By Caitlin Raux

“The future of food is cooking — is all of us cooking,” said Melissa Clark on Monday night to a roomful of guests ranging from food industry pros to zealous foodies at the Institute of Culinary Education. The occasion was the third annual “The Next Big Bite” event presented by Les Dames d’Escoffier, and the question on everyone’s mind: what is the future of food? The prolific New York Times food writer was joined by fellow panelists Padma Lakshmi of Bravo’s Top Chef, Kerry Heffernan, executive chef of Grand Banks; Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation; Missy Robbins, ICE graduate and chef-owner of Lilia, and Pascaline Lepeltier, Master Sommelier, all moderated by Dana Cowin, chief creative officer of Chefs Club and former editor-in-chief of Food & Wine. Heads nodded and occasional waves of laughter rippled through the crowd as the panelists explored the future of food.

The Next Big Bite

So what was the consensus? For starters, food and how we eat are getting more expansive. On a global level, food is becoming “post-ethnic,” in the words of Lakshmi, who noted the way that culinary trends mirror global migration and the convergence of cultures. Also expanding is the concept of food, and in particular, what is considered good food. Chefs, for example, are using wider nets to choose fish to serve in their restaurants. Heffernan explained how unfortunate nomenclature keeps certain, readily available fish — like dogfish — from gaining the popularity that their flavor merits, and the brilliant marketing tool that chefs sometimes use to get unjustly maligned seafood back on menus: just change the name.

As for cooking approaches, prepare yourself for “stem-to-stalk” cookery, the veggie counterpart of nose-to-tail, with a focus on using vegetables in their entirety, simultaneously reducing food waste and making vegetables the star of the show (or plate). But Missy Robbins reminded the audience that balance is key, and that focusing on vegetables doesn’t mean rejecting meat.

The Next Big Bite

ICE President Rick Smilow, Padma Lakshmi and Missy Robbins

On a more rudimentary level, Clark rallied in favor of (confidently) making anything for dinner — be it eggs or a bowl of oatmeal — as long as it’s delicious and what you’re craving. Taste trumps tradition; cooking need not be complicated. So how can people feel more comfortable in the kitchen? Lakshmi suggested starting early: get cooking back into schools. Lakshmi noted that the disappearance of programs like Home Economics has created a generation that doesn’t know their way around the kitchen. School lunches, too, were on the menu on Monday evening, or rather, how to fix them. “Vote,” stressed Heffernan, who championed more political activism in the food community to bring about changes like healthier lunches for children and better food regulations.

When it comes to dining out, Robbins’ new restaurant Lilia in Brooklyn exemplifies the rise of fine casual dining — creative, bold flavors served in an informal, casual environment. We’re seeing “[t]he casualization of great food, truly great food,” Cowin observed. Eateries are swapping white tablecloths for reclaimed wood and trading the velvet rope for cozy neighborhood vibes, a sentiment captured by Robbins, who shared, “I always wanted to create the restaurant that I wanted to go to every night, like it was home.” Judging by the nightly crowds at Lilia, there is no doubt it’s a place that many would like to call home — or at least eat there every night.

The Next Big Bite

At “The Next Big Bite,” the panel went beyond the flavors to be expected on menus and Instagram feeds, and offered practical ideas for effecting social change. When it comes to the future of food, the collective mindset is moving toward being healthier, more global and more conscious of the impact of food on communities. And cooking more is the key: cook more, cook what makes you feel good, and when you’re not cooking, enjoy the growing number of eateries that are on a mission to serve delicious food with no pretense. If and when you do see dogfish or porgy on the menu, don’t be put off: give them a try, too.

For more from the evening’s discussion, follow the hashtag #NextBigBite2017 on Twitter.

Feeling culinarily inspired? Learn more about ICE’s career training programs.

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On October 20, 2017, ICE will host world-renowned Brazilian chef Alex Atala for the “Recipes for a Delicious and Sustainable Future” dinner to benefit the MAD / Yale collaboration. The evening’s theme will be sustainability — one of ICE’s core commitments — as well as how chefs can be agents of change and, of course, exquisite food. We would be hard pressed to a better proponent of cooking sustainably or a better example of finding one’s culinary voice, than Chef Atala.

Alex Atala

Chef Atala, widely considered the best chef in South America, was recently featured on the Netflix series Chef’s Table. Early in his career, at a time when French cuisine lorded over fine dining in Brazil, Chef Atala found himself struggling to cook as well as his French counterparts. In his Chef’s Table episode, a very candid Chef Atala explains a transformative moment of reflection: “I’m a tattooed man, I am an outsider. I am Brazilian. This is who I am,” he said. “If I’m not able to make a French dinner as good as a French chef, nobody could do a better Brazilian dinner or a Brazilian experience than me.” From that moment on, Chef Atala decided to cook solely the cuisine of Brazil. This was a bold, even risky move. But his close connection to the land and local food producers, combined with his embrace of native ingredients — from the Amazonian fish pirarucu to hearts of palm to ants — resulted in extraordinary dining experiences. In 2013, Chef Atala was featured on the cover of Time Magazine above the headline “The Gods of Food,” and in 2014, his São Paulo restaurant D.O.M. was ranked number 6 on the World’s Best Restaurants list.

