Jeff Parnell, a recent Pastry Arts grad spent a day working with one of his favorites chefs, ICE Creative Director, Michael Laiskonis for a photo shoot taking place here at the school. They were charged with getting seven perfectly plated dishes out in a 2 hour timeframe.
What was your first impression of Michael the first time you worked with him in a kitchen?
Jeff: I was amazed at how professional he was. The first time I worked with him was for the James Beard 25th anniversary party and that is where I learned that this chef has a plan. It is so nice to walk into a kitchen and know the chef’s expectations. It makes me perform well.
What is your favorite dish you’ve made with Michael?
Jeff: The thing that sticks out most actually wasn’t a planned dish. We were making a red velvet dessert at the James Beard event and had a few leftover ingredients that Michael turned into a beautiful dessert. It was incredible not to see anything go to waste and instead be turned into something delicious.
What inspires you about Michael?
Jeff: A lot of chefs are driven by passion and Michael seems driven by curiosity. I’ve asked him questions that he wasn’t sure about and I know he goes and looks them up right away. It makes total sense why he wanted to go from chef at Le Bernadin to an instructor. He is great at it!
What is next for you?
Jeff: I am working to gain as much experience as I can so I can continue to grow my skills in the kitchen. Once Michael was making a sauce for his dessert and made it in the form of a poached egg. When I asked him why he was doing that, he said because it is harder than making a sauce. I love hearing these nuggets and they remind me that there is always more to learn in the kitchen.