By Brooke Bordelon — Student, Culinary Arts ’17

Chefs are no strangers to the world of charity. In addition to filling hungry patrons’ bellies, superstar chefs use their clout to make the world a better place. Philanthropic organizations that help different groups — from struggling farmers and low-income families to at-risk youth — have flourished, largely due to the support of culinary heavyweights like Eric Ripert, José Andrés and Christina Tosi.

With her organization Emma’s Torch, ICE student Kerry Brodie (Culinary Arts, ’17) hopes to join the ranks of these culinary visionaries in the fight for a better tomorrow. Inspired by the words of the famous American poet and refugee advocate Emma Lazarus, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” Kerry’s organization aims to empower refugees in the United States by training them in the culinary arts to gain employment in the culinary industry.

ICE student and Emma's Torch founder Kerry Brodie

ICE student and Emma’s Torch founder Kerry Brodie

I recently chatted with Kerry to discuss her experiences as a culinary student at ICE and as the CEO of Emma’s Torch.

How did you first come up with the vision for Emma’s Torch?

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea that food and cooking are things that make us human. I’m the child of immigrants and most people I know are descendants of immigrants or of refugees. I’ve always wanted to do something that would engage immigrants and refugees in the food world to use this universal experience of cooking, eating and sharing meals to create social change.

How have the skills you’ve learned and connections you’ve made at ICE helped you launch Emma’s Torch?

ICE has been invaluable for connecting me with people in the food world and showing me what it means to be a culinary educator. I’ve learned so much from observing our teachers and talking to people in various departments at ICE about what’s important when it comes to training. The instructors have been very supportive in connecting me with chefs and showing me how to set up a kitchen. They’ve been so generous with their time — going above and beyond to show me that they value my vision and that they want to see it come to fruition.

Has any particular chef’s career been an inspiration to you?

On one hand, renowned chefs like José Andrés are inspirational. There are also so many chefs who we don’t hear as much about who quietly, in their own businesses and hiring practices, make differences in people’s lives. One of those chefs, Mary Cleaver, is on our advisory board. She was one of the first restaurant owners to say that we have to do good for the world through our businesses. What inspires me most though are the people you never hear about — the dishwashers, the prep cooks — who work tirelessly because they want to make a better life for themselves and their families, and believe that working hard to make beautiful experiences for people in restaurants is part of that American dream. 

How do you balance school with your work for Emma’s Torch? 

One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Seuss is, “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” No matter how overwhelmed I feel sometimes with school and trying to get my business off the ground, I am so in love with the opportunities that both endeavors have given me. As much as I want to catch up on sleep on the weekends, it’s hard because I just want to keep working. Even at my most stressed out moments, I consider myself lucky to be doing what I love.

What has the response been like from students at ICE? 

The response has been powerful and positive. So many of the students in my classes are willing to dedicate what very little free time they have to volunteering with Emma’s Torch. The outpouring of support — both moral support when I’m complaining in the locker room and students volunteering at events — has been humbling.

How do you think your experience at ICE has differed from other students?

I think everybody at ICE has a story. There’s got to be something that drove them to come to ICE and something that they’re aiming for in the long term. What I’m trying to get out of my education is different from someone who wants to work in a restaurant. Another thing that has set my experience apart is that I’ve been focused on how we are being taught, not just on what we are being taught. I’m going to do some teaching and recruit other people to teach culinary classes for Emma’s Torch, so I need to learn the building blocks of a well-rounded culinary curriculum.

How can people get involved with Emma’s Torch?

Very easily! They can email me at Kerry@emmastorch.org, or check out our website, emmastorch.org. We’re always looking for new volunteers and partners. We’re small but we’re flexible and eager to involve more people in our community.

Emma’s Torch will be throwing their launch party on December 18 at Brooklyn FoodWorks from 6-8 p.m. Those in attendance can meet the students and taste appetizers and desserts prepared by the first class of Emma’s Torch. All proceeds from the event will support refugee empowerment programs. To get tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/emmas-torch-launch-party-tickets-29203974875.

Ready to launch your culinary arts career? Click here for information on our career programs. 


By Caitlin Raux

In 2012, just after ICE Alum Jason Alicea (Culinary Management ’15) landed his dream job as executive chef at a busy restaurant in West Patterson, NJ, a car accident rendered him out of commission for months. Looking back, it was a blessing in disguise, because it was during this immobile period that he came up with the idea to start his own company, That’s Good Food, the New York-based artisanal empanada company with a steadily growing following. Jason combined his family’s tradition of making empanadas from scratch (“pockets of love,” as he calls them) with culinary management training from ICE and turned it into a profitable, dynamic business. With savory fillings like confit duck and crab guisado and sweet fillings like banana bread pudding and arroz con leche, it’s no wonder his empanadas are a hit.

jason_alicea

Between regular pop-up events and farmers’ market appearances, Jason took a break to chat with us for an ICE blog interview.

What year did you graduate from ICE?

I began the Culinary Management program in September 2014, and I graduated in July 2015. My class was the first to graduate at the Brookfield Place location. I won the “Most Likely to Succeed Award” at graduation. It was the first time I had ever won an award in school — it was pretty overwhelming for me.

When you began at ICE, did you already have the idea for That’s Good Food?

