Search Results for: ted siegel

 

By Carly DeFilippo

 

Whether we train with them daily in our teaching kitchens or simply enjoy the fruit of their creative labor, it’s safe to say we’re all fans of our in-house Chef-Instructors. But what do we really know about these culinary champions and their experiences before ICE? “Meet the Chefs” is an effort to discover the stories of the experts who keep our education on the cutting edge.

 

Known to his colleagues as “the Encyclopedia”, Ted Siegel’s 40-plus years in the food industry have included stints in renowned New York institutions, two- and three-star Michelin properties and such famed American restaurants as Chez Panisse. His persistence, love of cooking and baking, and his hunger for learning have made him an exceptional chef and culinary educator.

Chef-Ted-1

Born to a Polish/Russian father and a mother with Austrian and Spanish roots, culinary diversity is in Siegel’s blood, a quality that was only reinforced by his childhood on New York’s Lower East Side. His own family boasted a number of great cooks, most notably his father, uncle, and grandmother. As for his first food memory, Siegel recalls walking into New York institution Russ and Daughters, reveling in the sights and smells of their smoked and cured fish, salads, and prepared appetizers.

 

The allure of food led to his first job in the industry at 15, as a delivery boy at Dover Delicatessen.  (Though allure might be too strong of a word – he hated the job.) What he really wanted to do was hang out in the deli’s kitchen. Still, it was a welcome diversion from high school; he hated that too. What the young Siegel really wanted was to spend his time on either food or hockey. Having played hockey since age six, becoming a pro goalie was his only career aspiration aside from cooking.

 

After high school, Siegel went to college at a small school in New Hampshire, selected mostly for its vicinity to Canadian hockey. He worked in a kitchen part-time as he studied political science and economics, but after three years, he decided to move on from traditional education. Food was becoming the priority.

Chef-Ted-2

After a turn living in the barbecue mecca of Memphis, TN, where he learned the region’s signature techniques for grilling and smoking various meats, he returned to NYC for his first position as a line cook at Serendipity. Three years under the mentorship of owner Calvin Holt introduced him to the grind and pace of serious cooking on the line.  “I was cooking French omelets in one hand while mixing hot chocolate in the other.  I made lots of mistakes – but they kept me for my persistence.  It’s where I first learned my skills.”

 

At his next position on the line at Elephant & Castle, he was given a copy of “The Saucier’s Apprentice,” the famed Raymond Sokolov title on sauces. He cooked his way cover to cover, fostering a deep love of sauces and French technique, which continued on to his next positions at Terrace in the Sky and The Box Tree.

 

After ten years experience in kitchens, school seemed to call again, with culinary arts being a better choice than poli-sci.  He graduated from the CIA in 1982, externing in Houston, TX at the Meridian Hotel, under the guidance of classically trained chef José Gutierrez.  By the time he graduated, he had twelve offers waiting for him around the country, including one at the New Orleans landmark Commander’s Palace. He would have been working under then-rising chef Emeril Lagasse, but turned it down, opting for the local, sustainable kitchen of the famous Alice Waters at Chez Panisse in San Francisco.

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Three years at Chez Panisse led him to his first role as Chef, at the Grant House in San Pedro, CA.  Building from his experience in the kitchen of Alice Waters, the menu of entirely house-made elements got him rave reviews, including one from Gourmet magazine.  Yet the Los Angeles culture didn’t agree with Siegel. The next five years took him through different positions back in the Bay Area and throughout Europe, including spots in two and three Michelin star-rated establishments.

 

Over the course of his career, Seigel’s expertise prompted favorable reviews in Gourmet Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, California Magazine, Gault & Millau Guide, The New York Times, Zagat’s Restaurant Survey, Time Out Magazine, and The Village Voice. In 2001, Siegel decided to bring his experience to the teaching kitchens at ICE.

 

Siegel advises all students to travel the world and learn about food beyond the school environment, but he believes in the unique value of culinary school for those serious about the industry.  “Prior experience in kitchens will enhance the value of culinary school, but a culinary education compensates for the knowledge you can’t get on the job. It enables you to start your career at a higher level.”

 

As proud as we are to have Ted Siegel as Chef-Instructor for our Culinary Arts program, the most important reviews come from his students. When asked about their favorite parts of their ICE education, our graduates have often responded “Chef Ted of course.”

  • “Chef Ted’s years of experience were evident. He always explained things clearly and provided real life experience to help support the lessons. The basic skills taught were crucial.”
  •  “[Chef Ted is] a fantastic, understanding chef with extreme knowledge and comfort when approached with any questions.”
  • “I was extremely pleased with Chef Ted’s abundant knowledge and high expectations for his students. I now have a strong foundation of basic French technique.”
  • “Chef Ted had a great balance of being strict and very kind with us. He wants everyone to understand exactly what’s going on.”
  • “Very professional – gave positive guidance and encouragement – made it clear that he’s always available for his students.”

By Chef-Instructors Ted Siegel and Cheryl Siegel

One of the most beautiful cities in North America is Quebec City, which sits on the banks of the St. Lawrence River in Canada’s Quebec province. The city’s historic district was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985. Of all the cities in North America, Quebec City is as French as a city can be without actually being in France.

Laurie_Raphael_lunch

Lunch at Laurie Raphaël (poached halibut with summer beans, sauce choron and tempura of garlic scapes)

During a recent trip to Quebec City, we experienced firsthand a new trend that’s sweeping the food culture in Quebec: using indigenous ingredients, similar to those found in the Nordic climate. We noticed an emphasis on foraged ingredients, such as sea buckthorn, salicornia, cattail, fir, Nordic berries, wild mushrooms, wild fish and shellfish, with a focus on foods with high levels of monounsaturated, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

The chefs who are the major proponents of the new Nordic Quebecois cuisine are Daniel Vézina of restaurant Laurie Raphaël (Quebec City and Montreal) and Jean-Luc Boulay of restaurants Chez Boulay and Saint-Amour.

