What would it feel like to prepare a truly life-changing meal? Just ask ICE Culinary Arts alum and hospital nutrition expert Pnina Peled. As the senior executive chef at New York Presbyterian and the former executive chef at Memorial Sloan Kettering, Pnina has spearheaded the dramatic transformation of New York City’s hospital food over the past five years.
Before she was customizing nutrient-dense menus for sick patients—and even before she worked in some of NYC’s top kitchens—Pnina’s circumstances were just like the average ICE student. Raised by a family of restaurateurs, her weekend wake-up call was literally, “Time to make the donuts!” She dreamed of pursuing a career in medicine, but her family encouraged her to stay close to home, so she did and earned her college degree in business management. Initially, Pnina made rent by working in the accounting department at a law firm. While she excelled at her job, she knew accounting wasn’t her calling, so she enrolled in ICE’s evening Culinary Arts program to launch a new, creative career.
Read on to learn how Pnina became an executive chef at two of the country’s top hospitals.
By Christen Clinkscales—Student, School of Culinary Arts
My first two months of culinary school have been full of lessons. Always keep your cutting board clean. Hold your knife down and away from others when walking. Never leave your spatula on the stove. But the biggest lesson I’ve learned is the importance of following your passion.
I learned that final lesson from my dad when he passed away suddenly last December. My dad was an accountant for more than 30 years, and while I never imagined following in his footsteps, I always knew that working with his many clients was his passion. He embodied the phrase “choose a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
In the months after his death, I started thinking about my passions and how I might be able to turn them into my career, like my dad. Culinary school had been on my mind for years, but I always found an excuse not to enroll. I was too busy with work. It was too expensive. It would cut too much into my social life. Would I even be good?
Read on to learn how Christen’s decision to attend culinary school has paid off.
With training that spans Manhattan’s finest kitchens and more than eight years running product development for FreshDirect, it’s safe to say that ICE Culinary Arts & Culinary Management alum Tina Bourbeau can tackle even the toughest of challenges. We checked in with this all-star grad to learn more about her path from student to the distinguished title of senior director of research & development.
“My whole career has been defined by connections—knowing someone who knows someone has almost always led me to my next job,” says Tina. “For chefs just starting out, I think that’s essential—realizing the value of a strong network.” In fact, it was a family friend who first introduced Tina to ICE, kick-starting her New York City culinary career.
Today, Tina’s skills are put to the test daily at FreshDirect. From recipe conceptualization, tastings and product evaluations to leading the team that transforms each idea into customer-ready products, it’s a much different ball game than a restaurant kitchen. “Every single day, I’m doing something new. Our volume of production has increased dramatically from when I started. But my restaurant training proved to be invaluable—I modeled all of the processes I put in place at FreshDirect around the intense restaurant structure I was so accustomed to.”
Read on to learn about Tina’s dynamic career in the food industry.
By Jenny McCoy—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
Ganache—which calls for only two ingredients, heavy cream and bittersweet chocolate—is one of the easiest and most fundamental recipes in a pastry chef’s repertoire. Chop chocolate finely, add hot heavy cream, mix them together and voilà, you’re done! While the concept for ganache is quite simple, there are a few basic principles you should know. Once mastered, you’ll find that the uses for ganache are nearly endless, providing plenty of room for creativity in the kitchen!
The Golden Ratios
The ratios listed below are for bittersweet chocolate, not for milk or white chocolate. Milk and white chocolate have a lot of added sugar and/or milk, which means they react in an entirely different way.
- For a chocolate sauce or a pourable glaze, use one part chocolate to two parts heavy cream.
- For a thicker cake glaze or a whipped cake filling, combine equal parts chocolate and cream.
- For a very thick ganache that you could scoop for chocolate truffles, combine two parts chocolate to one part heavy cream.
Read on for more of Chef Jenny’s professional ganache tips.
Like many Culinary Arts students, alum Anthony Jackson turned to ICE in pursuit of a new, creative career. Combining his prior public relations experience with his newfound kitchen skills, he quickly found a position as the social media manager & communications associate at Chef Michael White’s celebrated Altamarea Group. Read on to learn how Anthony found a culinary career full of more variety and excitement than he ever expected.
What was your education or career prior to enrolling at ICE?
After graduating from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism in 2009, I moved to New York and worked in corporate public relations for three years. I was miserable—I didn’t feel creatively challenged or passionate about the work I was doing at the time. I’ve always felt like you do your best work when it’s something you believe in.
Food was always one of my interests, but I wasn’t exactly sure where in the industry I wanted to go. I thought food media would be a great fit for me because of my journalism background, so I began looking into what kinds of jobs were available. Several required formal culinary training, so I enrolled at ICE to earn that additional level of credibility.
