By James Briscione­ ­­– Director of Culinary Research

Sous vide cooking is one of the fastest growing trends in modern cooking, among restaurant chefs and home cooks alike. Despite the fact that sous vide was first used in restaurants around the same time that microwave ovens hit the market for home cooks, it’s still viewed as a very new technology. But one thing that has really changed about sous vide over the past 40 years is the price. Sous vide equipment used to carry a price tag (around $1,000) that put it out of reach for most cooks. Today, the average home cook (or professional for that matter!) could be expertly equipped for sous vide cooking for $200 or less. And once you go vac, you’ll never go back. (See what I did there? Sous vide translates to under vacuum. Vac, vacuum…get it?)

sous vide steak sandwiches

The three main reasons for cooking food sous vide are: precision, consistency and convenience. At its core, sous vide cooking is all about precision temperature control — foods are cooked to the exact temperature of their desired doneness. For example: say you like your steak medium-rare. You could do one of two things: One, throw your steak on a grill that is somewhere around 375˚F and leave it there, watching closely, trying to anticipate the moment when the center of that steak is approaching 128˚F and quickly remove the steak to let it stand while the still-searing-hot surface continues to raise the steak’s internal temperature (aka, carryover cooking). Or, you could heat a container of water to exactly 128˚F, place a steak inside a plastic bag (no need for special equipment, a zip top bag is fine) and cook it for anywhere from 45 minutes to four hours (since the outside temperature is the same as the internal, your steak is never going to overcook). And once you decide your favorite temperature for steak doneness, you can cook it consistently to that exact temperature. Sous vide cooking also eliminates the need to precisely time when things finish cooking. Once cooked through, sous vide foods can be held in the hot water for up to two hours before serving. Or, if properly chilled after cooking and kept refrigerated, foods could be cooked more than two weeks in advance with zero decline in flavor or freshness.

sous vide steak

I have been teaching sous vide cooking to students, professionals and home cooks at ICE for over five years, and my wife and I do a lot of sous vide cooking at home. If sous vide seems like too much effort for a home cook with a full work schedule and a family, let me persuade you to consider otherwise: With a busy schedule and two kids, the convenience and quality cannot be beat. What’s more, the sous vide method is easier than you think.

Additionally, for roughly the same amount of time, I have been part of The Official Jets Cooking School — helping Jets fans (and football fans in general) take their tailgating game to the next level. I’m a lifelong football fan and have always loved a good tailgate. As a chef, I don’t mess around when it comes to the food, which is why I love bringing sous vide to the tailgate. I cook my steak, even bacon — trust me on this — at home a day or two before the game. Then I quickly chill the cooked meat in an ice bath before holding it in the fridge or packing it in the cooler and heading for the stadium.

If you’ve had the pleasure of participating in a proper tailgating experience, you know that sometimes the liquid pursuits at the tailgate can lead to, shall we say, “inattentiveness” at the grill. That’s never the case with sous vide: Because everything is already perfectly cooked, you show up and all you need to worry about is heating things up and learning how to humbly accept all the compliments that will be coming your way. Here, I’m sharing with you my favorite tailgating recipe: Sous Vide Peppercorn Crusted Flank Steak and Bacon Sandwiches — take that, overcooked burgers!

 

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sous_vide_steak_sandwich_10-20-16_edited-5

Sous Vide Peppercorn Crusted Flank Steak
Servings: makes enough for 8 sandwiches

Recipe note: Cooking bacon sous vide may seem unnecessary, but if you’ve ever tried to cook bacon over a live fire, you know what a dangerous prospect this could be. Precooking bacon eliminates some of the fat that causes flare-ups and minimizes the time you need to have the bacon on the grill, which reduces your chances of burning it!

For the brine 

Ingredients:

1 quart water
¼ cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground

Preparation:

  • Combine the water, salt, brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic and pepper in a bowl and whisk until dissolved.
  • Transfer the brine to a one-gallon zip top bag; add the steaks, squeeze out any air and seal. Refrigerate overnight or for a minimum of 4 hours.

