By Caitlin Raux

How does the chef of the world’s best restaurant fight food waste? Massimo Bottura, chef of Osteria Francescana, named #1 restaurant in the world in 2016, will answer this question and more during the Zero Waste Food conference on April 28-29, 2017. Hosted in partnership with The New School, the two-day conference brings together chefs, growers, architects and food entrepreneurs to explore ways we can create more sustainable food networks and eliminate food waste. In anticipation of his keynote address — in which he’ll discuss his own efforts to empower communities to fight food waste — we chatted with Chef Massimo about artistic expression, his passion project, Food for Soul, and what attendees can expect to take away from Zero Waste Food.

MassimoYou’ve said that art is the motivation behind your dishes. How can we incorporate better practices into food production without comprising the idea of prepared dishes as artistic expression?

We have to think about beauty from a different perspective: It cannot stand by itself. The good and the beautiful are two sides of the same coin — they complete each other insofar as beauty without good isn’t beautiful at all, and good needs beauty to convey its message.

It is often said about a person that he or she is “beautiful on the inside.” A brown banana or a bruised fruit still has a huge potential in terms of smell, flavor and texture. The responsibility of the chef and all of us as home cooks is to find that inner beauty in each product and to make the most out of it in each phase of its lifespan. Straight out of the oven, a loaf of bread is good enough to be eaten as is. The day after, it will be perfect to make pappa al pomodoro or bread pudding. After two days, the bread will make perfect breadcrumbs for meatballs, passatelli and cakes. That’s what real beauty is: To make something valuable out of something that might be seen as not having any value at all. As we often say, “Something recovered is something gained.”

Can you share a few ways that you’ve incorporated the Zero Waste Food concept into your restaurant, Osteria Francescana?

At Osteria Francescana, we follow the “nose-to-tail” philosophy. Italian cuisine relies on this golden rule: Everything has to be used. Therefore, the bones and toughest cuts of meat can be recovered for a rich broth. The same goes for vegetable peels, stems and leaves. Our grandmothers have been doing this forever. For Italians, the full use of ingredients is deeply rooted in our history and culture.

Massimo Bottura

Do you think it’s harder to have a sustainable kitchen in a big city like New York, as compared to Modena, a city that’s known for slow food?

The logistics and food systems of big cities are very complicated. Of course, the economy of a small town, small farm or small restaurant is much easier to navigate than a big one. We do feel, however, that it’s possible to create a network where food at risk of being wasted is salvaged to feed those most in need.

Food for Soul is working towards a kind of sustainability that addresses the full usage of every resource available. New York could offer potentially endless opportunities. Though it takes a big initial effort to identify the needs of the local community and the loopholes in the food distribution system, this is the starting point of every project of [my non-profit organization] Food for Soul. The common goal is the fight for social inclusion and food recovery.

What lessons do you hope to impart on Zero Waste Food participants?

If you can dream it, then you can do it. Showing people that we can do this, that anything is possible, could be inspiration for them to act. Action is what it’s all about! Everyone has his or her own role in the fight against food waste because we’re all in this together. What I can do is different from what you can do — my means and my tools as a chef are different than those of a politician, a philanthropist, a scientist or a social activist, but our commitment towards the cause is what unites us.

Your non-profit organization, Food for Soul, aims to create community kitchens around the world. How do these kitchens differ from regular “soup kitchens”?

I keep constantly repeating that Food for Soul is not a charity project, but a cultural one. The aim behind each “Refettorio”, or community kitchen, is not just to provide a warm meal to those in need. We conceive of nourishment in a more holistic sense: Feed the body and the soul. That’s the reason why we combine the know-how of architects, designers and artists in the design and decoration of the space. We want to create unique environments that express beauty, stimulate through art and facilitate operations through good design. The whole community can be inspired one way or another. Moreover, we want our guests to feel welcomed and included. I still remember the very first nights at Refettorio Ambrosiano in Milan, when people were silently sitting at the table and eating their meals. The guests barely spoke to each other. Just a few weeks later, guests, volunteers and chefs were sharing the same table and the same meal. Everyone knew each other by name.

Every gesture can play a fundamental role in creating a human connection — that’s why we want our volunteers to serve guests directly at the table just like restaurant service. Moreover, every meal has the possibility to reflect both the beauty of the environment and the “inner” beauty of recovered ingredients. It has to be tasty, nutritious and beautiful.

