By Caitlin Gunther
On a Tuesday evening in the midst of September Fashion Week in New York City, I meet Thea Habjanic (Pastry Arts ’10) at La Sirena, the buzzy new restaurant in the Meatpacking district of Manhattan where Thea leads the sweet side of the kitchen as executive pastry chef. Given the restaurant’s location and the unseasonably warm weather, it will no doubt be a long night for Thea. Still, she seems poised and unhurried as I have her stand for a handful of portraits in her kitchen attire.
In a professional pastry kitchen, where technical skill is only half the battle, it takes a certain personality type—one that can stay focused on the details through an onslaught of tickets, demands and the occasional snafu—to truly succeed. Thea has the qualities to thrive in the restaurant world—though that wasn’t always her career path. She graduated from NYU with a degree in journalism and worked for several years as an entertainment writer before deciding to enroll in the Pastry & Baking Arts program at ICE.
As her recent kitchen roles can attest, Thea has the demeanor and the work ethic suited to fast-paced restaurants. Said ICE Creative Director Michael Laiskonis, who hired Thea for her first pastry gig at Le Bernadin, “Last year, I signed on to create the pastry program for the newest Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich restaurant, La Sirena. When it came time to hire a pastry chef for the upscale and busy restaurant, I immediately thought of Thea. Her previous experience in both fine dining and high volume made for a perfect match. She has played a vital role in crafting La Sirena’s desserts, earning critical praise. She runs the hectic pastry kitchen with that positive, can-do attitude that initially impressed me!”
Keep reading to learn about Thea’s path from ICE to one of NYC’s hottest restaurant kitchens!
At ICE, we’re falling for fall. The cozy knits, the bounty of apples, the fall-spiced beverages and, of course, the pumpkins—what’s not to love? The below pumpkin-centric dessert comes from chef and cookbook author Melanie Underwood, who will be teaching the upcoming recreational baking course, Fall Desserts, at ICE. The kitchen classrooms, which are outfitted with BlueStar ovens, are the perfect playgrounds for recreational cooking and baking. Says Chef Melanie, “BlueStar ovens are beautiful and they work great in home kitchens.”
Students in Chef Melanie’s autumnal baking course will try their hand at this recipe for pumpkin whoopie pies. “Pumpkin and maple are two of my favorite autumn flavors and they pair wonderfully with this fun, easy dessert that both kids and adults love,” says Chef Melanie.
Keep reading to get Chef Melanie’s recipe for this scrumptious fall dessert!
By Jenny McCoy —Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
Drinking vinegars, also known as shrubs, have become increasingly popular. Restaurants like Pok Pok NY in Brooklyn are now bottling drinking vinegars and selling them in grocery stores across they country. Even though not everyone knows about shrubs, drinking vinegar for health purposes has been done for a very long time.
Long ago, the Romans and Babylonians were mixing vinegar with water. The word “shrub” is derived from the Arabic word “sharbah,” which translates as “drink.” Even sailors from the 16th-18th centuries drank shrubs to prevent scurvy! Today, they are infused with every flavor one can imagine and lauded for their health benefits, some even claiming weight loss.
Keep reading to discover Chef Jenny’s method for making drinking vinegars and her recipes for shrub cocktails!
In today’s culinary world, food sourcing is more important than ever. Locally-sourced produce has become the standard, rather than the exception. To stay at the forefront of this industry-wide movement, ICE built a state-of-the-art indoor hydroponic garden in its new Brookfield Place facilities. The garden gives ICE culinary students access to the freshest herbs and produce, plus the opportunity to take part in the latest urban agriculture trends. By instilling in students the importance of quality ingredients while allowing them to participate in innovative growing practices, ICE ensures that each student receives a holistic culinary education.
Keep reading to watch the video and get a peek inside ICE’s Hydroponic Garden.
By David Waltuck—Director of Culinary Affairs
In July of 2004, I was working on a new menu at my Tribeca restaurant, Chanterelle. The summer Olympics in Athens were about to begin, which naturally got me thinking about Greek food. I decided to tap into memories of traveling in Greece, and also of cheap meals in cafeteria-style restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen, where I lived in the 1970s. It was while in Hell’s Kitchen that I came up with the following dish, in which a marinade suitable for shish kebab is applied to lamb loin, and the typically hearty casserole moussaka is reworked as a small and elegant dish. Fresh marjoram is substituted for the more aggressive oregano that is common in Greek cuisine.
I’ll be serving this dish as one of several courses at A Night at Chanterelle, an exclusive dinner I’ll be cooking at ICE on September 23rd to showcase some of my favorite autumnal recipes. Hope to see you there!
Keep reading to get the recipe for this Olympics-inspired dish.
By ICE Staff
The Institute of Culinary Education is dedicated to making sure that graduates get the most from their ICE education. That’s why we forged a partnership with Excelsior College that gives Hospitality Management grads the opportunity to apply their diplomas toward an associate degree from Excelsior. With an immersive campus experience in NYC and an online associate degree program that’s flexible and affordable, the new program truly gives aspiring hospitality professionals the best of both worlds.
Keep reading to learn about this exciting new partnership between ICE and Excelsior.