Laurie Raphael

Lunch at Laurie Raphaël

We have enjoyed meals at Laurie Raphaël in Quebec City several times, for both lunch and dinner. The menus change frequently based on what is available, daily and seasonally, in the local markets. The most memorable dishes we tried at Laurie Raphaël were smoked red deer gravlax with foie gras, oyster and sea urchin with black truffle and Champagne sabayon, mackerel quenelles with a velouté of kombu, delicately poached halibut with summer beans, sauce choron and a tempura of garlic scapes.

On Thursday and Fridays, Laurie Raphaël is open for lunch, and offers a five-course tasting menu for $50.00 (CAD) — an amazing value any day of the week.

Lunch at Chez Boulay

Though Jean-Luc Boulay is almost unheard of in the United States, he too is considered one of the godfathers of this current school of cooking. We’ve had the pleasure of dining at Saint-Amour, which is best described as a special occasion restaurant, with a romantic old-world ambiance. Last winter, we indulged in the decadent eight-course “Discovery” tasting menu. One of our many favorites was an unusual soup — butternut squash and curcuma velouté, garnished with a confit of smoked wild hare, fried shallots and an espuma or foam of hazelnuts. Another favorite dish was the seared magret of moularde duck with a sweet potato and foie gras purée and sea buckthorn sauce.

Chez Boulay, the sister restaurant of Saint-Amour, has more of a casual, brasserie-like feel, with a menu that reflects the lush and hearty influences of French-Canadian homestyle cuisine, and impressive portions interpreted with a modern sensibility. There is a prix fixe lunch menu of three courses in which the entree price determines the overall price. At Chez Boulay, two people can dine well, including drinks and dessert, for less than $100.00 (CAD). The dinner menu is more extensive and has á la carte pricing.

Dessert at Chez Boulay

At Chez Boulay, there are a number of different starters or “tasting plates,” including a selection of house-made charcuterie (which we ordered), a tasting of French Canadian cheeses, or a plate of prepared fish and shellfish. During our most recent dinner, we also indulged in the cured pork belly and clam salad, snow crab from the Gaspé Peninsula served with an apple-kholrabi mille feuille and milk sauce infused with bacon and hemp oil, and a tasting of two versions of boudin noir — one presented as a thick “pave” prepared in the classic manner and the other filled with cabbage and leeks, the recipes having been in the Boulay family for multiple generations.

The desserts at Chez Boulay have been some of the best that we have sampled in any of our travels: the frozen parfait with cloudberry confit, sunflower seed nougatine and honey from the chef’s bee hives; and the iconic sea buckthorn meringue pie with a crème anglaise flavored with pine forest spikenard (spikenard is the flower from the nardos plant which is a member of the Valerian family).

Restaurant Toast (Boudin noir with fondue of shallots, apples, baby
arugula and aged cheddar galette)

Creative Petits Four at Europea

It is always hard to choose which of all the restaurants is our favorite. It’s like asking us to choose which of our children is our favorite — an impossibly difficult task. However, we have a deep affection for Restaurant Toast in the Hotel Le Priori, located in the lower section of Vieux Quebec. The chef-owner Christian Lemelin is producing his own version of modern Quebecois cuisine with an international influence. We have thoroughly enjoyed two dinners at Toast, one last winter and more recently this summer. The small dining room features a fireplace, and in the summer we dined on the beautifully landscaped outdoor patio. Of the preparations not to be missed are the foie gras torchon with a “jambonette of duck” sherry vinegar, brioche with camerise ketchup (camerise is a Nordic berry similar in taste to a wild blueberry); seared foie gras on a crisp pork belly confit with nutmeg flowers, roasted squash, maple cranberries and poultry jus; Jerusalem artichoke vichyssoise with house smoked scallops, poached wild shrimp and sunflower seeds; surf and turf of lobster and sweetbread served with a mushroom risotto and Béarnaise sauce; seared halibut with a celery root brandade and lovage velouté. We savored two perfectly executed desserts: a vacherin of seasonal local berries, wild honey, lemon sorbet and cream, as well as a frozen vanilla parfait with a compote of sour cherries, mascarpone, orange and bitter chocolate.

Other essential restaurants are Échaudé and Le Quai 19 (more popularly known as Chez Rieux et Pettigrew), both of which are ideal locations for lunch.

An Elaborate Salad from Le Quai 19

Another food destination worth the visit is the Marché du Vieux-Port, a popular marketplace in the Old Port of Quebec City. Here you can sample the best of local produce, cheeses, meats, seafood and prepared foods, as well as ciders and wines from small, local artisanal producers.

While in Canada, we also spent four days in Montreal, a city we love for its restaurants and food culture. On any trip to Montreal, one would be well served to pay visits to restaurants Toqué! and Europea, owned and operated by Normand Laprise and Jérôme Ferrer, respectively. These chefs radically altered the face of Quebecois cuisine and transformed it into the many modern derivatives that are being practiced throughout the province. Though there is too much rich food culture in Montreal to cover in this post, you can read more about our gourmet adventures in Montreal here.

Want to study the culinary arts with Chef Ted? Click here to learn more about ICE’s career programs.

 

A chef without a good knife is like a steak without salt — just plain wrong. According to ICE Chef Ted Siegel, a knife is the “singular most important piece of equipment that we use in the kitchen.” ICE and Wüsthof — a premier culinary school and a maker of expertly crafted knives — have been partners for more than 30 years, joining forces to prepare professional chefs and at-home cooks to work with more precision and confidence.

As any chef will tell you, knife skills are equally crucial. That’s why ICE and Wüsthof are combining over four decades of culinary technique and 200 years of craftsmanship to roll out a new video series: knife skills. From slicing and dicing to chiffonade, cake leveling, filleting fish, or finding the grain for the perfect steak, the beauty of expert craftsmanship and skilled chefs shines through — and the result is nothing less than culinary art.

Watch the trailer below for a sneak peek of the knife skills videos coming soon.

Ready to sharpen your culinary skills? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs.