Yes — it all began when I was working as executive chef at a restaurant in West Patterson, NJ. After about four months there, my dream job, I got into a car accident and needed knee surgery. While I was out, I decided to start my own catering company and incorporated without a business plan. I let my friends and family know that I could cook for their events. Fast-forward a year later: I started doing a lot of craft services and pop-up events, selling empanadas. Then I realized I would benefit from a formal business education, so in 2014, I enrolled at ICE.

Through the course of the program, we were developing our business concepts. I created an empanada concept for a brick and mortar space, and it was well received by my professors and classmates. After graduation, with a hot business plan in my pocket, I started looking for locations and pitching to investors. I’m still looking for a space, but the pop-up business is going strong. In December of last year, I got to be part of a pop-up bake sale in the holiday market in Union Square, and I’ll be doing a demo at the greenmarket on November 23, the day before Thanksgiving. I’d love to launch a retail line for empanadas one day.

empanadas

If you had a business running before ICE, what pushed you to go to culinary school to study culinary management?

I didn’t have a business plan or any startup funds in place. After going at it for a year and a half and living gig to gig, I decided it would be a good idea to get a business education, along with a better grasp of food culture.

What are the things you learned at ICE that were most useful for running your own business?

At ICE, I became more financially savvy, and that has had the largest impact on my development as a business owner. Now I focus more on the funds I need to operate a business successfully. Also, one of my professors worked for Union Square Hospitality Group, so we got a lot of behind-the-scenes tours at their restaurants. That was eye-opening — to see how the systems work in both front of house and back of house. Finally, the program forced me to focus on a concept and find my niche in the culinary world and in New York City. Before coming to ICE, I just cooked good food, but I had no real specialty. By the time I graduated, I realized that I had a unique product and a big market that I could tap into. So I fine-tuned my culinary voice.

jason_alicea_1

Why empanadas? Is that a family recipe or tradition?

Yes. In Puerto Rican culture they’re very big. I’m fourth generation, but we’re still in tune with the culture. Growing up, we used to travel back to PR every year. My grandmother taught my mom how to make the dough, and my mom taught me how to make it. I would always help out when she made them. Once I got more comfortable in the kitchen, and my mom allowed me to cook a bit, I started coming up with my own ideas for fillings. When I went to PR in 2012, I went to a small town called Piñones — basically a road with a bunch of shacks. There’s the beach on one side and a bunch of little food stands with little old ladies cooking inside. In one shack, El Boriqua, they make empanadas from scratch — when you order empanadas, they roll the dough out, fill them and fry them right there. I was inspired to bring that idea back to New York.

How are Puerto Rican empanadas unique as compared to Argentine or other empanadas?
I would say ours are flakier because we use more butter in the dough. I find a lot of the South American empanadas have firmer dough. Mine are unique because of the quality of the ingredients I use. Also, I don’t think a lot of people put the right amount of love in their food. I take the time when I’m cooking a product high in fat to make them as healthy as possible, by doing things like using less oil in the frying.

cookie empanadas

Chocolate Chip Cookie Empanadas

What’s the craziest empanada you’ve ever made?

I think the chocolate chip cookie one is unique. I put raw cookie dough inside the empanada dough, and it comes out perfectly, topped with powdered sugar. I did a truffle Cubano, too. Lots of people do Cubanos, which are made with roasted pork, cheese, ham and pickles. My roast pork is something I take a lot of pride in. I get locally sourced cheese, smoked ham and I use Urbani truffles and mustard. Then I add pickled onions — that combination is probably my favorite. The one that got me going with empanadas and the one that I started making for the first time with my mom is the chopped cheese, and everyone is raving about chopped cheese now.

Chopped cheese?

Yes, it’s sort of a New York take on a Philly cheese steak sandwich. You can get them in local delis in the more “urban” neighborhoods. I use ground turkey and local cheese. It’s like a Sloppy Joe cheeseburger, for lack of better description. It’s a deconstructed, cheesy turkey cheeseburger.

For anyone considering culinary school to study culinary management, what advice can you offer?

Dive right in. I wish I would have started seven years earlier because then I would have gotten the dual diploma in culinary arts as well. Get involved with as many events as you can, put yourself out there and network, network, network. A lot of the opportunities I’m getting now come from contacts I made by networking in culinary school. If you’re looking to start your own business, try to find something unique, not just “I want to cook all different types of food.” Find something you’re really good at and focus on developing that product.

Ready to launch your food business? Click here to learn more about our Restaurant & Culinary Management program.

By Caitlin Gunther

For the ICE blog “Life as a Student” series, we hand the mic to students from our career programs and give them the chance to share what it’s really like to be a student at ICE. Our newest student blogger, Brooke Bordelon, a California transplant with Louisiana roots, is a student in ICE’s Culinary Arts program with her sights set on the food media realm. Given her lifelong “obsession” with cooking and the skills she’s learning at ICE, we won’t be surprised if we see her in the test kitchen or food publication of her choice. In this interview, we introduce our readers to Brooke.

Brooke Bordelon culinary student

What’s your earliest food memory?

