By Casey Feehan
Technology and the culinary industry have been natural allies throughout history. From new tools and appliances to advancements in our scientific understanding of food, these innovations have helped chefs lighten their workload, augment their creativity and enhance the experience of eating. Now more than ever, technology is setting new standards for how we cook, and ICE alumni are the ones leading the charge. In particular, Florian Pinel, IBM Senior Software Engineer and a graduate of the ICE culinary program, is at the forefront of this revolution, leading the research team for Watson’s “cognitive cooking” project. But back when he was a student at ICE, Florian never imagined that he’d be the tech expert behind the world’s coolest food truck.
What were you doing before enrolling at ICE?
I was working in the research division at IBM. I began there in 1999 after graduating from university in France. I was spending most of my weekends cooking at home, but I wanted to take my skills to the next level and work in a restaurant, with the idea of possibly opening one of my own someday. I checked out the major culinary schools in New York and chose ICE because it offered the best options in terms of program quality and schedule. I graduated in 2005.
By Chef James Briscione, Director of Culinary Development
What exactly is modernist cuisine? In short, it’s a buzzword, the latest term used to describe an innovative and avant garde style of cooking. First popularized by Ferran Adria (the “foam guy”) at his restaurant El Bulli, modernist cuisine has since become known the world over.
Previous to Adria, the techniques used in modernist cuisine were housed under the umbrella of molecular gastronomy: a scientific discipline that studies the chemistry of food. Great minds such as Nicholas Kurti, Herve This and Harold McGee made tremendous strides in this field, ultimately inspiring chefs like Adria, Heston Blumenthal and Grant Achatz to incorporate scientific methods into their cooking. Thus, modernist cuisine was born.
By Carly DeFilippo
Originally formed in 1985 to celebrate James Beard’s 82nd birthday, Monday night marked the 29th annual Chef’s Tribute to Citymeals-on-Wheels. More than 40 of the country’s top chefs kicked off the summer season at Rockefeller Center with a wide range of seafood-centric dishes.
ICE was proud to have 37 student volunteers help staff the event—the only culinary school whose students had the chance to cook alongside such culinary leaders as Jean Georges Vongerichten, Michael Anthony, Michael Voltaggio, Francois Payard, Marc Forgione, Stephanie Izard and Jonathan Waxman.
By Stephanie Fraiman
Chef Chad Pagano loves doughnuts. Their basic recipe is a canvas for creativity, with no limit to the toppings, glazes and flavor profiles that can work their magic on the sweetened dough. Across the world, chefs of all cultures add their own twist to the beloved pastry, and—at least in America—that’s an idea worth celebrating.
In honor of National Doughnut Day, we asked Chad to share his expert tips, so you can craft the perfect batch.
By Carly DeFilippo
3 stars in the New York Times. Sous Chef to Thomas Keller. ICE Chef Instructor.
From the Beatles to Lucille Ball, Charlie Chaplin to Oprah Winfrey—some of the greatest success stories come from unlikely candidates who were told they would never “make it.” But if ICE instructor Chef Chris Gesualdi was once an underdog, you’d never know it today.
Even as a young culinary student, it was clear that Chef Chris’ work ethic made him distinct from other cooks. His first step into the “big leagues” of cooking was volunteering in Chef Thomas Keller’s kitchen at La Reserve (while sustaining another full-time job). Chris quickly became Keller’s “right hand man” and sous chef, working alongside the celebrated chef for 7 years.
“The years I worked at La Reserve, Raphael’s and Rakel were some of the most formidable of my career and Chris was there every day. His commitment, dedication and work ethic were unmatched and continue to be an example today. I am blessed to be able to call him a colleague and friend, and our profession is in a better place because of chefs like Chris who truly understand what it takes to be a chef.” - Thomas Keller
By Carly DeFilippo
Monday marked the celebration of the 21st annual Dessert Professional magazine “Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America” awards. From a reigning M.O.F. pâtissier (Meilleur Ouvrier de France–one of the most prestigious awards in the pastry realm) to the first female Executive Pastry Chef to grace the kitchens of Restaurant Daniel, the 2014 award winners represented an incredible range of technical skill and artistry.