 

For the steak

Ingredients:

1 piece flank steak, about 2 pounds, cut into 4 pieces
Black pepper, coarsely ground
12 slices extra thick cut bacon
Horseradish cream (recipe below)
Watercress or arugula, as needed
Rolls, toasted

Preparation:

  • Remove the steaks from the brine and discard the liquid. Pat the steaks dry and coat on both sides with black pepper.
  • Return the steaks to the zip top bag. To seal the bag, submerge the bag with the steaks into a bowl of room temperature water, pushing the steaks below the surface of the water to force any air out of the bag. Continue lowering the bag into water until just the sealing strip remains above water. Press the bag closed and remove the steaks from the water — they should be tightly sealed. If any air remains in the bag, repeat the process.
  • Repeat the above-described process with the bacon, sealing the bacon in a separate bag.
  • Heat a water bath to 57˚C (134.5˚F). Add the steaks to the water and cook for two hours.
  • When the steaks are done, remove from the water and transfer immediately to a bowl of ice water to cool quickly. Leave the steaks submerged in the ice water for 30 minutes, then store refrigerated for up to two weeks or frozen for up to six months.
  • Increase the temperature in the water bath to 66˚C (151˚F) and add the bacon. Leave the bacon to cook overnight (8-12 hours). When the bacon is done, remove from the water and transfer immediately to a bowl of ice water to cool quickly. Leave the bacon submerged in the ice water for 30 minutes, then store refrigerated for up to two weeks or frozen for up to six months.
  • To serve, allow the steaks and bacon to reach room temperature (they are safe to sit out for up to three hours since both are fully cooked) or quickly reheat both — still sealed in the bag — in a pan of warm water. Quickly sear the steaks and bacon on a hot grill (about one minute per side for the steaks and just 30 seconds per side for the bacon). Thinly slice the steak against the grain and serve on toasted rolls with the bacon, horseradish cream and watercress.

 

For the horseradish cream
Servings: makes about 1 pint

Ingredients:

1 cup mayonnaise (preferably homemade)
½ cup crème fraîche or sour cream
¼ cup prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon Sriracha

Preparation:

  • Combine all ingredients and mix well. Season to taste with salt and add more hot sauce if desired.
  • Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

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Want to get in the kitchen with Chef James? Click here for more information on ICE’s Culinary Arts program. 

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By Chef James Briscione — Director of Culinary Research

The role of a chef goes far beyond preparing food. Be it in a restaurant, culinary school, test kitchen or anywhere else, great chefs find a way to educate, inspire and create connections. They may seem secondary to the job of cooking, but these duties of a chef can often be more important than the meals themselves. As Director of Culinary Research here at ICE, I find myself spending more time in these roles than I do behind the stove. Not that I’m complaining — it’s this part of the job that has taken me around the world, and recently brought me back home.

Chef James Briscione

Since its inception four years ago, my wife Brooke and I have hosted The Wharf Uncorked, an end-of-summer food and wine festival on the Alabama Gulf Coast, right next door to our hometown of Pensacola, Florida. It has become a very important weekend to us for multiple reasons. First and foremost, it’s an amazing event that raises money for local charities. Secondly, it’s a fun day at the beach with a talented group of chefs. Finally, it’s a celebration of Gulf seafood — the food that both my wife and I grew up eating. Ever since an oil spill devastated the fisherman of this area, it has become increasingly important to let the world know that the Gulf of Mexico is open for business. Gulf seafood — shrimp, oysters and fish of all varieties — is both clean and delicious. In fact, the seafood from this region is some of the best I’ve ever tasted. But nothing is more tasty and unique than royal red shrimp, a lesser-known species that’s very popular with local chefs.