Funnily enough, my earliest food memory doesn’t even involve real food, but that fake, plastic food that kids used to play with back in the 90s. (I don’t know if kids these days still do — they probably have an app for that now.) I remember being obsessed with “cooking” in my miniature kitchen, complete with a pint-sized stove and microwave. Three-year-old me would putter around in that kitchen for hours, talking to myself while sticking all these different fake foods together with Velcro before making my family sit down to “taste” it all. Apparently it was one of the only toys I liked, go figure.

Growing up, was food a big part of your family life?

Both of my parents come from big families in Louisiana, which means that, growing up, I was more-or-less genetically predisposed to love everything to do with food. Before my family moved to California, I had never realized that everybody didn’t regularly have crab boils in their backyards or celebrate Christmas with a massive Cajun feast for 50-plus hungry family members. After moving out west, I began to develop an appreciation for my Southern heritage as I realized how exceptionally unique the food, culture and people of southern Louisiana are. I can definitely say that this part of my background has had a profound effect on how I view food and cooking.

Culinary Student Brooke Bordelon

Why did you choose to go to ICE?

When I was trying to decide which culinary school to attend after college, my train of thought was, “If I am going to go to culinary school, why wouldn’t I go to one in the most exciting food capital of the world?” After attending ICE’s open house, it was clear that the connections and opportunities this school would provide me with would prove invaluable in my quest to build a lasting career in food media. Then, the decision was simple. Within three months, I had schlepped all of my stuff from Dallas (where I went to college) to New York, successfully navigated the subway to buy all of my school supplies and settled into my apartment with just a week to spare before my first day of class.

Describe a day in the life for you as a student at ICE.

My class meets at 8:00 AM every morning, so typically I try to be up by 5:45 AM (“try” being the operative word) so that I have a little time to caffeinate myself and review the day’s recipes before I catch the subway to school. I love that no two days of class are ever the same; one day we may learn how to properly roast a chicken, while the next we delve into how to make perfectly crispy broccoli tempura. After class, I usually hang out in the student lounge with friends while keeping a look-out for treats from the pastry classes to scarf down. Around 1:00 PM, I start making the trek back to my apartment in Murray Hill to catch up on any freelance articles I’m writing at the time and work on homework for the next day’s class.

Sky’s the limit. What’s your dream job after you graduate ICE?

For as long as I can remember, I have always been passionate about writing and cooking. In an ideal world, I would combine the Journalism degree I received from Southern Methodist University with the culinary degree I’ll receive from ICE in order to mold a career for myself in food media. Whether that means writing articles for a food magazine, working in a test kitchen or working on cookbooks, I believe that life is too short to compromise one passion for another when it comes to following your dreams.

Culinary Student Brooke Bordelon

Are there any skills you’re looking forward to acquiring?

Our class just started module three last week, which is particularly exciting because we’re incorporating all of the technical skills we learned in modules one and two — like sautéing, roasting, braising, etc. — into cooking dishes from different regions around the world. Right now we’re focusing on France, but I’m especially eager to get to Asia because the techniques and ingredients used in that part of the world are so different from anything we’ve done thus far. It’ll definitely be a fun challenge and a nice change of pace.

What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned in class so far?

Above all else, the most useful thing I’ve learned in class so far is the importance of keeping yourself organized in the kitchen. If you don’t have your mise en place and tools ready to go, or if your work station is constantly cluttered, you’re bound to make a mistake somewhere down the line. By nature, I’m not the most analytical person, so even though I had to learn this skill the hard way, it has since helped me tremendously. Staying organized keeps my stress levels in the kitchen manageable, allowing me to create a better finished product in the end. (Bonus: I don’t tick off teammates with a dirty workstation anymore.)

What advice would you offer anyone considering culinary school?

The best advice I could offer to anyone considering culinary school is to do your homework to really understand the culinary industry and where you would fit within it. Having an idea of how a degree in the culinary arts or culinary management will help you to shape a future career will be extremely useful in figuring out whether or not culinary school is the right path for you. It may sound a little blunt, but a passion for cooking will only get you so far if you don’t have a plan for how to channel that passion into a livelihood. That being said, you may get to school, do a complete 180°, and decide to follow an altogether different career path from what you thought you wanted. The important thing to remember, though, is to always think about how the skills you’re acquiring in school are helping you to mold your future career. After all, that’s what school is all about.

Ready to launch your culinary career? Click here to learn about ICE’s career programs.


By ICE Staff

Make sure your champagne (or seasonal cider) is on ice because we’ve got some celebrating to do: The Institute of Culinary Education has been named “The Best Culinary School in America” by The Daily Meal, a leading food and lifestyle website — and was awarded the same title by The Best Schools and EDinformatics. Add to this being named as one of America’s top culinary schools by FSR Magazine, and it goes without saying, it’s been an exciting year for the ICE community.

ICE is the Best

We asked Rachael Pack, cook editor of The Daily Meal, how ICE was chosen as the best culinary school in America. Having gone to culinary school herself, Rachael had been through the process of exhaustively researching culinary schools and was aware of the factors that prospective students weigh. As she explained, “I used the factors that were important to me as a student coming out of college: the reputation of the school, location, quality of facilities, length of study…and finally, cost.”

