In the past few years, macarons have become a staple in the New York pastry scene, but when ICE Pastry & Baking Arts and Culinary Management alum Christina Ha first conceived of Macaron Parlour, they were far from your everyday treat. With flavors that expand beyond traditional French offerings, Christina has always pushed the boundaries of creativity, and her latest venture—the city’s first “cat café”—is yet another unexpected innovation. We caught up with this entrepreneurial career changer to learn about her sweet success.
What would students be surprised to learn about your job?
I think most people would be surprised to learn that most of the cooks I hire work Monday – Friday, 9:30 to 5:30, like a traditional desk job. It took me a long time to figure out how to make that happen, but today, we’re able to produce everything we need for our online shop, wholesale clients, three bakeries and two market stands on that schedule.
Read on to learn more about Christina’s road to pastry entrepreneurship.
Think you could launch a successful business on a $300 budget? That’s just what ICE Pastry & Baking Arts alum Julian Plyter did, selling his whimsical ice cream sandwiches at the Hester Street Fair before opening a storefront for his beloved Melt Bakery on the Lower East Side. From sustainable, locally sourced ingredients to an innovative business strategy, there are more than a few ingredients fueling Julian’s ice cream dreams. We caught up with this entrepreneurial alum to learn more about his professional path.
What was your career path prior to enrolling at ICE?
I was working as an arts administrator for a major NYC orchestra for just over eight years. As a career changer, what really attracted me to ICE was the solid curriculum combined with the flexibility of scheduling options!
Read on to learn how Julian’s ICE externship shaped his path to pastry entrepreneurship.
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.
Working in the food industry wasn’t ICE student Lizzie Powell’s first career. “I was working in public relations in Washington, D.C., but my mind just kept coming back to food, and I knew it was time to make a change.”
After touring multiple culinary schools, Lizzie chose ICE because she could earn both a Culinary Arts and Culinary Management diploma in just six and a half months.
Read on to watch a video about Lizzie’s experience at ICE.
By Laura Denby—Student, School of Culinary Arts
As a culinary student with a graduation date looming in the not-too-distant future, securing my externship has recently been at the forefront of my mind. Luckily, I was able to secure a placement at Tasting Table—an amazing food media outlet—that I cannot wait to start. However, making that choice wasn’t easy. With so many different culinary career options, picking an externship site that fit my personal goals, schedule and experience level was an arduous task. Below are some tips that I learned along the way:
Do Your Homework
If you’re looking for an externship in restaurants, for example, research different restaurants, chefs and styles of food. Visit restaurants that you’re interested in and sample some of the menu items. By taking time to understand the chef’s style and perspective, you’ll get a better understanding of the restaurant as a work environment.
Read on for more of Laura’s externship and trailing tips.
By Michael Laiskonis—Creative Director
I’ve always believed that the relaxed pace of summer presents the perfect time to gather a list of reading material—both to recharge our batteries with fresh ideas and bone up on basic technique. I recently surveyed my own bookshelves, as well as the carefully curated collection at Kitchen Arts and Letters in New York City, to create a list of the volumes I’ll be reading (or re-reading) this summer. It’s a diverse selection that offers something for everyone, from culinary students to working chefs—and even enthusiastic home cooks!
Letters to a Young Chef—Daniel Boulud
Perhaps more than anyone, Daniel Boulud’s career is synonymous with the notion of mentorship. His legacy (the chefs who have worked their way through his kitchens) makes up a significant part of the current generation of culinary leaders in New York and around the world. Letters to a Young Chef recounts stories from Daniel’s own apprenticeships, and his experiences are immediately relatable to anyone with the passion and drive to cook at the highest level.
By Kathryn Gordon—Co-Chair, Center for Advanced Pastry Studies
In 2003, Richard Capizzi became the first pastry chef (not to mention the youngest) to ever sweep the awards at the U.S. Pastry Competition. From there, he honed his skills at the heart of Thomas Keller’s Restaurant Group, rising from a sous chef at Per Se to the executive pastry chef at both Per Se and Bouchon Bakery within a mere two years. Today, as the pastry chef for both Lincoln Ristorante and the Patina Group, Richard is known for translating the flavors of his Italian heritage into some of the country’s most inspired desserts. This summer, ICE students will have the chance to train with Richard in a one-day master class at ICE’s Center for Advanced Pastry Studies on July 27.
How do you develop your signature desserts?
I develop most of my desserts by researching traditional items from different regions throughout Europe—primarily Italy. I use pastries that I grew up with or others that I have read about or tasted during travels for inspiration. I also like to use seasonal produce and/or chocolate to create different textures of satisfaction. Generally, I try to incorporate three flavors and five textures in any dessert I do. Once I have the flavor profile, I can build a modern take on any classic dessert.
Read on to learn more about Richard’s training and creative process.
With four books under his belt, an ongoing column in Cheese Connoisseur and a forthcoming cheese and wine pairing app, Max McCalman is among our generation’s most influential voices in the field of cheese studies. In turn, Max has established a path for the recognition and certification of his fellow cheese connoisseurs. In 2012, he was instrumental in ushering in the long-desired American Cheese Society (ACS) Certified Cheese Professional exam. Since then, more than 400 professionals have established their expertise and transformed that skill into an incredible range of entrepreneurial opportunities.
Drawing from the American Cheese Society’s Body of Knowledge, Max McCalman’s new six-session Mastering Cheese course at ICE is the ultimate immersion into the world of cheese, offering instruction in its making, classification, merchandising, nutrition and tasting. For the ambitious enthusiast, current food professional or aspiring career changer, it is an incredible opportunity to train your palate and explore the traditions, myths and allure of one of the world’s most beloved foodstuffs.
Read on to learn more about Max’s dynamic career and professional cheese studies at ICE.
By Lizzie Powell—Student, School of Culinary Arts & Culinary Management
Before coming to culinary school, I was convinced that I wanted to work in a kitchen every day. But as school went on, I discovered more about myself and realized that while I loved being in the kitchen, I was really enjoying my Culinary Management classes. So for a time I began to see myself working in restaurant operations, but then I started leaning back toward the idea of kitchen work. While this may seem indecisive to many, I think it’s a natural process that many people entering the food industry go through. The beauty of the culinary world is that you can try many different roles throughout the course of your career.
After much internal debate and speaking with my instructors at ICE, I decided that the best place to start my culinary career was in a kitchen. My reasoning is that no matter your long-term career goals in the culinary world, working in a kitchen will give you incredible insight into the industry as a whole. I know that even if I end up in a front-of-house management position, my hands-on kitchen experience will make me a better and more valuable employee, as I will fully understand both sides of restaurant operations. With this in mind, I set out to select an externship site for the final part of my program at ICE.
Read on to learn about Lizzie’s experience trailing for externships and how she chose her externship site.
Bread has never occupied such an important place at the American table. Over the past 20 years, trailblazing artisans have shaped the way we bake, eat and think about bread—none more so than Chef Sim Cass, one of the founding bakers of Balthazar Bakery.
Designed and taught by Chef Sim, ICE’s Techniques and Art of Professional Bread Baking is an immersive, eight-week course designed for current food professionals, career changers or those aspiring to a future in artisanal bread. From mixing to fermenting, shaping, proofing and baking, you’ll master an incredible number of bread styles and learn what it takes to succeed in this growing sector of the food industry.
Read on to watch a video about Techniques and Art of Professional Bread Baking at ICE.