Recipes by Ted Siegel — Chef Instructor, School of Culinary Arts

On Thanksgiving, turkey is always in style. A juicy bird with salty, crunchy skin is the pièce de résistance of this highly anticipated meal. But if you’re looking to shake up your usual turkey prep method — add some spice or brine to the table — ICE Chef Instructor Ted Siegel has some ideas for you. Below, Chef Ted shares two different methods for preparing your turkey when it’s time to give thanks this year, plus his expert roasting tips.

Thanksgiving Turkey

1) A Caribbean kick: try a Jamaican jerk turkey marinade.

Marinating delivers the double benefit of infusing meat with flavor and keeping it tender.

Ingredients:

6 scallions
6 habanero or scotch bonnet chiles
2 medium onions
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup fish sauce
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup brown sugar
1 bunch dried thyme leaves, minced
1 bunch dried oregano leaves, minced
1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves and stems, minced
½ cup butter

Preparation:

  • For the marinade, finely chop and combine: scallions, habanero or scotch bonnet chiles, onions and garlic. Add tamarind paste, Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, fresh lime juice, fresh orange juice, olive oil, brown sugar, dried thyme leaves, dried oregano leaves and fresh cilantro leaves and stems.
  • Prepare the marinade, dividing into two halves: 1/2 for the turkey and 1/2 to make a compound butter. Marinate the turkey for two to four days, depending on its weight (two days for an 8-12 pound turkey, three to four days for a 13-30 pound turkey). Remove turkey from marinade. Make the compound butter by mixing remaining marinade with butter. Separate the skin from the breast and thighs and gently rub the compound butter onto the flesh without ripping the skin. Roast immediately.

 

2) Brine time: give your turkey a multiday brine bath.

Like marinating, brining will add flavor to your turkey, and make it exceptionally juicy and tender. Here’s how to brine.

Ingredients:

1 pound kosher salt
2/3 pounds sugar (granulated, brown, molasses, maple syrup, agave syrup, honey or any other kind of solid sugar or syrup will work)
2-3 gallons water
25 juniper berries
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
1 teaspoon star anise pods
2 tablespoons dried thyme
½ cup liquid smoke (which you can find at most grocery stores)

 Preparation:

  • To make the brine, combine kosher salt, sugar, water. Add the juniper berries, dried herbs and liquid smoke.
  • Brine your turkey for two to four days by either submerging the entire bird or injecting it with brine. If you choose the latter, do not brine the turkey for more than two days.

 

Roasting tips

For roasting, I always begin by browning the turkey. In an oven preheated to 450°F, cook the turkey for about half an hour or until golden brown. Then, turn the heat down to 325°F and roast about 18-20 minutes per pound until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.

Want to sharpen your culinary skills with Chef Ted? Click here to learn more about ICE’s Culinary Arts program.


By Chef/Instructor Ted Siegel

Recently my wife Cheryl and I had the good fortune to spend a few days in La Belle Province (Quebec) and visit one of our favorite culinary destinations: the beautiful city of Montreal.

We arrived, exhausted, late on a Sunday night at a time when most restaurants are closed. We knew that we could rely on one excellent spot to be open, so we made the fifteen minute walk from our hotel to dine at one of the most popular bistros in the city—Restaurant L’Express, open until 3 a.m. seven days a week. L’Express has a reputation for serving consistently solid, traditional French bistro fare. Though the menu does not change often, there are nightly off-the-menu specials. Upon placing your order, the server brings a canning jar of cornichons and a crock of Dijon mustard, both left on the table as condiments throughout the meal. We started with one of their famous dishes, octopus and lentil salad: thin slices of perfectly poached octopus dressed with lemon and olive oil arranged in a ring mold around an earthy lentil salad, deftly seasoned with a shallot vinaigrette. Once the mold is removed, the presentation is similar to a savory charlotte. We also ordered pork rillettes, which were impeccably prepared with the right ratio of shredded lean pork and fat, my only critique being that they would have been better served at room temperature rather than chilled.

Montreal_octopus

Octopus and Lentil Salad

Given my love for organ meats, I always order offal if it’s on a menu. Cheryl and I shared an order of crisp veal sweetbreads with chanterelle mushrooms, garden peas and pea tendrils under a cloud of Parmesan foam. Continuing in the “offal” mode, I had rosy slices of quickly seared and sautéed calf’s liver in a light tarragon pan sauce reduction. Cheryl had a creditable hanger steak with pommes frites. Perhaps we should have stopped after the entrees but decided to indulge in an order of ouefs al neige—a giant quenelle of French meringue gently poached in sweetened milk, the milk then bound with egg yolks, flavored with vanilla beans and turned into a silky crème anglaise, garnished with toasted almonds and threads of spun sugar. After a dinner like that, we needed that walk back to our hotel room.

The following day, after taking a riverboat tour of the St. Lawrence River around the island of Montreal, we had lunch at one of our favorite ethnic restaurants in North America: Stash Café, which specializes in homestyle Polish cooking. The tripe soup, pierogies (of any kind) and the perfectly executed pork schnitzel are well worth the visit.

While researching the Montreal dining scene before our trip, one newcomer intrigued me: Le Comptoir Charcuteries et Vin, a restaurant of 40-50 seats serving a contemporary French-Canadian menu of small tasting plates and an extensive list of charcuterie and house-cured meats. It’s a neighborhood establishment where the service transcends warm, friendly and gracious. However, it was the food that left us speechless. We loved our first meal there so much that we cancelled a dinner reservation at another restaurant and returned three nights later. It is hard to find superlatives adequate enough to do justice to the chef and his execution of a very labor-intensive menu. The kitchen opens directly into the dining room and there are only three people working on the line including Chef Ségué Lepage. I highly recommend virtually every dish, as we sampled almost the entire menu during our two visits—easily the best two meals we’ve had in 2016 (and quite possibly in 2015 as well). Though all dishes were memorable, here are my favorites: house-cured porchetta di testa served with goat cheese fritters and ribbons of pickled zucchini; lobster tart on a savory sablé with tomato confit, tarragon crème fraîche, roquette and gently stewed white onions; tataki of seared veal loin with a purée of sage, Marsala wine reduction, fried sweetbreads and marinated radish salad; and wild blue pleurote mushrooms from Ontario with crab mayonnaise, landjäger sausage, wild garlic and dill. Go to Le Comptoir and you will not be disappointed!

