By Chef-Instructor Ted Siegel

With the imminent closing of The Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City next month, I have been reflecting on the profound influence this restaurant has had on the North American dining scene and restaurant industry since its opening in 1959. The Four Seasons Restaurant was heralded as the first modern American restaurant (post World War II) to promote North American regional ingredients and seasonally driven menus—a quality that is lauded in today’s food culture. Historically, however, another great New York City restaurant that opened in 1823 was the so-called “Godfather” of this trend—Delmonico’s.

Chef Charles Ranhofer cookbook The EpicureanBy the middle of the 19th century, Delmonico’s was considered to be the greatest restaurant in the United States. To put it in perspective: the way we think of Thomas Keller’s French Laundry today is the way Americans spoke of Delmonico’s back then. The key date in Delmonico’s history was 1862, when a great French chef from Alsace named Charles Ranhofer took over Delmonico’s kitchen. His devotion to regional North American ingredients introduced Americans to ingredients that were not commonly served at that time. He used black sea bass from Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island; soft shell blue crabs from the Chesapeake Bay area; shad and its roe from the Hudson River Valley; locally caught sturgeon; alligator pears (that is, avocados from Florida) and samp, a hominy-like dish based on hulled corn kernels from the southwest that Chef Charles served with wild teal duck. Some of his most iconic preparations, such as Lobster Newburg and Baked Alaska (which he called “Alaska, Florida”) have become staples on many American menus—including some of the earliest menus of The Four Seasons Restaurant. All of these dishes and thousands more were memorialized in his book The Epicurean, published in 1894, five years before his passing.

Jeremiah Tower, former executive chef of the prominent Berkley, CA, restaurant Chez Panisse, speaks quite poignantly in his cookbook, New American Classics, about how The Epicurean inspired him to transform the Chez Panisse menus to reflect Northern California’s indigenous ingredients and produce. In fact, he mentions that the very first Northern California regional dinner menu he prepared at Chez Panisse in 1973 paid homage to Chef Charles’ influence by adapting Delmonico’s green corn and crayfish soup on that evening’s menu.

Looking at the early menus conceived by James Beard and Albert Stöckli, executive chef of The Four Seasons Restaurant, the influence of The Epicurean is evident. Hence, no discussion of North American regional cuisine, including the recent farm-to-table and locavore trends in menu concept and execution, is complete without a discussion of the impact of Charles Ranhofer, Delmonico’s and The Epicurean.

If you want to delve deeper into cookbooks inspired by The Epicurean, here are some recommended reads:

The Four Seasons Cookbook (1971 ed.) by James Beard and Charlotte Adams

The Four Seasons: The Ultimate Book of Food, Wine and Elegant Dining (1980) by Tom Margittai and Paul Kovi

The Four Seasons Spa Cuisine (1986) by Seppi Renggli

New American Classics (1987) by Jeremiah Tower

Interested in studying with Chef Ted? Click here to learn more about our Culinary Arts program.

 

By Jenny McCoy—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

In our must-read cookbooks series, we’ve covered ingredient-focused books, vegetable bibles and the sweetest pastry selections. But there’s one area of the kitchen we’ve not yet touched, and that’s the meat section.

From butchery to charcuterie, simple pan sauces to showstopping roasts, animal proteins are an essential part of culinary education. As chefs become more aware of the quality of ingredients and the impact of their cooking from a sustainability perspective, respect for animal products is all the more important.

The following texts offer much for aspiring chefs and culinary professionals. Some contain advanced techniques that may go above and beyond the talents of home cooks, but they all will help readers gain a greater appreciation of where our food comes from.

meat cookbooks

The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating by Fergus Henderson
Henderson, considered one of London’s most progressive chefs, is dedicated to resurrecting time-honored techniques of meat cookery—using every bit of the animal from end to end—as well as reinterpreting these traditions through a more modern culinary lens. His book features recipes more commonly found at a communal table in the countryside than in a fine-dining restaurant, yet every top chef in America likely references this book on a regular basis.

The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Many meat cookbooks boast hundreds of photographs and instruction on how to humanely source animals. For home cooks and professionals alike, few meat cookbooks have gained a more cult-like following than this volume in the River Cottage series. Including in-depth information on sustainability, how to select and store meats and numerous fundamental techniques for meat preparation, this is truly an all-purpose tome.

