Always cook pasta until al dente, right? Wrong! Because most of us are probably committing more noodle no-nos than we realize, Chef James Briscione will show you how to cook perfect pasta every time in a new video, “You’re Doing it Wrong: Cooking Pasta” — watch now to learn why you should finish cooking pasta in the sauce, step away from the olive oil and, yes, you will need that very large pot to boil the water.

Stop doing it wrong. Start making really good pasta.

Want to learn to cook pasta and more like a chef? Click here for more information on ICE’s career training programs.

By Caitlin Raux

Give a girl a slice of pizza (plus garlic knots) and you’ll feed her for a night. Teach her to make homemade pizza and she’ll be able to host spontaneous dinner parties and feed all of her pizza-loving friends for a lifetime. Because with just a handful of ingredients — flour, water, salt, yeast and olive oil — you can throw together a pizza using what’s already in your cupboard, adding a few fresh toppings to give it that gourmet touch.

But not so fast: making a crust with just enough chewiness and crispiness, and sturdy enough to act as a vessel for your tasty toppings, can be tricky — but with a few tips and the simple recipe below, you’ll be serving up pro-level pizzas in your own kitchen. In a new video, Chef Jenny McCoy shows us how to make pizza-party worthy pies. Try it for yourself and you’ll discover how easy it is to make authentic, homemade pizza. The only challenge will be choosing whom to invite to your excellent pizza parties.

Before you begin, here are some tips:

  • Use the Windowpane Test: Kneading your dough develops gluten, which gives dough the elasticity needed for stretching and rising. (Like getting up in the morning — you knead to stretch and rise… ba-dum-chh.) To know when your dough is sufficiently kneaded, use the windowpane test. Break off a hunk of dough, roll it into a smooth ball, gently stretch the dough and hold it up to the light. Gluten-full, elastic dough will be transparent in the center — like a “windowpane” — and you should be able to see the light pass through.
  • Start from the middle: Once the dough has risen, it’s time to stretch it. To begin stretching, place your dough ball on a lightly oiled surface, and, using your fingertips, gently prod the dough beginning in the middle and pushing outward. Work your fingers around in circles to slowly stretch the dough in all directions. Continue until your dough is a large, mostly flattened circle, slightly thicker on the edge and not too thin in the middle. If your dough is too thin in the middle, it won’t be able to support the toppings and may burn if you try to bake it anyway.
  • Easy with the sauce: I know what you’re thinking — It’s my pizza and I’ll sauce if I want to! But too much sauce makes for a soggy, weak crust. To ensure your pizza will have a sturdy base, especially if you eat your pizza New York-style (grab, fold, devour), go easy with the sauce.
  • Brush on the olive oil: To get that crispy, crackly crust, use a brush to slather on some olive oil. A flavorful extra virgin olive oil will score you maximum flavor points.

Check out all of our pizza making tips here

Pizza Dough
Yield: Makes 3 individual pizzas
Note: For the best crust, prepare this recipe the day before you plan your pizza party – the dough should rest overnight in the refrigerator.

Ingredients:

2 cups warm water (100-110° F)
2 ½ teaspoons (¼ ounce envelope) active dry yeast
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for coating
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 ¼ cups bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal, for dusting
Pizza sauce and toppings, as desired

Preparation:

  • In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, olive oil and sugar, and stir to combine. Add the all-purpose flour and bread flour, followed by the salt. With a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, stir the dough until all of the flour has hydrated and it begins to form into a ball.
  • Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead the dough, adding more flour as needed. The dough will become sticky, but keep kneading — as the gluten develops, the dough will tighten up and begin to seem drier. Once the dough has been kneaded into a tight ball, about 10 minutes of kneading, transfer to a large bowl coated with olive oil, cover, and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Transfer the dough to the refrigerator and let sit overnight to chill.
  • Place a pizza stone or upside-down baking sheet on the center rack of the oven and preheat oven to 300° F (or higher if your oven allows). Once the oven reaches 300° F, increase the heat to 550° F (or higher if your oven allows). This gradual increase in temperature will prevent your pizza stone from cracking or your baking sheet from warping.
  • On a lightly floured surface, cut the dough into 3 pieces. Gently knead a piece of the dough a few times until it’s smooth. With your hands dusted in flour, gently stretch the dough outwards using your fists, to begin making a circle of dough. Once the dough has stretched to about ¼-inch thick circle, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and stretch any areas of the dough that are thicker. (If you pizza isn’t a perfect circle, don’t fret — that’s what chefs like to call rustic.)
  • Lightly sprinkle a pizza peel with cornmeal. Slide the circle of dough on the peel and reshape as needed.
  • Add sauce and toppings to the pizza as desired, but take note: less is more with artisanal-style pizza dough. Drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil onto the edge of the dough to give it a crispier crust. Carefully place the peel in the oven and slide the pizza onto the stone or baking sheet. Bake until crust is deep golden brown and the cheese is bubbly with some browned spots. Depending on the thickness of the dough, the amount of toppings, or how hot your oven is set, the baking time can take anywhere from 8 to 14 minutes.

Ready to learn how to make pizza — and much, much more — like a pro? Click here to learn about ICE’s recreational cooking and baking courses.