Each year, ICE’s own culinary and pastry students have the opportunity to work alongside these nationally recognized chefs—an incredible honor and learning experience. From eclairs and layered cakes to earthy free-form plates, the wide range of desserts represented the promising future of pastry in America.
By Chef Michael Laiskonis, ICE Creative Director
‘Cuisine or Death.’ For many years that was my code in the kitchen: a half-serious way to motivate cooks in the face of minor adversity or toward the unobtainable ideal of perfection. A fellow chef once told me he had adopted a similar (if slightly more introspective) military mantra: adapt, improvise, overcome. In thinking about the meaning of craftsmanship, I slowly realized how each of those words symbolizes distinct stages in development, marking key points in a cook’s training. One can’t progress to the next level without successfully mastering the last.
Knowledge, in any craft, is cumulative in nature and exponential in its possible effects. Only through rote mastery of fundamentals, followed by repetitive practice, can a craftsman (whether cook, musician, or architect) approach anything resembling inspired creativity—or, in other words, art. Creativity doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but rather in relation to one’s overall experience and skill set. In this way, good food is the result of many tiny accomplishments, some we can see immediately, and others that take years to germinate.
By Stephanie Fraiman
This week, more than 200 members of the New York community came together to support STREETS International, a Hoi An, Vietnam-based nonprofit organization that trains underprivileged young men and women to succeed in their region’s growing 5-star hospitality industry.
STREETS was founded by Dr. Neal Bermas (a former ICE Culinary Management instructor) and his partner Sondra Stewart in 2007. Now in its seventh year of success, their 18-month training program for disadvantaged Vietnamese youth is hosted at four locations in Hoi An: The STREETS Restaurant and Cafe, a training center and two single-sex dorm houses. Among its most notable accolades, STREETS was inducted into the Clinton Global Initiative in 2014.
By Richard Vayda
Fresh off her most recent nomination for a James Beard Award, Suzanne Goin – celebrated chef, restaurateur and cookbook author – charmed and informed our students and industry attendees as the latest guest in ICE’s ongoing series, Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs. The featured speakers are noted foodservice business leaders from all corners of the industry–wine makers, bakers, chefs, distillers, restaurateurs, bar owners, cheese mongers and more–who are invited to share their backgrounds, successes and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. While every guest brings a unique and inspiring tale to tell, because of my own French culinary background, I was particularly excited to moderate this discussion with Suzanne, and the two hours did not disappoint.
Goin began by sharing how an early interest in cooking began the foundation for her career in the food industry. That curiosity led her to some extraordinary places, first among them an internship at the legendary Ma Maison (called by Zagat one of “13 restaurants that changed LA dining forever”) while still attending High School in Los Angeles. After heading east for undergraduate studies at Brown University, Goin resumed her career in restaurants by working at such famed establishments as Chez Panisse, owned by the legendary chef Alice Waters in Berkeley, CA, and Olives, the first restaurant by chef Todd English, in Boston, MA.
By Orlando Soto-Caceres
Desserts—plated desserts, especially—are the final impression a chef leaves with his guests. This high-stakes pressure means that the greatest pastry chefs take particular care with their creations, reviving guests’ tastebuds with a balanced composition of flavor, texture and presentation. Before any dessert can do that, though, its components must come together in a pleasing and synergistic way. This, not surprisingly, rings true for the ICE pastry students in Kitchen 501!
In a recent lesson with Chef-Instructors Chad Pagano and Michael Laiskonis, we learned the importance of having both complementary and contrasting elements in a dessert. These elements include a range of flavors, colors, temperatures and textures. In order for this to work, the chef has to focus on what he wants the finished product to convey, creating its components accordingly. Should the dessert be crispy or crunchy? What flavor of textural element will enhance the overall experience?