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.
By Chefs James Briscione & Michael Laiskonis
- Anytime you set out to do something that has never been done before, you can expect some people to react with confusion and fear. Especially if that involves messing with something that people have deep and personal opinions about, like food. To say the least, when first introduced to the concept of a computer creating their meal, it isn’t uncommon for people to be skeptical. The fear, confusion and excitement all hinges on one critical word: recipe.
In our process, neither the chef nor Watson are exclusively responsible for creating the recipe of any particular dish. It begins with the inputs from the chef, who determines what he or she wants to create. Using the cognitive cooking system to input parameters for the dish (such as cuisine type and a key ingredient), Watson sifts through the quintillions of possible ingredient combinations, selecting the best options in terms of the novelty and pleasantness of the pairings. It is then up to chef to sift through that list and select the set of ingredients that looks most intriguing.
By Carly DeFilippo
At ICE, our students come from a variety of different backgrounds and have a broad range of goals. The man or woman standing next to you in class could be a concert pianist, doctor, recent high school or college graduate, plumber, florist, marketing executive or stay-at-home mother. Yet among the many fascinating life stories we’ve come across at ICE, alumnus Sharon Folta’s is particularly memorable. After graduating from ICE, she has both pursued a career in healthful cooking as a Personal Chef/Cooking Instructor and authored a memoir, Little Satchmo, about growing up as the daughter of famed jazz trumpet player Louis Armstrong.
What were you doing before you enrolled at ICE?
I was working in sales for WNEW FM radio as a Account Executive. I graduated from Iona College with a BA in Communication Arts eight years prior and worked my way up from Receptionist to Sales Assistant to Account Executive.
What was it specifically that attracted you to the program?
I’ve been passionate about food since my childhood and always enjoyed cooking and entertaining. I always wanted to study cooking professionally, but wasn’t able to go to school full time. When I heard about Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School (the school’s name was changed to ICE in 2001) and started taking recreational classes at the original location on the Upper East Side. A few years later, in 1998, I enrolled in the professional Culinary Arts course that was given on nights and weekends, and 6 years later, I enrolled in ICE’s Professional Culinary Management course that was given on nights and weekends.
By Virginia Monaco
ICE was delighted to recently host a cooking demo with one of New York’s true culinary phenoms, Chef Alex Stupak. Although only in his early thirties, Chef Stupak already has twenty years of industry experience under his belt. His professional career started in Chicago, where he worked at the award-winning, four-star restaurant Tru. Following his time in Chicago, Stupak went to work at The Federalist in Washington DC, and later, landed at Clio in Boston, where he gained national acclaimed for his talent as a pastry chef.
In 2005, Stupak was tapped by Grant Achatz to serve as the Executive Pastry chef of Alinea, widely considered to be the best restaurant in the country. His beautiful and innovative creations naturally lead into his next job as Pastry Chef of wd~50, New York’s own experimental kitchen. Yet in 2010, Stupak surprised his fans and colleagues by leaving the world of high-end pastry to open two of his own restaurants – Empellón Taqueria and Empellón Cocina – to wide acclaim.
It obviously seems surprising that a chef with such a strong career in modernist pastry would choose to open a fine dining Mexican restaurant. However, in doing so, Stupak feels he is filling a gaping hole in the New York food scene. Despite being the “culinary capital” of the US, Mexican food in New York City lags behind that of other major cities, rarely going beyond tacos, guacamole and margaritas. For someone like Stupak, who frequently visits Mexico and loves Mexican cuisine, this is a travesty. The goal of Empellón is to expose New Yorkers to the unique flavors, ingredients and techniques of Mexico and transform their appreciation of this under-appreciated cuisine.