Can we expect to see a Food for Soul kitchen in New York anytime soon?  

We are working hard to make it happen but believe me, it’s harder to open a soup kitchen than a restaurant. At this point, we’re aiming for 2018. We are constantly reminding people that this is not a pop-up initiative but a sustainable model that has to have solid foundation to continue to serve the community for years to come. This is our goal for everywhere we go, and in particular, in New York City. I would hate to let down the city I love most in the world!

Join the conversation: Register here for the Zero Waste Food conference.

For the 2017 #CulinaryVoice Scholarship Challenge, we asked the world: What is your culinary voice? We were overwhelmed by the response: 254 entrants from 201 countries and territories shared their unique, inventive and inspiring culinary voices — and the world responded, with the videos garnering a total of 1,864,696 votes and views to help determine our winners. With full and partial scholarships to attend ICE’s award-winning career programs, 18 lives will change forever. Watch the video below to find out who won the 2017 #CulinaryVoice Scholarship Challenge from ICE.

Thanks to everyone who shared their culinary voices, and congratulations to this year’s winners — your passion, creativity and ambition inspired our judges, and we can’t wait to welcome you to ICE!

Find your culinary voice at ICE. Click here to learn more about ICE’s career programs.


By ICE Staff

What would the world look like if we produced no food waste? How would our daily practices be affected? Could we make a significant impact on our communities? Is such a world feasible? The Zero Waste Food conference — a conference presented by ICE and The New School featuring industry leaders and visionaries like Massimo Bottura — will tackle these questions and more.

Zero Waste Food conference

Kicking off right after Earth Day on April 28-29, the two-day conference begins each morning with panel discussions on such topics as sustainable restaurant kitchens and repurposing food waste. Attendees will spend their afternoons putting ideas into action with a host of culinary demonstrations and hands-on cooking sessions taught by ICE chef instructors joined by industry experts. Learn how to butcher a whole hog with Mangalitsa by Møsefund and ICE chef Charles Granquist. Join MISFIT Juicery co-founders Ann and Phil for a primer in concocting delicious and nutritious juices with recovered fruits and vegetables. Or, watch Enrique Olvera, acclaimed chef of Cosme and Pujol, make beer from bread scraps alongside Madeline Holtzman, vice toaster of Toast Ale NYC.

Whether you’re a student, employed in the food industry or simply passionate about food, the conference will equip you with valuable lessons and skills to apply to your daily lives and business practices. Do more than talk about food waste. Get the tools to help solve the problem. Check out the full schedule of classes and panel discussions here, then head here to register for this inspirational and educational conference.

Ready to take the first step toward an exciting career in food and hospitality? Click here for more information on studying at ICE. 

By Caitlin Raux

If a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? If a celebration happens and there is no cake, is it really a celebration? While the first question is debatable, the answer to the second is clear: no cake, no celebration. And with hand painting, air-brushing, sugar flowers and more, celebratory cakes are more elaborate than ever. In anticipation of the upcoming start date for ICE’s Professional Cake Decorating program, which kicks off on February 13, we’re taking a closer look at one popular technique — piping buttercream roses.

Piping_roses_4

I recently had the chance to sit in on one of Chef Toba Garrett’s hands-on cake decorating classes in which she was instructing students on this topic. As it turns out, a lot of books on cake decorating contain dated techniques and cryptic instructions. ICE’s Professional Cake Decorating program demystifies popular cake decorating techniques. “When you become a cake decorating professional, you learn that there are better ways to do things. We’ll teach you those better ways,” said Chef Toba. As she piped gorgeous, buttercream flowers and gave the class step-by-step instructions on how to do the same, I soaked up the following sweet tips from ICE’s resident cake decorating master:

