By Carly DeFilippo
In our increasingly global food scene—where we can access ingredients as diverse as octopus, chicory and passionfruit, where our shelves are lined with cookbooks celebrating Italian, Filipino, Middle Eastern or South American cuisine—what is the value of regional cooking? It’s a question that ICE Culinary Arts alum Vivian Howard and an evolving community of chefs are exploring by revisiting the flavors of their ancestors, celebrating the ingredients and dishes of regional American cuisine.
Acclaimed for both her work as chef/co-owner of Chef & The Farmer and her acclaimed PBS show A Chef’s Life, Vivian was presented with a Peabody Award in 2014 and has been nominated twice for the James Beard “Best Chef Southeast” award. But beyond these honors, Vivian’s cooking and storytelling are breathing new life into the culinary traditions of eastern North Carolina, inspiring a new generation of chefs to explore their own roots and celebrate the taste of home.
What were the highlights of your time in culinary school?
I liked ICE’s approach, and I felt it was a well-rounded program that would help me discover what direction I wanted to go in. My first instructor was Alex Guarnaschelli, who was such a great storyteller, a passionate teacher and—of course—a woman chef. She really set the bar for my experience. I also remember Chef Ted; he was very intimidating, but turned out to be one of my favorites—so knowledgeable, very open and just knew everything. All my teachers were great. I never popped up so easily in the morning as when I was in culinary school.
By Jenny McCoy, Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
Alright readers…here we are. Part five. The last post in my, “So You Want to Write a Cookbook,” series. We’re almost at the end of this exciting, grueling, rewarding process—I hope you’ve managed to stay tuned!
As I write this post, I’m in the midst of my latest cookbook project. I recently signed a cookbook deal with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which means I’m knee-deep in developing a fresh batch of recipes—so what better time to coach you through that very process?
Creating Your Recipe Roadmap
As a first step, I drafted a working list of the recipe ideas I’d like to feature in my cookbook. My new book is contracted to have six chapters and 80 to 100 recipes in total. If you do the math, that’s about 13 to 16 recipes per chapter. So I started by creating a list of 15 ideas per chapter.
Why the extra work? Once I begin to test these recipes, I know that some will be tossed, others will morph into entirely different ideas, and a few will remain exactly the same. My list will constantly evolve—and even more recipes ideas will pop into my head during the testing process—but I’ve found that having a game plan at the outset is the best way to start.
By Michael Laiskonis, ICE Creative Director
Earlier this month I had the honor of cooking for an American icon: chef and author Jeremiah Tower. The dinner was part of the second annual Imbibe & Inspire conference in Chicago, the broad theme of which was “The Roots of American Food.” Jeremiah was the guest of honor, celebrated as a luminary who refined and redefined our understanding of American regional cooking during his groundbreaking tenure at Berkeley’s Chez Panisse in the 1970s. By rejecting any product he considered inferior and focusing on the idea of local (which was surprisingly difficult in those early days), his efforts made possible the farm-to-table relationships that are so prevalent today. In the 80s and 90s, with his Bay Area restaurants Santa Fe Grill and Stars, Jeremiah set in motion many ideas which were ahead of their time, both in the front- and back-of-house. His efforts helped evolve the cultural status of chefs back when the food “scene” we know today was still in its infancy.
Seeking inspiration for the dinner at Chicago’s two Michelin star L2O, I returned to Jeremiah’s important (and, sadly, out-of-print) first cookbook, New American Classics, published in 1986 (thanks to the lone copy held in the archives at Kitchen Arts and Letters). It was the books of this era that comprised my own stitched-together culinary education, and revisiting this one made me realize just how fresh Jeremiah’s perspective remains today. Through Jeremiah and his contemporaries, I began to discover the underlying stories connected to food and cooking, the sense of place that heightens our appreciation of ingredients. Jeremiah often relates the frustrating hardship in finding things as simple as fresh herbs and olive oil back in the 1970s—staples that we take for granted today. Just as we now can’t imagine the world without the Internet, it is increasingly difficult to imagine contemporary cooking without the bounty of high quality ingredients we either ship in from overseas or forage in nearby fields.
Foie gras. Pâté. Offal. These niche food items may be familiar to us today, but in 1985, these products were unknown to many Americans. That is, until Ariane Daguin launched D’Artagnan, an inspired idea that became one of the largest and most trusted specialty meat distributors in the country. In celebration of the company’s 30th anniversary, we recently invited the visionary founder and CEO to ICE as part of our Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs series.
Born in the Gascony region of France to a family with a seven-generation culinary legacy—including a chef father with 2 Michelin stars to his name—it was clear from early on that Ariane had inherited a passion for the food industry. Yet, Despite growing up with this gastronomical heritage, her original career ambition was to become a journalist, a dream she pursued by enrolling as an undergraduate at Columbia University.
During her summers off from school, Ariane worked the retail counter at Les Trois Petits Cochons, which was—and still is—one of New York’s finest French pâté producers. When she suggested to the owners that they should sell their products wholesale to the city’s fine food shops, amazingly, they presented her with the opportunity to develop this concept within their existing business.
