By Caitlin Raux

How does the chef of the world’s best restaurant fight food waste? Massimo Bottura, chef of Osteria Francescana, named #1 restaurant in the world in 2016, will answer this question and more during the Zero Waste Food conference on April 28-29, 2017. Hosted in partnership with The New School, the two-day conference brings together chefs, growers, architects and food entrepreneurs to explore ways we can create more sustainable food networks and eliminate food waste. In anticipation of his keynote address — in which he’ll discuss his own efforts to empower communities to fight food waste — we chatted with Chef Massimo about artistic expression, his passion project, Food for Soul, and what attendees can expect to take away from Zero Waste Food.

MassimoYou’ve said that art is the motivation behind your dishes. How can we incorporate better practices into food production without comprising the idea of prepared dishes as artistic expression?

We have to think about beauty from a different perspective: It cannot stand by itself. The good and the beautiful are two sides of the same coin — they complete each other insofar as beauty without good isn’t beautiful at all, and good needs beauty to convey its message.

It is often said about a person that he or she is “beautiful on the inside.” A brown banana or a bruised fruit still has a huge potential in terms of smell, flavor and texture. The responsibility of the chef and all of us as home cooks is to find that inner beauty in each product and to make the most out of it in each phase of its lifespan. Straight out of the oven, a loaf of bread is good enough to be eaten as is. The day after, it will be perfect to make pappa al pomodoro or bread pudding. After two days, the bread will make perfect breadcrumbs for meatballs, passatelli and cakes. That’s what real beauty is: To make something valuable out of something that might be seen as not having any value at all. As we often say, “Something recovered is something gained.”

Can you share a few ways that you’ve incorporated the Zero Waste Food concept into your restaurant, Osteria Francescana?

At Osteria Francescana, we follow the “nose-to-tail” philosophy. Italian cuisine relies on this golden rule: Everything has to be used. Therefore, the bones and toughest cuts of meat can be recovered for a rich broth. The same goes for vegetable peels, stems and leaves. Our grandmothers have been doing this forever. For Italians, the full use of ingredients is deeply rooted in our history and culture.

Massimo Bottura

Do you think it’s harder to have a sustainable kitchen in a big city like New York, as compared to Modena, a city that’s known for slow food?

The logistics and food systems of big cities are very complicated. Of course, the economy of a small town, small farm or small restaurant is much easier to navigate than a big one. We do feel, however, that it’s possible to create a network where food at risk of being wasted is salvaged to feed those most in need.

Food for Soul is working towards a kind of sustainability that addresses the full usage of every resource available. New York could offer potentially endless opportunities. Though it takes a big initial effort to identify the needs of the local community and the loopholes in the food distribution system, this is the starting point of every project of [my non-profit organization] Food for Soul. The common goal is the fight for social inclusion and food recovery.

What lessons do you hope to impart on Zero Waste Food participants?

If you can dream it, then you can do it. Showing people that we can do this, that anything is possible, could be inspiration for them to act. Action is what it’s all about! Everyone has his or her own role in the fight against food waste because we’re all in this together. What I can do is different from what you can do — my means and my tools as a chef are different than those of a politician, a philanthropist, a scientist or a social activist, but our commitment towards the cause is what unites us.

Your non-profit organization, Food for Soul, aims to create community kitchens around the world. How do these kitchens differ from regular “soup kitchens”?

I keep constantly repeating that Food for Soul is not a charity project, but a cultural one. The aim behind each “Refettorio”, or community kitchen, is not just to provide a warm meal to those in need. We conceive of nourishment in a more holistic sense: Feed the body and the soul. That’s the reason why we combine the know-how of architects, designers and artists in the design and decoration of the space. We want to create unique environments that express beauty, stimulate through art and facilitate operations through good design. The whole community can be inspired one way or another. Moreover, we want our guests to feel welcomed and included. I still remember the very first nights at Refettorio Ambrosiano in Milan, when people were silently sitting at the table and eating their meals. The guests barely spoke to each other. Just a few weeks later, guests, volunteers and chefs were sharing the same table and the same meal. Everyone knew each other by name.

Every gesture can play a fundamental role in creating a human connection — that’s why we want our volunteers to serve guests directly at the table just like restaurant service. Moreover, every meal has the possibility to reflect both the beauty of the environment and the “inner” beauty of recovered ingredients. It has to be tasty, nutritious and beautiful.

