I’ve had lots of opportunity to take classes in ICE’s kitchens. Our Chef Instructors have taught me a variety of hands-on cooking skills. From gluten-free baking recipes to using vegetables and herbs in cocktails, I’ve learned some amazing things. But ICE has also given me the opportunity to explore some of New York City’s very best dining hot spots. A few weeks ago, I was able to get a peek behind the scenes at popular eatery Buttermilk Channel.

In addition to a three-course lunch we got to see the team in action in the kitchen and hear about the philosophy behind their food. Both owner and manager Doug Crowell and chef Ryan Angulo really emphasized the theme of Buttermilk Channel being an American restaurant, taking traditional dishes and giving them a local and seasonal spin. Our first course was popovers, demoed by Angulo for us. He talked about how they are an American interpretation on British Yorkshire pudding that puff and rise but require no leavening. After that we moved on to a grilled kale and radicchio salad with croutons and anchovy vinaigrette — a bold and distinctive take on a traditional Caesar salad. Angulo served it with a cold soft-boiled egg. The third course was trout stuffed with sautéed leeks and wrapped in thin slices of cured American country ham, which is very similar to prosciutto, served with a mustard sauce and goat cheese grits. All of the ingredients were sourced from American small farms. Keeping in line with their dedication to American ingredients and dishes, we were poured three all-American wines to pair with the courses, including a sparkling rosé from New Mexico.

We also had a final dessert course of a pecan pie sundae, made with pecans also sourced from a farm down south. We learned that they don’t really have a pastry kitchen or a pastry chef, so their desserts are fairly simple. Crowell loved pecan pie during the holiday season, and decided to put the pie on the menu. Add ice cream and whipped cream, and voila, heaven in a spoon.

We also took a tour of the very tiny kitchen, and were able to see the two deep fryers that cook Buttermilk Channel’s famous fried chicken. Ryan said if the kitchen had come with only one fryer, they would never be able to pull off serving the dish. That’s not a world I want to live in.

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