By Casey Feehan
Often, chefs demand perfection in the kitchen, obsessing over every minute detail. But sometimes, an ingredient’s imperfections are exactly what makes a dish stand out. Take broken rice: a bi-product of the milling process, the result is grain that, when cooked, has a softer and stickier texture than provided by perfect grains. Less expensive than intact varieties, broken rice—occasionally referred to as Mali rice—is the base of many rich, homey dishes commonly found throughout Southeast Asia and West Africa. Fragrant, flavorful and thoroughly satisfying, Chef Instructor Michael Garrett‘s recipe is an example of how some things are perfect just the way they are. He recommends using West African dried fermented fish to impart a pungent, nutty aroma to the dish.
- 3/4 fl. oz. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/4 quarts sweet onions, julienned
- 1/2 quart tomato paste
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1/2 dried fermented fish
- 1/2 scotch bonnet, split
- 1 1/4 quart broken jasmine rice (find it in Asian and Afro-Caribbean markets—or Kalustyan’s spice shop, in New York City)
- 1 1/2 quarts water or fish fumet
Tariq Hanna’s first job may have been working the sandwich board at Sol’s Deli in Southfield, Michigan, but, today, he’s at the top of the food chain, running one of the country’s premier pastry shops, Sucré. Tariq has competed on multiple Food Network and TLC pastry challenges, and he has received numerous accolades, including “2007 Pastry Chef of the Year” in New Orleans Magazine. In 2012, Tariq was also inducted into the American Chefs Corps, an elite group of 80 chefs nominated by the State Department to serve as chefs and diplomatic ambassadors for both visiting dignitaries and cultural exchange efforts. In anticipation of Tariq’s upcoming October 21-22 workshop at ICE’s Center for Advanced Pastry Studies, we sat down with the chef to learn a little more about the evolution of his exciting career.
What specialties have you chosen to share with CAPS students at ICE, and why these products?
My favorite products change with my moods, and I love the fact that we make a large variety of items, from chocolates to macarons, pastries, cakes, gelato, confections, etc. This diversity gives me a constant revolving door of product to focus on when expanding our portfolio. For the CAPS course, I have chosen to focus on my current favorite products: petits gateaux, verrines and tarts. The class will touch on the realistic challenges of a pastry shop owner, balancing a beautiful visual effect with an interest in creating delicious and innovative techniques.
By Carly DeFilippo
As a young ICE graduate, Sabrina Sexton launched her career in two innovative kitchens whose exceptional food and casual bistro style would forever change New York City’s downtown dining scene: Chanterelle and Gramercy Tavern. Today, she has returned to ICE as our lead Culinary Arts instructor, training the next generation of game-changing chefs.
While finishing her pre-med program at Johns Hopkins University, Sabrina realized she was more anxious about becoming a doctor than passing her MCATs. Deep down, she knew it was time to trade in her lab coat for, well, another white coat—an ICE chef’s jacket.
As part of her Culinary Arts program at ICE, Sabrina externed at Chanterelle, a groundbreaking fine dining establishment in Manhattan’s then undeveloped downtown. The restaurant’s SoHo kitchen proved to be the perfect training ground for the young cook. Sabrina describes Executive Chef David Waltuck as the kind of leader who was truly happiest behind the stove and exceptionally “thoughtful about the ‘why’ of cooking.” Under Waltuck’s wing, Sabrina learned to carefully consider flavor pairings and the way different techniques would change the expression of flavor in a dish.
By Carly DeFilippo
Whether as an executive chef, butcher or co-founder of a traveling pop-up dinner series, ICE Culinary Arts and Management alum Alex Pope has received numerous accolades for his progressive style of cooking. Most notably, in 2011, he received a nomination for Food & Wine’s “People’s Best New Chef,” establishing Alex among Kansas City’s most exciting culinary leaders. In his most recent venture, as the CEO and co-owner of a sustainable butcher shop, Local Pig, Alex has earned praise from the likes of the New York Times for his homemade sausages, expert cuts of meat and hands-on fabrication classes.
Tell us a little about your experiences running a pop-up restaurant and opening your butcher shop. What were your goals, your challenges, and triumphs?
Pop-up restaurants are grueling, but they’re a lot of fun and very rewarding artistically, as you get to try dishes and techniques that you just wouldn’t attempt in a day-to-day service restaurant. At my first pop-up dinner, I sauced the plate with a paintball! I bought neutral paintball shells, filled them with beet paint and shot them at each plate. Every plate was a unique splatter. (Yes, we broke plates, but not that many.) Another time, I set up the plating tables in the middle of the dining room, and for one course we brought out 15 foot ladders and the cooks stood on them to squirt different sauces out of squeeze bottles onto the plates. It was very dramatic.
The butcher shop has really been my biggest accomplishment. We’ve truly created a viable alternative food system. We bring in more than 7,000 pounds of meat and serve more than 2,000 people each week between the shop, local restaurants and grocery stores. Every animal we source is raised outdoors on a small family farm (free of drugs and confinement), is treated with dignity it’s whole life and slaughtered humanely. Everything is fresh and local—raised 50 or so miles from our shop—and we’re open 360 days a year. We accept food stamps and we have clientele from every walk of life.