Montreal_charcuturie

No trip to Montreal would be complete without paying visits to Joe Beef and Au Pied Cochon. Fred Morin, owner and chef of Joe Beef, and Martin Picard, mastermind of Au Pied de Cochon, have in common both their connection to famed Québécois chef Normand Laprise—the “godfather” of modern French-Canadian cuisine—and their decadent, over-the-top approach to cuisine, gastronomy and life in general—an approach which I fully subscribe to and worship.

Montreal Joe Beef

Joe Beef

Joe Beef promotes itself as a seafood-centric restaurant but it’s really about meat as well. The portions are large, so go with an empty stomach. Prepare to be well fed in a relaxed atmosphere by an approachable staff. The must-tries on the current menu are the appetizer of crispy calf’s head fritters served with sauce gribiche; salade gourmandea large, thick round of country-style terrine topped with a salad of apples and haricots verts and served with a tranche of grilled peasant bread slathered with an unctuous foie gras parfait; roast quail stuffed with lobster sausage in a light jus of the roasting juices; and the lobster spaghetti, which is why anybody goes to Joe Beef in the first place. Chunks of lobster seared in the shell, then stewed with bacon, cream, Parmesan and fresh herbs, and served atop house-made fresh spaghetti with the texture of satin. We also had a perfectly roasted halibut filet with smoked tomato butter. At this point, we moved on to dessert, but should not have, as they were somewhat of a disappointment. Regardless, Joe Beef is a restaurant that deserves at least one if not numerous visits.

Montreal_Joe Beef

Stuffed Pig’s Foot

Finally, there is Au Pied de Cochon, which is consistently rated as one of the top restaurants in North America. We’ve dined there in the past and feel like a trip to Montreal would be incomplete without a visit to Martin Picard’s “temple” of all things duck, foie gras and pork. Be warned: the portions defy any notion of restraint and are not for the “squeamish”—which is a good thing for me!

On our most recent visit we began with three off-the-menu specials: perfectly fried zucchini blossoms with a caper aioli, a totally hedonistic foie gras pizza with prosciutto and cheese curds, baked in a wood-burning oven with just the right amount of char to the crust, and a disappointing yellowfin tuna belly glazed with soy and maple that sounded great on paper but was horribly overcooked. For our entrees, Cheryl and I had their two most iconic menu items: “Duck in a Can” and the Stuffed Pig’s Foot “APC”. The former is a magret de canard (also known as Moulard duck breast), duck leg confit and foie gras preserved in a tin can with cabbage and vegetables, presented and opened out of the can at the table. The latter is a braised pig’s foot stuffed with foie gras and gratinéed with bread crumbs, served on a bed of a silken potato purée whipped with cheese curds, a variation of the famous aligote from the Auvergne region of France, and a sauce prepared from the braising jus. The pig’s foot was big enough to serve two to four people. It was an “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” moment!

Also not to be missed: the two central food markets in the city, Atwater market in “Little Burgundy” and Jean-Talon market in “Litte Italy.” You can sample the best produce, cheeses, meats, seafood and prepared foods that this lush and fertile agricultural region has to offer. At the Jean-Talon market, be sure to visit the tiny but well-stocked culinary bookstore, Librairie Gourmande, most notably for their selection of cookbooks from top Québécois chefs. We enjoyed a surprisingly great lunch at La Crêperie du Marché in the Jean-Talon market, which specializes in the famous galettes de sarrasin—traditional savory buckwheat crêpes of Brittany, France. We savored a crêpe layered with béchamel sauce, Gruyère cheese and mushrooms as well as one with ham, cheese, spinach and a fried sunny side-up egg.

I’ll be going to Quebec City soon, so keep an eye out for my next (hungry) chef’s tour.

Chef Ted’s Montreal Hit List

Restaurant L’Express
3927 Rue Saint-Denis
http://restaurantlexpress.com

Stash Café
200 Rue St. Paul O
http://restaurantstashcafe.ca

Le Comptoir Charcuteries et Vins
4807 Boul St-Laurent
http://comptoircharcuteriesetvins.ca

Joe Beef
2491 Rue Notre-Dame O
http://www.joebeef.ca

Au Pied de Cochon
536 Duluth Est
http://aupieddecochon.ca/?lang=en

Atwater Market
138 Atwater Avenue
http://www.marchespublics-mtl.com/en/marches/atwater-market/

Jean-Talon Market
7070 Henri-Julien Avenue
http://www.marchespublics-mtl.com/en/marches/jean-talon-market/

Want to study culinary arts with Chef Ted? Check out ICE’s culinary arts career program. 

 

By Chef-Instructor Ted Siegel

With the imminent closing of The Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City next month, I have been reflecting on the profound influence this restaurant has had on the North American dining scene and restaurant industry since its opening in 1959. The Four Seasons Restaurant was heralded as the first modern American restaurant (post World War II) to promote North American regional ingredients and seasonally driven menus—a quality that is lauded in today’s food culture. Historically, however, another great New York City restaurant that opened in 1823 was the so-called “Godfather” of this trend—Delmonico’s.

Chef Charles Ranhofer cookbook The EpicureanBy the middle of the 19th century, Delmonico’s was considered to be the greatest restaurant in the United States. To put it in perspective: the way we think of Thomas Keller’s French Laundry today is the way Americans spoke of Delmonico’s back then. The key date in Delmonico’s history was 1862, when a great French chef from Alsace named Charles Ranhofer took over Delmonico’s kitchen. His devotion to regional North American ingredients introduced Americans to ingredients that were not commonly served at that time. He used black sea bass from Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island; soft shell blue crabs from the Chesapeake Bay area; shad and its roe from the Hudson River Valley; locally caught sturgeon; alligator pears (that is, avocados from Florida) and samp, a hominy-like dish based on hulled corn kernels from the southwest that Chef Charles served with wild teal duck. Some of his most iconic preparations, such as Lobster Newburg and Baked Alaska (which he called “Alaska, Florida”) have become staples on many American menus—including some of the earliest menus of The Four Seasons Restaurant. All of these dishes and thousands more were memorialized in his book The Epicurean, published in 1894, five years before his passing.