By Lauren Jessen—Culinary Arts/Culinary Management ‘16
As a student enrolled in a dual-diploma program at ICE, I juggled a schedule for both the Culinary Arts and Culinary Management programs. Three days a week, I had management classes from 8AM to 12PM and then quickly I’d have to change for my 1PM culinary arts class, which ran until 5PM. On the days I didn’t have management classes, I would spend my mornings working on reading and classwork for management, and then the remainder of my day honing my cooking skills in class.
Once my Culinary Arts program ended, I had one month left of my management classes. The catch? I had just two weeks until I had to start my externship in a fast-paced NYC restaurant. This meant I had to build my management class business plan—the culmination of the Culinary Management program—with a full work schedule. My externship schedule was anything but lax. I worked in the restaurant’s kitchen five days a week—being smart with my time was more important than ever. While I had reading, presentations to deliver and business plans to develop for my management class, I also wanted to do a great job at my externship.
Keep reading to learn Lauren’s tips for balancing your work + class schedule.
By Jenny McCoy—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
As the summer nears its end, tables at the greenmarket abound with gorgeous fruits and veggies—produce that will be sadly missed in just a few months time. Yet in the modern kitchen, an age-old cooking technique exists to keep enjoying those summery ingredients during chillier months—preservation.
For ages, humans have applied a variety of methods to preserve food, through drying, curing, fermentation, pickling and salting. But in 18th century France, Nicolas Appert, a maverick chef, began researching how to preserve foods in a new way, one that would maintain foods closer to their original fresh state. Initially, he believed that removing the presence of air from stored foods would help them last longer. Though a lesser amount of air can aid the preservation process, he wasn’t quite right. Inspired by a contest organized by Napoleon as a means for feeding the military, Appert continued his food preservation experimentation. Eventually, he found a heating process that could allow foods to remain unspoiled for long lengths of time. A decade and a half of his research resulted in a method we still use today: glass jars filled with foods, then corked and sealed with wax. The jars are then boiled until hot enough to kill microbes that cause food to rapidly spoil, pasteurizing their contents.
Keep reading to get Chef Jenny’s tips for canning plus a recipe for blueberry-thyme jam.
By Danielle Page
New York City is home to some of the best eats in the country. If you’re lucky enough to live here, you can get just about any dish your heart desires delivered to your door—at any time, day or night. But when it comes to the parts of the Big Apple that boast the best bites, some areas have more to offer than others. If you find yourself in the Financial District (“FiDi”) around lunchtime, and you’re seeking something other than a typical food chain or overpriced “make your salad” station, you may be in for a tough time.
While FiDi has had some recent upgrades to the lunch scene thanks to the eateries that call Brookfield Place home (ICE’s new home too!), finding a FiDi lunch spot can be challenging. However, there are some hidden gems—and who better to point out the diamonds in the rough than the culinary students at ICE, who happen to learn and dine right in the area? We asked a few ICE students for their takes on the best spots to grab lunch in FiDi. Here’s where to eat next time you find yourself starving at noon on the lower west side of Manhattan.
Keep reading to discover our students’ delicious recommendations.
By Chef/Instructor Ted Siegel
Recently my wife Cheryl and I had the good fortune to spend a few days in La Belle Province (Quebec) and visit one of our favorite culinary destinations: the beautiful city of Montreal.
We arrived, exhausted, late on a Sunday night at a time when most restaurants are closed. We knew that we could rely on one excellent spot to be open, so we made the fifteen minute walk from our hotel to dine at one of the most popular bistros in the city—Restaurant L’Express, open until 3 a.m. seven days a week. L’Express has a reputation for serving consistently solid, traditional French bistro fare. Though the menu does not change often, there are nightly off-the-menu specials. Upon placing your order, the server brings a canning jar of cornichons and a crock of Dijon mustard, both left on the table as condiments throughout the meal. We started with one of their famous dishes, octopus and lentil salad: thin slices of perfectly poached octopus dressed with lemon and olive oil arranged in a ring mold around an earthy lentil salad, deftly seasoned with a shallot vinaigrette. Once the mold is removed, the presentation is similar to a savory charlotte. We also ordered pork rillettes, which were impeccably prepared with the right ratio of shredded lean pork and fat, my only critique being that they would have been better served at room temperature rather than chilled.
Given my love for organ meats, I always order offal if it’s on a menu. Cheryl and I shared an order of crisp veal sweetbreads with chanterelle mushrooms, garden peas and pea tendrils under a cloud of Parmesan foam. Continuing in the “offal” mode, I had rosy slices of quickly seared and sautéed calf’s liver in a light tarragon pan sauce reduction. Cheryl had a creditable hanger steak with pommes frites. Perhaps we should have stopped after the entrees but decided to indulge in an order of ouefs al neige—a giant quenelle of French meringue gently poached in sweetened milk, the milk then bound with egg yolks, flavored with vanilla beans and turned into a silky crème anglaise, garnished with toasted almonds and threads of spun sugar. After a dinner like that, we needed that walk back to our hotel room.
Keep reading to follow along on Chef Ted’s delicious adventures in Montreal.