’s passion for Persian and Iranian cuisine, coupled with her love of produce-driven and eco-friendly cuisine, was evident in the recipes she chose for our class. All of the dishes were varied in texture, vibrant in color and so delicious that there was no need to include fake meats or dairy substitutes. For those with an interest in adding meat, however, Chef Shafia mentioned that animal proteins typically used in Persian-Iranian cuisine could easily be worked into any of the recipes we made.
By Carly DeFilippo
Fans of the documentary Kings of Pastry are likely well-acquainted with Philippe Rigollot, who heroically was named Meilleur Ouvrier de France despite the demise of his sugar showpiece during the final moments of the competition. Yet what fans may not know is that Philippe’s wife and business partner, Elodie – a chocolatier by background – is an integral part of his work at the couple’s local pastry shop in Annecy, France. The pair first worked together at Maison Pic, the only 3 start Michelin restaurant in France that is owned by a woman. In anticipation of Philippe’s first hands-on pastry masterclass at ICE this spring, we reached out to Elodie to learn more about the couple’s work and what they’re expecting from their time in New York City.
You trained in France—what was your or Philippe’s training like?
Philippe trained in the traditional fashion—a pre-apprenticeship at the age of 15, followed by two years of apprenticeship and a Brevet de Maîtrise or “Master’s Certificate” which took an additional two years. In fact, Philippe won a regional medal for being the youngest apprentice to earn his certificate.
When did you decide you were interested in competitions, in particular the M.O.F.?
Having grown up around Paris, Philippe frequently passed by the windows of Lenôtre, where he dreamed of working one day. After earning his master’s certificate, he was successfully hired at Lenôtre, which also housed a school of professional development for pastry professionals, in which the majority of classes were taught by MOFs. It was through his introductions to the MOF that Philippe first started thinking about competitions, and in particular, his goal to become an MOF himself.
By Carly DeFilippo
At ICE, we pride ourselves on the diversity of our community. In any given class, recent high school or college graduates learn knife skills along-side clinical nurses, marketing executives or former investment bankers. When it comes to career changers, we tell our students that all the skills they gained in previous careers will be of huge benefit to them when they enter the industry. As for finding a student who exemplifies that truth, there are few better examples than Culinary Arts graduate John Feingold.
What were you doing before you enrolled at ICE?
I’ve had several unsatisfying careers over the past 35 years. But I love to cook and eat almost more than anything else, so I decided to put my career where my mouth is. I quit my day job as a senior vice president at a big NYC real estate advisory firm, enrolled in ICE’s weeknight culinary program, and went out and bought a run-down restaurant property in Maine. My plan was to open a place that served food I’d like to eat. I’d been an adventurous home cook all my life, and I had taken lots of recreational courses, including some at ICE. I liked the ICE curriculum and the instructors I’d met, so ICE was an easy choice among several otherwise excellent schools.
By Sharon Ho, Pastry Arts Student
While my first module as an ICE pastry student contained mostly lectures and cooking demonstrations, my second module (“Mod 2″ as we students refer to it) was much faster paced and hands-on. Our mission? Bread baking—which requires some seriously vigorous work. It’s all about speed, efficiency and the ability to produce mass quantities of bread without sacrificing quality.
It’s been about a week and a half since we have started this mod and although it’s been hectic, it’s been tons of fun. Sure, there’s a lot more to do than normal and it’s a little more tense in the kitchen, but in the long run, we are enjoying our time baking bread and watching our amazing creations come to life.
So there are a few general terms and processes that every aspiring bread baker should know: rising, fermentation, proofing, gluten and turning. Rising refers to the process of letting the kneaded dough rest, untouched, in a bowl with plastic wrap sealed over top. Fermentation is the process where yeast, dry or fresh, produces carbon dioxide in the dough. This makes the dough “rise” and double in size. Proofing is the step before baking the bread. To proof bread, the bread has to rest in a warm place, either a proofing box or under a couche (a proofing cloth), so that the bread can double in size once again. Gluten refers to the protein produced in dough when it is kneaded thoroughly. To test for gluten, you have to check the dough’s elasticity by holding a thin piece up to light. Ideally, a faint web will be visible. That web is gluten. Finally, turning is an action performed during the rising of dough. Turning seals in the existing carbon dioxide bubbles created from the yeast, allowing for the dough to fully rise.
By Virginia Monaco
The world of wine can be very intimidating for culinary students. Wine experts, much like chefs, speak their own language. From “terroir” to “tannins”, this language can be confusing and alienating to the uninitiated. With so many regions, appellations, grapes and chateaus, it’s almost impossible to keep track.
Luckily, the best way to start learning about wine is pretty simple: start drinking it! And if you have the opportunity to be led through a tasting by one of the world’s foremost sommeliers, then all the better. When Bernard Sun, Corporate Beverage Director of Jean-Georges Restaurant Group, visited ICE earlier this month, Sun led the audience through a tasting of New Zealand wines, providing many students and alumni with an excellent boost to their ongoing wine education.
After working in illustrious restaurants like Lespinasse and Montrachet, Sun was named the Corporate Beverage Director of Jean-Georges Restaurant Group, overseeing the wine lists at all of their restaurants, from New York to Shanghai. A past recipient of the coveted James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Wine Service Award, Sun arrived at ICE well-equipped to walk tasters through a flight of New World wines. During the tasting, Sun took great pains to demystify the act of wine tasting. He carefully explained to the audience what features to look for in the taste and aroma of the wine and how to best detect them.
