By Virginia Monaco
James Peterson is a legendary culinary figure. He has just published his fifteenth cookbook, the most recent in a line of impressive and important publications. His writing has addressed such vast topics as Sauces or Vegetables, all while keeping a focused and grounded view of his subject matter. Not only does Chef James (or Jim, as he prefers to be called) spend enormous amounts of time researching and recipe testing for each book, but he also does all his own food styling and photography, making each book a true labor of love. In addition to garnering a slew of IACP and James Beard awards, his work has also provided him with a devoted following of chefs, cooks and amateurs.
Yet, while Jim has admiration and appreciation for all kinds of cuisines and techniques, his heart always returns to the rich and comforting flavors of classic French food. For his recent cooking demonstration at ICE, he thoughtfully chose to demonstrate squab salmis over a cassoulet of fava beans and foie gras.
By Michael Laiskonis, ICE Creative Director
One of the many hats I wear as creative director is that of a guest lecturer. Perhaps my favorite task at ICE is leading our professional Pastry & Baking students’ introduction to dairy products during the very first days of their program.
If you know me, then you know that I have become a bit of a dairy nerd, always looking to better understand the composition, structure and function of milk and all of its derivatives. And while I present a great deal of technical information during my dairy lecture—in addition to offering a tasting of some two dozen products—my goal is simply to present this humble, common ingredient in a new light. Retaining every specific fact and figure isn’t as important as getting our students to start thinking about all ingredients in an analytical way—in other words, what they bring to a recipe and how they affect its final outcome.
By Virginia Monaco
At ICE, we’re always thrilled to celebrate the successes of our graduates, and, in particular, to invite them “back to school” to share their stories and expertise with our current students. Most recently, we invited two outstanding alumni—Miguel Trinidad and Kamal Rose—to demonstrate some of their signature dishes and impart industry advice from their years of experience after ICE.
In addition to introducing the audience to new techniques and flavor combinations, Chefs Kamal and Miguel also shared valuable career advice based on their own professional careers. Both stressed that ICE provided them with a solid culinary foundation, but that learning never stops when you work in the kitchen. For students nervous about trailing or beginning their externships, they recommended three tips: write everything down in a notebook, work enthusiastically and be inquisitive but humble. While admitting that kitchen work can be very demanding, they stressed the pride in a job well done and the sense of satisfaction they feel at the end of the day. Their final take-away? Success is in the hands of each student, and a culinary career is one where you get out what you put in.
How Toba Garrett helped transform American cake design from common buttercream to complex artistry.
By Carly DeFilippo
ICE Chef Instructor Toba Garrett wasn’t always a master cake decorator, renowned for her unusually attractive, skilled, and delicious confections. Her prior careers spanned the fields of theatre, education, and computer science, before she changed her life through culinary education.
Today, juggling the roles of teacher, industry expert, author, and artist, Toba is among the country’s foremost experts in the field of cake decorating and design. She has won more than a dozen international gold and silver medals for her designs, and has been featured in numerous media outlets, including Today Show, InStyle, Pastry Art and Design, Gourmet (and many more). In 2010, Dessert Professional magazine named her one of the “10 Best Cake Decorators in America” and she has even had her work featured by the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C.!
By Michael Laiskonis, ICE Creative Director
As a professional pastry chef, I have a deep relationship with candy. But then don’t we all? Several years ago, I began to ponder the ‘culture’ that surrounds our taste for sweets. What I came to realize is that we relate to sweetness on three different levels: the physiological, the psychological, and the nostalgic.
With the possible exception of salt, the instinctual desire for sweetness—more than any other taste—is surely hardwired somewhere deep within our DNA. From the moment of birth, we seek our nourishment and comfort in the rich, sweetened form of mother’s milk; it is indeed the only taste we know in our early months. Eventually our sense of taste becomes considerably more complex as our food choices expand, but I find it interesting that, for all humans, the craving for sweet endures.