  1. Soften up your frosting. Before the icing even hits the piping bag, it’s important to make sure it’s not rock hard. Starting with a couple of cups, use a small offset spatula to mix the icing. Keep mixing until the frosting is workable but not too soft — the frosting needs to be on the stiff side in order to pipe the details. Try piping some on parchment paper first to test the consistency. Once the frosting is ready, it goes into a pastry bag fitted with a petal piping tip, which has a thin, slightly triangular slit at the end.
  2. Necessary tool: A flower nail. I had never seen this nifty little tool before, but it makes the piping process much more doable. Hold the nail part between your thumb and forefinger, then pipe your rose onto the flat top, turning the nail as needed. Later, when you finish your rose, use kitchen shears to carefully snip the flower base and slide the rose onto your cake. Piping_roses_1
  3. Start with the base. You need a base to support your rose petals. Begin by piping a base — a small mound that tapers at the top and looks more or less like a Hershey Kiss. Speaking of which…Piping_roses_2
  4. Try a chocolate (surprise!) base. Don’t forget that at the end of the day, someone is going to be eating your beautiful creation. Adding in delicious details, like a Hershey Kiss as the base of your rose, will make the eating experience even more enjoyable.
  5. Roses aren’t replicas. When piping flowers with less petals, like lilies and daffodils, you can attempt to pipe the exact number of petals usually found on the flower. But for roses, which at their full size can have 20-40 petals, you’re better off not trying to replicate them exactly. Start by piping one petal for the base, then, in a rainbow-like shape, pipe three petals around the base, then five petals around them, then seven petals around them, for a total of 16 petals.

Piping Roses

Though Chef Toba made piping buttercream roses look like a cinch, it definitely wasn’t as easy as it looked. The only way to become a piping pro is lots of practice and listening to expert tips on how to do things better.

Want to decorate cakes like a pro? Click here for more information on ICE’s cake decorating program.

By Caitlin Raux

On a Friday evening in November, when the weekend held the promise of a just-ordered ShackBurger, I nabbed a seat in ICE Director of Wine Studies Richard Vayda’s course: Great Holiday Wines for under $20 and over $50. Armed with an open palate, I tasted nearly a dozen wines, from sparkling rosé and viognier to rich red and sweet fortified; two of each, one a (relative) bargain, the other a splurge. While we swirled, sniffed, sipped, and nibbled, I gleaned some grape wisdom — about wine varieties and my own tastes. In the spirit of holiday giving, here are five surprising takeaways from my wine course at ICE.

Wine Course at ICE

  1. Catalunya makes impressive under-$20 sparklers. The moment you utter “sparkling wine,” everyone’s mind zooms off to the famed region of France: Champagne, where due to a combination of tradition and soil, the best sparklers in the world are made, so they say (especially if “they,” like my wine course companion, happen to be French). But at $18, a Catalunya-grown Brut Reserva Rosé made by Marqués de Gelida was a delicious steal. Really, I was tempted to steal the bottle (but I didn’t, of course). Medium-bodied, refreshing and with a faint aroma of ripe cherries, this wine is the perfect choice to kick off any holiday dinner.
  2. There’s a world of white wine outside sauv blanc and alby: Meet viogner. To be honest, when it comes to white wine, I tend to stick with my tried-and-true arsenal — sauvignon blanc from New Zealand and albariño from Spain. So when Richard said we’d be trying two viogniers, I was pumped to expand my list of white wine go-tos. When I realized that my preferred viognier — La Linda Viognier from Mendoza, Argentina — was the bargain bottle ($13), I felt happy as a girl with new pajamas. Light and not too sweet, like a fresh, herbal tea with hints of lemon, it’s the kind of bottle to stock up on before any holiday party.
  3. Blind taste testing opens your mind + palate. The good thing about blind taste testing is that your usual proclivities go out the window. My own love affair with Spain, a place I called home for two years, means love at first sight whenever I see a label from the Iberian Peninsula. As we swirled and sniffed the three rich reds, I could identify a young wine, a middle-aged wine and an old wine, with a distinct red-orange color. Unlike white wine, which gains color, red wine loses color as it ages. The older wine, which turned out to be from Rioja, the renowned Spanish wine region, did not make me as weak in the knees as I anticipated. I preferred the 2012 Châtaeu d’Arcins Cru Bourgeois from Bordeaux to the 2001 Castillo Ygay Gran Reserva Especial from Rioja. Either my palate isn’t refined enough to appreciate the nuance of this aged red or I just don’t love the stuff — either way, my preferred bottle ($14) was considerably more pocket-friendly than its Spanish counterpart ($80).
  4. Blonde ports have more fun. Or more aptly stated, I have more fun drinking these light-colored port wines. Port is a fortified wine produced in the Duoro Valley of northern Portugal. Before this class, the luscious, dark red-purplish port, Graham’s Six Grapes Porto ($20), said older and better to me. Think again. Like red wine, port wine loses color with age. The lighter colored 20-Year Old Tawny Port made by Taylor Fladgate ($50) had a rich, nutty flavor, probably due to its extra years in the barrel, and was much more to my liking. I guess I’m more a peanut butter than a jelly girl when it comes to port. Fun fact: Tawny is generally enjoyed as a dessert drink — but as Richard would tell you, there are no hard-and-fast rules to wine drinking, so you can drink it throughout a meal if you like. Had the pours been larger or the bottles left with us, I could have sipped the Tawny all class long.
  5. I am not a “super smeller” – but I can still identify over 1000 smells. Super smellers, for better or worse, can identify over 6,000 smells. That’s an exhausting amount of olfactory stimulation. I pity the super smellers in the East Village on a steamy summer morning. But it certainly helps them to enjoy a glass of wine — after all, appreciating wine is more about smell than taste. Though I can’t identify over 6,000 smells and am still trying to expand my vocabulary beyond flowery, bright … strawberries!!, this class proved to me that I know more about the nuance of wine than I previously thought. In fact, the average person can identify at least 1,000 smells. The more I taste, the more I articulate, and the more I can appreciate. Bottom line: taste more, talk more and always enjoy.

