By Jenny McCoy—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
For chefs, the notion of shopping locally is a romantic one: Glorious, sun-filled mornings, strolling through the farmers’ market with a warm latte and freshly fried apple cider doughnut in hand. Stopping for a quick chat with your favorite farmers. Carrying the day’s bounty back to your restaurant in a little red wagon. This is every chef’s dream morning, but that’s not how it really goes down.
Seasonal and local sourcing is not for control freaks; it’s for those who know the only thing you can rely on is change. That leisurely morning at the market? This experience rarely goes off without a hitch. Odds are, the beautiful, handpicked mâche you were dreaming of not even make it to the market. If you leave with 100% of the produce you expected to source, it’s like winning the lottery. But that’s when your skills as a chef truly come into play, because when you have a menu devoted to seasonal and local produce, you actively plan for improvisation. If snap peas lack their snap, you can substitute long beans. If the peaches are overripe, you substitute plums for your tart—or buy the peaches on the cheap and make sorbet.
Read on to learn how smart chefs reinvent their menus with the seasons.
The first thing you notice about Culinary Arts alum Greta Anthony is that nothing stands in the way of her professionalism. Not giving an interview on a noisy street corner when her office is too busy. Not even keeping the appointment for said interview in the wake of winning her fourth (and second consecutive!) James Beard Award for the production of Martha Stewart’s Cooking School. Which is to say that you can understand how Greta Anthony managed to not only become the first culinary intern ever hired at Martha Stewart, but also how she transformed that opportunity into an incredibly successful career in food television production.
Yet before Greta became an uber-producer for one of the world’s most impressive media brands, she was a career changer looking to reinvent herself at ICE. “I was working in the jewelry industry with no prior culinary experience. I knew I didn’t want to work in a restaurant, but I did know that I wanted to work in food, and was confident I would figure out the details at school.”
In fact, it was through ICE’s externship program that Greta found the opportunity at Martha Stewart. At the end of her externship, Greta was offered a freelance position at the company. Soon enough, she had landed a full time job, and has since been with the company for nearly 20 years.
Standing on an unassuming, quiet corner of New York’s Lower East Side, you would never imagine you were mere steps from one of the city’s premier food media production companies. Yet ICE alum and James Beard Award winner Jamie Tiampo’s company, SeeFood Media, is just that—an outlier in more ways than its low-key location. SeeFood fills a niche in which it has no real competitor: a “one-stop shop” featuring 7 kitchen sets, a rooftop for outdoor cooking segments, separate prep kitchens for food stylists, an in-house prop shop and a team of seasoned professionals who have produced several hundred food-centric video and photo shoots. “I started with the fundamental question of how to make food look better,” said Jamie. “From there, it was a matter of engineering the systems and facilities from the ground up to support that mission.”
As with many successful entrepreneurs, SeeFood Media wasn’t Jamie’s first business venture. His pre-food background includes stints working for multiple start-ups, including helping start a company that was eventually acquired by IBM. After cutting his teeth in the early 2000’s dot-com boom, Jamie found himself in the unique situation of being able to pursue his lifelong passion for food. He quit his job and enrolled in New York University’s master’s program in Food Studies and ICE’s Culinary Management program. “Some of my most valuable early experiences came from the Culinary Management program. My instructor, Steve Zagor, blended real-world exposure with case studies and analysis, which helped me understand the business of food.”
By Alison Mahoney—Student, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
Following rules isn’t something that comes naturally to me as a baker. Despite the stereotype that successful pastry chefs use more or less scientific methods, my more fearless approach has gotten me fairly far in the kitchen. That said, there’s only so far that one can go without structure, which is why I decided to enroll at ICE: to leash the puppy, so to speak.
With that in mind, it probably wouldn’t surprise you if I told you that I’ve had my fair share of baking disasters. I can recall, in vivid detail, every single baked good gone bad: the crater cake, the s’mores that tripped the fire alarm (and, in turn, the fire department) and the quicksand fruit tart. Since that last disaster—almost five years now—pastry cream and I have not been friends. Not even frenemies.
So imagine my stress when I walk into class to learn that we were making tarts: fruit tarts. I felt my knees weaken, my pulse race and I think I even broke into a cold sweat. But it was time to finally laugh in the face of danger and master the art of pastry cream.
By Kathryn Gordon—Co-Chair, the Center for Advanced Pastry Studies
Chef Peter Yuen is a master of flaky pastry. Combining the best of classic French pastries and Asian baked goods, his bakery LaPatisserie P in Chicago is famous for Chef Yuen’s special lamination method, as well as treats ranging from croissants to pork buns. He has trained under master bakers in both America and Hong Kong, and placed first in the “Viennoiserie” category at the 2008 Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie. In anticipation of his exclusive two day viennoiserie workshop at ICE on July 12-13, we caught up with Chef Yuen to learn more about his unique pastry philosophy.
