By Steve Zagor — Dean, School of Restaurant and Culinary Management
Why should I get a culinary or hospitality education? Can’t I just get a job and learn the business while I work?
What a great question and one that should be asked. I hear this almost weekly. As a dean and instructor at ICE, I often meet dreamers who are navigating the very intense process of looking down a long, unpaved and rocky road to the future, evaluating what can only be termed a “seismic” career change. Some may have MBAs or JDs with significant experience and incomes in other fields. A few may have families with kids at home. Others might be reentering the business world after a hiatus. And there are also those who are entering the work world for the very first time. Though they come from different places, they have similar a goal: a career in culinary or hotels.
So let’s examine the above question and see if there is an easy answer.
Keep reading to discover this industry expert's views on culinary and hospitality education.
By Robert Ramsey — Director, Advanced Culinary Studies
There are few things in life more satisfying than freshly baked naan: the supple, chewy flatbread found in many central Asian cuisines. Made from just a few ingredients and leavened with yeast, the recipe isn’t much different than the breads found in so many cultures all over the world. Then what is it that makes naan so distinct and delicious? Certainly, the chutneys, condiments, relishes and a good slathering of ghee (clarified butter) add to the appeal, but many would argue that the cooking method is what’s behind the incredible flavor and texture. That cooking method is, of course, baking in a tandoor oven.
In Tools & Techniques of Tandoori Cooking, our upcoming Advanced Culinary Center class on Sunday, June 4, Chef Mike Brockman, corporate chef of Wood Stone and expert in tandoori cooking, will guide us through the nuts and bolts of this ancient technique. The initial focus will be naan — with plenty of requisite tasting — but we’ll also cover beef kebab, saffron ghee, chicken tikka, vegetable skewers and plenty of sauces. Attendants will get firsthand experience with the diverse uses of a tandoor oven and walk away with a new understanding of a very old technology.
Keep reading to get the lowdown on this unique cooking method.
By ICE Staff
In the United States, 40% of food is wasted each year. This staggering figure sets off alarm bells: the status quo is unsustainable (pun intended). That’s why ICE and The New School organized the first-ever Zero Waste Food conference — to drive the conversation surrounding eliminating food waste and increasing sustainable food production.
Click below to read the full post and watch the video recap of the Zero Waste Food conference.
By Michael Laiskonis
Much of my day-to-day work at ICE — in its kitchens and in the Chocolate Lab — revolves around unraveling the inner workings of ingredients, recipes and the finished preparations that result. This is an important aspect that all cooks consider on some level. Whether seeking to create inventive new dishes or perfect the classics, a pinch of food science will always help us achieve our goals. As a pastry chef, one might say that I’m already hard-wired to think a bit deeper about the composition and function of ingredients. I like to say that the primary difference between a pastry chef and his or her savory counterpart is that success often relies upon some measure of predicting the future. While a soup can be tasted and tweaked from start to finish, you can’t take a cake out of the oven halfway through the bake to add a bit more leavener. Cakes aside, it was my quest to better understand ice cream several years ago that led me down the path toward a more precise understanding of the many ingredients and processes a pastry chef seeks to master.
Keep reading to learn how Chef Michael uses food science to better understand ingredients and recipes.
By Caitlin Raux
In a dining room on the ground floor of the Whitney Museum, where an open kitchen sits across from a towering glass wall and not an inch can escape the natural sunlight, I met with Suzanne Cupps (Culinary Arts, ’05), executive chef of Untitled. With a menu featuring colorful contemporary American cuisine, Untitled has enjoyed warm critical reviews, including a place on the New York Times “Critic’s Pick” list. Suzanne has played no small part in the restaurant’s success.
Keep reading to learn about Suzanne's inspiring path to Untitled.
ICE and USHG have paired up to offer Understanding Wine: a unique wine course led by James Beard Award-winning Wine Director and Master Sommelier, John Ragan. The course is based on the same insider educational curriculum taught to all USHG sommeliers, and ICE’s Content Manager Caitlin Raux had the chance to tag along on this 10-part voyage into the world of wine.
By Caitlin Raux
“Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.” It’s a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche and not exactly what you'd expect to hear from a sommelier trying to sell you on Riesling. But when that sommelier is Paul Grieco, described by the New York Times as the “high priest of the American Riesling revival,” you can bet your Bordeaux you’ll start questioning your own convictions — especially if you’re still a non-believer in Riesling. Paul, a sommelier at the TriBeca winebar, Terroir, was the guest presenter at Week 6 of Understanding Wine, a 10-part series of wine classes led by USHG Wine Director and Master Sommelier John Ragan. Sporting a mechanic’s shirt and a long goatee, Paul’s wine preferences seem as irreverent as his fashion choices, but spend some time soaking in his Riesling gospel, and you just might become a believer, too. I myself started to see the light by the end of the evening.
Keep reading to learn how USHG's Understanding Wine revealed the beauty of Riesling wine.
Bright, fresh and packed with flavor, learning to cook with herbs is an essential part of a future chef’s training. A beautifully plated, delicious dish often seems incomplete without at least a hint of greenery. But selecting herbs to adorn your dish is only half the battle — the other half is prepping them. Chefs use different techniques to ensure each herb is handled with care. Understanding these basic cuts is key to a solid foundation in the kitchen — which is why ICE and Wüsthof partnered to create a video demonstrating the proper way to use a classic chef’s knife to cut three herbs: an expert chiffonade with basil, a neat chop with parsley and a smooth slice with chives. Watch, practice and repeat.
Read on to watch the video and get Chef James' knife skills tips.
By Kelly Newsome —Student, Culinary Arts, ‘17
I come from a long line of salt lovers. My mother loves telling the story of my grandfather, who during peak tomato season, would arrive at our house, grab a salt shaker and head out to the garden to stalk his prey. He would sit on a log and enjoy the sweet reward of summer: a juicy, ripe tomato, every bite sprinkled with a little salt. My father has shocked friends and guests by salting any melon that crossed his path, a skill acquired from his parents and grandparents while growing up in southern Virginia. To say that I come by my appreciation of salt honestly would be an understatement. We are and will always be a salt-loving family. As a culinary student, I was surprised to hear my instructor tell me, “Very good, but it needs a little more salt.” Is he talking to me, the queen of salt? Apparently, chefs love salt too, but that love is born from an understanding that salt can transform just about any food from alright to irresistible.
Read on to learn how this culinary student mastered the art of salting.
By Robert Ramsey — Chef Instructor, School of Culinary Arts
Joseph Day is the director of horticulture at Agecroft Hall, a museum in Richmond, Virginia. Previously he ran the historic gardens at George Washington’s estate, Mount Vernon, worked in the gardens of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and studied roses at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Joseph Day and ICE Chef Instructor Robert Ramsey are lifelong friends who have been wilderness adventuring together for years. In this blog post, Chef Robert interviews Joseph about one of their favorite shared pastimes.
Drifting slowly downstream, Joseph suddenly yelled out, “Pull over to the right bank — to that small island over there!” We were floating down the meandering, bucolic south fork of the Shenandoah River, not far from the nation's capital. It was an unseasonably warm April day, and the dark storm clouds rolling over the Alleghany highlands made it feel even more like summer.
As we veered our canoe toward the starboard side, my buddy Scott wondered aloud why we were stopping. It turns out Joe had spotted a large crop of garlic mustard, an edible, leafy green plant. While it may have felt like summer on this particular day, these tasty, wild edibles reminded us that it really was April, after all.
Keep reading to get a beginner's guide to foraging and Chef Robert's recipe for Sunnyside Eggs Over Sautéed Wild Greens With Morels and Ramps