Au Pied de Cochon by Martin Picard
Dubbed the “temple of lard,” the Au Pied de Cochon cookbook is a collection of recipes from one of Montreal’s most innovative restaurants. With an introduction by Anthony Bourdain, this entertaining text is influenced by Chef Martin Picard’s love of large portions, an ever-changing menu and a loud, boisterous dining room. Unfortunately, the book is out of print, but pricey used copies are available online.

In the Charcuterie: The Fatted Calf’s Guide to Making Sausage, Salumi, Pates, Roasts, Confits, and Other Meaty Goods by Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller
If you’re ready to take your carnivorous techniques to the next level, charcuterie is an ambitious, but rewarding, culinary tradition to explore. This book will explain multiple approaches to making the most of the full animal, with fully illustrated recipes and professional techniques that are sure to expand your repertoire of techniques.

Terrine by Stephane Reynaud
Recommended to me by a former fine-dining chef turned professional butcher, this book is geared toward the home cook. However, the text has plenty to offer even the most seasoned of professional chefs. Inspired by his upbringing in Ardèche, France, Reynaud’s recipes are sure to add an inspired savory—or sweet—accent to your table.

Take your culinary techniques to the next level with a professional education at ICE.

 

By Jenny McCoy—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

Did you know that each year more than 24,000 cookbooks are published worldwide? Our unyielding appetite for new recipes and cooking techniques has made compiling a single “must-read” book list a daunting task for even the most well-read chef. So instead, I’m sharing a few short lists of game-changing texts—from food science tomes to classic pastry cookbooks—that have broadened my horizons as a culinary professional. First up, let’s take a closer look at the core ingredients so many of us take for granted, from cheese to chocolate.ingredient cookbooks

Cheese: A Connoisseur’s Guide to the World’s Best by Max McCalman
Cheese is more than a delicious snack. Imperative to any chef’s working knowledge of food, cheese can be used in a wide range of recipes. This tome—written by ICE’s resident cheese expert—will help you discover hundreds of cheese varieties to refine your palate and whet your appetite.

The True History of Chocolate by Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe
There has been no shortage of chocolate research at ICE with the opening of our very own bean-to-bar lab in 2015. Part botany, part archeology and part culinary history, this book explores the origins of chocolate some 4,000 years ago. Once you get to know chocolate’s journey through time, you’ll appreciate it even more.

Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes by Mark Bitterman
If there’s one fact all chefs know to be true, it’s that you can’t coax flavor from even the best ingredients without a little salt. Authored by Mark Bitterman, owner of The Meadow gourmet shop, Salted begins with humankind’s first taste and travels through modern day to discuss both the industrialization of salt and the growing popularity of specialty salts. The book’s recipes feature over 80 varieties of salt—and the reference guide exposes you to 150 types in total.

Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes by Jennifer McLagan and Leigh Beisch
While alternative health experts are helping to break down fat’s bad rap, it’s clear that this ingredient suffers from an unfortunate reputation. Read this book, and you’ll gain an understanding of why fat isn’t necessarily bad for you, and why it’s essential to great cooking and baking. With recipes, personal stories from the author and extensive information on how to render, flavor, use and store animal fats, Fat should be a staple on the bookshelf of all chefs and bakers alike.

For more of our favorite cookbooks for aspiring chefs, click here.


By Ted Siegel—Chef Instructor, School of Culinary Arts
 

In today’s food culture, ingredient-focused or “farm-to-table” cuisine has become so commonplace that many young chefs can’t remember a time before it existed. Before the dawn of Instagram, food blogs and YouTube videos, a generation of chefs willed this movement into existence through a series of earth-shattering cookbooks. Those books—most importantly, Cooking the Nouvelle Cuisine in America and the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook—reshaped the culinary landscape and have since paved the way for such famous chefs as Thomas Keller and Mark Ladner.

california cuisine cookbooks

In the late 1960s, the nouvelle cuisine revolution shook French cuisine and culture to its core. As more and more Americans began to travel abroad after the war, it was inevitable that this movement—characterized by fresh ingredient-focused cooking and artistic presentation—would have a profound impact on modern American cuisine. The result was an equally innovative shift on American soil: a regional cooking revolution that began with what the media dubbed “California cuisine.”

In 1979, two young American cooks, Michèle Urvater and David Liederman, published a text called Cooking the Nouvelle Cuisine in America. This book was one of the first cookbooks available in the U.S. that comprehensively explained the principles and techniques of nouvelle cuisine and made them accessible to American cooks. As a young chef, I had more than one epiphany while reading this book, and today my copy is quite dog-eared after many re-readings.

