Seven ICE pastry instructors spent last week learning all of the latest chocolate techniques as guests of the Felchlin chocolate company at their headquarters in Schwyz, Switzerland, which is near Lucerne, the most popular city in central Switzerland. After an early morning arrival at Zurich airport, ICE chef instructors and program directors Faith Drobbin, Kathryn Gordon, Nick Malgieri, Rebecca Millican, Michelle Tampakis, Andrea Tutunjian and Jeff Yoskowitz boarded the Felchlin mini van for check-in at the Hotel Rotschuo in Gersau on the shore of Lake Lucerne.
Also accompanying were Swiss Chalet (Felchlin’s USA distributor) reps Wendy Israel and Elena Clement, and executive pastry chefs John Antinore of Wegman’s Food Market, Elizabeth Katz of B R Guest and Anthony Smith of the Cosmopolitan Club.
Felchlin CEO Christian Aschwanden hosted a welcome lunch for all of the attendees, with a menu that included cream of leek soup, roast leg of lamb with a compote of peppers and crisp polenta triangles and caramel mousse with brandied fruits. We then boarded the bus for a visit to Eisnsiedeln, the site of a magnificent abbey church (pictured above with ICE instructors and friends). We also made a quick stop at Goldapfel (golden apple), which is a pastry shop known for its preserved local specialties.
The town is also known for its Lebkuchen museum that features hundreds of antique carved wood molds, which are used in the preparation of Tirggl (honey crackers), Wyssi Kraepfli (tender crescent-shaped buns filled with cinnamon-scented almond paste) and Lebkuchen (classic decorated honey cakes). After returning to the hotel, the group made tracks for their rooms and a much-needed rest before dinner.
The second day of our trip began with a visit to Condirama, the Felchlin teaching and research facility in Schwyz. This marked the start to four days of hands-on classes devoted to preparing chocolate confections, marzipan decorations, plated desserts and individual pastries.