By Shannon Mason
It’s always a privilege when we can invite our alumni back to ICE to share their professional expertise with our students, including those in recreational cooking classes. Recently we welcomed back Ivy Stark, a 1995 graduate of ICE’s Culinary Arts program, and currently the Corporate Executive Chef of Dos Caminos, a critically-acclaimed restaurant with several locations in New York City as well as New Jersey and Florida.
The restaurant thrives on her creative vision, featuring a menu of Mexican cuisine with a modern twist. There are few chefs better suited than Ivy to share a fresh take on the classic taco; we’re sharing her pro tips, time-saving tricks, and the recipe for Dos Caminos Baja-Style Mahi Mahi tacos.
It was recently announced that Chef Wylie Dufresne, one of the leaders of the country’s modernist cooking movement, would be closing down the acclaimed, 11-year-old wd~50 on New York City’s Lower East Side. Dufresne has gained national recognition for his cutting-edge creativity, receiving awards including the 2013 James Beard Award for “Best Chef New York City” and a Michelin star, which he has maintained every year at wd~50 since the founding of the Michelin’s first American edition, in 2006.
It is a set-back that we are sure will open up many new opportunities for the famed chef, who, prior to striking out on his own, served as sous chef at Jean Georges in New York City and chef de cuisine at Prime in The Bellagio, Las Vegas. Today, Dufresne also oversees the kitchen at Alder in New York City’s East Village, a restaurant that reflects a more approachable interpretation of his modernist leanings.
Earlier this year, we spoke to Dufresne about his influences, his unique perspective and what’s next for him as a chef.
By Chef Instructor Jenny McCoy, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
Most aspiring authors have no clue of just how much time and effort goes into writing a cookbook. By the time an author has completed her manuscript, she is often wondering why in the world she signed up to write one in the first place. Rizzoli published my first cookbook, Desserts for Every Season, in September of 2013, to critical acclaim. However, it was only with the help of an incredible agent, editor, photographer, and cookbook design team that I was actually able to get the thing written.
So as I finalize the contract details for my next cookbook(!), I thought this would be the perfect time to write about my efforts in securing a book deal, as well as the the process I like to use to write the books themselves. In a kind of mini-series of posts for the ICE Blog, I am going to break down the process for you in four stages:
- Writing a Proposal
- Selling a Proposal
- Project Planning and Management
- Writing and Shooting Photos for a Cookbook
By Carly DeFilippo, Culinary Arts Student
Whether you’re a professional cook or just an eager eater, we all have an intense, multi-layered relationship with flavor. There are tastes that remind us of childhood, foods that terrify or intrigue us with their strangeness, and flavors we crave time and time again. But how as chefs do we harness flavor? Where does it come from?
Of all the significant sources of flavor, the first (and possibly, most important) is the fond. This word, which literally means “the base” in French, refers to the brown bits created when you heat foodstuffs and they stick to the bottom of your pan. While many cooks mistake the fond for an inconvenience best removed with a bit of elbow grease, savvier cooks learn to deglaze the pan and capture that flavor. That’s right—add just a little wine, stock or other liquid to your pan and those brown bits loosen up, forming the flavor-forward base for a delicious sauce.
By Carly DeFilippo
In New York City, we may look first to the New York Times or other local publications for restaurant ratings, but on the international stage, there is no more respected standard of excellence than the Michelin star. As those familiar with Michelin well know, the stars are often concentrated in certain cities of excellence—for example Paris or Tokyo—and earning multiple stars outside those well-frequented cities is an especially challenging feat. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce that two entrepreneurial ICE alumni, Georgianna Hiliadaki (Culinary Arts/Culinary Management ’03) and Nikos Roussos (Culinary Arts ’03) have risen to the top of the pack. Their restaurant—Funky Gourmet in Athens, Greece—is one of only two 2-star Michelin restaurants in the whole country. We connected with the creative pair to learn how their time at ICE influenced their innovative style.
What might people be surprised to learn about your work?
We will never forget what Chef Ted told us from day one at ICE: “Don’t expect that when you complete your studies here you can actually think of yourselves as Chefs. Even the dishwasher in any kitchen will know more than you—how to cut better, be faster, etc.” You have to put loads of effort and dedication to achieve something great as a chef.