Though the competition was fierce, ICE was ultimately chosen for the top ranking. “The top three schools were very close; they are also schools that have been at the top for a long time. For the final tweaks in the list, I fell back on my industry experience and perception of the schools now that I have passed that phase in my life.” Rachael continued, “In the past years I have, of course, made many friends in the industry with different educational backgrounds, so the conversations and interaction with real grads, recent and otherwise, also played a huge role.”

These latest recognitions haven’t been without dedicated work and innovative thinking. The ICE team has grown to include industry-leading chefs such as Michael Laiskonis and David Waltuck. Our new student housing program has opened the door for aspiring culinary and hospitality professionals from around the country to pursue their passions in New York City. ICE’s new Brookfield Place location boasts over 74,000 square feet of state-of-the-art facilities, including an indoor hydroponic herb garden and the nation’s first education-focused bean-to-bar Chocolate Lab. ICE is honored to receive all of its recent accolades. Still, at end of the day, ICE is most concerned with continuing its mission to help you find your culinary voice.

Watch the video of a day in the life of a culinary student at ICE

Interested in ICE’s career programs? Click here to learn more.


By Caitlin Gunther

Julie Resnick (Culinary Arts) didn’t start the feedfeed with the goal of creating a behemoth crowdsourced food Instagram account with a following of over one million enthusiastic foodies. Her initial motive was simply to swap recipe ideas and to find inspiration for ways to use her weekly allotment of CSA (community supported agriculture) goods. Something like, How about a new way to prepare those sweet potatoes? But her education from ICE — which helped give her the ability to recognize truly good food and innovative preparations of it — along with her background in digital marketing, led to the creation of a community that self-selected foodies and talented photographers were clamoring to join. Luckily, the barrier to entry was easy — simply tag #feedfeed in your Instagram photos. Feedfeed seemed to fill a void in the food media realm. It was a call to action for home cooks and food photographers to share gorgeous images of meals made with vibrant, seasonal ingredients.

We were thrilled that Julie took the time to chat with us for the ICE blog, to reveal what it’s like running a massively popular Instagram account and website, and to disclose her “worst nightmare” of a meal (a bowl of cereal).

Julie with husband and co-founder Dan (credit: Lindsay Morris)

Julie with husband and co-founder Dan (credit: Lindsay Morris)

When did you decide to study at ICE?

It was right after September 11. I was trying to decide if I wanted to make a career change. That sparked my interest in ICE and going to the weekend program. It was for nine months on the weekends, so I was working full time and going to school on the weekends.

That seems like a big commitment. You have to really want it.

It was competitive because most people were professionals who were in that same state of trying to decide or had made a decision to no longer be an accountant or a lawyer or dentist. Also, everyone was a little older than the typical student age because they had already had a bit of a career.

What was your weekday job?

I worked at a digital agency, which I had founded. My background was in digital marketing. After college, I started out at a big agency that was one of the first to build websites, back when e-commerce websites were just starting up. That’s what ultimately led me to create feedfeed. I was one of the only people in my culinary school class who didn’t end up making the career change. I was super excited to finish the program and graduate with my classmates, but by the end, my career in digital had taken off, and the agency where I was working was doing exciting things.

I continued cooking at home. I went on to get married, had kids and then we moved out of the city to Amagansett. I started changing the way that I cook and the way that we eat when we became part of the local farms and CSAs where you get a weekly share from a farm. So I basically stopped going to the grocery store. Each week you get a bag with onions, carrots, sweet potatoes, chicken and having to work with just those ingredients is what inspired me to start feedfeed. I was using the same ingredients week after week, and with three kids you want to make sure everyone is excited about dinner and not just like, Mom, I don’t want to eat sweet potatoes again. That was what ultimately led me to connect with other people on social media who cook the way I cook and who were using local and seasonal ingredients in their day-to-day cooking. It helped me get ideas for ways to cook instead of leaning on major food publications. Because really, how deep are they going to go with ideas of what you can do with sweet potatoes. I came back to food through a need I had and a connection with other people through social media.

I came back to food through a need I had and a connection with other people through social media.

How did the feedfeed start? With the Instagram account or the website?

It started on Instagram as a call to action. Initially, I began posting pictures of my own food and then asked people to share what they were making by also tagging their food with #feedfeed. That started to develop that community of people who were cooking the way I was. So I was connecting with people from all over the world. Maybe I would do a search for sweet potatoes and find some really cool sweet potato dishes, and I would follow those people and engage with them and comment on their posts. Then I would say, Hey, by the way, don’t forget to add #feedfeed to what you’re cooking and that way we can all share with each other. It was my need that was driving it. It took off from there. That was back when no one else was tagging. Now I feel like everyone is tagging and asking people to tag whatever to be featured. As more people started sharing with the hashtag, it became obvious that the content was amazing, and I didn’t want it to disappear in feeds and get forgotten. If someone makes something really amazing with sweet potatoes, why shouldn’t we catalog that and organize it on our website? Once we had a lot of content on the hashtag, we decided to start the website — to catalog all of the great recipes by ingredient or by topic.

The feedfeed seems to have been one of the first to utilize hashtagging. Then you have others like Infatuation, but that’s a different audience.

The hashtag #eeeeeats existed as a hashtag and was out there before we were, but because we didn’t live in the city, I wasn’t aware of them when we started feedfeed. Later we realized they were doing the same thing but on the restaurant side.

