By Carly DeFilippo
While cooking in restaurant kitchens is time well spent for any culinary career, many ICE students enroll in our program with the goal to find a future in food outside of restaurant kitchens. Fusing her freelance writing experience with her culinary training, ICE alum Katie Barreira (Culinary Arts ‘07) has landed her dream job in food media, strategically building a career that includes both test kitchen and editorial experience at such magazines as Every Day with Rachael Ray—and, most recently, as the Test Kitchen Director for Cooking Light.
Why did you choose ICE for your culinary education?
After graduating from Bucknell University with a BA in English, I worked on the line at La Morra, a fine dining Tuscan restaurant in Brookline, MA, while freelance writing for publications like the Boston Globe. So when it came to choosing a school, I liked that ICE supported food media as a culinary career path and encouraged me to use my externship as a springboard toward work in that part of the industry. And, as it turns out, the industry connections I made through my externship at Food & Wine magazine were instrumental in helping me break into food media.
Are there any professional accomplishments of which you are particularly proud?
When I started out in magazines, test kitchen and editorial work were viewed as two very separate entities, but it was important to me to be able to flex my muscles as both a cook and a writer. It took a good deal of perseverance to successfully pursue both, but doing so provided me with the most fulfilling and exciting work of my career.
Blame it on Joe Beef: ever since Chefs Frédéric Morin and David McMillan opened this popular temple of elegant excess in 2005, American magazines and food blogs can’t get enough of the indulgent dishes from the capital of poutine. But while Montreal’s savory dishes get most of the hype, the city has no lack of impressive outposts for sweets. ICE Chef Instructor Victoria Burghi reports back from her recent trip to the “city of saints.”
[caption id="attachment_18396" align="aligncenter" width="550"]
Photo Credit: A La Folie[/caption]
As a pastry chef, I’ve always enjoyed exploring the food scene of a new city—in particular, learning about new styles of sweets. So I was thrilled to visit Montreal this summer and to learn about the city’s wide range of traditional, modern, unique and audacious sweets.
A note about local flavor: one word that you quickly learn in Montreal is “érable,” which means maple. Canada is the number one producer of maple syrup in the world, most of it coming from the province of Quebec. Thus, it’s no surprise that it has become a very popular ingredient, seen in maple candies, fudge, butter, cookies and an infinite amount of other confections.
By Virginia Monaco, ICE Department of Student Affairs
During his eight-year tenure as Executive Pastry Chef for Le Bernardin, ICE Creative Director Michael Laiskonis was often praised for his innovative desserts. Yet, while he was given a good deal of creative freedom in that role, there were still significant restraints on his dishes. First and foremost, they had to make sense in the context of the Le Bernardin’s fine dining menu, and there was always the essential question of food costs.
Since joining ICE’s team in 2012, Chef Michael has had the opportunity to push his creative boundaries, with both sweet and savory dishes. From working with the IBM Watson team on the cognitive cooking project to exploring the regional dishes of his Latvian ancestors, it’s clear that he has been hard at work. This fall, Michael took a moment to reflect and share both the results and the lessons of his new discoveries with ICE students and alumni.
By Stephen Zagor—Dean, School of Business & Management Studies
As many New Yorkers already know, bed bugs are everywhere—subway cars, offices, department stores, movie theatres, everywhere. But of all the places they hide, hotels—with their never-ending flow of new overnight guests—are one of the most likely places for the little creatures to hop a ride to your home on your clothes or bags.
Yet, as a hospitality professional, my initial disgust regarding bed bugs quickly turned to curiosity—and the data I found was shocking. According to the Bed Bug Registry, the list of affected hotels encompasses everything from Economy Inns to $700+ per night luxury suites. Not only are these little critters a customer service issue, but they are also a public relations nightmare for any hotel unlucky enough to be under attack.
So what’s a hotel to do? It’s basically impossible to prevent bed bugs from entering, given that travelers are an easy transport mode for the creatures. That leaves proactive initiatives as the best course of action, specifically in two areas: Inspect to Protect and Damage Control.
By Carly DeFilippo
“Everyone comes into a room with a history,” says Chef Gerri Sarnataro, and it’s sure that Gerri herself—the owner of a successful cooking school in Umbria and a member of ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts faculty—is no exception. Like many professionals in the culinary field, Gerri’s career path was not a straight one; it was a combination of many parallel pursuits.
After entering into the culinary field as a 30-year-old career changer, Gerri made a name for herself as a chef and caterer for New York City’s fashion elite. Yet, as her reputation continued to grow, her personal interests increasingly pulled her across the Atlantic. She spent the first 15 years of her career rigorously exploring the culinary riches of France, but it wasn’t until she turned her attention to Italy – the country of her ancestors – that Gerri’s entrepreneurial imagination kicked into high gear. Soon enough, Gerri happened upon a small workshop for sale in Umbria. It was there that she founded Cucina della Terra, an intimate school where she now shares her passion for local products and traditional techniques with other culinary enthusiasts.
Today, Gerri’s career is truly international, spending three months at a time with career students – like alumni Clarisa Martino and Zac Young - in ICE’s pastry kitchens, then jetting back to Italy to lead gastronomic tours and locavore cooking classes. Her schedule may be just as grueling as the days when she served such fashion stars as Oscar de la Renta, but now, the menu is created entirely on her terms.
By Grace Reynolds, Culinary Management Student
As a general rule of thumb, the anticipation of a new experience comes with a heavy dose of expectations. Be it your first trip to a foreign country, a new job or a first date, it’s easy to construct a romanticized notion of “what could be” before even setting foot in the airport, office or restaurant. But how often does reality actually meet our expectations?