Ready to take your wine knowledge to new levels? Click here to register for a wine course at ICE.

Recipes by Ted Siegel — Chef Instructor, School of Culinary Arts

On Thanksgiving, turkey is always in style. A juicy bird with salty, crunchy skin is the pièce de résistance of this highly anticipated meal. But if you’re looking to shake up your usual turkey prep method — add some spice or brine to the table — ICE Chef Instructor Ted Siegel has some ideas for you. Below, Chef Ted shares two different methods for preparing your turkey when it’s time to give thanks this year, plus his expert roasting tips.

Thanksgiving Turkey

1) A Caribbean kick: try a Jamaican jerk turkey marinade.

Marinating delivers the double benefit of infusing meat with flavor and keeping it tender.

Ingredients:

6 scallions
6 habanero or scotch bonnet chiles
2 medium onions
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
½ cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup fish sauce
1 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup brown sugar
1 bunch dried thyme leaves, minced
1 bunch dried oregano leaves, minced
1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves and stems, minced
½ cup butter

Preparation:

  • For the marinade, finely chop and combine: scallions, habanero or scotch bonnet chiles, onions and garlic. Add tamarind paste, Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, fresh lime juice, fresh orange juice, olive oil, brown sugar, dried thyme leaves, dried oregano leaves and fresh cilantro leaves and stems.
  • Prepare the marinade, dividing into two halves: 1/2 for the turkey and 1/2 to make a compound butter. Marinate the turkey for two to four days, depending on its weight (two days for an 8-12 pound turkey, three to four days for a 13-30 pound turkey). Remove turkey from marinade. Make the compound butter by mixing remaining marinade with butter. Separate the skin from the breast and thighs and gently rub the compound butter onto the flesh without ripping the skin. Roast immediately.

 

2) Brine time: give your turkey a multiday brine bath.

Like marinating, brining will add flavor to your turkey, and make it exceptionally juicy and tender. Here’s how to brine.

Ingredients:

1 pound kosher salt
2/3 pounds sugar (granulated, brown, molasses, maple syrup, agave syrup, honey or any other kind of solid sugar or syrup will work)
2-3 gallons water
25 juniper berries
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
1 teaspoon star anise pods
2 tablespoons dried thyme
½ cup liquid smoke (which you can find at most grocery stores)

 Preparation:

  • To make the brine, combine kosher salt, sugar, water. Add the juniper berries, dried herbs and liquid smoke.
  • Brine your turkey for two to four days by either submerging the entire bird or injecting it with brine. If you choose the latter, do not brine the turkey for more than two days.

 

Roasting tips

For roasting, I always begin by browning the turkey. In an oven preheated to 450°F, cook the turkey for about half an hour or until golden brown. Then, turn the heat down to 325°F and roast about 18-20 minutes per pound until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.

Want to sharpen your culinary skills with Chef Ted? Click here to learn more about ICE’s Culinary Arts program.