Can we expect to see a Food for Soul kitchen in New York anytime soon?  

We are working hard to make it happen but believe me, it’s harder to open a soup kitchen than a restaurant. At this point, we’re aiming for 2018. We are constantly reminding people that this is not a pop-up initiative but a sustainable model that has to have solid foundation to continue to serve the community for years to come. This is our goal for everywhere we go, and in particular, in New York City. I would hate to let down the city I love most in the world!

Join the conversation: Register here for the Zero Waste Food conference.

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By ICE Staff

What would the world look like if we produced no food waste? How would our daily practices be affected? Could we make a significant impact on our communities? Is such a world feasible? The Zero Waste Food conference — a conference presented by ICE and The New School featuring industry leaders and visionaries like Massimo Bottura — will tackle these questions and more.

Zero Waste Food conference

Kicking off right after Earth Day on April 28-29, the two-day conference begins each morning with panel discussions on such topics as sustainable restaurant kitchens and repurposing food waste. Attendees will spend their afternoons putting ideas into action with a host of culinary demonstrations and hands-on cooking sessions taught by ICE chef instructors joined by industry experts. Learn how to butcher a whole hog with Mangalitsa by Møsefund and ICE chef Charles Granquist. Join MISFIT Juicery co-founders Ann and Phil for a primer in concocting delicious and nutritious juices with recovered fruits and vegetables. Or, watch Enrique Olvera, acclaimed chef of Cosme and Pujol, make beer from bread scraps alongside Madeline Holtzman, vice toaster of Toast Ale NYC.

Whether you’re a student, employed in the food industry or simply passionate about food, the conference will equip you with valuable lessons and skills to apply to your daily lives and business practices. Do more than talk about food waste. Get the tools to help solve the problem. Check out the full schedule of classes and panel discussions here, then head here to register for this inspirational and educational conference.

Ready to take the first step toward an exciting career in food and hospitality? Click here for more information on studying at ICE. 

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By ICE Staff

If great food, great chefs plus supporting a great cause equals success, then this year’s New York City Wine & Food Festival was majorly successful. The Institute of Culinary Education hosted the festival’s Master Classes, including Bread Making with Bien Cuit’s Zachary Golper, a Roasting Master Class with prolific food writer Melissa Clark of The New York Times, Cake Decorating with cake genius Sylvia Weinstock and a Chocolate Master Class taught by ICE’s Creative Director and acclaimed Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis. All of the proceeds went to support No Kid Hungry and the Food Bank For New York City. Check out our video recap of the highlights of NYCWFF events at ICE.

Missed the master classes at ICE? Not to worry! Click here to check out our recreational cooking courses. 

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The ment’or BKB Foundation is a nonprofit organization that aims to inspire excellence in young culinary professionals and preserve the traditions and quality of cuisine in America. The group held their prestigious 2016 Young Chef and Commis competitions last week in ICE’s kitchens. Ment’or is led by Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Jérôme Bocuse—considered three of the world’s most celebrated chefs, with nearly 20 restaurants and over 30 industry honors between them—who founded the organization together in 2008 and came to ICE last week to oversee the day’s events.

Chefs Thomas Keller, Jérôme Bocuse, Daniel Boulud at ICE culinary school

(From left) Jérôme Bocuse, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, James Kent and Richard Rosendale judge the 2016 ment’or Young Chef and Commis Competitions at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.

The judges panel was a veritable “who’s who” of the country’s top chefs, including:

  • Daniel Boulud – Chef/Owner, Restaurant Daniel, DINEX Group, 4-time James Beard Award winner, including “Outstanding Restaurateur” and “Outstanding Chef of the Year”
  • Thomas Keller – Chef/Owner, The French Laundry, Per Se, Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, 4-time James Beard Award winner, including “Outstanding Chef: America” and “Best New Restaurant (Per Se)”
  • Jérôme Bocuse – Vice President, Bocuse d’Or USA and Chef/Owner, Les Chefs de France
  • Gavin Kaysen – 2007 Bocuse d’Or US team member and Chef/Owner, Spoon & Stable
  • Philip Tessier – Winner of the 2015 Bocuse d’Or Silver Medal
  • Barbara Lynch – Chef/Owner, Barbara Lynch Gruppo
  • Bryce Shuman – Executive Chef, Betony
  • Chris Hastings – Chef/Owner, Hot and Hot Fish Club
  • Gabriel Kreuther – Chef/Owner, Gabriel Kreuther
  • James Briscione – Director of Culinary Development, Institute of Culinary Education
  • James Kent – Executive Chef, The NoMad
  • Richard Rosendale – Chef, Rosendale Collective
  • Mathew Peters – 2017 Bocuse d’Or US team member and Executive Sous Chef, Per Se
  • Robert Sulatycky – Founder/Principal Chef, Taste Restaurant Group
  • Shaun Hergatt – Chef, formerly of Juni and SHO Shaun Hergatt
  • Timothy Hollingsworth – Chef/Owner, Otium and Barrel and Ashes

These events give skilled young chefs the opportunity to showcase their talents in a live cooking demonstration. Winners have the chance to stage with the 2017 Bocuse d’Or Team USA and attend the finals this coming January in Lyon, France.

Student young chef competitions at ICE culinary school

ICE students also had the unique opportunity to volunteer during the event. Christopher Lewnes, an ICE culinary arts student had this to say of his experience: “I was truly inspired by the young chefs who were participating in the competition. Seeing other young chefs doing what they were doing and all the different techniques displayed, I was motivated to learn more and achieve more to become like them. It was also enormously inspirational just to be in the presence of chefs like Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller.”

Institute of Culinary Education President Rick Smilow with Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Top chefs at ICE

Ment’or offers annual educational grants and internships to culinary professionals through their Continuing Education Program, affording young chefs the opportunity to earn a paid stage anywhere in the world. For young professionals who have already begun their career, the Young Chef and Commis Competition series provides these ambitious individuals with a chance to add increased value to their work through educational opportunities and access to a network of esteemed mentors. ICE students and alumni can have the honor to participate in these prestigious programs. Applications for the competitions are announced via their social media at @mentorbkb.

Thomas Keller speaks at ICE culinary school in New York City

According to ment’or President Chef Thomas Keller, “As established chefs, it is our responsibility to create and foster programs that promote mentorship and shared experiences which elevate and influence the next generation of chefs in the United States.” ICE is proud to be a part of this prestigious organization and help the next generation of chefs find their culinary voice.

For more information on how to get involved with ment’or and apply for their programs, contact Chef James Briscione at jbriscione@ice.edu.

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ICE was once again the proud host of the pastry industry’s sweetest night, welcoming Dessert Professional’s 2016 Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America Awards. With a beautiful sunset and the Hudson River as a backdrop, hundreds of guests filled our halls to celebrate the talents and artistry of this year’s winners.

Dessert Professional Magazine Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America Awards 2016 Institute of Culinary Education

From homey treats (gourmet cookies and rice crispy squares from Willa Jean’s Kelly Fields) and playful presentations (push-pop trifles from Franck Iglesias of Foxwoods Resort Casino) to the truly transformational (a fine dining presentation of a Duncan Hines mix from Joseph DiPaulo Jr. of Pinnacle Foods), the 2016 selection was a dynamic bunch that demonstrated the wide range of tastes and techniques today’s pastry chefs must master to stay at the top of their game.

Dessert Professional Magazine Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America Awards 2016 Institute of Culinary Education

For ICE students interested in practicing pastry, the event is also rife with opportunity to network and pick up new skills. With each of the ten chefs preparing multiple desserts en masse, our students serve as an essential support for the honorees, prepping and plating dishes. At the same time, the event gives them the opportunity to connect with the industry’s current leaders. ICE student (and 2016 US Pastry Competition silver medalist) Pooja Jhunjhunwala had the chance to work with several of the chefs throughout the evening: “Working with amazingly creative chefs like Chef Scott Green, Chef Jean-Marc Viallet and Chef Robert Nieto on a one-on-one basis and seeing the fabulous work of all the chefs was such an educational experience. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to be part of this event—definitely worth a repeat!”

Dessert Professional Magazine Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America Awards 2016 Institute of Culinary Education student volunteers pastry school

With the wealth of talent the winners brought to the school and a seemingly endless array of sweets, it was certainly a sensational night at ICE. Check out more photos from the event below, and click here to find out more about the networking and volunteering opportunities available to ICE students.

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