Time Magazine gods of food

For this one-night-only dinner at ICE, Chef Atala will prepare a tasting menu centered on sustainability. To Chef Atala, who was raised hunting wild game and fishing in the Amazon, using an animal in its entirety comes as a given, as does careful preparation of even the humblest of local ingredients. Joining him in the kitchen will be Ignacio Mattos, chef and co-owner of Estela, Café Altro Paradiso and Flora Bar. Having honed his craft with great chefs like Francis Mallmann and Alice Waters, Chef Mattos is known for preparing seasonal food with bold flavors. The final courses will be crafted by ICE Creative Director Michael Laiskonis, who will share his latest innovations from ICE’s bean-to-bar Chocolate Lab. Between courses, guests will have the chance to hear culinary industry and sustainability insights from Dr. Paul Freedman, Professor of History at Yale University and author of Ten Restaurants That Changed America; Dr. Arielle Johnson, former head scientist at Noma and Director’s Fellow at MIT’s Media Lab; and Mark Bomford, Director of the Yale Sustainability Program.

Benefits of the evening will go toward the MAD / Yale collaboration,* the mission of which is to “equip chefs with the tools they need to take actions that can impact their communities, cities, countries and the rest of the world.”

Tickets for this exclusive event are now available — experience a tasting menu prepared by leading chefs from two continents and expand your thinking on sustainability.

Seating is limited — click here to purchase tickets today.

*MAD / Yale brings together established and emerging chefs and scholars to build a creative and critical appetite for changing today’s food systems for the better. Chefs and students engage in a liberal arts approach to food systems thinking, exploring cross-disciplinary inquiry, and their own leadership potential. In 2016, the groups held the MAD / Yale Leadership Summit, which welcomed eight of the world’s pre-eminent chefs to Yale for a week of study.

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When you host a special event at ICE, you can have your seasonal, delicious meal — and cook it, too! ICE’s
Special Events department hosts over 400 culinary events every year, and with each, we turn an event or celebration into a fun, memorable cooking experience.  

ICE cooking eventThis month, we’re rolling out our summer menu, incorporating the season’s best produce, and offering a brand new hydroponic garden option, which allows you and your guests to take a guided tour of our onsite hydroponic garden and then whip up a tasty meal using fresh-picked herbs. We caught up with Philipp Hering, ICE’s Special Events Lead Chef, to get the lowdown on this fresh new menu.

Everything on the new seasonal cooking menu looks SO good — which are your favorite dishes?

Thank you! I love to incorporate new, trending ingredients and to make them accessible to the general public, who either don’t how to use them or wouldn’t give them a second thought. That being said, my current favorites on the menu are our pastas — specifically, the Tagliatelle with Summer Vegetables. It’s a simple preparation, but the flavors and colors pop — perfect for the season. I also have a soft spot for our Tuscan Chicken “Under a Brick.” I love roasting chicken and this method puts a new spin on it.

It seems like the dishes draw influences from around the globe — how do you go about creating the menu? Where do you look for inspiration?

The menu is a collaborative effort between the members of the Special Events department. We discuss our favorite trends, taste a lot (probably too much!) and then build out the recipes.california cuisine plated plating We chat with other chefs at ICE about what they are currently doing. I also draw upon my experience cooking at Barbuto. It was really a chef’s restaurant, so I was lucky to meet lots of great local chefs and gain inspiration from them as well. Once the recipes are created, I test them to make sure that they work in our hands-on format. The goal is for the recipes to be fun and intricate, but also easy enough for guests who have little-to-no culinary experience to be able to grasp the techniques and create the dishes by themselves. It’s amazing to see what people can do when they put their minds to it!

The new menu includes herbs from ICE’s hydroponic garden — can you name a few herbs that you might be using, and the dishes you’ll use them for?

The hydroponic garden is a luxury that I’ve never had anywhere else in my culinary career. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with the team that manages and cares for the garden to see what I can incorporate into our menu. They have beautiful mustard greens that we will be using in our vegetarian Poke Bowl — it’s reminiscent of the freshest wasabi you could get. We also get super fresh and aromatic basil to garnish our ravioli. Herbs, such as marjoram and thyme, are used for our aioli and sauces.

What do you hope attendees take away from the hands-on cooking portion of the event?

Like I said, I want them to learn a couple tricks, but ultimately have a great meal and some fun while they’re at it. I like to teach a variety of skills, from basic knife skills to rolling out pasta and making ravioli, to grilling and pan-searing meats. People are always hesitant in the beginning, but once they see how fun and easy it is, they get really into it. We have guests who are extremely interested in cooking and will ask me all sorts of culinary questions, sometimes completely unrelated to our menu, which I love. It’s so rewarding to see people have a great time, leave full and have learned a thing or two.

Interested in hosting an event at ICE? Space is limited, so click here for more information and to book your event today.