By Emma Weinstein — Student, Culinary Management ’17 / Culinary Arts ’17

When considering different culinary schools, one of the aspects that attracted me to ICE was the exposure to different elements of the culinary world. Throughout my culinary management course, I have been able to hear some amazing speakers thanks to ICE’s “Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs” lecture series. So far, I’ve had the chance to attend lectures by Sylvia and Steve Pryzant of Four Story Hill Farm, Rob Kaufelt of Murray’s Cheese, Eamon Rockey of Betony and Ruairi Curtin of the Bua Hospitality Group. On the surface, these speakers may seem to have little in common. Their expertise ranges from raising milk-fed veal calves to curating the cocktail program of a fine dining establishment. All of these individuals, however, shared with us the triumphs and hardships of their culinary careers — and through their stories I came away with some key points that will help me on my own path:

  1. Perseverance

Have faith in yourself and your concept. Sylvia and Steve Pryzant of Four Story Hill Farm lost their farm twice — first in a deadly blizzard in 1993 and again during an ice storm in 1994. Their barn collapsed and many of their livestock didn’t survive. Still, they resolved to rebuild and Sylvia decided to study how to raise a unique type of bird: milk-fed poulardes from Burgundy, France. Once she learned to raise these specialty birds, she built a list of clients that included the country’s most acclaimed chefs, including Tom Colicchio, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller, Daniel Humm, Charlie Trotter and Mario Batali, among others.

Eamon Rockey

Eamon Rockey of Betony

  1. Know Your Market

Whether your goal is to sell a gourmet food product or open a restaurant, making sure your business is targeted towards a certain demographic is critical. Ruairi Curtin shared that anytime he and his partners are looking at spaces for a new bar, they sit at the local train station and watch people getting on the train during the morning rush hour. They try to decide whether or not the people who live in that area will be their market. You may have an awesome concept, but it’s important to ask yourself if local residents will be your customers. If not, can you guarantee people will travel to your business?

  1. Know Your Strengths and When to Delegate

All of the speakers had a wide breadth of knowledge in their fields, but primarily in a particular aspect of their businesses. Rob Kaufelt had no intention of having an e-commerce site to sell his cheese — that is, until he met a woman who convinced him that he was missing out on a huge business opportunity. He let her set up the Murray’s Cheese e-commerce site, which then became a huge success. Rob would never have ventured down that route had he not been nudged in that direction. Likewise, with Eamon Rockey, while he has a great deal of front-of-house experience at Betony, he specializes in the cocktail program and delegates other aspects of running the restaurant to his partners. One of the hardest aspects of opening and operating a business is learning to manage the desire to be involved in every aspect. An owner has to know the importance of delegating tasks — you simply cannot do everything yourself.

Rob Kaufelt

Rob Kaufelt of Murray’s Cheese

Murray's Cheese

Gooey Cheese from Murray’s

 

  1. Choose the Right Partner

Choosing the right partner isn’t just about deciding to go into business with a friend or partnering with someone who shares your vision. Make sure this person will be someone with whom you can efficiently and effectively run a business. Look for someone who complements your strengths and weaknesses. With the exception of Rob Kaufelt, all five speakers had a business partner or partners. As they stressed, the restaurant and food business is one of the most stressful environments in the world, so it’s critical that if you decide to have partners, just like a marriage, you will stick together through thick and thin.

  1. Stay Relevant

People are fickle — especially in a city as fast-paced as New York — and there’s always something new opening around the corner. Staying relevant is critical to surviving in the restaurant industry, whether by updating the menu and beverage program or by adding a new type of product or service. You need to constantly think of ways to improve your business and keep up-to-date with the market and the needs of your demographic.

  1. Never Stop Caring

Ruairi Curtin spoke about how he finds going to his own bars stressful because he is constantly finding flaws in the service and seeing ways in which things can be improved. Curtin said he and his partners always check on the restrooms each time they visit one of their bars and normally end up cleaning the bathroom in the process. Eamon Rockey told us how he helped one man over a period of several months plan the perfect proposal dinner for his now-wife. Going above and beyond for your clients will help give your business the best chance for success. As soon as you stop caring about your product, including your bathrooms or special client requests, your staff and others will stop caring as well.