In Cooking the Nouvelle Cuisine, Urvater and Liederman spoke eloquently about how the culinary principles codified by such French chefs as Ferdinand Point had turned the classical cuisine of Escoffier and Carême on its proverbial head. In short, Point realized that, after the war, the old school style of cooking no longer fit into the lifestyle of contemporary French people. He preached that chefs should be more creative with their menus and that their dishes should reflect what was immediately available in the marketplace.

Within the guidelines of nouvelle cuisine, menus also became smaller and more manageable, reflecting the need to change with the seasons and the ability to work with smaller kitchen “brigades.” From a technical perspective, Point preached eliminating starch thickeners from sauces. Instead, chefs could create sauces of a much lighter quality based on a series of reductions (a technique called “stratification” based on the work of Andre Guillot). To complement this change, Point recommended that chefs emphasize lighter and quicker cooking techniques such as sautéing, steaming and poaching. He recommended simpler plated presentations to highlight the natural integrity of the ingredients. If you’ve eaten at an upscale restaurant in New York City recently, you’ll have seen all of these principles in action.

california cuisine plated plating

A few years later, a second nouvelle cuisine-minded text furthered this movement: the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook by Alice Waters. I could write a whole doctoral thesis on the significance of Waters’ impact on the history of American cooking. Together with other leaders of the California cuisine movement, Waters radically altered the manner in which culinary professionals produce, grow, prepare and present food—both on the plate and on a menu.

In addition to the principles of nouvelle cuisine, Waters was profoundly influenced by the ancient principles of Japanese cooking. Benefitting from the abundance of agricultural resources in California, the staff at Chez Panisse captured the imagination of a whole generation of American cooks and chefs.

What the Declaration of Independence was to colonial Americans in the 1700s, the introductory chapter of the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook was to 1980s American chefs. Called “What I Believe About Cooking,” it was truly a culinary “shot heard ’round the world.” Waters explained how alienated and alienating our experience with food and cooking had become since World War II. In particular, Waters’ greatest contribution was in the idea that, “No cook, however creative and capable, can produce a dish of a quality any higher than that of the raw ingredients.”

california farmer's market

Produce at the San Francisco farmer’s market

I was lucky enough to work under Waters at Chez Panisse. One of my most endearing food memories includes the first time that I smelled fresh, earthy, piney chanterelle mushrooms from the Pacific Northwest. Or when I tasted Waters’ famous baked goat cheese salad with baby lettuces that were locally grown in the Berkeley Hills. Each week, the kitchen staff would anxiously await the printing of the next week’s menu—a so-called “gazetteer” that featured small, local producers.

Other chefs may name other books as the ones that defined their careers, but for the students who ask about my formation as a cook, I always recommend they read these two texts. While it’s important to stay up-to-date on modern trends in food, learning about the roots of contemporary American cooking can both further young chefs’ understanding of current kitchen culture and spark their personal creativity.

Further reading:

Wish you could study with Chef Ted? Click here to learn more about our Culinary Arts program.

 

By Michael Laiskonis—Creative Director

I’ve always believed that the relaxed pace of summer presents the perfect time to gather a list of reading material—both to recharge our batteries with fresh ideas and bone up on basic technique. I recently surveyed my own bookshelves, as well as the carefully curated collection at Kitchen Arts and Letters in New York City, to create a list of the volumes I’ll be reading (or re-reading) this summer. It’s a diverse selection that offers something for everyone, from culinary students to working chefs—and even enthusiastic home cooks!

Letters to a Young Chef BouludLetters to a Young Chef—Daniel Boulud
Perhaps more than anyone, Daniel Boulud’s career is synonymous with the notion of mentorship. His legacy (the chefs who have worked their way through his kitchens) makes up a significant part of the current generation of culinary leaders in New York and around the world. Letters to a Young Chef recounts stories from Daniel’s own apprenticeships, and his experiences are immediately relatable to anyone with the passion and drive to cook at the highest level.

 

Wizard's CookbookThe Wizard’s Cookbook—Ronny Emborg
This attractive tome has been one of the most sought-after in professional chef circles over the last year or two. Emborg emerged from the “New Nordic” scene at the Michelin-starred Marchal in Denmark, treating the region’s products with highly refined technique. Lucky for us for New Yorkers, earlier this year he took the helm at Atera. This is one of those books that continually challenges me to rethink how food can be prepared and presented.

