By Carly DeFilippo
October is always an exciting time for food events in New York City, and this year, ICE was at the forefront of all the biggest gatherings. From the NYC Wine & Food Festival to StarChefs International Chefs Congress to City Harvest’s annual Bid Against Hunger, our alumni, faculty and student volunteers were rubbing elbows with industry leaders and showing their ICE pride.
At this year’s New York City Wine & Food Festival, not only did 55 student volunteers help headlining chefs serve thousands of festival attendees, but ICE’s own Director of Culinary Development James Briscione was among the featured presenters at the festival’s Grand Tasting event. With the help of three Culinary Arts students, Chef James wowed the crowd with his ancho chili lamb—and more than 2,500 cheddar biscuits.
By James Briscione, Director of Culinary Development
Throughout the past 20 years, the “food scene” has emerged as an integral part of popular culture. Chefs have gone from hiding behind closed kitchen doors to serving as the restaurant’s main attraction. Gone are the days of dinner and a show. Today, dinner has become the show. Restaurant reservations are badges of honor and every year, more and more sauté pans flash and sizzle on your television screen. Even feature films are increasingly set in the kitchen!
In my personal experience as a chef, the public’s growing interest in food has created professional opportunities that I never imagined when I started cooking in 1996—from appearances on competitions like Chopped! to teaching America cooking tips on the Today Show. However, for those entering the industry as newcomers, these shows often fail to reveal the day-to-day grind of the kitchen, a slow and steady process of career growth that takes years—not merely 12 episodes. Today, as a chef and a culinary educator with one foot firmly in both the pre- and post- television food scene, I’d like to share a few thoughts on choosing a career in the kitchen.
By Chef Sarah Chaminade, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
As soon as the month of September rolls around, we’re inundated with pumpkin flavor; from lattes to muffins to Oreos…it’s everywhere! I love pumpkin, but my opinion is that if something is called “pumpkin ______” it should contain the real thing—not artificial flavoring.
Enter: granola. Granola is a great way to incorporate pumpkin into your daily diet. It features all those warm spices that make you think of fall—cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice—plus this recipe actually has real pumpkin in it!
It’s important to note that, just as most pumpkin products contain no actual pumpkin, granola can be deceivingly unhealthy for a supposed health food. Most recipes are high in calories due to large quantities of vegetable oil. However, in this case, you needn’t fear empty calories, as it’s the inclusion of pumpkin purée—along with maple syrup and applesauce—rather than oil that helps add moisture to this recipe.
By Maureen Drum Fagin, Director of Career Services
This fall, ICE hosted the biggest career fair in our 39-year history. Employers from virtually every sector of the food and hospitality industry were on hand, hungry to fill their openings with fresh talent from our kitchens and classrooms. Among the participating employers were industry leaders Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, Great Performances, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Craft Restaurant Group, Jean Georges’ Spice Market, Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, Union Square Hospitality Group and many more.
The event is an incredible resource for our students and alumni, but—like any networking event—you get out what you put in. Here are ICE’s top tips for mastering any job fair:
1. Do your homework. There’s nothing more flattering to an employer than a student who approaches their recruiting table referencing a recent review in the Times or an upcoming restaurant launch mention in Eater. Want to work for Union Square Hospitality Group? If you devoured Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table in one sitting, then make that known—it’s a surefire way to have your résumé rise to the top of the stack.
By Carly DeFilippo
While cooking in restaurant kitchens is time well spent for any culinary career, many ICE students enroll in our program with the goal to find a future in food outside of restaurant kitchens. Fusing her freelance writing experience with her culinary training, ICE alum Katie Barreira (Culinary Arts ‘07) has landed her dream job in food media, strategically building a career that includes both test kitchen and editorial experience at such magazines as Every Day with Rachael Ray—and, most recently, as the Test Kitchen Director for Cooking Light.
Why did you choose ICE for your culinary education?
After graduating from Bucknell University with a BA in English, I worked on the line at La Morra, a fine dining Tuscan restaurant in Brookline, MA, while freelance writing for publications like the Boston Globe. So when it came to choosing a school, I liked that ICE supported food media as a culinary career path and encouraged me to use my externship as a springboard toward work in that part of the industry. And, as it turns out, the industry connections I made through my externship at Food & Wine magazine were instrumental in helping me break into food media.
Are there any professional accomplishments of which you are particularly proud?
When I started out in magazines, test kitchen and editorial work were viewed as two very separate entities, but it was important to me to be able to flex my muscles as both a cook and a writer. It took a good deal of perseverance to successfully pursue both, but doing so provided me with the most fulfilling and exciting work of my career.