royal red shrimp riceRoyal red shrimp hit their peak, in terms of flavor, from the end of summer through fall. Unlike brown and pink species of shrimp, royal reds prefer the cool deeper water far from shore. They can be found up to 60 miles off the coast and their flavor is reminiscent of a fellow cold-water crustacean: the lobster. At this year’s festival, royal red shrimp were not only a secret ingredient in the Chef Showdown — a live one-hour cook off between four of the area’s top chefs (luckily, I have retired my competition apron and get to play host, judge and taste-tester for the evening), they were also a feature ingredient for my main stage cooking demo. Below is the recipe that I prepared so you can taste for yourself (sadly, you won’t get to experience all the terrible dad jokes that accompany my live cooking). Don’t worry if you don’t have royal red shrimp at your local seafood market — this dish is delicious with any variety of shrimp. I hope you are inspired to try this Gulf Coast favorite, and if you do, tell us in the comments how it turned out!

Bacon-Basted Royal Red Shrimp with Low Country Rice
Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 cups long grain rice (like Carolina Gold)
24 pieces royal red shrimp
12 bamboo skewers
Barbecue rub, as needed
2 tablespoons water
8 strips thick cut bacon, sliced into lardons (small strips)
1 yellow onion, minced
2 red bell peppers, small dice
2 jalapeños peppers, ribs and seeds removed, small dice
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 cups canned tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
Juice of ½ lemon
Hot sauce, to taste

Preparation:

  • Preheat a grill or broiler.
  • Start by cooking the rice. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Add the rice and stir once to make sure rice doesn’t stick.
  • When the rice is just tender, pour it through a colander and quickly rinse with cold water — this prevents overcooking and separates the grains of rice.
  • Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the heads on 12 if possible. With these 12, make three small (about ¼-inch deep) incisions on the under side of each shrimp tail. This will allow you to straighten the tail and thread each shrimp onto a skewer so that the tail is completely straight and in line with the head. Lightly dust the shrimp with your barbecue rub of choice and set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Remove the heads from the remaining 12 shrimp. Chop the tail meat and reserve.
  • To prepare the rice, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and water, and cook until the water evaporates and bacon is browned and crisp, about 12 minutes. (Note: cooking bacon in water may sound surprising, but the liquid helps to render the fat and the result is crispier bacon.)
  • Keeping the bacon in the pan, drain all but one tablespoon of the bacon fat from the pan and reserve.
  • Add the onions to the bacon pieces and fat in the pan. Sauté onions until just tender, about three minutes. Add bell peppers and jalapeño and cook two minutes more.
  • When the peppers are slightly tender and fragrant, add the garlic and cook until lightly toasted, about one minute. Add the chopped shrimp meat and cook one minute more, so the shrimp has just turned white on the exterior.
  • Stir in the chopped tomatoes, bring to a boil and cook two minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, to desired consistency. Finish with the cilantro, butter, lemon and hot sauce to taste. Cover the rice to keep it warm while you prepare the shrimp.
  • Brush the shrimp skewers with the reserved bacon fat and place on a grill over high heat. Cook for two minutes on one side. Just before flipping, brush the shrimp with more bacon fat, then turn and cook for two minutes on the second side. Brush again with bacon fat before removing from the grill. Rest on a rack for a few minutes after grilling.
  • Divide the rice between bowls and top with grilled shrimp skewers (three per bowl). Serve immediately.

Ready to study the Culinary Arts with Chef James? Get more information on ICE’s career programs. 

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By Ted Siegel — Chef-Instructor, Culinary Arts

Yannick Alléno may not be a household name in culinary circles in the United States, but he is a chef on the cutting edge of avant garde contemporary sauce-making techniques. He’s the president and founder of Groupe Yannick Alléno, but more importantly, he is the chef-proprietor of Le Pavillon Ledoyen restaurant in Paris, which has been rated as one of the top restaurants in the world in numerous guides and received its first three-star rating in the 2015 Michelin Guide for France. Chef Alléno’s work makes an important contribution to modern French cooking.