What will you be covering in your CAPS class?
I will be sharing my knowledge of laminated dough with students—from theory to techniques and terminologies. Additionally, to highlight the unique approach that Asian chefs bring to savory flavors, I will select some of my all-time favorite items to showcase in the class.
Among the many chefs reigning over ICE’s teaching kitchens, Chef Ana Sporer is known for wearing her passion on her sleeve. With a personality as bold as her fiery hair, Ana has a unique way of motivating students to bring their A-game, whether in perfecting their knife skills…or their Halloween costumes.
When she’s not in the kitchens at ICE, you can be assured Ana is outdoors—gardening or foraging on the property of her restaurant in upstate New York. There, the ever-changing menu draws inspiration from Ana’s own backyard—including a 7,000 square foot garden, an apiary for bees and woodlands rich with ramps and other foraged ingredients. “I’m so glad to see that other chefs are starting to grow things themselves. From a flavor perspective, if it was picked two weeks ago, who cares if it’s organic? The proximity to the plate makes the greatest difference.”
By Grace Reynolds—Student, School of Culinary Management
Last month, I graduated from ICE’s Culinary Management program. All I can say is that I have never experienced a sharper learning curve in seven months. In particular, I keep coming back to an assignment from our first week in the program: the “color speech.”
The assignment is exactly what it sounds like: give a speech about your favorite color. However, most of us hadn’t thought about our favorite color since we were about eight. Moreover, we were asked to make this speech interesting and relevant to a group of eighteen strangers—a daunting task.
Now, I bet you’re wondering what this exercise has to do with restaurant management and entrepreneurship. The answer is simple: failure. Like most things worth doing, there is an inherent risk involved in starting your own business, pursuing a fulfilling career and leading a meaningful life. The color assignment was designed to give us a taste of failure. It tested our perseverance, our resolve and our ability to embrace failure as an opportunity for growth.
Read on to learn how Grace transformed her color speech failure into business plan success.
ICE alum Tim Healea first came to NYC in pursuit of a dynamic career in journalism and publishing. Yet his love of books took his career in a completely different direction when he encountered Chef Nancy Silverton’s Breads from La Brea Bakery. Today, Tim is among the country’s most celebrated bakers, with numerous honors under his belt—including a spot among Food & Wine’s “35 Tastemakers Under the Age of 35” and a medal from the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie. We caught up with Tim to hear more about his company, Little T Baker, and his dynamic 17-year career in the emerging field of bread baking.
How would you describe your “culinary voice”?
Primarily, my culinary voice is in collaboration with and in support of the six bakers at Little T. In my professional experience, teams work better together when each member feels like he or she is contributing. So most of the new ideas and products come directly from the front-line production bakers. Oftentimes, I act more as an editor, refining a concept or providing feedback. The collaborative process makes the bakery—which sometimes resembles a bread laboratory, with buckets of yeasts, malts, starters and soakers bubbling away—a more exciting place to work and to visit. In general, we take basic ideas of fermentation and experiment with incorporating various grains and liquids, trying to push breads further and develop new flavor profiles. Some of our latest breads have been made with earl grey tea, candy cap mushrooms, rhubarb syrup, red popcorn and potato chips (not all at once!). It’s fun for the bakers, and it keeps the bakery’s offerings fresh for our regular customers.
Chef Dominique Ansel is the chef/owner behind New York City’s Dominique Ansel Bakery and Dominique Ansel Kitchen. Best known for his famed croissant-doughnut pastry, the Cronut—which was named one of the “25 Best Inventions of 2013” by TIME—he ranks among the most talked about chefs in the world. Other accolades include a 2014 James Beard Award for “Outstanding Pastry Chef” and ranking among Vanity Fair France’s “50 Most Influential French People in the World.”
Prior to opening Dominique Ansel Bakery, Dominique was the executive pastry chef at Daniel for six years, helping lead the restaurant to receive three Michelin stars, a James Beard Award, and its first four-star New York Times rating. He had previously worked at Parisian bakery Fauchon for seven years, leading its international expansion to Russia, Egypt, and many other countries. His first cookbook, Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2014.
Read on for an exclusive interview with Dominique about his career path, inspiration and plans for the future.
By Sabrina Sexton—Lead Chef Instructor, School of Culinary Arts
If you’ve already mastered margaritas and guacamole, why not take your Cinco de Mayo celebrations to the next level with artisanal, homemade tortillas? You only need two ingredients and a few tools—namely, a heavy skillet or griddle (preferably cast iron)—to experience the freshly made taste of this iconic Mexican foodstuff.
Read on for a video of this technique and a detailed recipe.