Jeremiah Tower, former executive chef of the prominent Berkley, CA, restaurant Chez Panisse, speaks quite poignantly in his cookbook, New American Classics, about how The Epicurean inspired him to transform the Chez Panisse menus to reflect Northern California’s indigenous ingredients and produce. In fact, he mentions that the very first Northern California regional dinner menu he prepared at Chez Panisse in 1973 paid homage to Chef Charles’ influence by adapting Delmonico’s green corn and crayfish soup on that evening’s menu.

Looking at the early menus conceived by James Beard and Albert Stöckli, executive chef of The Four Seasons Restaurant, the influence of The Epicurean is evident. Hence, no discussion of North American regional cuisine, including the recent farm-to-table and locavore trends in menu concept and execution, is complete without a discussion of the impact of Charles Ranhofer, Delmonico’s and The Epicurean.

If you want to delve deeper into cookbooks inspired by The Epicurean, here are some recommended reads:

The Four Seasons Cookbook (1971 ed.) by James Beard and Charlotte Adams

The Four Seasons: The Ultimate Book of Food, Wine and Elegant Dining (1980) by Tom Margittai and Paul Kovi

The Four Seasons Spa Cuisine (1986) by Seppi Renggli

New American Classics (1987) by Jeremiah Tower

Interested in studying with Chef Ted? Click here to learn more about our Culinary Arts program.

By Ted Siegel—Chef-Instructor, Culinary Arts

At least once every decade some culinary pundit or self-appointed expert on cuisine and gastronomy makes a grand pronouncement declaring the “death of French cuisine”. This has been an ongoing trend in culinary journalism since as far back as the late 19th century. Whether it was the fall of the classical grande cuisine of Carême, Escoffier and Du Bois or end of the nouvelle cuisine revolution that shook France after from the 1950s to the 1980s, the state of French cuisine has always been ripe for debate.

Fresh seafood at a French market

Fresh seafood at a French market

Yet there seemed to be a significant shift somewhere around 2003, when the New York Times ran a front page story in its Sunday Magazine declaring—once and for all—the death of French cuisine. The piece went on to anoint Spanish chef Ferran Adria as the “pope” of contemporary gastronomy (called molecular or modernist, depending on who you asked).

However, upon a recent trip to Paris, it was apparent that the death notices (as usual) are premature. The wild card in the whole discussion is the profound influence—encoded in the DNA of the French people—of the cuisine bourgeoise: the cooking of French housewives and grandmothers, rooted in the terroir of local ingredients and traditions. In the context of restaurants, this cuisine has transformed itself into a movement labeled bistronomie, a trend that snubs the grande luxe dining palaces with their fine china, sterling silver place settings, starched linens and snooty waiters, maitre’ds, and sommeliers (who act as if the customer is there to serve them, not the other way around). Here the cuisine of grandmère and maman rears its beautiful head—in simple preparations based on a market-driven cuisine with an emphasis on seasonality, solid culinary technique, unpretentious presentations and friendly, relaxed knowledgeable service.

Traditional French cuisine relies on products unique to the region's terroir.

Traditional French cuisine relies on products unique to the region’s terroir.

Like any so-called revolution, politics and economics are among the underlying forces that have dictated this change in French cuisine, gastronomy and food culture. With the volatility of the “euro” and the global economic crisis, it is now more cost-prohibitive than ever for a business owner to sustain luxury operations in the long-term. It has become economic suicide to maintain a brigade of forty to fifty chefs, cooks and other staff (in the back of the house alone), uphold a large inventory of grand cru wines, and support the various other elements of leasing or owning a space that would fit the traditional Michelin definition of three stars.

Lunchtime at a French cafe

Lunchtime at a French cafe

Complementing this transformation in the kitchen is a social and literary movement, one that has rallied in particular behind France’s modern response to the long-reigning Michelin Dining Guides. Founded in 2000 by Alexandre Cammas, Le Fooding springs from a curious mix of anti-corporate left wing politics and social libertarianism, and it poses a direct challenge to the moribund culture of Michelin and its dominance over French cuisine for more than 100 years. The first Le Fooding guidebook was published in 2006, and the movement has since jumped the Atlantic, holding annual events in New York City—incidentally, taking place this weekend in the Rockaways.

It’s particularly fitting that Le Fooding should also celebrate NYC’s dining culture, as many of the restaurants that my wife Cheryl and I visited in Paris would fit in very comfortably (thank you) in neighborhoods such as the Lower East Side, Williamsburg or Long Island City. Below are some of the best examples of this “new/old” cooking that we discovered—fusing la cuisine bourgeoise with chef-level consistency and innovation.

IMG_0372_2

Sea scallops poached in champagne with a nage of black truffles and melted leeks

L’ASSIETTE—Rue du Chateau in the 14th arr.

Chef/owner David Rathgeber’s cuisine is deeply rooted in culture of his homeland of the Landes region of Southwest France, but his technique was honed for ten years under the renowned Chef Alain Ducasse. On the night we dined at this restored 1930’s boucherie, we savored his house-cured country ham with homemade farm bread and beurre demi-sel, foie gras terrine with a conserve of figs, and rillettes of suckling pig and foie gras. There was warm, poached asparagus with an incredibly silky sauce mousseline; sea scallops poached in champagne with a nage of black truffles and melted leeks; stuffed calves head, sauce ravigote and what could only be described as the most ethereal sea salt crème caramel one could possibly taste.

CASA OLYMPE—Rue St. George’s in the 9th arr.

Olympe Versini is an icon among female chefs in Paris, receiving her first Michelin stars when she was only in her twenties. She is considered to be “the godmother” of this new trend in French dining, as when she opened Casa Olympe in 1993, she asked the Michelin inspectors to stay away and not review the restaurant. Her food is profoundly influenced by her Corsican ancestry and the Mediterranean basin.