With all the different editors and types of feeds — from vegan to cold soups to French food to sandwiches — how do you manage to control the aesthetic and the content?

First, we reach out to people or they reach out to us because they have a passion or expertise, like brownies or chocolate or Spanish food. We use those people to help us find really good posts. Then once everyone sends in their selections, we have an internal team vetting the content and making sure it’s meeting our standards. Molly [Adams], who works for me, also went to ICE (she graduated from the Culinary Arts program in 2009). I found her by reaching out to ICE Career Services and asked them to post a job. At the time she was working as a private chef and reached out to me. It’s hard to find people who really get food. They cook but not at the level of someone who attended culinary school. So that was really important to me from the beginning — to find someone else who could look at a recipe or a picture and say, That’s really good and interesting and here’s why. Molly looks at everything and we have a couple of other people on our internal team who help us.

Right, because there are a lot of things that are popular, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good. Like if I see another picture of a rainbow bagel…

That’s a good example — if we were to post a rainbow bagel, we would find one that we think is interesting or a story behind it. Like the person used freeze-dried blueberries and beets to dye the dough. That’s the other thing about us as a publication: When we look for something to post on our website or Instagram, we think, What is it that makes this unique? Would you have ever thought to make this? A recent dinner post was a good example of that: BBQ pulled spaghetti squash sliders. I’m not sure that other major publications would invest in having a writer and recipe developer going through the process of testing out a vegan spaghetti squash slider. But we have amazing vegan cooks in our community who are pushing the boundaries. We see that post as an opportunity to tell people that they can do more with spaghetti squash than treating it as an alternative to pasta.

I guess you could say you have more freedom because you don’t have bottom lines to think of as much as a big publication under a larger media company.

We’re looking at content and creativity. Obviously the visual, too: The photos have to be at a certain level to post it. Often we’ll see something we love but the picture isn’t at the level we need it to be. We’ll remake it and develop a recipe for something we saw on our feed.

Did you have a social media strategy or has it been an organic process?

Definitely organic. My career has been in helping brands to translate their real-world brand into the digital space, and as digital developed into social, I’ve figured out social media strategies for brands. I think like most startups, we look at what’s working and do more of that, and look at what’s not working and think of ways to make it work better. Our main focus from the beginning has been making connections and building a community of people who really enjoy each other’s food content and like to share.

Growing up, was food a big part of your family life?

Yes. I grew up in Texas and my mom made dinner every night. I always loved to eat, I love good food. When people ask, what do you hate, there’s really nothing I can think of. I helped my mom in the kitchen quite a bit. Then when I went to college, I couldn’t eat the food in the dorm, and I wasn’t one of those people who would say, Oh I’ll just have a bowl of cereal for dinner. That’s my worst nightmare. If our kids are in trouble — all of our kids love to eat — we’ll say to them, If you don’t listen, you’re going to get cereal for dinner, and they’re like, Noooo! That’s how I was, too. I need something savory and delicious. So in college, I started cooking as a necessity.

How did ICE prepare you for your current role as founder of feedfeed or other aspects of your life?

It helped me with the ability to throw together a really nice meal quickly. Having the basis of the techniques, plus knowing the flavor profiles and pulling them together. Another thing: I’ve always had an idea for a restaurant — especially living out here, because we don’t have a lot of options. When we go to the city, I always say Let’s have Indian, or let’s have some Korean food or Thai, because we don’t have those types of restaurants out here. At home, one night I’ll make something more Middle Eastern, and then the next night I’ll make something more Thai-inspired. I always have coconut milk, ginger and a good harissa on hand. One thing you learn in culinary school is that all the cuisines are using the same ingredients for the most part, but the end results are so different. That’s what I like to do in my own home cooking and I would love to do the same in my own restaurant: Use the same ingredients the whole week but every night try a different cuisine. Show people that you can get by with pretty much the same ingredients and completely change the dishes based on the preparation.

For our readers that are trying to build their brands via social media, what advice can you offer?

First, I would say that it’s important to be active on social. Don’t just spend time composing a beautiful, well-lit shot, posting it and then logging out of Instagram or whatever social media platform you’re using. Spend the time looking at what people you follow are posting, like the content and comment on the content. I think there’s also this perception that you shouldn’t be following too many people — I disagree with that. If there are people out there who are putting out nice content that you’re interested in, follow them, engage with them and get to know the people behind these accounts. Read what these people are writing, don’t just look at the pictures. It’s about relationship building.

Interested in studying culinary arts at ICE? Click here for information on our career programs.


By Sarah Chaminade — Pastry Chef Instructor

Sometimes it’s okay to reinvent the classics, as long as it tastes as good or better than the original. This brittle recipe is just as delicious as your classic brittle, but with a tasty, seasonal addition: pumpkin seeds. Before I share the recipe, here’s an overview of this sweet, crunchy treat.

Where does brittle come from?

Brittle is a Southern treat that is enjoyed mostly around the holiday season. Though it’s not exactly clear when the first brittle was created, one legend says that a Southern woman created peanut brittle by mistake around 1890. (Which is oftentimes how the most delicious things are created — by happy accidents!) Apparently she was making taffy when she added baking soda instead of cream of tartar.