 

My Best Series Ducasse Ripert BouludMy BestAlain Ducasse, Daniel Boulud and Eric Ripert
I was so happy to discover English editions of this long-running series that Alain Ducasse has been publishing in France, where he offers chef friends and colleagues an opportunity to present their individual style in smart, compact volumes. This trio of recent releases highlights Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert and Ducasse himself. In each book, 10 signature dishes are presented in a clean and simple manner, with step-by-step images that offer straightforward insight into each chef’s underlying philosophy and transport the reader right into their respective kitchens.

 

Outlaw Cook ThorneOutlaw Cook—John Thorne
I like to think of John Thorne as one the pioneers of the food-blogging phenomenon, though he began writing his short dispatches and newsletters in the early 1980s (long before the advent of the Internet). This older collection of short essays—most of them accompanied by simple recipes—includes one of my all-time favorite pieces of food writing. The chapter “Learning to Eat” details the emergence of both Thorne’s developed palate and his interest in cooking, serving as a reminder that the simplest of pleasures are often the most rewarding. 

 

French Regional Cooking RobuchonFrench Regional Food—Joël Robuchon and Loïc Bienassis
Admittedly, I am a bit of a Francophile and this book delivers deep insight into traditional techniques and products from the many diverse regions of France. Co-authored by legendary chef Joël Robuchon, this is perhaps the most thorough academic study of French cuisine I’ve ever read, and it’s truly a joy to cook from. I’m also proud to note that it’s one of the textbooks that ICE culinary students receive during their study of international cuisines. 

 

Elements of Dessert MigoyaThe Elements of Dessert—Francisco Migoya
Above all else, I love being a chef because of the community that serves as a foundation of our profession. I’m indebted to so many friends and colleagues for inspiration and motivation, and Francisco Migoya has long been one of those peers whose work continues to push our craft ever forward. Elements of Dessert—his third book—reflects the expansive role of the restaurant pastry chef and the wide range of skill sets that come to bear in that environment. One reason I admire Francisco’s work is that while he may have one foot planted firmly in progressive sensibilities, the other foot is well grounded in classic ideas and techniques. He’s currently compiling a massive treatise on bread with Nathan Myhrvold and the Modernist Cuisine team, and I look forward to including that book in future reading lists!

 

Fancy Desserts Brooks HeadleyFancy Desserts—Brooks Headley
Del Posto’s Executive Pastry Chef Brooks Headley’s first cookbook, released last year, is as valuable for the recipes that makeup his unique style as for the personal stories that accompany those recipes. Entertaining tales from touring in a punk band to humble accounts of his early days as a pastry cook weave seamlessly into the perfect balance of refined and rustic desserts that have become his trademark.

 

How Baking Works FigoniHow Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science—Paula Figoni
This has been my preferred practical reference text for years. Figoni breaks down the basic science of pastry and baking techniques to better understand classic preparations, as well as the composition and function of the ingredients that go into them. Highly recommended for all pastry cooks and students.

 

Curious Cook Harold McGeeThe Curious Cook—Harold McGee
Harold’s classic reference On Food and Cooking has been many a chef’s first introduction to the underlying science of cooking. Of equal interest to me was his follow-up, The Curious Cook, a book of investigations and experiments that sought to prove or disprove a range of culinary “precisions”—from how much oil can be emulsified by a single egg yolk to the truth behind the notion that searing meat “seals in its juices.” This was one of the first books that made me think about the “hows” and “whys” lurking beneath the surface of everyday cooking.

 

The Kitchen as a Laboratory LaiskonisThe Kitchen as a Laboratory: Reflections on the Science of Food and Cooking—César Vega, Job Ubbink and Erik Van Der Linden
In recent years there has been a lot of attention given to the intersection of science and cooking, but few reflect on what that means beyond shiny gadgets and flashy techniques employed in “modernist” kitchens. Inquisitive cooks owe a great deal to the real scientists who have contributed to this new dialogue and who have helped translate the analytical language of the laboratory into one we can understand and apply in the kitchen. This book of short essays from both chefs and scientists tackle a range of topics—from grilled cheese sandwiches and “stretchy” ice cream to the physics of heat transfer—including a chapter I contributed on my own personal approach to science and cooking.

Eager to train with Chef Michael in person? Click here for his full list of upcoming advanced pastry classes.

 

By Carly DeFilippo

When Kim O’Donnel traded in her journalism career for a future in food, she never expected that her true calling would mix her two passions. Kim was among the country’s first digital food correspondents, breaking ground as a writer for the original Washington Post website. Since then, she has become one of the country’s most respected food writers, celebrated by the M.F.K. Fisher Awards for Excellence in Culinary Writing and serving on the James Beard Foundation’s Journalism Awards Committee. Read on to learn how Kim made her mark on the industry.