Personally, I try not to get too excited about new opportunities. My optimistic daydreams have resulted in disappointment on many occasions, some worse than others. So in the days leading up to September 29th (my first day in ICE’s Culinary Management program), I made every effort to keep my expectations in check. Even as ICE alums raved to me about their experience in the program—how it helped them reach their professional goals, changed the way they think, gave them the tools to succeed in the restaurant industry—I tried to stay pragmatic. If this program was really the professional game-changer they suggested, it would still have to prove itself to me first.
By Carly DeFilippo
In the realm of culinary careers, food styling has historically gotten a bit of a bad rap. From mashed potatoes standing in for ice cream to marbles boosting the hearty look of a soup, it’s a profession that was once better known for trickery than honest beauty. Thankfully, recent trends in food media are pointing toward the less polished look. Among the media outlets popularizing this more natural approach to food styling? The celebrated source for all things cooking, Food52.
Yet—however more appealing it may be—this approach to styling isn’t without its challenges. Narrowing your primary tools to good lighting, beautiful props and high quality raw ingredients makes a talented food stylist’s skill—and speed—even more valuable. That’s why ICE was thrilled to offer a food styling workshop with Food52’s own Executive Editor (and ICE Culinary Arts alum!), Kristen Miglore and Freelance Stylist, Kristy Mucci.
By Carly DeFilippo
In our increasingly global food scene—where we can access ingredients as diverse as octopus, chicory and passionfruit, where our shelves are lined with cookbooks celebrating Italian, Filipino, Middle Eastern or South American cuisine—what is the value of regional cooking? It’s a question that ICE Culinary Arts alum Vivian Howard and an evolving community of chefs are exploring by revisiting the flavors of their ancestors, celebrating the ingredients and dishes of regional American cuisine.
Acclaimed for both her work as chef/co-owner of Chef & The Farmer and her acclaimed PBS show A Chef’s Life, Vivian was presented with a Peabody Award in 2014 and has been nominated twice for the James Beard “Best Chef Southeast” award. But beyond these honors, Vivian’s cooking and storytelling are breathing new life into the culinary traditions of eastern North Carolina, inspiring a new generation of chefs to explore their own roots and celebrate the taste of home.
What were the highlights of your time in culinary school?
I liked ICE’s approach, and I felt it was a well-rounded program that would help me discover what direction I wanted to go in. My first instructor was Alex Guarnaschelli, who was such a great storyteller, a passionate teacher and—of course—a woman chef. She really set the bar for my experience. I also remember Chef Ted; he was very intimidating, but turned out to be one of my favorites—so knowledgeable, very open and just knew everything. All my teachers were great. I never popped up so easily in the morning as when I was in culinary school.
By Jenny McCoy, Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
Alright readers…here we are. Part five. The last post in my, “So You Want to Write a Cookbook,” series. We’re almost at the end of this exciting, grueling, rewarding process—I hope you’ve managed to stay tuned!
As I write this post, I’m in the midst of my latest cookbook project. I recently signed a cookbook deal with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which means I’m knee-deep in developing a fresh batch of recipes—so what better time to coach you through that very process?
Creating Your Recipe Roadmap
As a first step, I drafted a working list of the recipe ideas I’d like to feature in my cookbook. My new book is contracted to have six chapters and 80 to 100 recipes in total. If you do the math, that’s about 13 to 16 recipes per chapter. So I started by creating a list of 15 ideas per chapter.
Why the extra work? Once I begin to test these recipes, I know that some will be tossed, others will morph into entirely different ideas, and a few will remain exactly the same. My list will constantly evolve—and even more recipes ideas will pop into my head during the testing process—but I’ve found that having a game plan at the outset is the best way to start.
By Michael Laiskonis, ICE Creative Director
Earlier this month I had the honor of cooking for an American icon: chef and author Jeremiah Tower. The dinner was part of the second annual Imbibe & Inspire conference in Chicago, the broad theme of which was “The Roots of American Food.” Jeremiah was the guest of honor, celebrated as a luminary who refined and redefined our understanding of American regional cooking during his groundbreaking tenure at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse in the 1970s. By rejecting any product he considered inferior and focusing on the idea of local (which was surprisingly difficult in those early days), his efforts made possible the farm-to-table relationships that are so prevalent today. In the 80s and 90s, with his Bay Area restaurants Santa Fe Grill and Stars, Jeremiah set in motion many ideas which were ahead of their time, both in the front- and back-of-house. His efforts helped evolve the cultural status of chefs back when the food “scene” we know today was still in its infancy.
Seeking inspiration for the dinner at Chicago’s two Michelin star L2O, I returned to Jeremiah’s important (and, sadly, out-of-print) first cookbook, New American Classics, published in 1986 (thanks to the lone copy held in the archives at Kitchen Arts and Letters). It was the books of this era that comprised my own stitched-together culinary education, and revisiting this one made me realize just how fresh Jeremiah’s perspective remains today. Through Jeremiah and his contemporaries, I began to discover the underlying stories connected to food and cooking, the sense of place that heightens our appreciation of ingredients. Jeremiah often relates the frustrating hardship in finding things as simple as fresh herbs and olive oil back in the 1970s—staples that we take for granted today. Just as we now can’t imagine the world without the Internet, it is increasingly difficult to imagine contemporary cooking without the bounty of high quality ingredients we either ship in from overseas or forage in nearby fields.