There’s also a Southern folk story that attributes the creation of peanut brittle to a lumberjack named Tony Beaver. The story goes that he created peanut brittle while stopping a flood using peanuts and molasses — a fun, but slightly less believable version of history.

How is brittle made?

Peanut brittle made with corn syrup and nuts began appearing in cookbooks in the 19th century. In 1903, botanist George Washington Carver created a list of more than 300 uses for peanuts, including peanut brittle. After that, the popularity of the peanut grew in the southern parts of the United States.

The fascinating part about the brittle recipe is the effect of adding baking soda. When the chemical leavening agent reacts with molten hot sugar syrup, the otherwise hard crack candy is given a light and airy texture. The next step, allowing the candy to cool and stretching it into thin sheets, makes the crispy brittle even more delicate to eat.

A seasonal twist

With the arrival of fall, pumpkin seed brittle is a great way to incorporate seasonal ingredients into a sweet, crunchy snack. Originally, I created this recipe as a garnish to a pumpkin cheesecake. Once people got a taste of the toasted seeds and crunchy caramel, we were making and jarring it for orders in no time.

Pumpkin Seed Brittle
(servings: makes about 4 cups)

Ingredients:

½ cup (120 ml) water
½ cup (120 ml) light corn syrup
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1 ½ cup (225 grams) raw pumpkin seeds
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon (14 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

Preparation:

  1. Do ahead: Apply a thin layer of cooking spray to a marble surface. (Alternatively, you can use a non-stick baking mat.)
  2. In a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the water, corn syrup and sugar to a boil, stirring well to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Place candy thermometer inside pot and cook until sugar syrup reaches soft crack stage (285 degrees Fahrenheit or 140 degrees Celsius).
  4. Stir in pumpkin seeds and continue cooking, stirring often to make sure pumpkin seeds don’t stick to the bottom. Cook until mixtures reaches hard crack (300 degrees Fahrenheit or 149 degrees Celsius).
  5. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda, vanilla and butter — be careful: the mixture will bubble up. Wait for mixture to settle and immediately pour as thin as possible onto oiled marble surface.
  6. Allow mixture to cool slightly and begin stretching sugar from the center to form thin sheets (as shown in video). If you’re worried about handling the cooked sugar mixture, latex gloves can be worn.
  7. Let brittle cool completely and store in sealed jars to keep crispy for up to 2 weeks or as long as it lasts.

Want to learn with Chef Sarah? Click here to explore ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts career program. 

By ICE Staff

According to our students, one of the best parts about studying at ICE is the day-to-day learning and cooking in ICE’s classroom kitchens, which simulate the experience of working in a professional restaurant kitchen. When the time comes to begin their first restaurant gig, our graduates are right at home in their work environments. So what exactly does a “day in the life” look like for ICE culinary students? A new video shows just that: scenes from a culinary arts class led by ICE Chef Instructor James Briscione, from the mise en place to plating to clean-up. Check out the below video for a taste of life at ICE.

Ready to jumpstart your culinary career? Click here for more info on ICE’s culinary career program.

 By ICE Staff

“My mom told me I couldn’t play with my food growing up, but culinary school has taught me otherwise,” said Jessica McCain (Culinary Arts ’16). After following a unique path from college to reality television on MTV’s Real World, the twenty-five year old Jess, who had always dreamed of going to culinary school, woke up one day and thought to herself, “It’s now or never.” She reached out to the Institute of Culinary Education and ten days later she was a student in the Culinary Arts program.

Nowadays, the recent ICE grad and former reality TV star is thinking about a different kind of star. “I owe so much to ICE because I do want to be a Michelin-starred chef and before I didn’t really think it was possible. After coming to ICE, I now know that it’s not too late to achieve my dreams — and that Michelin star can be mine.”

Ready to find your culinary voice? Click here for more information on ICE’s Culinary Arts program.


By Caitlin Gunther

When you speak with Adrienne Cheatham (Culinary Arts ’07), you can hear the tenacity in her voice. As a former sous chef at Le Bernardin and executive chef at Red Rooster, and the subject of a recent NY Times Taste Makers video, Adrienne is mindful of the accomplishments behind her. She’s more concerned, however, with the missions that lie ahead — like leaving her comfort zone (if working 16-hour days seven days a week can be called a “comfort zone”) and branching out on her own. Adrienne balances her time in the kitchen with an activity that calls upon a completely different skill and mindset: dance.

While scoping out locales for a potential forthcoming project, Adrienne took a pause to chat with me for the ICE blog.

ICE Alumnus Adrienne Cheatham

First, congratulations on the Taste Makers piece. What was it like working on that?

They were trying to steer the focus of it to the challenges that a woman faces in the kitchen, and I didn’t support that idea. I didn’t want to be a part of that kind of story. I think that kitchens are the great equalizers — either you can do the job or you can’t. It doesn’t matter if you’re short, tall, your gender, your race, none of that matters in a kitchen. That’s why I was glad they took the focus off of that.

Is it a relevant question anymore: what’s it like to be a woman in a kitchen? Or is that a cliché at this point?