Yannick Alléno

Photo courtesy of Four Magazine

I recently came upon two of Chef Alléno’s books: the encyclopedic Ma Cuisine Française, and his smaller, ground-breaking volume Sauces: Reflections of a Chef. Both works introduce his theories and practical work on the subject of sauces. He states that, “Sauce is the verb of French cuisine…it is the only thing able to harmoniously bring together two totally different products to form a coherent dish,” and further, that his “goal is to put sauce in the heart of the debate…it was demonized by the health-based offensive that made us believe that sauces were too fatty and starchy and bad for our health.” Chef Alléno continues that, “If the collective subconscious is convinced of this today it is because sauces were poorly made for years.” To me, this pretty much sums up the four to five hundred years of the history of French sauces, bringing us to the status quo today.

Alléno speaks of the three distinct historical phases in classic and modern sauce-making. First, the classical or grand cuisine era, based on the principles of the “mother sauces” that were finally codified by Marie-Antoine Carême in the early 19th century. Second, the period of refinement of the “mother sauces” and their compound derivatives in the latter part of the 19th century and into the early 20th century, as embodied in the work of Auguste Escoffier. The third phase was the “nouvelle cuisine” of the late 1960s through the early 1980s, the principles of which were laid down by chefs like Fernand Point, Paul Bocuse, Alain Chapel, the Troisgros brothers, Roger Vergé and Michel Guérard. These sauces were prepared with no starch. Rather, the thickening occurs through natural reduction, emulsification, and binding and thickening through the incorporation of final liaisons such as butter, purée of foie gras, animal blood, egg yolks or cream, among many other possible ingredients.

Chef Alléno has spent the better part of his career reinterpreting, for contemporary palates, what he considers to be the four most important sauces: tomato sauce, Hollandaise/Béarnaise sauce, jus de veau (the nouvelle cuisine version of a classic French demi-glace sauce) and chicken extraction.

sauce-making

The techniques that Chef Alléno uses are based on the principles of sous vide cooking: utilizing the process of slow infusion or extraction over very low heat, with temperatures ranging from 84 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit based on the texture and molecular composition of the ingredient, whether it be a vegetable like celery root, Jerusalem artichokes or mushrooms, or a protein like fish bones, chicken carcass or crustacean shells. Once the sauce base has been created, the next stage is a technique known as cryo-concentration. The extracted liquid is placed in a centrifuge, which in turn freezes the liquid. The frozen liquid is then slowly defrosted to extract all the concentrated flavors of the base with minimal water content, which rises to the top during freezing. The remaining liquid with higher water content can then be cryo-concentrated as well. Each individual extraction can be utilized as a “mother sauce” and combined with other extractions to create an unlimited number of variations — for example, lobster and mushroom. The evaporation stage can be done two to three times. This also has the effect of creating sauce bases with a much higher level of clarity as well as more intensely flavored. The cryo-concentration technique is not a recent innovation. It has been a technique used for hundreds of years to produce “ice” ciders and wines, as well as certain types of beers, particularly lager-style beers.

Chef Alléno’s genius is that he has adapted these age-old techniques for the preparation of modern sauces. In Sauces, he lays out the technique for making a modern variation of a classic sauce Poulette — traditionally, a starch-thickened fish velouté finished with a liaison of egg yolks and cream. His method calls for cooking fish carcasses sous vide and as soon as all the albumin is extracted from the bones, use that albumin to make the sauce. This yields a sauce with a very intense, ocean-like flavor, and one that isn’t diminished by the addition of too much starch or fat. The sauce is finished with a liaison of judicious amounts of butter.

Chef Yannick Alléno’s work is just one example of a current culinary approach that defies and dispels the myth that modern French cuisine is dead. The way I see it, it’s still vibrant, organic and constantly evolving.