If available, try her blood sausage croustillants on mesclun greens; warm salad of seared scallops, house-cured foie gras, avocados and mâche; daurade roasted on the bone with tomatoes, lemon, potatoes, herbs and olive oil; perfectly roasted squab with Asian spices and Thai red rice-coconut milk pilaf.

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Smoked pork belly, braised slowly and served with reduction of braising jus and a nicoise olive-potato purée

LE COMPTOIR DE RELAIS—Place d’Odeon in the 6th arr.

Chef Yves Camdeborde has been the leader and vanguard of bistronomie for the past 20 years in Paris. He worked for many years with his mentor Christian Constant at the Hotel de Crillon, where they elevated the cuisine of the Restaurant les Ambassadeurs to two Michelin stars. His extensive menu is available at lunch, but be forewarned—no reservations are accepted and the restaurant fills up by 12:30 pm. It is virtually impossible to get reservations at dinner, when the menu becomes a prix fixe of fifteen courses.

Dishes that I can highly suggest are the unusual warm terrine of boudin noir with a refreshing salad of celery root, apples and sucrine lettuce; salade gourmande of salt-cured foie gras, green beans, artichokes and potatoes; smoked pork belly, braised slowly and served with a reduction of the braising jus and a nicoise olive-potato purée; pan-fried stuffed pigs feet and a warm individual apple tarte with vanilla ice cream and salted caramel.

LES COCOTTES—Rue St. Dominique in the 7th arr.

Christian Constant, mentioned above, left the Hotel de Crillon years ago to establish his own restaurant group, which includes Les Cocottes. The restaurant is known for its casual counter seating, large menu of wines by the glass and hot menu items—all of which are served in deep cast iron cocottes produced in Alsace.

Our starters included Spanish jamón ibérico simply served with pickled piquillo peppers; an outstanding ravioli of langoustine with artichoke purée and shellfish coulis (that resembled a shellfish cappuccino more than a classic sauce); impeccably seared scallops on parmesan polenta with a light reduction of jus d’opulent roti; and wood pigeon roasted with a ragoût of spring onions, honey mushrooms and chestnuts, simply sauced with a reduction of the roasting juices.

One quick note about the wines we drank: one does not have to break the bank to drink reasonably well in Paris. Stick to the regional wines with A.O.C. certification and you can enjoy excellent wines for less than thirty Euros a bottle.

Craving more culinary travel stories? Check out Chef Ted’s guide to Rome

By Chef Ted Siegel, ICE Culinary Arts Instructor

In 2005 the New York Times published an article by Frank Bruni (then restaurant critic and editor of the “Dining In/Dining Out” section) about Roman cuisine. The article’s overall message was: “nothing new is going on in Roman cuisine!”.  After a recent trip to Rome my wife, Cheryl, I am happy to report that this is still true.

This might be a slight overgeneralization; there are a handful of Roman restaurants doing “modernist cuisine-molecular gastronomic” spins on traditional Roman cooking. However, most Romans find the modernist trend oxymoronic, referring to this type of cooking as “all smoke and no roast!”.

Fortunately, Roman cooking and the culinary traditions of Lazio (best described as a rustic and pastoral cuisine based on meat and vegetables) has not changed too much since Etruscan sheep herders occupied the banks and mud flats of the Tiber river, as far back as 800-750 B.C. Hallelujah for that!

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Seafood risotto

During our trip to Rome, Cheryl and I thoroughly immersed ourselves in its cuisine, enjoying the glories of traditional “cucina alla Romana. Below is an recount of some of our more noteworthy meals, as well as a list of restaurants that one should not miss if traveling to the “Eternal City”:

HOSTERIA da FORTUNATO (12 Via Pellegrino): A very tiny neighborhood trattoria serving traditional Roman home cooking that is popular with locals. If you go, you will likely see a group of women sitting at a corner table hand-rolling, cutting and shaping all the sublime house made pastas.

Their iconic Roman fritti misti of vegetables and meatballs in a delicate batter is a must-have dish. As for the pasta, try any number of the variations of strangolapreti (“priest stranglers”), a very traditional hand rolled pasta dumpling that is particular to the central Italian regions of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. The story of how this pasta got its name goes back to the middle ages. Roman catholic prelates would gorge themselves on this simple pasta made water and durham flour until they choked, hence the name.

The variations on strangolapreti that we found deeply satisfying were caccio e peppe, carciofi e gunaciale (artichokes and  smoked pork cheeks- both basic staples of the Roman kitchen) and alla carbonnara. The house-made sheep’s milk ricotta ravioli in a luscious butter and sage sauce (“burro e salvia”) is also a must-try.

HOSTARIA COSTANZA (63 Piazza del Paradiso): This beautiful restaurant is actually built into the cellar of an ancient Roman amphitheater that dates back to the height of the “glory days” of the Roman Empire. The walls of the restaurant are still the original brick work from this archeological masterpiece.

Our dinner began with a perfectly-executed classic: carciofi alla Romana (large globe artichokes simmered in a broth of white wine, olive oil and herbs). The pastas were also fabulous. Worth a return visit were the tonnarelle con bottarga e seppie (square-cut spaghetti made on-premises served in a sauce of baby calamari indigenous to the Mediterranean and bottarga, which is the salt-cured roe of grey mullet); a simple grilled branzino (Mediterranean sea bass); and finally, trippa alla Romana (tripe braised in tomatoes and mint with pecorino alla Romana, a dish that pays homage to the marcelleria – the butchers of the Roman slaughterhouses whose cuisine has dominated the Roman culinary landscape since ancient times. They cooked with a strong emphasis on offal, because that was all they could afford).

Fortunately for us, we arrived in Rome just as puntarelle – a variety of wild dandelion greens – started appearing in the Roman vegetable markets (puntarelle has a very short season from late winter to early spring). Puntarelle is traditionally served with a dressing of red onions, anchovies, lemon and olive oil. Needless to say, we enjoyed the version we had at Costanza.

