Under the leadership of Creative Director Michael Laiskonis, every day in ICE’s Chocolate Lab is an opportunity for research and experimentation. Step inside the lab as we unwrap the chocolate-making process—from bean to bar—and discover just what it takes to create this beloved treat.
To discover the craft of bean-to-bar chocolate for yourself, request free information about ICE’s professional Pastry & Baking Arts program and continuing education courses for current pastry chefs.
By James Briscione—Director of Culinary Development
Preserving seasonal produce is one of the world’s oldest culinary traditions. Growing up down South, the end of summer meant two things: the start of football season and time to start “puttin’ up.” If you’re unfamiliar with the term, puttin’ up is the act of harvesting seasonal produce and preserving it to last throughout the winter. This meant canning ripe tomatoes or peaches, blanching and freezing field peas, making jam with figs, berries and persimmons, and pickling every vegetable in sight. It’s not just a Southern thing: across the globe, you’ll find a wide range of traditional methods for extending the life of seasonal flavors.
However, down South, this mindset only seems to strike at the end of summer. I’m sure it has something to do with those stories we read to children about the little squirrel storing up his acorns before the snow falls. Yet winter can be puttin’ up season too. After all, cold weather provides us with an incredible bounty of citrus, including some highly aromatic fruits that are, in some cases, only available for a matter of weeks. This year, I’m picking my favorite unique citrus and puttin’ ‘em up!
Read on for three ways to preserve winter citrus.
Each year, ICE invites leading food and hospitality business leaders to share their personal stories and insightful advice as part of our Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs speaker series. From award-winning chefs Rick Bayless and Marcus Samuelsson to celebrated restaurateur Claus Meyer and game-changing coffee innovator James Freeman, watch highlights from these leaders’ candid conversations with our students:
What could you do with advice from the industry’s leading entrepreneurs? Come to our 2016 MTCE events and find out. Click here to see the full schedule of upcoming Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs events.
By Ryan Kim—Student, School of Hospitality Management
From an outside perspective, a hotel may simply appear to be a place to spend the night, but for those of us in the hospitality industry, a hotel is a well-oiled machine, dependent on the efficient operation of every gear and screw. At ICE, as hospitality management students, we’re fortunate enough to experience the inner workings of hotels through guest speakers who are actively working in the hotel industry. Most recently, my class had the pleasure of meeting Eveline Chen, the executive housekeeper at the Hotel Wolcott in Koreatown, close to the Empire State Building.Eveline has more than 15 years of housekeeping management experience: 10 years at the Wolcott and five at the Sofitel.While my classmates and I may never have the firsthand experience of preparing hundreds of rooms for guests, an understanding of hotel housekeeping is essential to our success in the industry. What’s more, Eveline had incredible insight into the hotel infrastructure as a whole, from how to maintain positive relationships with your colleagues to how to advance through the ranks of hotel management.
Read on to learn Eveline’s tips for hospitality professionals.
By Michael Laiskonis—Creative Director
Previously harvested, fermented and dried at origin, cocoa beans arrive at ICE’s Chocolate Lab ready to transform from raw bean to finished chocolate bar through cleaning, roasting, winnowing, milling, refining, conching and tempering. There is no specific formula to determine optimum roasting time and temperature across the board: beans of different size, variety and origin require a unique roasting profile to achieve the desired end results. It is at this stage where the manufacturer begins to place an individual stamp on the finished product.In general, the chocolate roasting process is similar to that of coffee, except coffee needs fast, high-temperature roasts, while cacao should be handled gently, with a lower and slower treatment. Typical cacao roasting temperatures range from 250°-275°F up to 350°F, with the roasting process lasting between 30-90 minutes. Other variables—such as a cold or hot start and temperature adjustments during the process—are influenced by the inherent characteristics of the beans and the particular style of the manufacturer.
Read on to learn more about the chocolate roasting process.
By Jenny McCoy—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
Whether you believe in making resolutions or not, the beginning of a new year is a time we associate with starting over and making a change—especially when it comes to dietary choices. Vegetables get a lot of love in the January push toward healthy eating. As a chef, I would advocate an increased focus on vegetables for dozens of other reasons—especially for the incredible range of creative ways you can cook them. So following up on my last list of ingredient-focused cookbooks, I’m sharing a few vegetable bibles that will expand your culinary horizons: Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi and Jonathan Lovekin
Arguably, no chef has had a greater impact on the current vegetable revolution than Yotam Ottolenghi. The first of his incredibly popular cookbooks, Plenty showcases vegetables front and center on the plate. The recipes are inspired by the chef’s Middle Eastern background, as well as the UK’s diverse cross-cultural culinary heritage. Many of the dishes in the book are featured at Ottolenghi’s namesake cafes in London.
Read on for more of Chef Jenny’s favorite vegetable cookbooks.
When we think about international cuisine, it’s usually on the level of countries: French, Italian, Chinese, American, etc. Yet within each culinary culture, there are regional variations—from coastal seafood to hearty cold weather fare, poverty-inspired vegetable dishes to luxurious desserts.
Like many Americans, ICE Chef Instructor Robert Ramsey rarely thought about the history of the food he ate during childhood. But when his mother insisted he take a summer job at a friend’s restaurant, his admiration for the line cooks planted a seed that sprouted into a dynamic career in regional American and international cuisine. Since then, Robert’s career has included stints at Richmond’s famed Jefferson Hotel, the three-time James Beard Award-winning Blackberry Farm in Tennessee and northern Italian eatery Bar Corvo in Brooklyn.A member of ICE’s Culinary Arts faculty since March 2015, Robert focuses not only on developing students’ culinary knowledge, but also the life skills they need to succeed in restaurant kitchens: “Being a chef isn’t just about cooking. You need to learn professionalism, time management and the ability to work with other people. It’s a dynamic and challenging industry—you need to be committed and willing to develop yourself as a human, not just as a cook.”
Like many chefs, ICE alum Jennifer Tafuri didn’t start out in the culinary industry. After graduating college with a degree in anthropology and starting a career in hospital administration, Jen knew something just wasn’t right.
Since graduating from the ICE Pastry & Baking Arts program in 2011, Jen has worked for Top Chef winner Harold Dieterle at The Marrow and, in 2014, was hired as the pastry chef at Rotisserie Georgette in NYC.
Watching Jen craft her signature tarte tatin, there’s no doubt that she’s finally found her sweet spot: “Life is short. If you’re not happy where you are, and you have a passion elsewhere—go for it!”
Click here to learn more about ICE’s flexible scheduling options for career changers.
Bread is a notoriously challenging culinary pursuit, which explains why many experts—Dana Cowin included—tend to leave their loaves to the experts. But with bakers like Sim Cass and Chad Pagano on our faculty at ICE, we knew we could help demystify the fascinating craft of bread baking.First up, Chef Sim shares his passion for sourdough, manipulating the magic of slow, natural fermentation to create a distinct flavor. Then, Chef Chad teaches Dana how to stretch and shape one of his favorite doughs into a savory focaccia.
To learn more about bread baking classes at ICE, click here.
Even as the editor in chief of a major food magazine, Dana Cowin never had the chance to try her hand at artisanal chocolate making. Luckily, no trip to ICE would be complete without a lesson in our new bean-to-bar chocolate lab.For the ultimate chocolate masterclass, we paired Dana with ICE Creative Director Michael Laiskonis, who shared his tips for at-home tempering. From there, we asked Chef Michael to reimagine an interpretation of Dana’s favorite candy bar: the100 Grand.
Click here to learn more about chocolate studies at ICE.