Kim O'Donnel - Food Writer - InterviewWhat were you doing before you enrolled at ICE?
Originally, I worked as a reporter for about five years before exploring a culinary career. Once I realized I wanted to work in food, I pursued a job under James Beard Award winner Ann Cashion in Washington, D.C. It was in the days of pre-Internet communication, so I typed her a note (on an electric typewriter) asking about openings at Cashion’s Eat Place for rookies, like myself, who wanted to learn. Ann came to be one of my mentors, and what I learned on the job in just five months really set me up for culinary school.

What was it specifically that attracted you to the program?
The program at ICE felt long enough to dive in, but short enough to get back to my life, or a new version of it, quickly. I wasn’t interested in two-year programs.

Where was your externship? Did it help you make any meaningful connections in the industry?
I started out in a high-end seafood restaurant in Philadelphia, but that was not a good fit for me, to say the least. I felt as if I was a working in a factory—the focus was all about how much we could get done and how fast we could do it. So I switched to the kitchen at MANNA, a nonprofit in Philly that prepares and delivers meals for people who are homebound with HIV and other chronic illness. I learned a great deal about dietary restrictions and food as medicine, and I loved the mission of the organization.

What have you been up to since graduating?
As my externship was ending, I got a call about a job in Washington, D.C. working with the Washington Post and “something called the Internet.” It turns out it was WashingtonPost.com, and they were building their first team of feature writers, including someone to write about restaurants. I was offered the job, but had a crisis of conscience. At the time, I was thinking, “What am I doing taking a desk job after I just finished my culinary training?”

One of my mentors—Gillian Clark, the sous chef at Cashion’s Eat Place—told me, “You can always cook. Go see what this is about.” It ended up being the beginning of yet another career path, marrying my writing experience with my culinary training. For the next eight years, I worked on staff producing first-generation cooking videos, hosting a weekly cooking chat and exploring the different ways we could approach internet content through the lens of food. During the same period, as a freelancer, I wrote a daily column called Mighty Appetite, which took my food writing to another level. I’ve since written for Real Simple, USA Today and other publications. From there, I got the bug to write cookbooks. I’ve now spent 17 years in the industry and it has been anything but dull!

Kim O'Donnel - Meatless - Cookbooks - Interview

Are there any professional accomplishments of which you are particularly proud?
As far as awards, I earned second place in the 2014 M.F.K. Fisher Awards for Excellence in Culinary Writing, awarded by Les Dames d’Escoffier International. I’ve also been featured in the 2013 and 2014 editions of Best Food Writing, an annual anthology, and sit on the Journalism Awards Committee of the James Beard Foundation.

On a more personal level, my two cookbooks, Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook and Meatless Celebrations aim to help meat lovers (like myself) dial back and make a little more room for plants on their plates. Additionally, for the past three years, I’ve been honored to teach cooking classes at Rancho La Puerta, a spa in the Baja peninsula of Mexico. We cook from the school’s six-acre organic garden, which is my idea of heaven.

But truly the most rewarding part of my work is when I hear from readers (who share their kitchen reports about trying one of my recipes) or see the look of amazement of one of my students who gets the hang of a technique or dish once deemed too difficult. Those are moments I’m most proud of.

How would you describe your “culinary voice”?
I primarily cook by the season, even if I’m craving strawberries in January. As part of that effort, I do a lot of preserving (I founded a group called Canning Across America in 2009), so my pantry is full of jars of berry jam, pickled carrots, jalapenos and cucumbers and tomato sauce. Having a preserved pantry really helps to “extend” the growing season, which is so gratifying.

Overall, my cooking style is quite simple, not too fussy. I love creating layers of flavor through spice blends in Thai, Vietnamese, Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines.  Because we live in Seattle, we eat a lot of wild salmon, which is quite affordable and top quality.

As for my writing, I aim to teach the simple pleasures of cooking at home, one crumb at a time. There’s no need to worry about “mastering the art” of anything or cooking your way through an entire recipe collection. The goal is just to cook as often as you can. From all the time I’ve spent on the road for book tours, I’ve learned that many folks are not cooking—not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t know how. My mission, going forward, is to push that needle and get more of us bellying up to the stove.

Click here to learn more about culinary careers outside the kitchen.