By Girika Mahajan, Pastry & Baking Arts Student
The use of sugar sculptures as a form of creative expression and political dialogue ages back many centuries. Sidney Mintz, in Sweetness and Power, describes the medieval fashioning of sugar, called subtleties. These sugar sculptures depicted political or religious scenes and commonly appeared on the tables of the wealthy. Though there may be little that is “subtle” about them—then as now—sugar sculptures still hold a prized place among the pastry arts, decorating luxurious banquet halls and being featured in culinary competitions.
Today, artistic showpieces consisting of sugar and its derivatives are constructed using a variety of mechanical methods. These methods include—but are not limited to—casting, blowing, pulling, pressing and spinning. And while this post is titled “The Art of Sugar Sculpting,” let me assure you that sugar sculpting is as much a science as it is an art.
By Chef Jenny McCoy, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
As summer winds down to a close, we’re all eager to make the most of our favorite warm-weather traditions. When it comes to dessert, there’s nothing that says summer fun like a batch of DIY s’mores. In honor of National S’mores Day, I’m sharing my go-to recipes for fluffy marshmallows and cinnamon graham crackers, plus some of my top tips for making them special—with or without the campfire.
- Indoor s’mores are just as fun. Simply use a stovetop gas burner or hand-held kitchen torch to toast.
- Keep it simple. If you don’t have time to make every component from scratch, just make one! (I recommend the homemade marshmallows.)
- Or get creative. Try mixing and matching different marshmallow flavors with milk chocolate, semisweet, dark or white chocolate bars.
- Know your audience. For kids, good ol’ Hershey’s is the classic pick for a reason. But for adults with more discerning palates, splurge on higher-quality chocolate bars; it will make all the difference.
- Skewers are all around you. Twigs, bamboo and metal skewers, or even leftover wooden chopsticks from your Chinese take-out will all work well for toasting marshmallows over an open flame.
- Make a big batch. Prefer to do the marshmallow toasting in a single batch? You can brown marshmallows under your broiler for a couple of minutes on piece of aluminum foil, then spread the gooey goodness on graham crackers. (A great option for those without a gas range, kitchen torch or grill!)
By Hossannah Asuncion, Understanding Wine Student
After drinking 80 glasses of wine I’ve come to this conclusion: wine goes with everything, even burgers. Yes…burgers.
The revelatory burger and wine pairing was Frog’s Leap’s “Shack Red,” a blend expressly designed to pair with the Shake Shack “Shackburger,” and was just one of the many surprises I experienced during ICE’s groundbreaking new wine course, Understanding Wine. This 10-session program, developed in partnership with Union Square Hospitality Group, focuses on getting to know your individual palate, learning to respect the diversity of wine and taking the risk of trusting yourself and your own taste.
Each Tuesday evening we were supplied with a bottomless barrel of expertise and knowledge, overseen by John Ragan, master sommelier and wine director at USHG. Over the course of 10 weeks, John was our seasoned guide on a tasting tour of the world’s major wine regions (an overview of the program’s curriculum is available here).
By Carly DeFilippo, Culinary Arts Student
When first starting out in culinary school, my classmates and I were all performing the same task. Each station set with a cutting board, chef’s knife, paring knife, boning knife and vegetable peeler. Each student holding an onion to dice, a rack of lamb to French or a pile of potatoes to tourné.
Yet now that we’ve moved beyond basic techniques to the regional cuisines of France and Italy, the whole class is working together as one collaborative group. Manning one of three stations—garde manger, entremets or main dishes—my peers and I are no longer responsible for the creation of a single recipe from start to finish.
In short, we’re learning the skills it takes to survive and thrive in a restaurant—from how to communicate when we need help and when to lend a hand, to timing our tasks so that we can keep the whole kitchen on schedule. And, in the process, we’re realizing that our technical skills are only 50% of what it takes to be a great cook—and maybe 10% of what it takes to be an extraordinary chef.
No two roads to a career in food are the same, and ICE Culinary Arts alum Randy Zweiban is a prime example of a professional shape shifter, finding success in all corners of the culinary industry. He launched his career with the purchase of a small catering operation and soon found himself in the Miami kitchens of celebrated Chef Norman Van Aken. After seven years, Randy relocated to Chicago, garnering acclaim for his work with Lettuce Entertain You restaurants. For his first independent project as Chef/Owner, Randy launched the acclaimed Province, Chicago’s first full-service restaurant to attain a Gold-Level LEED certification. Today, Randy is among the industry’s leading consultants, with clients that range from restaurant groups and food councils to such large-scale organizations as the California Avocado Commission or Kraft foods.
How would you define your “culinary voice” and your personal principles of hospitality?
The key word is “hospitality.” Treating food with respect, care and passion is as important in a fine dining restaurant as it is in a fast casual one. Working with a team in any environment is what makes that operation great. I am lucky that I get to do what I love and make a living at it. We are lucky in this business to always have opportunities to continue to learn and get better at what we do.