Ready to study sauce making and more with Chef Ted? Learn more about ICE’s culinary arts program.

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By Robert Ramsey — Chef-Instructor, Culinary Arts

Earlier this year, on a trip to Guatemala, I found myself sitting in the secret tasting room of a local mezcal producer in the colonial town of Antigua. My friend Adam and I had walked through a bookstore, which opened into a bar, then crawled through a tiny door in the back and perched on low stools. There, we sampled tastes of the smoky and complex tequila derivative, mezcal, poured by an exceptionally knowledgeable barkeep. Months later, as the summer wanes and the cool autumn temperatures move in, my mind has been wandering back to the colonial charms of Antigua — the tastes and smells of local cuisine, the incredible volcano hiking, and the relaxing and inspiring Lake Atitlan. With each adventure in the beautiful country of Guatemala, new flavors emerged.

mezcal carrot cocktail

Mornings started with local coffee, as this region is known for producing some of the world’s finest. Refuge Coffee Bar offers one of the purest tasting cold brews I’ve ever experienced. For lunch, we hit the city market, where you can find everything from fried chicken to street tacos to hearty, local stews. I couldn’t get enough of the different takes on ceviche, a local specialty served in abundance — with fresh fish, shrimp, crab, chilis, onions, lots of lime and a surprising amount of worcestershire sauce — an interesting local twist. It was both delicious and refreshing in the Central American heat.

At night, the city really comes alive. The market in the city’s Plaza Mayor, or central square, is teeming with vendors offering every variety of local cuisine — tasty horchata, tortas bursting with grilled meats, avocado and spices, pupusas with black beans and tacos, tacos, tacos. The intoxicating smells were accompanied by upbeat music, the sounds of local children playing and the postcard-perfect scenery of Spanish colonial churches framed by ominous volcanoes. In Antigua, every night is a celebration.

My favorite meal of the trip was the least expected. The mission was to reach the top of Vulcan Acatenango, a 13,000-foot volcano with sweeping vistas of Guatemala and its neighboring, active cousin, Vulcan Fuego (the most active volcano in the world). I left Antigua and embarked on a series of rides and transfers on the infamous Guatemalan “chicken buses,” which involved sprinting and hurling myself into a moving bus. I made arrangements to set out from the base of Acatenango with a local named Jaime. We arrived at Jaime’s family’s picturesque and ancient-seeming farm in the rolling foothills of Acatenango. It was here that his mother prepared a simple but perfect meal: scrambled eggs from the chickens running at our feet, homemade tortillas from the maize covering the hillside, and rich, smoky refried black beans with a depth unmatched by any other beans I’ve ever tasted. Slow-simmered over a wood burning stove, I imagined the beans had been continuously cooking for countless generations — at least they tasted that way. It was the perfect, rib-sticking last meal before the two-day hike to Acatenango’s lofty crater.

chicken bus

One of the Guatemalan “Chicken Buses”

Vulcan

Vulcan Acatenango

Chef Robert Ramsey

Chef Robert pictured left with his friend Adam

Inspired by this incredible trip, I developed a subtly sweet, intensely smoky and moderately spicy mezcal cocktail. (Pro tip: It’s best made with Ilegal Joven, the youngest of the mezcals we sampled on that gorgeous night in Antigua.) I approached this recipe as if I were building a dish. I started with the mezcal, which is a little savory and a lot smoky. By infusing the mezcal with the fruity heat of the jalapeño pepper, I created a base that needed balance in the form of sweetness (agave nectar) and sourness (lime), and is rounded out by the earthy, vegetal depth of carrot juice. I call it the “Antigua Elixir.” Each sip brings back memories of cool evenings on the shore of Lake Atitlan, where my last magical days in Guatemala were spent.

mezcal carrot cocktailAntigua Elixir

For the cocktail
Servings: makes 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

3 ounces carrot juice
1.5 ounces Jalapeño-Infused Mezcal (recipe below)
1.5 ounces lime juice
1 ounces agave nectar
Ice
1 lime wheel, for garnish
Smoked Paprika Salt (recipe below), for garnish

Preparation:

  • Rub the rim of a rocks glass with the lime wheel to wet it. Turn the glass over and dip it into the paprika salt to coat the rim. Fill glass with ice and set aside.
  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and pour in the carrot juice, mezcal, lime juice and agave nectar. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds, until the outside of shaker is frosty. Strain into a rocks glass and enjoy.

