By Chef Jenny McCoy—Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
Just days into official summer, we’ve already had some sweltering temperatures in NYC, and all I can think about are frozen desserts. Ice cream, gelato, sherbet, soft serve, sorbet…there is an explosion of frozen options available in my neighborhood —from a Häagen-Dazs pint at the corner store and pretzel waffle cones piled with Blue Marble fresh mint ice cream to homemade gelato from old-school Italian sweet shops. The popularity of frozen treats is nothing new in the U.S., and is certainly not specific to New York. We are in the midst of a “frozen renaissance,” so here’s a few scoops of history and science to inform your ice cream adventures this summer.
American Ice Cream History
President George Washington spent about $200 for ice cream in the summer of 1790, according to the records of a shopkeeper in Manhattan. Today, that would be equivalent to about $5,000 in ice cream purchases. President Thomas Jefferson loved ice cream so much that he adapted recipes brought back from France for ice cream, one of which is said to have been an 18-step procedure for something similar to a Baked Alaska. His personal recipe for vanilla ice cream is even in the Library of Congress! Do you think Washington and Jefferson would rise from the grave for a scoop of Chocolate-Chile from NYC’s il Laboratorio del Gelato? I do.
Keep reading to learn about the science behind different styles of ice cream, from gelato to soft serve.
By Lauren Jessen—Student, School of Culinary Arts and Culinary Management
Learning about the history of food is an excellent way to understand why we cook the way we do today. Some flavors and ingredients from years ago have long been forgotten, yet many have been modernized with the changing times. Just like music, art or theater, food reflects the culture of different regions around the world and provides insight into our values and traditions.
As a student of cooking, I was immediately intrigued when I came across a listing for an event called “The Masters of Social Gastronomy: Fried Foods” at ICE. A look into the history and science behind fried foods? An examination of the how churros became popular in America? A live churro-making demonstration? Sign me up!
Read on to learn more about the history and science of churros.
Plating isn’t just an aesthetic choice. It controls the way we interact with our food, from first glimpse to final forkful. Watch as ICE Director of Culinary Development James Briscione reimagines roast duck, using cutting-edge dishware from Front of the House.
From classic French technique to new Nordic and linear styles of plating, Chef James visualizes some of the leading traditional and contemporary methods of visual presentation.
To watch more stunning plating videos from ICE, visit ICE.edu/FOH.
By Stephanie Fraiman—Student, School of Recreational Cooking
To most, the general difference between cooking and baking is that cooking involves tasting, adjusting to your preferences and the ability to follow a recipe loosely; while baking is precise, measured, detailed and must strictly follow that recipe. With this knowledge in hand, I embarked on the seemingly rebellious Rule Breaking Baking: Baking without Measuring class with Chef Melanie Underwood at ICE.
The premise of the class is to learn to bake the way we cook – and to think independently about measuring or not measuring! Here are the biggest lessons I learned in this class:
The key is to think about the flavors of what you’re baking before you start – you don’t have to follow the recipe to a “t.” Is it winter and the recipe calls for plums? Then you’re probably going to want to add more sugar to supplement the tart flavor of that out-of-season fruit. But if it’s the middle of August, then you may want to reduce your sugar to account for how ripe and sweet those plums will be.
Read on for more of Stephanie’s rule breaking baking tips.
By Michael Laiskonis—Creative Director
When approached by young cooks and students seeking advice on what to read, which chefs to follow on social media or which techniques they should study, I always underscore the importance of traveling and going out to eat. When you’re forming your style and sense of what is “good,” it’s essential to taste as much as possible—be it at your local bakery or a gastronomic temple overseas. I didn’t make much money as a young chef, but by scrimping and saving what little I did earn, I invested in my edible education as often as I could afford. In turn, my formative years as a cook are defined as much by the meals I experienced as a guest as by the professional kitchens in which I toiled. Turning the tables and participating as a guest not only places a dish in its proper context but also provides young cooks valuable exposure to the front-of-house experience.
Today, we have the ability to document each dish, feeding our virtual timelines with instant images, yet I’ve always preferred more tangible souvenirs. Early on in my experiences of “important” meals, I developed the habit of collecting menus, resulting in an archive that now spans almost twenty years. Holding a physical remnant from a meal serves as a time capsule, transporting you back to a precise moment and place, sharpening blurred memories in a way that a camera phone snapshot cannot. A full menu also displays the context of a chef’s perspective beyond a singular dish, and can mark a particular era in a chef’s evolution over time.