 

By Jenny McCoy—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

In the beginning of their careers, many culinary school graduates focus on opportunities in restaurants, bakeries, hotels or catering kitchens. At first, that narrow focus makes sense, because being a great chef requires spending time in professional kitchens. But the modern food industry has become a diverse, multi-faceted field. When one pursues a career in the culinary arts—and makes an effort to broaden their experiences beyond the kitchen—they may find that their career will include many satisfying twists and turns outside restaurant walls.

Benefits of a Diverse Culinary Career - Pastry Kitchen

My life as a chef was influenced not only by my culinary training, but also by my time as an undergraduate student. In particular, I recall one of my academic advisors telling me that the best way to be considered an authority in my field was to be published. He said, “No matter what your profession may be, if you have published articles in an industry magazine, research papers in a journal or a book, your peers will better regard you.” And so it began. My first goal outside of the kitchen was to write a cookbook. What I didn’t realize at the time was that by allowing myself to pursue opportunities outside the kitchen, I would develop my interest in cooking on a much deeper level.

Of course, publishing a cookbook didn’t happen overnight. But the future goal of writing a cookbook immediately transformed my perspective on working in the restaurant industry. I knew that I didn’t want to work in professional kitchens until I was old, gray and possibly needing a hip replacement. In fact, I found that the best way to preserve my love of pastry was to transition to a more independent, flexible career at the pinnacle of my restaurant experience—instead of when I was too tired to give 110% every day.

Benefits of a Diverse Career- Jenny McCoy - California Almonds

Moonlighting as a chef for the California Almond Experience

To prepare for this “exit strategy,” I began to say yes to every food-related project that came my way—whether it was a paid gig or a volunteer opportunity. My plan was to network with other successful chefs to find connections to the world of cookbook publishing. But these connections took me beyond that field. Some of the most exciting opportunities I found were in the New York City public school system, teaching cafeteria workers to cook meals from scratch for Wellness in the Schools, an organization dedicated to the healthy diets of children.

This volunteer work gave me a fresh perspective and a chance to step back and reconsider my day-to-day responsibilities. At the time, I was overseeing the pastry departments for several restaurant kitchens. In doing so, I wasn’t spending much time actually baking anymore, directing most of my attention to administrative work, developing new menu items and spending a tremendous amount of time teaching other pastry cooks how to execute my recipes and vision.

Since I was already teaching for a living, I figured that I might as well do it at a culinary school. I contacted ICE to inquire about instructor opportunities and began teaching recreational classes. I immediately realized how fun and rewarding it was to share my hard won knowledge with home cooks. So a few years later, I eagerly added on the responsibility of teaching aspiring chefs as a faculty member in ICE’s professional Pastry & Baking Arts program. In class, I try to inspire my students to consider their own talents as a teacher, calling on them to lead a demonstration for a specific technique. At first, they approach this responsibility warily, but I always explain, “When one knows how to do something well, that’s a gift or talent; but when one can teach someone else how to do the same task, that’s expertise.”

484_02_White_and_Yellow_Cake_22

Filming a pastry demonstration for an online class.

So it continued: the more opportunities I found outside restaurant kitchens, the more I was interested in exploring them even further. In addition to writing a cookbook and teaching at ICE, I wanted to learn more about the retail market. Rolling up my sleeves, I did my research, found some investors, and through trial and error, created and launched a line of baking mixes for the general public (which was no easy feat!) called Cisse Trading Co. Based on the success of that project, I received a call from Crate and Barrel, who wanted me to create an exclusive line of baking mixes—based on my first cookbook, Desserts for Every Season—for their stores. (During that process, I met numerous young entrepreneurs who were developing food products; many of whom had little to no professional culinary experience. What they did have was a good idea and a lot of gumption. For entrepreneurial ICE graduates interested in opportunities outside restaurant kitchens, food product development could definitely be a viable career path.)

Benefits of a Diverse Career - Baking Mixes Crate and Barrel - Jenny McCoy

One of my custom baking mixes for Crate & Barrel.

After experiences running restaurant kitchens, publishing a cookbook, teaching and developing product, what was left? Becoming the co-chair for CAPS, the Center for Advanced Pastry Studies at ICE. This role required me to network with masters of various pastry techniques and invite them to teach professional development classes for established pastry chefs. The experience has been immensely satisfying, providing both a chance to meet incredible chefs and to continue my own education in the art and science of pastry. As any seasoned chef will tell you, this kind of continuing education is absolutely necessary to maintaining a vibrant career. Trends and techniques are always evolving, so it’s important to stay on top of industry innovations and to learn from chefs that are shaping the future of their field.

