About a year ago I began talking about the bread curriculum at ICE with one of the Pastry & Baking Arts Chef Instructors, Sim Cass — who happens to be a founding bread baker of Balthazar. Even though the bread curriculum at ICE had undergone revision a few years prior, we wanted to take it up a notch and make it even better. With that in mind, Chef Sim created an outline for the curriculum and we began the process.
The first phase of testing started in April 2010. We had to reserve kitchen space and create ingredient order sheets for each day of recipe testing. This was not only fun but very educational as well. After all, how often do you get to work side by side with a top bread baker?
The testing couldn’t be done alone. It required the help of my assistant Abby and many, many willing tasters. Abby and I spent numerous afternoons in the kitchen with Chef Sim, baking, learning and taking notes feverishly to make sure we did not miss a thing. We baked all different kinds of bread, from baguettes to croissants to pizza. We even made different versions of each type of bread to determine which techniques were the best. As you can imagine, after just a couple of days of sending bread samples to the office, there was a line outside our kitchen of eager tasters as soon as the aroma of bread baking filled the halls. Everyone (including us) looked forward to our testing days, which spanned over a period of approximately two months.
Once we had all the recipes outlined, we had to plan for the release of the new curriculum. We had to formally write the recipes and lesson plans, put them in the proper ICE curriculum style, create food orders for each lesson and develop a procedure for faculty training. In addition, we held test classes with volunteer students to make sure that all of the recipes were clear and that there was enough time for students to complete the lesson in the allotted time frame. These classes turned out to be a huge success.
I can happily say that the new bread curriculum is in its final phase of faculty training. It was officially released in October 2010, with Chef Sim, the originator and creator as the main instructor. He will be teaching many of the bread lessons for this year with our other Chef Instructors trailing alongside, to learn the curriculum firsthand from the master himself.