When it comes to making layer cakes, it’s all about the tiers — and not the crying kind, though beautiful, Pinterest-worthy layer cakes can occasionally cause some waterworks. Achieving those perfect tiers, however, can be tricky — making a layer cake isn’t exactly, well, a piece of cake. But with the right tools and an expert teacher, it can be. That’s why ICE + Wüsthof have partnered to present a new knife skills video demonstrating the proper knife and technique for splitting a cake into layers. Watch as ICE Chef Sabrina Sexton levels a pound cake into perfect tiers using a serrated bread knife (and don’t miss the stunning layer cake at the end).

Want to sharpen your culinary or pastry skills? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs.

A chef without a good knife is like a steak without salt — just plain wrong. According to ICE Chef Ted Siegel, a knife is the “singular most important piece of equipment that we use in the kitchen.” ICE and Wüsthof — a premier culinary school and a maker of expertly crafted knives — have been partners for more than 30 years, joining forces to prepare professional chefs and at-home cooks to work with more precision and confidence.

As any chef will tell you, knife skills are equally crucial. That’s why ICE and Wüsthof are combining over four decades of culinary technique and 200 years of craftsmanship to roll out a new video series: knife skills. From slicing and dicing to chiffonade, cake leveling, filleting fish, or finding the grain for the perfect steak, the beauty of expert craftsmanship and skilled chefs shines through — and the result is nothing less than culinary art.

Watch the trailer below for a sneak peek of the knife skills videos coming soon.

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

By Grace Reynolds

It’s no secret among aspiring culinary professionals that the restaurants within Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) are world-renowned for their hospitality and staff-training programs. Much like at ICE, USHG demonstrates its commitment to employees through robust internal education programs on topics ranging from cheese, to craft beer, spirits, and of course, wine.

John Ragan

USHG’s Wine Director and certified Master Sommelier, John Ragan

USHG’s Wine Director and certified Master Sommelier, John Ragan, oversees the development of the dynamic wine programs for USHG restaurants. Whether in the dining room at The Modern or pairing wine with barbecue at Blue Smoke, his team’s selections are characterized by thoughtful and interesting choices, exceptional value, and helpful service.

Ragan also leads a ten-week professional wine course, which until now, has only been offered to USHG staff. For the first time ever, in spring 2014, ICE has partnered with Ragan and USHG to launch a groundbreaking collaborative wine class taught from a restaurant perspective.

Along with a team of guest instructors from USHG restaurants, as well as ICE’s Director of Wine Studies, Richard Vayda, Ragan will introduce a ten-week curriculum that combines ICE’s renowned educational expertise and resources with USHG’s signature style of hospitality. Through dynamic tastings, multimedia presentations and access to USHG and ICE’s team of beverage professionals, students will gain a rich knowledge of the world of wines and insight into award-winning wine programs.

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We asked Ragan a few questions about this exciting new partnership with ICE and what he’s drinking this season:

How did you get interested in wine?

Throughout high school and college, I always worked in restaurants and got the wine bug when I was about seventeen. Wine has taken me around the world, and I have been lucky to work in great restaurants in Napa Valley, San Francisco, and New York. The one thing which has always rung true is that wine is only truly fascinating when multiplied by people. For me, teaching and sharing my enthusiasm with others is the most powerful.

How did this partnership with ICE come about?

For many years we have offered internal wine training for our restaurant staff. It has become incredibly popular and something that my colleagues and I all look forward to. Danny posed the question: Iif our staff loves this class so much, why don’t we share it with our guests, too?” ICE offered the unique combination of expertise and culture needed to offer this new perspective on wine education to the public. We have always had a great friendship with ICE (many of their alumni work at USHG restaurants), so we are very excited about this partnership.

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Describe the typical class.

Over the ten sessions we will taste through all of the major wine regions of the world. We’ll get a firsthand account of the grape growing and winemaking process through interviews with growers and winemakers, and famed tasters and critics will weigh in during tastings as well. For each week’s tastings, I’ve chosen wines that truly embody the characteristics of the place and culture in which they were made—they become a delicious guidebook to what we’re learning in a given session. Along with the lessons and tastings, we’ll integrate restaurant-centric concepts such as food and wine pairing, as well as getting the most out of a wine list. Most importantly, each class will be dynamic and fun, and will include many different approaches and points of view thanks to our guest instructors and multimedia presentations.

Who is the class for?

The class is intended for those who already have a love for wine and want to dive deeper into the great regions and wines of the world. The class will go beyond the basics and provide the same level of professional education we offer our teams. As a result, students will take away a much deeper understanding and gain the ability to share their learning with enthusiasm and joy. They’ll learn everything from how to start their own cellar to decanting an old red wine, blind tasting, and possibly even launch a career in wine!

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Any gift recommendations for wine lovers?

While giving wine is always great, especially if you know the recipient’s tastes, I really love to think of accessories that they might not normally treat themselves to—like a great decanter, a beautiful corkscrew, special glassware—all things that might help them get more out of their favorite bottles. Another way to get more enjoyment out of wine is through a bit of enjoyable education—classes, books, even website memberships—these are all great treats that wine lovers may not splurge for themselves.

About John Ragan, MS: As Wine Director of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, John Ragan works with each of the group’s restaurants, wine directors, and sommeliers to ensure exceptional and distinctive wine programs as well as employee education. Previously, John spent five years as Wine Director of Eleven Madison Park, where he earned a Grand Award from Wine Spectator. He is one of three individuals in the world to have been awarded both a James Beard Award for “Outstanding Wine Service” as well as the title of Master Sommelier from the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers. In 2012, he spearheaded a quarter-million dollar charity wine auction to benefit hurricane victims in New York.