By Michael Laiskonis, ICE Creative Director and Instructor—Advanced Pastry Studies
Over the past twenty years, rarely a week has gone by that I haven’t felt the sudden urge to put my hands into dough. It was the experience of working with bread, back when I was an art student, that unexpectedly pulled me into a life of professional cooking. At some point during those early days there was a critical moment— a turning point—when I realized that bread dough is a living, breathing thing; the baker is merely a facilitator, creating the right conditions for each humble unbaked loaf to transform itself into the very staff of life.
When we reflect upon the fact that bread is the product of just four basic ingredients—flour, water, salt and yeast—and the variability of what we can coax from their sum (let alone the fact that it becomes anything edible at all), it’s enough to make your head spin. It’s easy to imagine how a young mind, like mine, could be seduced by this transformation, leading to a life-long pursuit of food and cooking in general.
By Carly DeFilippo
While many of us grow up with parents, siblings or friends who dabble in cakes and other pastries, how many of us have ever seen chocolate bars, bon bons or gummy candies in the making? Candy historian and artisan Beth Kimmerle is not only one of the most talented confectioners in the contemporary candy game, but she’s also one of the industry’s most knowledgeable consultants. In anticipation of her upcoming workshop (Sept 17-18) at ICE’s Center for Advanced Pastry Studies, we caught up with Beth to discuss her passion and unusual career path.
What inspired your interest in candy?
I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, which was—and still is—a real candy and chocolate mecca. I also lived briefly in L.A., where I became very aware of See’s Candy (a major candy manufacturer, founded in the 1920s). My career in confections began in product development, buying and marketing for a large candy company called Fannie May Candies. With 250 stores, they were the largest candy retailer in the U.S. and their candy making factory was located next to my office. We manufactured classic American candies: caramels, nougat, buttercreams, marshmallow and hard candy. It was there that I learned how to make candy from some of the best in the business.
When it comes to cultural mash-ups, there are few more beloved dishes than the Chinese-American creation, General Tso’s chicken. After testing out a wide range of front of house, back of house, editorial and marketing positions in the culinary industry, entrepreneurial ICE alum Jessica Lin is bringing a new spin on General Tso’s to the hungry public at Queens’ Long Island City flea. Find out more below—and swing by the Flea on Saturdays this summer to taste General Tso’Boy for yourself!
What have you been up to since graduation?
I’ve had a wide range of roles in the food industry—from front of house at Maialino, to writing and photographing for Eater, to a wide range of jobs for start-up food concepts. Eventually, I went back to Cornell for a masters in hospitality management , to learn the business side of the industry. From there, I worked as the marketing manager at The Taco Truck before becoming head of marketing at Luke’s Lobster.
By Jenny McCoy, Chef Instructor—School of Pastry & Baking Arts
Now that you’ve finished writing your cookbook proposal—using my handy little outline published on the ICE Blog last month—the next step is to share your idea with the world! But how does that happen exactly? There are several options for pitching your idea and selling your cookbook proposal, some of which can be more challenging than others. I’m sharing my top three options for aspiring authors, in order of practical preference:
- Find An Agent
While it may seem difficult to hand over 15% (this percentage is industry standard) of your cookbook advance money, I can’t think of a better investment. Publishers and editors give first priority to proposals delivered by a good literary agent, so if you want to guarantee that your proposal won’t get lost in a stack of papers, this is the way to go.
A good agent can also help tailor your proposal to the likes of certain publishers. They know if your idea is relevant and on-trend. They can help you to edit the language in your proposal to make it shine—and to help it sell for as much as possible. They do all the legwork: sending your proposal to publishing houses, following up with editors, arranging interviews with potential editors and, if need be, harassing publishers until they take note of your proposal.
The British baker who shaped the future of New York City’s bread
When UK-born Chef Sim Cass first arrived in New York City, the craft of artisanal bread was just beginning to take shape in America. As the founding baker of Balthazar Bakery, Sim’s deeply toasted, crusty loaves earned him the nickname “prince of darkness” and introduced a new benchmark for the city’s aspiring bakers.