Of course, surrounding myself with the industry’s leading pastry chefs further inspired my desire to pursue even more personal projects. The last frontier—at least for now—was television. When the Food Network expressed interest in my becoming a judge for their new series, Rewrapped, I realized what an advantage my diverse professional experiences had become. Previous to judging, I had only appeared on a few television segments or filmed demonstrations for online classes. But Rewrapped required me to tap into all the different “hats” I had worn in my career to date. Moreover, the experience of judging others certainly helped me refine my own perspective and opinions about what I’m looking for in the creation of a dessert.

Benefits of a Diverse Career - Rewrapped - Food Network

Conferring with my fellow judges on Rewrapped.

Ultimately, my point is that there are a million and one ways food professionals can apply their skills and passion. If at some point you become inspired by some other sector of the industry, it’s perfectly fine to switch gears—it will only make you a better and more well-rounded chef. (Or, if you’re like me and want to simultaneously dip a spoon in every pot, that’s okay too.) Cooking and baking are like learning a new language—if you completely immerse yourself in the food industry and commit to living the experience in full, you will always find satisfying work and sustainable success. Here are four ways to get started:

  • Attend industry networking events to meet peers and potential employers.
  • Enroll in professional development courses to boost strategic skills—from culinary techniques to writing or social media
  • Volunteer with organizations in a different part of the industry to show your enthusiasm and initiative
  • Read industry magazines, newspaper articles, books and blogs to stay on top of current trends and best practices

If you are a current ICE student, a recent graduate or even a chef with years of experience, don’t be afraid to pursue opportunities in food media, product development, and more. Your network will expand, your opportunities will multiply and your love of food will continue to grow and grow.

Click here for more career tips from the industry experts at ICE.

 

By Kiri Tannenbaum

 

As author Christopher Hitchens once said, “Everybody has a book inside them.” When it comes to those in the culinary world, that book needs to come out, and when it does it’s usually in the form of a cookbook. While it may seem like an impossibility, with a little organization, networking, and lots of thought—you too can publish a cookbook. Just like the many ICE instructors and alums who have done before you.

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ICE Chef-Instructor Peter Berley actually didn’t know he had a book in him until Judith Regan, famed editor and publisher, told him so. At the time he was the executive chef at Angelica Kitchen, a vegetarian restaurant that had received much praise. Regan, who was a fan of the eatery, could see an audience existed and suggested he write her a letter outlining the cookbook he would pen. “I didn’t know what I was really doing,” admits Berley who also runs The North Fork Kitchen and Garden, a culinary studio in South Jamesport where he teaches workshops. After spending a year and half on The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, the book came out in 2000 to rave reviews, winning awards from both the James Beard Foundation and IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals). “It was freaky,” remembers Berley. “I did a book I wasn’t looking to do, and from there I was able to negotiate book ideas.” What followed was Fresh Food Fast  (Harper Collins 2004) and The Flexitarian Table: Inspired, Flexible Meals for Vegetarians, Meat Lovers and Everyone In Between (Houghton Mifflin 2007), the former just came out in paperback and the latter due out in paperback in March, 2014. “I’m happy that my book is still out there,” says Berley. “It’s so easy for books to go out of print, but The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen is paying royalties. It has a life, it has legs.”

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In rare cases, like Berley’s, the agent comes to you, but more than likely, you will have to find them. Having a book agent is essential, but how do you find one? For Appetite for China blogger, Chef-Instructor, and ICE graduate, Diana Kuan, all it took was some research and diligence. After taking a course in non-fiction book proposals, Kuan combed Publisher’s Weekly, an industry site, to find agents who previously published books in the cookbook genre. Kuan made a list and sent about 7-8 query letters to agents. She caught the eye of Janis Donnaud; coincidentally Berley’s current literary agent who he says is “the best in the business.” Kuan spent about three months on the proposal and Donnaud sent it out to roughly 10-12 publishing houses. The Chinese Takeout Cookbook was published in 2012 by Ballantine Books, a division of Random House.