Read on to learn more about Anthony’s path to a dynamic career in food media and communications.
By Michael Laiskonis—Creative Director
What’s the latest news from Brookfield Place? The Chocolate Lab at ICE’s new facility is fully operational, and chocolate making on our bean-to-bar Cacao Cucina equipment has begun in earnest. Batches both large and small are ready for tasting, featuring beans from a wide range of origins, including the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Trinidad and the Ivory Coast. And after many a dark chocolate batch, our first milk chocolate just rolled off the assembly line – with a heady 50% cocoa solids.
As we gear up for increased production and the first of our bean-to-bar classes this fall, I’ve compiled some surprising facts about the different stages of the chocolate making process. These observations may be old hat to professional chocolate makers, but they are rarely—if ever—considered by chefs and consumers.
Read on to learn surprising facts about the chocolate making process.
Cake designer Karen Portaleo and pastry chef Susan Notter first met in 2011 for the television series Halloween Wars on Food Network. Their inspired cake and sugar work earned them an incredible $50,000 prize, building on both chefs’ already impressive resumes. On October 18-20, we’re thrilled to invite them to reimagine the art of Halloween centerpieces in a Carved Cake and Sugar Showpiece workshop at ICE. We caught up with Chef Notter in advance of the class to learn what inspires her custom sugar work.
How do you recommend students start pursuing sugar work?
Don’t try to build a three-foot sculpture without knowing the basics. The foundational skills are the most important. Once students master pulling and blowing, they can then take those skills and continue to learn. Unfortunately, the trend in sugar education today is simply to get a piece done—to capture the moment for Facebook or Instagram. As a result, ensuring that students have retained core skills becomes secondary. I am against this style of teaching and prioritize students’ skill development over the fleeting accomplishment of completing a full sculpture in class.
Read on to learn more about Chef Notter’s sugar strategy.
“Before there was talent, there was passion,” says ICE alum and Food Network Star contestant Dom Tesoriero of his path to culinary success. “I was 18 and my friends would just show up at the house with bags of ingredients—I wasn’t skilled, but I knew how to make food taste good.”
For Dom, the decision to attend culinary school was an impulsive one—but that impulsive quality, the ability to jump when an opportunity arrives, is exactly what landed Dom on Food Network Star. “That’s basically the story of my life. If I feel something and I want to do it, it’s like, ‘Let’s get up and do it!’”
Beyond Food Network, Dom may be best known for his Mac Truck—the city’s first macaroni and cheese food truck, launched three years ago—but his culinary training also includes stints at some of the city’s finest restaurants and catering companies.
Read on to learn more about Dom’s path from culinary student to entrepreneur and TV personality.
By Lauren Katz—Student, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
One of the first things people ask when I tell them I’ve started the Pastry & Baking Arts program at ICE is, “So, are you still working?” I was surprised the first time I was asked this question, because, to me, the answer was so obvious. I currently work as the web editor at Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine, and on Mondays and Tuesdays, I leave about an hour early to rush down to Battery Park for class.
At first I was terrified to juggle work and school—scared that the trains would be delayed, that I wouldn’t have time to eat dinner and, most of all, that I would be exhausted and unable to pay attention after an eight-hour day at the office. But what I quickly discovered is that my passion for baking overrides all of the above.
In just the first few weeks of class, I’ve had so many different experiences, and one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received was from Alice’s Teacup owner Michael Eisenberg. He spoke to our class about the trials, tribulations, risks and rewards of owning a restaurant, and to use this time to fail as much as we can. Those words alone have made me infinitely more excited to learn, experiment, fail and—eventually—succeed. So bring on the soufflés, flambés, pâte à choux, fondant, ganache and sugar sculpting. I’ll be waiting at ICE with open arms.
Read on to learn more about Lauren’s path to professional pastry.
When ICE alum Inez Ribustello left her small hometown in North Carolina to move to New York City, she never imagined that she would return. Yet when her illustrious career as a sommelier and beverage director at New York’s famed Windows on the World came to a halt in the aftermath of 9/11, Inez found new opportunities back home. Today, as the co-owner of wine-driven restaurant On the Square, Inez is among an influential contingent of culinary entrepreneurs—including fellow ICE alum and host of A Chef’s Life, Vivian Howard—who are revitalizing local communities in small, economically challenged towns outside of Raleigh.
It goes without saying that the success of a high-end restaurant in an impoverished community is nothing short of miraculous. Yet Inez and her husband, Stephen, have found incredible success through their passion for wine. “When we work with vintners to put on a wine dinner, they’re always impressed that we can really create a menu that highlights their bottles. It sets us apart and means that we have very special relationships with producers.”
Read on to learn more about Inez’s path from culinary student to wine connoisseur.