Blame it on Joe Beef: ever since Chefs Frédéric Morin and David McMillan opened this popular temple of elegant excess in 2005, American magazines and food blogs can’t get enough of the indulgent dishes from the capital of poutine. But while Montreal’s savory dishes get most of the hype, the city has no lack of impressive outposts for sweets. ICE Chef Instructor Victoria Burghi reports back from her recent trip to the “city of saints.”
As a pastry chef, I’ve always enjoyed exploring the food scene of a new city—in particular, learning about new styles of sweets. So I was thrilled to visit Montreal this summer and to learn about the city’s wide range of traditional, modern, unique and audacious sweets.
A note about local flavor: one word that you quickly learn in Montreal is “érable,” which means maple. Canada is the number one producer of maple syrup in the world, most of it coming from the province of Quebec. Thus, it’s no surprise that it has become a very popular ingredient, seen in maple candies, fudge, butter, cookies and an infinite amount of other confections.
By Virginia Monaco, ICE Department of Student Affairs
During his eight-year tenure as Executive Pastry Chef for Le Bernardin, ICE Creative Director Michael Laiskonis was often praised for his innovative desserts. Yet, while he was given a good deal of creative freedom in that role, there were still significant restraints on his dishes. First and foremost, they had to make sense in the context of the Le Bernardin’s fine dining menu, and there was always the essential question of food costs.
Since joining ICE’s team in 2012, Chef Michael has had the opportunity to push his creative boundaries, with both sweet and savory dishes. From working with the IBM Watson team on the cognitive cooking project to exploring the regional dishes of his Latvian ancestors, it’s clear that he has been hard at work. This fall, Michael took a moment to reflect and share both the results and the lessons of his new discoveries with ICE students and alumni.
By Stephen Zagor—Dean, School of Business & Management Studies
As many New Yorkers already know, bed bugs are everywhere—subway cars, offices, department stores, movie theatres, everywhere. But of all the places they hide, hotels—with their never-ending flow of new overnight guests—are one of the most likely places for the little creatures to hop a ride to your home on your clothes or bags.
Yet, as a hospitality professional, my initial disgust regarding bed bugs quickly turned to curiosity—and the data I found was shocking. According to the Bed Bug Registry, the list of affected hotels encompasses everything from Economy Inns to $700+ per night luxury suites. Not only are these little critters a customer service issue, but they are also a public relations nightmare for any hotel unlucky enough to be under attack.
So what’s a hotel to do? It’s basically impossible to prevent bed bugs from entering, given that travelers are an easy transport mode for the creatures. That leaves proactive initiatives as the best course of action, specifically in two areas: Inspect to Protect and Damage Control.
By Carly DeFilippo
“Everyone comes into a room with a history,” says Chef Gerri Sarnataro, and it’s sure that Gerri herself—the owner of a successful cooking school in Umbria and a member of ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts faculty—is no exception. Like many professionals in the culinary field, Gerri’s career path was not a straight one; it was a combination of many parallel pursuits.
After entering into the culinary field as a 30-year-old career changer, Gerri made a name for herself as a chef and caterer for New York City’s fashion elite. Yet, as her reputation continued to grow, her personal interests increasingly pulled her across the Atlantic. She spent the first 15 years of her career rigorously exploring the culinary riches of France, but it wasn’t until she turned her attention to Italy – the country of her ancestors – that Gerri’s entrepreneurial imagination kicked into high gear. Soon enough, Gerri happened upon a small workshop for sale in Umbria. It was there that she founded Cucina della Terra, an intimate school where she now shares her passion for local products and traditional techniques with other culinary enthusiasts.
Today, Gerri’s career is truly international, spending three months at a time with career students – like alumni Clarisa Martino and Zac Young - in ICE’s pastry kitchens, then jetting back to Italy to lead gastronomic tours and locavore cooking classes. Her schedule may be just as grueling as the days when she served such fashion stars as Oscar de la Renta, but now, the menu is created entirely on her terms.
By Grace Reynolds, Culinary Management Student
As a general rule of thumb, the anticipation of a new experience comes with a heavy dose of expectations. Be it your first trip to a foreign country, a new job or a first date, it’s easy to construct a romanticized notion of “what could be” before even setting foot in the airport, office or restaurant. But how often does reality actually meet our expectations?
Personally, I try not to get too excited about new opportunities. My optimistic daydreams have resulted in disappointment on many occasions, some worse than others. So in the days leading up to September 29th (my first day in ICE’s Culinary Management program), I made every effort to keep my expectations in check. Even as ICE alums raved to me about their experience in the program—how it helped them reach their professional goals, changed the way they think, gave them the tools to succeed in the restaurant industry—I tried to stay pragmatic. If this program was really the professional game-changer they suggested, it would still have to prove itself to me first.