Usually demonstrations at ICE are a unique chance for restaurant chefs to share their viewpoint and experience with our career training students. We have hosted chefs and restaurant professionals such as Marcus Samuelsson, Marc Murphy, Hemant Mathur, Drew Nieporent and more. But this week’s demo went beyond the restaurant kitchen; students got an insider’s look at what it is like working in food media and TV test kitchens.
Robert Bleifer, the executive chef of culinary productions at Food Network, gave a demonstration on cooking for television. Cooking professionally for 18 years and teaching cooking classes for 15 years, Bleifer has been at the Food Network since 1995, developing countless recipes through the years. For the ICE demo, he prepared some of the seasonal dishes he is now working on in the test kitchen in Food Network’s Chelsea Market offices. He prepared two paellas, one packed with seafood and another studded with chicken and chorizo, as well as an Italian pine nut torte. He walked the students through the recipes discussing how to take the time to make the food look it’s best for television purposes, but still easy to prepare at home.
Not only did Bleifer share his techniques for preparing a seasonal feast, he discussed life in a test kitchen. He stressed the importance of gaining professional culinary experience before working in a test kitchen, valuing restaurant experience above all else. Bleifer felt that there is no other way to replicate the intensive practice and perfection that comes with cooking on the line in a bustling restaurant. This is something that the ICE faculty has acknowledged as well and why we stress the importance and value of an off-site externship.
These enrichment classes are an invaluable chance for ICE students to learn from restaurant chefs and professionals with years of real word experience and get an insider’s look at a variety of culinary careers, including food media.