By Carly DeFIlippo
Some of us are just born with the industry in our blood. Tony Trincanello started off as a busboy at 16, and by age 20 was already staging at a winery in Veneto, Italy. After graduating from ICE and externing at the legendary Le Cirque, Tony launched a successful catering company, worked as a wine consultant and eventually became the Food & Beverage Director at Santa Monica’s Huntley Hotel. His latest venture, The Roost at LA Farm revitalizes one of the region’s classic culinary landmarks.
Take us through a typical day in your working life.
A typical day begins at about 5:30 am with a quick surf session (I did move out here to live on the beach!) or a trip to the gym. Then I’ll play with my daughter for a bit and head to the restaurant around 10. There, I’ll meet with Chef Johnny, go over the menu changes for the day, reservations, events, check on staffing, then execute a busy lunch service. At lunch service, I’m on the floor almost the entire time, making sure tables are bussed and food is served efficiently. Then I try to sit for quick lunch with Chef and our other partner Laura—but I often get interrupted by someone trying to sell me a new bottle of wine!
Then, before the dinner service, we go over menu changes, service notes and I’ll usually open up a bottle for the staff to taste and discuss. Dinner starts with a pretty busy happy hour in the bar/lounge, so I’ll usually get behind the bar to help out and try out some new cocktails or wines on our guests. Then I’m back to working the floor, talking to guests, selling wine and helping out wherever I’m needed. (I usually just describe my job as a glorified busser!) But, in truth, even when I’m helping bus, it’s because that’s a more natural way to interact with guests, rather than bouncing from table to table asking the hollow question “How is everything”? Then I sit down for dinner around 10, finish the bottle we opened before our dinner shift and head home around midnight. They’re long days, but this is the life I’ve chosen.
By Steve Zagor, Dean of Culinary Business
“Man with Machete Robs Upscale Chelsea Restaurant,” read the headline. Another terrible crime in the big city? Yes, for sure. Thankfully no one was hurt. But reading the story—and realizing that the incident occurred just a few blocks from ICE—made me reflect on certain safety procedures we often ignore restaurant operations.
While restaurant employees are trained to be vigilant about sanitation, food safety and other methods of protecting their guests, unfortunately many restaurant professionals are unprepared for robberies. Such unfortunate events happen all too frequently and the losses can be substantial, whether the criminals are employees, guests or an unknown perpetrator. Are there precautions that can be taken to prevent these incidents?
By Carly DeFilippo, Culinary Arts Student
In the process of preparing a multi-step dish, there are typically a few points of “no return.” Incorrectly butchering a protein, over-cooking the pasta or curdling the egg in your sauce are all-too-common ways to waste time and valuable products. Yet for all these stiff road blocks in the culinary kitchen, there are many more forgiving mistakes—opportunities to add in ingredients or seasoning you had forgotten, methods to smooth out overly reduced sauces or creative solutions for those improperly butchered proteins.
While the raw ingredients are often (though not always) less costly in a pastry kitchen, there is far less room for slip-ups. Errors in measurement, adding ingredients in the improper order or even something as simple as forgetting the salt can result in an unusable product. Which is why I was thrilled to learn that I would be studying this tricky art with none other than Chef Sim Cass, a master of detail and all things baked.
By Carly DeFilippo
In the ever-growing buffet of possible food careers, sometimes it’s hard to choose what will end up on your plate. Will I be a magazine editor or a restaurant owner? A cookbook author or an entrepreneur? Well, in the case of ICE alum Sara Deseran, she’s having her cake and eating it too. At the mere age of 42, she’s the co-owner of five restaurants, the food editor for San Francisco magazine and a cookbook author—and still, she’s plotting to one day write freelance articles for the New York Times. Because why shouldn’t you get to do everything you’ve always wanted to do?
Where was your ICE externship and how has it affected your career?
For my ICE externship, I worked at Saveur magazine in the test kitchen, which was a complete thrill. At the time, there was no magazine I loved more. From there, I became the food editor at 7×7 magazine and a short-lived publication called Williams-Sonoma Taste. Today, I work as the food editor at San Francisco magazine and oversee our “Feast” section.
By Carly DeFilippo
In the course of any career, there are moments that change everything. For young restaurant manager Jeff Yoskowitz, a disagreement with his chef—in specific, one phrase: “You don’t like it? Why don’t you do it yourself?”—was all it took to spark a life in the kitchen.
Though his initial motivation to move from management to the back of the house was to master a wider range of skills (and become a better manager), it soon became clear that Jeff had a future in cooking.
While Jeff started out on the savory side of the kitchen, it was a chance encounter with a bakery on the Upper West Side—Les Friandises—that would lead him to pastry. The chef, Jean-Claude Sanchez, was the original pastry chef at famed French restaurant, Le Bernadin, where he helped restaurateurs Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze earn their first four-star review from the New York Times. Though he was already employed in another kitchen, Jeff asked if there was a position open. It was a decision that would forever change his career.