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Street food is a wonderful thing. Street food that serves a good cause (beyond satisfying your craving for falafel) — that’s even better. On Tuesday, April 18th, ICE hosted the 10th annual STREETS Eats benefit for STREETS International, a non-profit organization that provides culinary and hospitality training to disadvantaged youth in Vietnam. Guests had the chance to check out ICE’s new kitchen classrooms while sipping craft cocktails and sampling tasty street food from around the globe — all prepared by notable local chefs and mixologists. Here are a few of the bites from the night’s menu:

  • Floyd Cardoz of Paowalla shared a street food favorite from his native Mumbai: Bombay Bhel Puri, a sweet, salty and tangy dish made with puffed rice and plenty of mix-ins — so light, it hardly feels like you’re eating anything, except your mouth is dancing with flavors.

    STREETSEats (133 of 263)

    Credit for all photos: Max Flatow Photography – @mflatowphoto

  • Thomas Chen of Tuome — the East Village restaurant with a cult-following in part due to its aptly named pork belly entrée, “pig (out) for two” — kept it classy and delicious with his wagyu beef tartare, served with three-hour yolks and a touch of lemongrass. STREETSEats (162 of 263)
  • Lines formed beside Daniel Holzman’s table — the Meatball Shop chef served miso ramen meatballs, basically combining all the things that feel yummy and comforting in life into bite-sized noshes. STREETSEats (58 of 263)
  • There were double (and triple) samples of the rice crepes with kuma pork Bolognese from King Phojanakong of Kuma Inn.
  • Our own ICE Chef Frank Proto shared an Iberian-inspired finger food of lamb bocadillos with charred green onion and anchovy aioli — the pulled lamb was mouthwatering on its own, and the aioli added a pungent, umami kick: street food at its best. STREETSEats (127 of 263)
  • With her bun bo nam bo – beef noodles with lemongrass — Leah Cohen of Pig & Khao proved just how simple, elegant and highly addictive Vietnamese noodles can be. STREETSEats (113 of 263)
  • All of these delicious bites were accompanied by inventive cocktails, including:
    • The Old Pal Spencer – Virgil Kaine Bourbon, Aperol, Dolin Rough Vermouth, Angostura Bitters and an orange peel garnish – by Rob Mohally of Bua
    • The Chiquito – Tito’s Vodka, Cocchi Americano, fresh lemon juice, lavender honey syrup, Regan’s Orange Bitters and a lavender sprig garnish – by Pete Vasconcellos of The Penrose Bar

ICE President Smilow, a longtime supporter of STREETS, joined in the feast. He noted, “the organization is having an exciting year already, on two fronts: A second training facility and program has successfully opened in Ho Chi Minh City; and STREETS International is one of three finalists for a World Travel and Tourism Award — the winner of which will be announced on April 26th in Bangkok.”

STREETSEats (220 of 263)

ICE President Rick Smilow

Thanks to everyone who attended or supported the event — see you for more #STREETSEATS next year!

Hungry for more? Click here to learn more about ICE’s award-winning career programs. 

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Here at ICE, our mixology experts craft delicious cocktail menus for cocktail-themed special events — a creative, hands-on option for a group event with friends or colleagues. In anticipation of our new lineup of cocktail themes, we’re sharing recipes for a couple of classic, American cocktails from our American Pastime theme. Mix, sip and repeat!

mixology event

The Mint Julep
Yield: one cocktail 

The mint julep has been the signature beverage of the Kentucky Derby for nearly a century. Fact: each year, almost 120,000 mint juleps are served over the two-day period of Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs Racetrack. That requires more than 10,000 bottles of Old Forester Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail, 1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint and 60,000 pounds of ice!

mint julep

Mint Julep

Ingredients:

¼ ounces raw sugar syrup
8 mint leaves
2 ounces bourbon
Handful of fresh mint, stemmed removed
Bitters (optional)
Glass: julep cup or rocks glass

Preparation:

  • In your glass, gently muddle the mint and syrup. Add bourbon and pack glass with crushed ice.
  • Stir until the cup is frosted on the outside.
  • Top with more crushed ice to form an ice dome and garnish with a few drops of bitters (if desired) and lots of mint

* Pro tip: Gently muddle, so as not to bruise the mint and make it bitter. The more mint you garnish with the better — it’s there for the aromatics as you sip the drink. Get metal julep stirrers that have a straw/spoon combo to go through the ice.

Old Fashioned with Mezcal

Old Fashioned with Mezcal

The Old Fashioned
Yield: 1 cocktail

Ingredients:

2 ounces rye bourbon or straight rye whiskey
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1 brown sugar cube
1 orange peel
Glass: rocks glass

Preparation:

  • In a glass, add the syrup, bitters and orange peel.
  • Use a muddler to gently press the orange peel to release the citrus oils.
  • Remove orange peel, then add the whiskey and stir. Add ice cubes and stir again.
  • Place orange peel on top of ice to garnish.

*Pro tip: Originally, an old fashioned cocktail could be made using any spirit — so you can use your preferred spirit, too! Don’t like whiskey? Try gin, rum, brandy, mezcal, tequila…you name it.

Click here to learn more about hosting a special event at ICE.

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