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RISTORANTE La SCALA (58-61 Piazza della ‘Scala): Ristorante la Scala is located in Trastavere, a very quiet, residential neighborhood southeast of Vatican city. We stumbled into La Scala serendipitously after a day of touring the Vatican. We were so fond of this local restaurant that we dined there twice. Weather permitting, sitting outside in the outdoor dining area affords one an authentic experience with a view of the beautiful church of Santa Maria della ‘Scala.

Being in Rome at the height of truffle season gave us an opportunity to indulge in the truffle menu of La Scala: burrata di bufala with black truffles and rughetta (wild arugula); light as air potato gnocchi with scarmorza (smoked mozzarella) and black truffles; fried artichokes with black truffles, fonduta and guanciale; and finally, sheep’s milk ricotta ravioli in an unctuous butter sauce showered with truffles.

Other dishes worth not missing are the tonnarelle pasta with zucchini flowers and cherry tomatoes, as well as the carciofi alla guidea (artichokes simmered and fried in olive oil), one of the truly great dishes born out of Rome’s Jewish “ghetto”, dating back 2500 years. For dessert, try the crema di zabaglione con fragola (sabayon cream with wild strawberries).

HOSTERIA GRAPPOLO d’ORO (80-84 Piazza Cancelleria): This is another favorite where we had two wonderful meals. This restaurant has a clientele of largely local regulars and would fit right in in a New York City neighborhood. While the décor is modern, the cooking is in keeping with traditional Roman gastronomy.

The delicious house antipasti tasting plate features a modern take on a molded panzanella salad, mille-foglia con burrata e alici (a very light pastry layered with buffalo milk burrata and marinaded white anchovies), pan fried oxtail meatballs with salsa verde, a croquette of baccala and potatoes and an eggplant-ricotta polpette.

The orechiette pasta with broccoli and potatoes was not the usual mess of broccoli flowers and potatoes swimming in olive oil. The vegetables had been cooked down to form an incredibly light, yet slightly coarse puree, bound by a light broth emulsified with a little olive oil. The execution of this dish showed the true skill of the kitchen. Further, d’Oro’s rigatoni all’ amatriciana with a copious garnish of crisp guanciale was one of the better versions of this classic Roman pasta preparation we had during our trip (pasta all’ amatriciana, carbonara and caccio e pepe make up the “holy trinity” of Roman pasta preparations).

For the second course, we sampled stinco di maiale (pork shank braised with chestnuts and beer), guancia di bue brasato (beef cheeks braised in red wine and carrots) and abacchio scottadito alla griglia (the Roman classic of grilled baby lamb marinated with herbs, garlic and olive oil—whose title implies that when you pick up the grilled cuts of lamb, you burn your fingers while eating them!).

CENTRALISSMO “WINE BAR” (15-17 Via Santa Maria in Via): This wine bar and restaurant near the Pantheon gets mixed reviews. However, we had an excellent platter of fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella, as well as a memorable plate of fried olives. For the primi we enjoyed a very creditable spaghetti caccio e pepe and bucatini all ‘amatriciana. Given the fact that Centralismo is a wine bar, we drank one of the more unusual wines on our trip: Lambrusco, a sparkling red wine from the Emilia Romagna region.

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Potato gnocchi with scamorza (smoked mozzarella) and black truffles

 PIAZZA CAMPO di FIORE

I would be remiss not to mention the Piazza Campo di Fiore, which is one of the truly great food markets in Europe with a wonderful salumeria. Worth visiting is Antica Norcineria Viola. If you are passionate about Italian salume – such as cured hams, salami and anything else that pays homage to pigs – this establishment is a must visit. If you find yourself fortunate enough to wander in there, try the testa, which has a beautifully silky and refined texture.

WINE

The wines we drank were too numerous to mention, but a few were truly memorable:

  • Barolo chinato: A late harvest Barolo made from the Nebbiolo grape in the region of Piedmonte.
  • Merlino: A wine from Trentino-Alto Adige which is produced from the Lagrein grape variety that is grown in the region’s Vigneti delle Dolomiti wine district and is classified as a fortified wine
  • Viscola Querciantica: A wine from the Marchese region in Southern Italy that is pressed from the juice of sour cherries.

GENERAL TIPS

As far as Roman hospitality, we found the service in all the restaurants mentioned above to be warm and welcoming. Most of the Italians we met spoke English as a second language (some more fluent than others) or at least made an attempt to communicate in English.

Be aware that unlike in other places, restaurants in Rome will charge extra for bread, which is automatically brought to the table and is generally of poor quality. (You will not be asked if you want it or not, so don’t be surprised by the surcharge when you get the bill. If you decide not to have bread, inform the wait staff when they bring it to the table.)

Thinking of traveling to Italy? Consider a hands-on cooking experience in the picturesque heart of Umbria, led by ICE Chef-Instructor Gerri Sarnataro. Click here to learn more. 

 

 

 

By Jackie Ourman

 

As our culinary arts class continues to meet at ICE, we’ve gotten our groove and fallen into a comfortable routine. Mise en place is always first. I love the sound of knives cutting through produce, hitting the boards as we prep. I know there are some people who feel a sense of serenity when they organize and clean. That has never been me—but give me a knife and allow me to chop, dice and slice? Zen…so long as I don’t cut any fingers!

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In addition to knife skills, in our first module, we worked on meat fabrication and preparing stocks. These skills are essential for chefs to learn and provided me with a strong base of knowledge and connection to the food I prepare. For our practical exam, we put many of these skills to work by making a cream of broccoli soup (mine was gluten-free, of course) and medium dice two potatoes. Medium dice may just be the bane of my existence, but I made it through, and was feeling ready for Mod 2.

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In the second section of the culinary arts program, we focused on different cooking methods including sautéing, pan frying, deep frying and braising. After reviewing all of the recipes we were going to make on our pan frying and deep frying days, I was disappointed to see that I would not be able to taste anything. There was a ton of flour, breadcrumbs and even beer-batter (double-gluten!) in almost every preparation. Combine that with a lot of people in the kitchen at the same time and you pretty much have a recipe celiac cross-contamination disaster.