Seventeen years later, Balthazar Bakery continues to inspire our nation’s now widespread passion for hand-crafted, naturally fermented loaves, and Sim serves as a bread consultant for some of the world’s most respected restaurants and bakeries. He has been featured in such outlets as the New York Times, Food Arts magazine and the Martha Stewart show. Most recently, he developed the curriculum for ICE’s exclusive Techniques and Art of Professional Bread Baking program, which launched in 2013.
By Carly DeFilippo
Like many ICE grads, Amy Thielen spent time in New York City’s top restaurant kitchens after graduating from our Culinary Arts program. But after seven years working for such chefs as David Bouley, Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Amy’s Midwestern roots came calling. Today, she is a rising star on the Food Network and a James Beard award-winning cookbook author, exploring her all-American heritage and helping to redefine the field of modern Midwestern cooking.
What were you doing before you enrolled at ICE?
I was living in Minnesota—in a cabin in the woods—growing a garden, canning and working part-time as a breakfast cook at a diner on the main street of my hometown. ICE seemed like the right fit for a number of reasons. First, it was less expensive that other schools, and I was still paying off my college loans. Second, it was in New York City. Plus, I just liked the feeling of the school.
By James Briscione, Director of Culinary Development
I’ve been thinking about flavor a lot lately—from my work at ICE on IBM’s Cognitive Cooking project and menus for upcoming special events, to a new book I’m writing about how chefs develop flavor and create exciting new combinations of ingredients. Yet even outside of work, flavor is at the front of my mind. In fact, it’s the way I remember my vacations.
I don’t need an over-priced souvenir or a slew of photos (though I take them anyway); I remember the places I’ve traveled by the unique tastes I experienced there. Recently, I was lucky enough to return to Italy and experience a whole new range of ingredients and flavors from the Southern part of the country. First in Puglia, where the ladies run the kitchen, I spent an afternoon with Maria Valentini, learning to coax flavor from the simplest of ingredients. The first sign that this would be an edible experience to remember? At Maria’s masseria, Ottava Piccola, my family was greeted by her four-year-old granddaughter. offering up eggs that their chickens had just laid.
By Virginia Monaco, Department of Student Affairs
Over the past 10 to 15 years, the cuisine of Spain has experienced a meteoric rise in the global ranks. Among the peninsula’s most popular culinary exports has been the wide range of traditional charcuterie; from chorizo and lomo to jamón of endless varieties, Spain is definitely a country that embraced all parts of the pig long before America’s recent “whole hog” craze.
To initiate students into the wide range of Spanish charcuterie, ICE invited Chef Jeffrey Weiss to speak about his new book, Charcutería: The Soul of Spain—the first exhaustive work on the subject to be written in the English language—and Master Carver Hiraldo Regalado, of Foods from Spain, to demonstrate the carving of jamón ibérico, possibly the single-most revered Spanish culinary delicacy.
By Ted Siegel—Chef-Instructor, Culinary Arts
At least once every decade some culinary pundit or self-appointed expert on cuisine and gastronomy makes a grand pronouncement declaring the “death of French cuisine”. This has been an ongoing trend in culinary journalism since as far back as the late 19th century. Whether it was the fall of the classical grande cuisine of Carême, Escoffier and Du Bois or end of the nouvelle cuisine revolution that shook France after from the 1950s to the 1980s, the state of French cuisine has always been ripe for debate.
However, upon a recent trip to Paris, it was apparent that the death notices (as usual) are premature. The wild card in the whole discussion is the profound influence—encoded in the DNA of the French people—of the cuisine bourgeoise: the cooking of French housewives and grandmothers, rooted in the terroir of local ingredients and traditions. In the context of restaurants, this cuisine has transformed itself into a movement labeled bistronomie, a trend that snubs the grande luxe dining palaces with their fine china, sterling silver place settings, starched linens and snooty waiters, maitre’ds, and sommeliers (who act as if the customer is there to serve them, not the other way around). Here the cuisine of grandmère and maman rears its beautiful head—in simple preparations based on a market-driven cuisine with an emphasis on seasonality, solid culinary technique, unpretentious presentations and friendly, relaxed knowledgeable service.