In some ways, it’s cliché because it’s asked so much. At least now people are aware of women in kitchens. And yes, women are still the minority, but you experience the same things that the guys do. Maybe you feel differently about a crass or vulgar joke but that offends some men too. It’s not as much of a gender issue as before when it was novel to see women in the kitchen. Don’t get me wrong — I’ve been the only woman in the kitchen for three to six months at a time. I’ve also been the only black person. But anyone can be the minority. You could be the only blond in the kitchen, but it’s not an issue because everyone’s there to work. It’s a complete meritocracy. You’re judged by whether you did a good job at your station.

When did you realize you wanted to work in restaurants? 

In high school, I told my mom that after graduation I wanted to go to a four-year culinary school and she was so unsupportive. And rightfully so — [having worked in restaurants herself] she had seen a lot of her friends burn out and have nothing to fall back on. She said I could go to a regular four-year school first and then if I still wanted to go to culinary school, I could. She told me, we’re not rich, so if you want to go to culinary school, you’re completely on your own.

So I went to college in Florida. I started majoring in business and finance, and then I switched to journalism and PR during my junior year. Business and finance were cool — those were principles I needed to learn. My mom was pushing me to get a job in finance. She told me to make a lot of money and then cook as a hobby. But I still wanted to go to culinary school, and if I wanted something to fall back on in the same industry, I figured that journalism would be the best option.

Do you do any writing nowadays?

I did the recipe testing and editing of the Avec Eric cookbook with Eric Ripert. Recently, I helped write and test the recipes for The Red Rooster Cookbook by Marcus Samuelsson. I also did the book’s food styling, working with the prop stylist and photographer.

What inspired you to go to culinary school?

It was something I had planned already. I was working for a pastry chef at a resort in Florida, and I thought I wanted to go into pastry. The chef and the sous chef knew I wanted to go to culinary school and they were very supportive. They believed that even if you have been working for a few years, it’s good to back up your credibility with a culinary school education. I figured because I’d worked in pastry for a few years, if I go to culinary school, I’d go to the general program to learn new skills. I thought I’d go back to pastry, but the culinary arts program offered such a different mindset, I ended up liking the freedom and creativity on the savory side.

adrienne_cheatham_alumni_

Is that how you ended up working at Le Bernardin?

I got referred there through a classmate. I’m originally from Chicago and I wanted to do my externship there, so I was holding out for Charlie Trotter’s. I thought, in case it doesn’t work out, I should look for something in New York. One of my classmates was doing her externship at Le Bernardin. She gave me the name of Chef Ripert’s assistant and I stalked her. When I didn’t hear back, I said, “Ok, you and I are about to become best friends.” I showed up at the restaurant to leave another hard copy of my resume. I would email her three times a week and call her four times a week until she finally responded. She owns Ardesia, the wine bar, and the Camlin in Brooklyn now.

Did ICE prepare you to work at Le Bernardin?

I felt comfortable in the kitchen because during all the modules at ICE you’re in a kitchen environment. You learn how to stand out of the way and not be intrusive in someone else’s space when it’s not your kitchen. I had great chef instructors and they had the same temperament and demeanor as the chefs at Le Bernardin.

In the NY Times video, you said, “There’s a point in your career when you have to put yourself out there. I do want to open my own restaurant. I want to develop my own style.” Have you reached a point in your career where you’ve developed your own style?

Yes, I think I have. When I tried to put things on the menu at Le Bernardin, Chef Eric would say, “It’s really good, but the ingredients are a little too humble. We have to elevate the dish a lot more.” So I learned the Le Bernardin style of elevating ingredients, making them more than themselves. Then working for Chef Marcus, a lot of the dishes I put on the menu were too sophisticated because Red Rooster is very casual. So the dishes there were too sophisticated for Red Rooster but too humble for Le Bernardin. Eventually, I started running specials—dishes that I wanted to do, separate from the Red Rooster menu. One day Chef Marcus said to me, “I’m not sure if you’ve had time to focus on your style. I think you’re still in the process of developing your style.” That made me realize that I do have to push myself out there. And I’m not going to do it when someone else says I’m ready. It’s a moment that you decide that you’re ready. There’s always more to learn. You’re always going to be learning from different people, from continuing education classes, magazines, visiting other restaurants. You’re not going to stop learning because you open your own place, but you still have to be confident enough in yourself and what you have to share with people. And you have to want to do it, too. I was perfectly happy working for other people. It’s so safe and comfortable. It’s a guaranteed paycheck and the comfort of knowing what you’re going into every day. But at some point, I had to ask myself: What do I want to convey? What do I want to execute that is my vision every day of the week? Plus, with Chef Marcus, I was working seven days a week, 16 hours a day. If I’m going to kill myself, it’s going to be for me.

What is your culinary voice?

Anybody who works in a kitchen and creates food is a very sense-oriented person. It’s about texture, visuals, flavors, aromas — everything that engages the senses. My voice is a reflection of everything about me: not just what I like to eat, but the kind of person I am. So a dish that I put together is an expression of love, of happiness, of learning. Being from Chicago, having family from Mississippi and a fine dining background, it’s not just those things combined. It’s a reflection of all of my life experiences that have created the person I am, and translating that into the food that I create.

Ready to find your culinary voice? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs.