Read on to see some of the menus that have shaped Chef Michael’s culinary perspective.
It’s not every day that a student gets to return to his or her alma mater, to walk the halls as not only an alumnus, but also a teacher. ICE Culinary Arts graduate Charles Granquist has more than earned his place among our faculty, with a resume that includes such diverse experience as the fine dining kitchens of Blue Hill NYC and the fast-paced food media world of the Food Network.
When he first arrived in New York, Charles wasn’t the most obvious candidate for the culinary profession. He didn’t grow up in a family of cooks, and his education in music and economics at Bates College hadn’t prepared him for life in the kitchen. But when his first job at a sound branding company didn’t pan out as planned, the thought of escaping the cubicle for the kitchen began to sound increasingly enticing.
His curiosity sparked, Charles knocked on the door of Chanterelle—then, one of the most innovative fine dining restaurants in NYC. Offering his services for free got his foot in the door, and within the first few days in the kitchen Charles was certain cooking was the career for him. But the longer he spent in professional kitchens, the more Charles realized he would benefit from formal schooling.
Read on to learn how studying at ICE shaped Chef Charles’ kitchen career path.
When it comes to dessert, nothing says “classic” like a decadent chocolate cake. Yet in the hands of James Beard award-winning pastry chef and ICE Creative Director Michael Laiskonis, a chocolate cake becomes anything but.
Featuring a wide range of dinnerware from Front of the House, Chef Michael reimagines chocolate cake in three beautiful presentations:
- A three-tiered cake with glossy ganache and modern garnishes
- A layered verrine of various creams and textural elements
- A “deconstructed” cake, plated in a contemporary fine dining style
Click here to learn how you can study advanced pastry with Chef Michael at ICE.
By Jenny McCoy—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
As any restaurant chef who has had their dishes featured in food magazines can attest, there is more than one way to write a recipe. No experience has made this statement more obvious to me than seeing my second cookbook, Modern Eclairs, published during the same period that I have been developing new cookie recipes for the professional pastry and baking program at ICE. In short, I’ve had my foot in both worlds—professional restaurant chef and enthusiastic home cook—for years, and I’ve come to appreciate the significant differences between what we look for in recipes for these very different audiences.
Read on for two recipes from Jenny, as well as tips for writing recipes for both home cooks and professional chefs.
Among the many emerging opportunities for food entrepreneurs, few sectors have seen as much growth as the cook-at-home meal delivery market. Beyond such omnipresent brands as Blue Apron, a wide range of creative chefs and business owners are launching specialized products that serve the needs and tastes of a niche market. Case in point: ICE Culinary Arts alum Madhuri Sharma, co-founder of Indian-inspired meal kit service Saffron Fix.
What distinguishes Saffron Fix from other cook-at-home kits, and what is your role at the company?
Saffron Fix delivers all the pre-chopped ingredients and pre-measured spices you need to create delicious Indian meals at home. As a co-founder, my responsibilities range from running the day-to-day operations to planning the expansion and direction of the company as a whole.
On a typical day, I might be involved with recipe development, managing the production of the recipe cards and labels, planning next month’s menu or breaking down our orders into an operational workflow. We are also constantly working on marketing approaches, keeping our vendors competitive and planning our future expansion.
Have you always worked in the culinary industry?
Before enrolling at ICE, I worked as a broadcast content producer at a leading ad agency. What attracted me to the program was the flexibility that ICE offered. Attending classes in the evening allowed me to gain more hands-on culinary experience during the day. While in school, I was able to work as a line cook at a restaurant, assist on culinary photo shoots and intern at Food Network. Being able to do those things simultaneously enhanced my education.
Read on for Madhuri’s perspective on changing careers and tips for launching your own business.
By Lana Schwartz—Student, School of Culinary Arts and Culinary Management
Cooking, like all art forms, is a subjective medium. Just as fine artists or musicians have different styles, ask any group of professional cooks, and you’re sure to find varying perspectives on what makes food “good.”
It would be nearly impossible to find a restaurant kitchen where all the chefs hail from the same place, hold the same beliefs or boast the same level of culinary experience—and the same holds true in a culinary school. In my classroom alone, there is a 10-year age difference between the oldest and youngest students. Some of us have prior kitchen experience while others have none. In short, the unifying ingredient in any kitchen is, of course, the love of food and cooking.
Read on to learn how diverse teams come together in the kitchen.