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But, in fact, it was the exact opposite. I brought in my gluten-free flour blend, breadcrumbs, panko and beer. Chef Ted Siegel, our instructor, allowed me to work with those ingredients and even set up a special fry station for me. How awesome is that? Besides being so accommodating, he is an amazing chef and I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to learn the craft from him.

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Hands down, my favorite recipe from that week of classes was the Pan-fried Crab Cakes with Avocado Sauce. Using Aleias gluten-free Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and panko yielded an absolutely delicious crab cake. Chef Ted complimented the end flavor and texture, as did many of my classmates. Here is the recipe. You should definitely try it out!

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By Carly DeFilippo 

It’s not every day that a student gets to return to his or her alma mater, to walk the halls as not only an alumnus, but also a teacher. ICE Culinary Arts graduate Charles Granquist has more than earned his place among our faculty, with a resume that includes such diverse experience as the fine dining kitchens of Blue Hill NYC and the fast-paced food media world of the Food Network.

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When he first arrived in New York, Charles wasn’t the most obvious candidate for the culinary profession. He didn’t grow up in a family of cooks, and his education in music and economics at Bates College hadn’t prepared him for life in the kitchen. But when his first job at a sound branding company didn’t pan out as planned, the thought of escaping the cubicle for the kitchen began to sound increasingly enticing.

“If there was anyone in my family who sparked my interest in food, it was probably my grandfather,” Charles explained. “He was originally from Bogota, Columbia, but he spent a significant part of his life in Paris. He couldn’t cook at all, but he would regale us with stories of meals he had in France or Gstaad.” Those stories, paired with a few summer jobs at fish markets and grills during his college years marinated in Charles’ mind, forming the foundations of a professional calling.

His curiosity sparked, Charles knocked on the door of Chanterelle—then, one of the most innovative fine dining restaurants in NYC. Offering his services for free got his foot in the door, and within the first few days in the kitchen Charles was certain cooking was the career for him. From there, he moved on to the Savoy, where he was hired as garde manger. But the longer he spent in professional kitchens, the more Charles realized he would benefit from formal schooling.

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So in 2002, Charles enrolled in the morning Culinary Arts program at ICE, while continuing night shifts at Savoy and Fleur de Sel. Immediately, he found a mentor in Chef Ted Siegel. Charles explains, “I don’t think I would have gotten very far in the industry if it weren’t for him. He was tough on all of us and actually got us ready for a restaurant. Specifically, having him for the fifth and final module of the program…that really made me feel ready to enter the industry.”

For his externship, Charles chose to work under an equally rigorous chef, Dan Barber, at Blue Hill in Greenwich Village. He arrived at the restaurant at a fortuitous time: right before Barber opened Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York. “It was amazing because we closed down Blue Hill NYC for a few months, and the entire crew went upstate to help with the opening. We knew we were on the cutting edge of something, and getting to work with Dan Barber and other chefs like Mike Anthony (now the executive chef of Gramercy Tavern) and Juan Cuevas was an incredible learning experience.”

At the time, Blue Hill was still in its infancy, but Barber’s mission and vision shaped the way Chef Charles cooks to this day. “Chef Dan was a very cerebral guy. He was tough and demanding, but he also made you think really carefully about what you’re doing and where your food is coming from. My cooking style remains hyper-seasonal to this day—even in my home kitchen. My wife might think it’s ridiculous, but I genuinely like to work with what’s in season because it tastes the best and because working with restrictions is the best way to challenge yourself.”

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After the opening of Stone Barns, Chef Charles returned to Blue Hill NYC for another two years. As he moved his way through various stations—from garde manger to saucier—the restaurant continued to evolve, eventually earning a rave three-star review from The New York Times.

Working at one of New York’s finest restaurants didn’t offer much flexibility, so at the request of his newlywed bride, Charles began investigating kitchen positions with more normal hours. Dan Barber personally helped Charles in his search, putting in a call to the Food Network, where Charles landed a position as a food stylist.

“Working as a food stylist at the Food Network is totally different than in other parts of the industry. If you’re styling a turkey for Emeril, you might prepare a turkey in six different stages of the cooking and plating process. Every detail needs to be carefully planned out in advance,” Charles notes. After about a year and a half, Charles was promoted to culinary producer, which involved cross testing the talents’ recipes, developing a run of show for every shoot and working with the talent to ensure everything ran smoothly on set.

Working in food media did leave Charles missing the heat and camaraderie of the kitchen, so when the chance to work on new business opportunities for the network arose, he jumped at the opportunity. Working with the Delaware North company, Charles’ role was to build out a flagship Food Network concession stand at Yankee Stadium. After three years, the project was such a success that it expanded to 22 stadiums across the country.

“Working in large-scale food service was something I had never done before,” explains Chef Charles, “so there was a learning curve—in terms of what people would want to eat, how to do local or sustainable sourcing in a stadium setting, etc.” Charles was also recruited to develop two Food Network restaurant concepts for the Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta airports—each with an open kitchen and a menu that reflected local culinary flavor.

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After years at Food Network, something was still missing for Chef Charles. He took a year off to follow his passion—spending a week in Chef Mike Anthony’s kitchen at Gramercy Tavern, training in charcuterie at Artisan Meat Share in Charleston and eventually, taking a job at Dickson’s Farmstand Meats as an apprentice charcutier and in-house chef for the shop’s prepared foods.

“After a year back in real kitchens, I knew that I wanted to continue in a place where I was cooking actively,” says Charles. “I had always liked training the staff at the restaurants I had opened for Food Network, so when I saw an opportunity to teach at ICE, I knew that would be a meaningful next move.”

Though only in his first weeks of teaching, Chef Charles is already shaping the career paths of the next generation of chefs. “Initially, a lot of students are interested in my work with the Food Network, but even if food media is your professional dream job, it would be a major mistake to leave culinary school and not spend at least one year in a professional kitchen—the very best kitchen you can find. No matter where you go after that, you are going to need that foundation. At Food Network, the people who rose through the ranks quickest were invariably those with restaurant experience. And yes, that first year might be the most terrifying career choice of your life, but you will be a much better candidate for any job after that.”

Get to know Chef Charles in person. Click here for free information about ICE’s Culinary Arts program.