By Dana Mortell
On March 27th, Allagash co-founder Rob Tod and ICE Dean of Students Andrew Gold co-hosted the 12th annual Cookin’ with Allagash Recipe Contest at ICE. At this much-anticipated event, sponsored by Allagash Brewing Company, ICE students competed for scholarship money to apply towards their culinary school tuition. This year, students were charged with creating Belgian-style dishes to pair with Allagash’s popular Saison beer. Of the many students who submitted recipes, the top three—Hadar Aviram, David Kurihara and Adrian Brown—were picked to compete for scholarships at the event itself.
For the event, Allagash supplied multiple cases of Saison—their interpretation of a classic Belgian farmhouse style beer that is brewed in the winter to be enjoyed during the summer months.The beer is refreshing, with notes of spice and tropical fruit in its aroma. With ample bottles of Saison at their disposal, ICE student contestants were able to experiment with the beer as they developed recipes for the contest with Chef Virginia Monaco, Culinary Relations Manager at ICE. Chef Virginia helped mentor students during the recipe creation process, providing valuable feedback in the final days before the competition.
As the Dean of ICE’s School of Business & Management Studies, Steve Zagor oversees one of the most innovative culinary business programs in the country. He has mentored countless alumni—from Jim Nawn of Agricola Eatery to Jason Soloway of Wallflower, Mark Sy of Vien to Christina Ha of Macaron Parlour. In fact, those four students-turned-entrepreneurs hail from just one of Steve’s graduating classes. Multiply their success by his 10+ years as a teacher (not to mention his lengthy career as a restaurateur and consultant) and you’ll get a ballpark idea of Steve’s undeniable impact on today’s culinary industry.
Steve joined the faculty of ICE’s Culinary Management program in 2001 and was named program director later that year. A charismatic lecturer himself—known for the occasional magic trick and his stand-up comedy style—Steve knew he wanted to diversity our students’ experience. Since then, he regularly taps into his wide network of contacts to invite successful culinary entrepreneurs to speak with our students or integrate field trips into the curriculum, expanding both the diversity of our students’ educational experience and their access to networking opportunities.
By Carly DeFilippo, Culinary Arts Student
The first thing you learn in culinary school is that being a chef is far more complex than most people realize. It’s more than just chopping and cooking ingredients. We have to constantly worry about the proper refrigeration, cleanliness, and cooking times/temperatures of the products we serve our guests—not to mention, trying not to harm ourselves in the kitchen. As culinary students, our tools are our trade, and we’re dealing on a daily basis with fire and knives.
In fact, it’s only when you receive your knife roll that being a “future chef” starts to sink in. Laser-sharp, these knives are our best friends and worst enemies. Ironically, the sharper the blade, the safer you are cutting up your mise en place or filleting a fish. As our first hands-on knife skills challenge, Chef Michael Garrett taught us to wield our massive 10-inch Wusthof chef’s knives to break down oddly shaped carrots and potatoes into small, perfectly square, half-inch cubes—a process chefs call “medium dice”. It’s a frustrating skill to get the hang of, but as you go through the patient repetition of crafting each little square, there’s a deep sense of satisfaction to the process.
By Stephen Zagor, Dean of Culinary Business Studies
Consider the scene in your average home kitchen. Could a successful restaurant survive with only one sink to clean veggies, peel shrimp, rinse raw chicken, wash hands and rinse pet bowls? Or a reach-in refrigerator filled with perishables that is often left open for too long? What about a dog running around while the staff is working, or an untrained cook who licks his fingers after tasting the sauce? The same warm dreamy set that is the foundation of so many fond childhood memories is also the cauldron of bacteria where you are most likely to get “stomach flu”—or as professionals call it, “food poisoning”.
And yet, in-home restaurants are now in vogue. An article recently published in The New York Post entitled “I Turned MY Apartment into a Restaurant” extolls the virtues of this trend in which (often untrained) cooks invite complete strangers to visit their home and pay for dinner. But those interested in starting such a venture should be warned: the average home kitchen is many times dirtier than any restaurant. The reason we have a Department of Health and regulations about serving food and alcohol is to protect both the diner and the restaurateur.
By Richard Vayda, Director of Wine Studies
A great bottle of wine—it often seems like such a simple pleasure. But the vision, planning, labor and skill required to infuse joy into every bottle is not always so apparent to the drinker. On a recent Thursday, ICE students, guests and staff learned about this process as part of ICE’s ongoing Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs series, where guest speakers from all walks of the food and beverage industry share their experience and advice.
“Treat” is really the right word for this talk, as winemaker and vineyard owner Daniel J. Daou not only inspired the audience with his story, but also offered a tasting of some of his premium wines as well. As the Director of Wine Studies at ICE, I was particularly interested in the Daou’s insights as a winemaker about what really goes into every bottle.
Born in Lebanon and raised in France, Daou recounted his professional journey, culminating in the recent completion of his lifelong goal: becoming the proprietor and winemaker at a family winery. Although winemaking is a rather recent career for him, the roots of his passion date back to his early childhood in Lebanon, where the natural beauty of an olive grove sparked his interest in products of the earth. Growing up in France, Mr. Daou became enamored with wine, especially those of the Bordeaux region. This led to his dream of owning a vineyard that could produce distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon.