By Caitlin Gunther
When you speak with Adrienne Cheatham (Culinary Arts ’07), you can hear the tenacity in her voice. As a former sous chef at Le Bernardin and executive chef at Red Rooster, and the subject of a recent NY Times Taste Makers video, Adrienne is mindful of the accomplishments behind her. She’s more concerned, however, with the missions that lie ahead — like leaving her comfort zone (if working 16-hour days seven days a week can be called a “comfort zone”) and branching out on her own. Adrienne balances her time in the kitchen with an activity that calls upon a completely different skill and mindset: dance.
While scoping out locales for a potential forthcoming project, Adrienne took a pause to chat with me for the ICE blog.
First, congratulations on the Taste Makers piece. What was it like working on that?
They were trying to steer the focus of it to the challenges that a woman faces in the kitchen, and I didn’t support that idea. I didn’t want to be a part of that kind of story. I think that kitchens are the great equalizers — either you can do the job or you can’t. It doesn’t matter if you’re short, tall, your gender, your race, none of that matters in a kitchen. That’s why I was glad they took the focus off of that.
Read on to discover Adrienne’s path from the kitchens of ICE to the hottest restaurants in NYC.
By Caitlin Gunther
In New York, the bagel capital of the world (nice try, Montreal), it’s only proper that the best culinary school offers an exclusive course in bagel making—which is why I found myself aproned and wrist-deep in flour on a Monday afternoon at the Institute of Culinary Education. With a mission to learn the art of making the city’s favorite breakfast food, I signed up for a course in bagels, pretzels and bialys. The class, a mix of culinary students and recreational bakers like myself, was led by ICE’s dean of bread baking and Balthazar’s founding bread baker, Sim Cass. The London native has been deemed the “prince of darkness” for his role in introducing dark-crusted sourdough to this side of the pond. He has a passion for dough and an encyclopedic knowledge of all things leavened. One class with Chef Sim will quash your fear of homemade bagel making.
While mixing, rolling, boiling and baking, I picked up some nuggets of bagel-making wisdom. Here are my top preparation tips for the next time you’re at home and looking for the perfect vehicle for your cream cheese and lox.
Read on to get Caitlin’s 10 tips for making homemade bagels.
By Caitlin Gunther
“Two bites: It’s about moderation but also about sophistication and elegance—two very French traits.” An excerpt from the introduction of ICE chef instructor Kathryn Gordon’s new cookbook Les Petits Sweets: Two-Bite Desserts from the French Pâtisserie, co-authored by Anne E. McBride. Chef Kathryn, who takes annual excursions to taste her way through the best pastry kitchens and neighborhood bakeries of France, has a deep knowledge of French culture and food, particularly the sweet side. The cookbook takes readers on a journey through classic and innovative recipes for macarons, financiers, tartelettes, petits fours and much more. But the idea behind petit sweets isn’t just about moderation—it’s also about choice, as Chef Kathryn explains, “[What] I appreciate when making two-bite desserts is that my guests can try more of them. There’s no need to chose, and that allows me to cater to more tastes at once.”
From Armagnac-vanilla cannelés to banana-brown sugar madeleines, Chef Kathryn’s cookbook is a comprehensive and creative guide to tiny French confections, replete with baking tips from the chef herself, who has measured, mixed and baked these recipes more times than she can remember. In anticipation of Chef Kathryn’s book release party on October 10, I sat down with her to chat about the making of Les Petits Sweets.
What was the inspiration for your new cookbook, Les Petits Sweets?
It was a follow up to my first cookbook, Les Petits Macarons: Colorful French Confections to Make at Home. The sweets in this book are the same size and have the same vibe, but the new art director gave the book a fresh take with color changes and some old-fashioned flower prints—the French look.
Keep reading to get a sneak peek inside Les Petits Sweets!
By Michael Laiskonis—ICE Creative Director
In my last blog post, I described my search for historical traces of chocolate in lower Manhattan. In a relatively short time, chocolate traveled from its South and Central American origins to Europe and later into North American settlements. Though the early Dutch colony of New Amsterdam rose and fell well before chocolate became a permanent fixture, by the early 1700s New York’s port was an important link in cocoa trade. Among those merchant families importing beans, the first glimpse of cocoa processing can be found on the island. By the end of the American Revolution and the turn of the 19th century, the city grew northward and chocolate had gained popularity, with several chocolate makers setting up shop.
One might think that researching this topic is as easy as entering “New York,” “chocolate,” and “history” into a search engine. Surprisingly, those yield scant results and even less clues to work with. A few books pointed me in the right direction—some names and places—but I soon realized I was drifting into relatively uncharted territory. I eventually found that the best way to crack the cases of these mysterious chocolate-makers was to begin with surviving city directories whose listings often provide a name, an address and most importantly, an occupation. The first of these directories in New York was published in 1786, with increasing regularity in years to follow. From there, genealogy records, newspapers, civil documents and maps added more life to the stories. Most often, the labyrinth comes to an abrupt halt; I may come across a name and an address, but all other details remain a casualty of history.
Read on to discover how Chef Michael unearthed clues to NYC’s chocolatey history.
By Emma Weinstein—Culinary Management ’17 / Culinary Arts ’17
I have been in love with food from an early age. Growing up in a family where both of my parents worked in the restaurant and hospitality industry, food and restaurants have always been a huge part of my life. At seven days old I was already in my first restaurant, sleeping soundly in my mom’s lap while my parents ate. I am lucky to have been born into a family where food has always been prominent. I have so many wonderful food-related memories, from exploring farmers’ markets in Paris to waking up at the crack of dawn to see the tuna auction at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.
I attended Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, where I majored in Art History. Still, I always found myself very involved with food. I wrote restaurant reviews for our local campus chapter of Her Campus, went on road trips to visit local cheese farmers and loved exploring the different farmers’ markets and restaurants in our area. It seemed that a career in food was always my calling, even if I didn’t recognize it yet. After graduating, I worked in several contemporary art galleries in Chelsea before deciding to finally face the music and pursue a career in food. I left the gallery where I had served as assistant director for a year and a half and joined my father and brother to help launch a new restaurant venture—Chuck & Blade, a contemporary steakhouse located in Chelsea.
Read on to learn about Emma’s path to becoming a dual diploma student at ICE.
By ICE Staff
Even for veteran New Yorkers, finding an apartment in New York City can be a daunting task. That’s why the Institute of Culinary Education created its student housing program—to take care of the stressful parts of the housing process and leave you with the fun parts: making friends and exploring your new home. With dorm, apartment and homestay options, we’ll help you find a living situation that fits your budget and lifestyle. We can match you with a roommate—even a fellow ICE student—or you can live alone. Need furniture? Our housing coordinators can set you up with furnished digs. Whatever your needs, ICE’s student housing program is ready to make your transition to New York City as seamless as possible.
Ready to make your move? Keep reading to watch the video on ICE’s student housing program.
By Robert Laing—CEO, Farm.One
Have you been to a fine dining restaurant in, oh, say, the last twenty years? If so, you may have wondered about the mysterious ant-sized leaves carefully placed on top of your dish—probably using tweezers and perhaps some under-the-breath cursing. Where did they come from? What are they? Are they grown using smaller seeds? Are they grown in tiny pots? Are they harvested by children? If I’m paying $38 for a main course, why is everything on the plate so small? Unless you haven’t read the title of this blog post, you won’t be surprised to learn that these leaves are called microgreens. Whoever christened them had a wild and fanciful imagination. But seriously, microgreens are very cool—the nuttiness of arugula packed into a tiny, pretty leaf; the bold pink color of an amaranth petal; a note of basil with just the right intensity to balance a bite of tomato. No chewiness, all flavor. You can see why they’re so popular among chefs.
Read on to discover the secret to growing, harvesting and using these tiny green flavor bombs!
Introduction by Robert Ramsey—Director of Advanced Culinary Center
Interview by Caitlin Gunther
John Rooney, sportscaster and master of catchphrases once said, “The quickest way to become an old dog is to stop learning new tricks.” For so many cooks and chefs, that mantra rings true as we progress in our careers and strive to gain more culinary know-how. That’s why ICE established the Advanced Culinary Center—a series of continuing education classes to enable culinary professionals and aficionados to pick up new tricks in the kitchen. We’ve got a few exciting classes in store, beginning with a chance to learn pickling and fermenting from one of the most successful and innovative pickle packers in the country.
On October 3rd, Shamus Jones, founder and “executive briner” at Brooklyn Brine, will be at ICE to dive deep into the vats of vinegar with students in his one-day workshop, The Modern Pickle: Preservation Techniques with Shamus Jones. Shamus will guide the class through the process of making all varieties of pickles, from brined to fermented to “quick.” Students will also develop new and unexpected flavors on the spot, using herbs freshly picked from ICE’s hydroponic garden. The course will also cover processes for proper canning of pickles and the science behind it all. Attend this class and you will take away the foundational knowledge and techniques needed to produce pickles and incorporate them into your culinary repertoire. This class is open to professional and aspiring chefs, food professionals, entrepreneurs, bloggers and anyone interested in discovering more about specialty food products. Shamus will also share the story of how he built his career and company from the ground up. Not only will you make pickles, you’ll also have the chance ask Shamus all of your questions about how to make it in the handmade, artisanal food business.
Read on to discover the craziest thing Shamus ever pickled and more!
By Caitlin Gunther
With the heart of a globe-trotter and a passion for lifelong culinary education, Lourdes Reynoso (“Chef Lorrie”) is always up for an adventure. Whether she’s stationed in St. Petersburg for a three-month teaching residency or exploring the best parrillas in Buenos Aires, Chef Lorrie is continually feeding her voracious appetite for foods and cultures of the world. She shares both her global perspective and her expertise in international cuisines with the culinary arts students at ICE.
Chef Lorrie comes from a big, food-loving family in the Philippines. Seven of the nine Reynoso siblings, including Chef Lorrie, work in some facet of the food industry. In fact, her sisters, pioneers of their time, founded a culinary school in Manila in the 1960s. Today, the Sylvia Reynoso Gala Culinary Art Studio counts among the most well-known culinary schools in the Philippines. As Chef Lorrie explains, “In Manila, my family is more or less synonymous with culinary school…and good food.” After receiving a bachelor’s degree in world history, Chef Lorrie earned the prestigious Grand Diplôme from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She remained in Paris to study the French language at Le Sorbonne and art history at the Louvre museum, before returning to Manila to join the teaching staff at her sisters’ culinary school. Her ultimate career path came as no surprise to her family. “Even when I was in high school, I was teaching children’s baking courses during the summer,” says Chef Lorrie. Teaching in the kitchen was her calling from a young age.
Keep reading to learn how Chef Lorrie went from teaching in Manila to the kitchens at ICE!
By Caitlin Gunther
On a Tuesday evening in the midst of September Fashion Week in New York City, I meet Thea Habjanic (Pastry Arts ’10) at La Sirena, the buzzy new restaurant in the Meatpacking district of Manhattan where Thea leads the sweet side of the kitchen as executive pastry chef. Given the restaurant’s location and the unseasonably warm weather, it will no doubt be a long night for Thea. Still, she seems poised and unhurried as I have her stand for a handful of portraits in her kitchen attire.
In a professional pastry kitchen, where technical skill is only half the battle, it takes a certain personality type—one that can stay focused on the details through an onslaught of tickets, demands and the occasional snafu—to truly succeed. Thea has the qualities to thrive in the restaurant world—though that wasn’t always her career path. She graduated from NYU with a degree in journalism and worked for several years as an entertainment writer before deciding to enroll in the Pastry & Baking Arts program at ICE.
As her recent kitchen roles can attest, Thea has the demeanor and the work ethic suited to fast-paced restaurants. Said ICE Creative Director Michael Laiskonis, who hired Thea for her first pastry gig at Le Bernadin, “Last year, I signed on to create the pastry program for the newest Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich restaurant, La Sirena. When it came time to hire a pastry chef for the upscale and busy restaurant, I immediately thought of Thea. Her previous experience in both fine dining and high volume made for a perfect match. She has played a vital role in crafting La Sirena’s desserts, earning critical praise. She runs the hectic pastry kitchen with that positive, can-do attitude that initially impressed me!”
Keep reading to learn about Thea’s path from ICE to one of NYC’s hottest restaurant kitchens!