For Jalapeno-Infused Mezcal
Yield: makes enough for about 4 cocktails

Ingredients:

1 jalapeño, chopped (with seeds)
1 cup mezcal joven

  • Combine the mezcal and chopped jalapeño in a nonreactive container (a mason jar works well) and let the flavors infuse for at least one hour. Note: you can infuse for longer, but the longer you infuse, the spicier your mezcal will be — taste and infuse to your liking.
  • Strain through a fine mesh cocktail strainer. Reserve.

For Smoked Paprika Salt
Yield: makes enough for about 4 cocktails

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Preparation:

  • In a small bowl, mix the salt and paprika until evenly combined. Spread the mixture on a small plate and reserve for cocktails.

Immerse yourself in a global culinary education at ICE — click here for more information. 

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By Caitlin Raux

Miguel Trinidad didn’t plan to create a mini-empire of Filipino cuisine in New York City. “I thought when I graduated ICE I would cook Italian food,” says Miguel, who grew up idolizing PBS chefs like Lidia Bastianich. After graduating from culinary school, he landed a gig as executive chef at a popular restaurant in Soho. That’s where he first met Filipino-American Nicole Ponseca, the restaurant’s general manager who was looking to open an eatery that served the foods she grew up eating, like kare kare (oxtail stew) and chicharon buklakak (deep-fried pig fat). At the time, there was hardly a taste for Filipino cuisine in New York. Miguel had sampled Filipino food before and was intoxicated by the combination of bold flavors. So he hedged his bets and joined Nicole’s mission. Today, Miguel and Nicole helm two critically praised restaurants, Maharlika and Jeepney, and they’re in the works on a cookbook, due in early 2018.

Chef Miguel TrinidadOn a recent afternoon, I caught up with Miguel at Jeepney. On the wall hangs a photo of two hands tenderly cradling an egg — it’s the famed Filipino dish balut (a fertilized, fermented duck egg). And yes, it’s on the menu. The interior — vibrant colors, mismatched tables, the occasional pineapple and nods to Filipino culture — matches the chef’s style: loud but thoughtful. Miguel and I chatted about Filipino cuisine, cooking at the James Beard House and the rise of fine-casual dining.

How was your experience at ICE — did you enjoy being a student?

I loved being a student at ICE. By the time I started with classes, I had been cooking for a long time. I knew a wide variety of ingredients and I had the opportunity to use that knowledge and do things with it. But there were a lot of things I didn’t know, like [the five French] mother sauces and advanced techniques. I got to refine a lot like plating and timing.

I remember in Module 2, during our practical [exam] with Chef Ted, we had an hour to cook a steak, pommes frites and green beans. I was sitting there, watching everyone and Chef Ted said, “Miguel, what’s wrong?” I told him I didn’t need an hour to do it. He said, “Really? You think you can do this in how long?” I told him 15 minutes. He said he would time me, and if I didn’t do it in 15 minutes, he’d fail me.

Wait, like beginning from raw potatoes?

Yes! We had practiced this. You dice your potatoes, put them in cold water, bring it up to a boil, once it comes to a boil, you drain them and put them in the cast iron pan with parsley and oil, and let it cook. At the same time, you’re cooking your steak. Medium rare? Sure, that takes less than 12 minutes. Beans, you blanch them and pop them in a hot pan with garlic and butter. I almost failed, because I was a little too confident. But I did it in under 15 minutes.