By Caitlin Gunther

In New York, the bagel capital of the world (nice try, Montreal), it’s only proper that the best culinary school offers an exclusive course in bagel making—which is why I found myself aproned and wrist-deep in flour on a Monday afternoon at the Institute of Culinary Education. With a mission to learn the art of making the city’s favorite breakfast food, I signed up for a course in bagels, pretzels and bialys. The class, a mix of culinary students and recreational bakers like myself, was led by ICE’s dean of bread baking and Balthazar’s founding bread baker, Sim Cass. The London native has been deemed the “prince of darkness” for his role in introducing dark-crusted sourdough to this side of the pond. He has a passion for dough and an encyclopedic knowledge of all things leavened. One class with Chef Sim will quash your fear of homemade bagel making.

bagel course at ICE

(credit: Casey Feehan @caseyfeehan)

While mixing, rolling, boiling and baking, I picked up some nuggets of bagel-making wisdom. Here are my top preparation tips for the next time you’re at home and looking for the perfect vehicle for your cream cheese and lox.

  1. Moisture: Wetter dough means crispier bagels. Contrary to what you’d expect, the higher the water content in your dough, the crispier your bagel. In the end, it’s a matter of preference, so don’t be afraid to tweak to your liking. Though the recipe we used called for 62.4% hydration, we lowered it to 60% in order to make chewier, less crispy bagels (that is, 540 grams of water, rather than 570 grams).
  2. Water temp: The colder the better. Due to the time constraints (four hours to get through bagels, pretzels and bialys) we used lukewarm water to mix our bagel dough. This activates the yeast faster. Ideally though, your water should be cold. If you have a couple hours to let your dough rest and rise, use cold water. And if later in the process, your dough is misbehaving (i.e., you’re having trouble kneading or shaping it) refrigerate it briefly and try again.
  3. Dry active yeast: Let it chill. Those tiny granules of yeast are going to have to do a lot of work; without them, your bagels would be mere bagel chips. Be kind to your yeast and give it a moment to rest once you add it to the water. Resist the urge to vigorously whisk the yeast and let it sit on the water surface and start its yeasty magic for three minutes before moving on to the next step.
  4. Flour: Embrace the gluten. Let’s step back for a moment. You’re eating a bagel. Is it really the time to start cutting back on gluten by using whole-wheat flour? But seriously, your bagel dough is going to be pulled and stretched and rolled and boiled—it needs lots of gluten for elasticity. According to Chef Sim, even so-called “whole-wheat” bagels have just a small percentage of whole-wheat flour. (Side note: when it comes to bread, Chef Sim is a rye purest himself. This class made me reconsider my own proclivities towards the whole wheat.) So unless you have a serious intolerance, just commit to having a bagel with full-gluten flour (we used about 87% high-gluten flour and 13% all-purpose flour).
  5. Mixing: Low and slow’s the way to go. To achieve that smooth, stretchy texture necessary for your bagel shaping, mix your dough using an electric mixer with a hook attachment at low speed. Think: 3 and 3. Three minutes of mixing on the lowest speed then three minutes on the second-to-lowest speed.
  6. The rise: Your kitchen climate is A-okay. According to Chef Sim, there’s no need to fret about the warmth or coolness of your kitchen. Nor do you need a special, warmed proofing box to accelerate the rise of your dough. Unless you leave the dough in your garden in the snow (Chef’s words, not mine), it’s going to rise.
  7. Flavor kick: After the proof. Once your dough has had the chance to “proof” (the baker’s term for the final rise before dough shaping), it’s time to add flavors that will be baked into the bagel, if any: cinnamon-raisin, blueberry, honey, sun-dried tomato, anchovies (weird, but I don’t know, maybe that’s your thing). Just make sure if you’re adding something oily, like sun-dried tomatoes, pat them dry to soak off excess oil—we don’t want that messing with our perfect dough. bagel-shaping
  8. Shaping: Think empanadas. Here’s the breakdown of shaping your bagel. Measure 4 ounces of dough and form it into a flat rectangle (here is where you would fold in your flavorings, if any). Then, fold the dough into an empanada shape, pinching around the edges. With generously floured hands, roll your dough to about 10 ½ inches with thin ends (like a snake). Dab cold water on one end and connect to the other to make a circle. Then roll that part to create a sealed seam.
    bagel-course-ice-boilingbagel-course-ice
  9. Spa treatment: A brief boil, then an egg wash. The boiling before baking step is crucial to get that firm, crisp crust and a chewy interior. Using a spider or spatula, gently place your bagels in simmering water (not a rolling boil) for twenty seconds and remove to a lightly oiled sheet pan. Using a brush, treat your boiled bagels to a luxurious egg white wash to ensure that shiny crust.
  10. Toppings: You rule. The beautiful thing about making your own bagels is the freedom to add whichever toppings you want. I am in LOVE with everything bagels. I am NOT in love, however, with caraway seeds, and I wasted countless hours of my childhood flicking every last caraway seed off my everything bagels with cream cheese and butter (don’t judge). When you make your own bagels, you lord over your toppings with no restrictions. Salt bagel with toasted garlic? Go for it. Poppy, pumpkin and sesame seeds? Why not! You’ve done all the hard work—now it’s time to have fun.

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bagel-course-at-ice

Place your bagels into a convection oven preheated to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (or 400 degrees if using a non-convection oven), bake for 20 minutes and get ready to schmear your heart out.

Hankering for homemade bagels? Click here to check out ICE’s recreational baking courses.