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Are there other ways to get your recipes to the people? Absolutely. In this digital age, more and more readers are downloading e-books, making it easier for authors to self-publish. ICE graduate and culinary instructor Jennifer Iserloh is a prime example of the rewards of self-publishing. “When I came to ICE I was a rosy-cheeked innocent person, thinking I would work in, or own, a bakery one day,” says Iserloh. “It was my dream to write a cookbook.” Iserloh has now written 15 cookbooks to date. Her latest 50 Shades of Kale, she and her husband self-published. “My husband is an e-book publisher and we just thought we’d see what happens.” The book drew roughly 90,000 downloads on Amazon before Iserloh was wooed by Harper Collins to bring the book to the publishing house. Iserloh insisted the cookbook include full-color photos and Harper Collins obliged and offered a small advance. Luckily for Iserloh, her husband had experience in the self-publishing arena. Her advice for authors looking to publish on their own, have high quality images and a unique topic.

 

Kuan also believes an original idea is key to cookbook success. “I think you need to have a really unique idea that’s not been done,” advises Kuan. “Or find a way to make an idea better.” She adds that having an expertise in something niche, like popsicles or mac ‘n cheese, will help focus your idea and make you stand out from the crowd.  How do you figure out the exact topic? Berley suggests asking yourself a few key questions: “What is the point? Why write it? What’s the purpose?” He explains, “It can’t just be about why you love food. It has to be specific.” Berley believes that is the one of the main reasons his books have brought success—they are distinct.

 

If you don’t necessarily have your own niche or consider yourself to be more of a collaborator than a solo operator, consider partnering with another chef, restaurateur or food industry professional. ICE grad Adeena Sussman found her place in co-authoring. “Chefs are not always great writers,” explains Sussman. “If you can develop a relationship with a chef while working on an article, then you can collaborate with them, frame pitches for them and help them pitch to the media.” Given their busy schedules, Sussman explains, chefs welcome collaborators to help them execute their cookbooks.

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Co-authoring is fairly common and often husband and wives in the industry become natural collaborators. Such is the case with ICE’s James Briscione and his wife, food writer, blogger and ICE instructor, Brooke Parkhurst. They published Just Married and Cooking: 200 Recipes for Living, Eating, and Entertaining Together (Scribner 2011), which they have spun off into a lifestyle brand. ICE alum Allison Vines-Rushing and husband Slade Rushing, co-authored a cookbook, Southern Comfort: A New Take on the Recipes We Grew Up With (Ten Speed Press 2012), after years collaborating in the kitchen and partnering on their fine dining, New Orleans-based restaurant, MiLa. While it has worked for these culinary couples, you don’t have to be married to your collaborator to make a great duo. Sussman and Founder and Director of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Lee Schrager, bonded when Sussman was an assistant food stylist on The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook, which commemorated the festival’s 10th anniversary. Currently they are collaborating on cookbook that showcases their shared love of fried chicken.

 

Words of advice every author can agree upon: Be prepared for rejection. “You have to be tenacious,” Iserloh emphasizes explaining she experienced roughly five years of rejection from publishers. She suggests finding a mentor who can provide guidance along the way and to never underestimate the power of networking. However, just like Berley, she has experienced serendipitous moments. “Some of it is magical,” she says, “Sometimes people just stumble upon you.”

 

Article originally published in the ICE Fall 2013 Main Course.

As the pastry arts become more popular and the restaurant world pays more attention to the end of the meal, ICE’s own Chef Nick Malgieri is staying ahead of the curve. The creator of ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program, he has just released a new book, Bake!: Essential Techniques for Perfect Baking that book seizes on this current demand for all things pastry and demystifies baking for anyone hoping to create their own pastry masterpiece.

A true luminary, Chef Nick was the executive pastry chef at Windows on the World and his books include, The Modern Baker, Chocolate, How to Bake, A Baker’s Tour, Perfect Cakes, and Cookies Unlimited. Along the way, he has won IACP cookbook awards, James Beard awards and was twice named one of the Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America by Pastry Art & Design.

Chef Nick’s extensive experience in Europe and America is the basis of ICE’s comprehensive curriculum. Though pastry is exploding now, he has been working, teaching and writing cookbooks for more than 30 years. He said, “When I had a wholesale pastry business in the early ‘80s it was easy to sell to restaurants because nobody had a pastry chef. Pretty soon, fast food joints are going to have pastry chefs.” In his words, as the pastry arts have grown, “People are expecting beautiful desserts. You can find astounding things at commonplace restaurants.”

Chef Nick’s Bake! helps recreate some of these types of amazing treats. The book, “takes the intimidation and imagined difficulty out of baking.” Formatted into 20 short chapters, each chapter of the book opens with an illustrated guide to a technique or exemplary recipe that forms the basis of the rest of the recipes in the chapter. More…