When did you discover Filipino food?

I tried it for the first time when I was 19, and again when I met [my business partner] Nicole Ponseca after I graduated from ICE. I was working at a Southern restaurant in Soho called Lola and she was the general manager. I became executive chef after two months of working there. Nicole wanted to start a Filipino restaurant but couldn’t find a chef who believed Filipino food could become mainstream. We teamed up and went to the Philippines to backpack through the country for three months.

Jeepney NYCDid you hit up the grandmas and grandpas for their secret recipes? 

I learned a lot of recipes from Nicole’s dad. I spent time with the yayas, which are housemaids, and the lolas and lolos, which are grandmas and grandpas. I also spent time with some of the top chefs in the Philippines like Claude Tayag. I absorbed as much as I could, and then when we came back, we created a menu and started as a pop-up restaurant in the East Village in 2011. We just did brunch. We did that for eight months until we earned enough money to start Maharlika.

Our first day, we had five people. Our second day: 10 to 15. Someone wrote an article about us in Time Out New York. Then the third weekend there was a line around the corner. We went from 15 covers to 120 to 170 to 200 — all served within a three-hour period.

And then the New York Times listed you as a Critic’s Pick — that must have kept the momentum going.

We’ve been very fortunate with press. Maharlika won Metro New York’s Best New Restaurant. We’re Michelin-rated, Zagat-rated. Jeepney received two stars from the New York Times, three stars from Time Out New York. Condé Nast Traveler named Maharlika on their list of Where to Eat in the World.

What do you love, and what do you think people love, about Filipino food?

Filipino food is like a punch in the mouth. It’s big, it’s loud and it takes you on a journey. You have sweet, salty, sour — it all comes together. We approach our food like a glass of wine. We want it to hit you on the nose, all over the palate and have a strong finish. Even when you’re stuffed, you still want to take another bite because it’s so delicious.

Has it been challenging introducing Filipino cuisine to New Yorkers?

People are open to trying it. The flavors can be polarizing, but for the most part people are intrigued and happy and want to try more. They come in just to try balut — fertilized duck egg. The first time I had balut, the egg was a little overdeveloped, so I had some feathers and beak. We usually get them 11-14 days before they hatch, and it tastes like a rich, hardboiled egg.

Jeepney NYCWhat changes have you seen in the culinary industry since starting?

One of the biggest changes is that for a long time everyone wanted to get into fine dining. Now, everybody’s more into fine casual. The food just needs to be good. You can’t spend too much time on tweezers food, especially for a restaurant of Jeepney’s size. Here it’s about quality, about turnover, about fun and about experimenting. It’s not just about the plate. It’s about the service, the atmosphere, the crowd, the music, the cocktails — the whole package. I’m giving you a mini-vacation every time you walk in the restaurant.

When you’re hiring, do you look for people with a culinary education?

It helps when they have it on their resume. Especially when I get someone from ICE, I give him or her a chance to see what he or she can do. I feel like I’m giving them an extension of their education. It’s helpful to have someone with a culinary background, but at the same time, it’s important to find someone with grit.

You cooked at the James Beard House recently — how was that?

For one, it was a huge honor. It was absolutely insane and everything went off without a hitch. The food came out perfect. I was extremely happy. I also had an opportunity to work with my friends again. There’s a group of us chefs who work in different restaurants — we’ve been friends for a while and we try to support each other as much as we can, to the point where if one of us is short on the line, someone else will jump in. When I told them I was cooking at the James Beard House, they said OK, what day are we there?

What is your culinary voice?

I’m loud and in your face (laughs). My culinary voice is all about really enjoying what you do. Listen, look, feel, taste, have all your senses involved in everything you’re doing, then put it on the table and let someone else come into your mind —and see what you’re feeling when you’re cooking.

Ready to find your culinary voice? Click here to learn more about ICE’s career programs. 

Watch Miguel talk about his culinary voice here

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