  1. Love What You Do

This is perhaps the hardest goal to attain and yet the most important lesson I learned from listening to these five lectures. It was clear that they are all extremely passionate about their careers. Several had jobs in different fields before making the switch to the food or restaurant industry. They all stressed how the field is challenging but also very rewarding. What makes the food/restaurant industry unique is the nature of the business — to constantly interact with people and create experiences for them. Food is crucial, but at the heart of the restaurant industry is service. Having a memorable waiter or personable bartender can have a profound impact on a guest’s experience.

I’m looking forward to picking up more nuggets of wisdom in the upcoming “Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs” lectures.

Want to launch your own food business? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs.

By ICE Staff

If great food, great chefs plus supporting a great cause equals success, then this year’s New York City Wine & Food Festival was majorly successful. The Institute of Culinary Education hosted the festival’s Master Classes, including Bread Making with Bien Cuit’s Zachary Golper, a Roasting Master Class with prolific food writer Melissa Clark of The New York Times, Cake Decorating with cake genius Sylvia Weinstock and a Chocolate Master Class taught by ICE’s Creative Director and acclaimed Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis. All of the proceeds went to support No Kid Hungry and the Food Bank For New York City. Check out our video recap of the highlights of NYCWFF events at ICE.

Missed the master classes at ICE? Not to worry! Click here to check out our recreational cooking courses. 

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.


Introduction by Robert Ramsey — Director of Advanced Culinary Center
Interview by Caitlin Gunther

In the international culinary scene, Spain is hot right now…white-hot. With a rich culinary history going back hundreds of years and local chefs who continually push the boundaries of modernist cuisine, Spanish cuisine offers a rarely seen depth and diversity — and the culinary community agrees. Three of the top 10 restaurants on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list call the Iberian peninsula home. In celebration of Spanish cuisine, ICE has partnered with Eat Spain Up to bring two of the country’s best chefs, Mario Sandoval and Toño Perez, to the kitchen classrooms of ICE. This is the second series of courses in our Advanced Culinary Center program.

Chef Mario Sandoval

Chef Mario Sandoval of Coque restaurant

Chef Mario Sandoval, chef of Coque on the outskirts of Madrid, has led his restaurant in an avant-garde direction, introducing progressive tasting menus where the guests move from the wine cellar to the kitchen to the dining room as the meal progresses through courses. His efforts were warmly received by critics, diners and the Michelin guide, which awarded Coque its first star in 2004, followed by a second star in 2015. Outside of the restaurant, Chef Mario’s accomplishments include penning five cookbooks and launching an event space, a bakery and a catering company.

In anticipation of welcoming this acclaimed chef to ICE to lead a workshop focused on suckling pig — a traditional Spanish dish — we asked Chef Mario a few questions about the contemporary culinary landscape and his upcoming course at ICE.

You’ve described the food served at your restaurant Coque as “updated Madrid cuisine” — what dishes are central to Madrileño cuisine?

My cooking at Coque interprets the great culinary wealth of the capital of Spain, a city that has always been open to the mixing of different cultures. It shows the culinary cosmopolitanism of Madrid, the first city in Spain where good foreign restaurants started to open. In my dishes, I use marinades, salted fish and pickled vegetables that show the Madrid heritage. I am also passionate about the products of Madrid — in my kitchen I use products from local farms and orchards where we grow our own vegetables. Utilizing the native varieties of vegetables from Madrid has been very important in my cooking.

Your course will focus on the Spanish suckling pig. I hear that in Segovia, Spain, there are restaurants that make suckling pig so tender that it’s cut with a plate: true or false?

It is completely true and it’s a great tradition started by Meson de Cándido, which continues today with the original owner’s son. The key to tender suckling pig is the technique of baking it in the oven, which has always been fundamental at Coque and what constitutes to this day one of the most recognizable and admired traditional dishes. Our oven is our secret: What makes our suckling pig incredible is the oven — it has endured for over 60 years. Also, the exclusive breed of pig we work with has been genetically selected to become a perfect suckling pig in regard to the tenderness, flavor and texture of the meat.

What can attendees of your class expect to walk away with?

Given the great tradition of this dish in the area of Spain where I live, I would hope to see both traditional and contemporary cooks. They can learn the way we cook the suckling pig — how it is special and very characteristic of our culinary tradition. We cook suckling pig in a way that seeks the maximum in terms of the texture and unique taste of the piglet.

What do you see as differences between American and Spanish food and dining culture?

There is a fundamental difference. The history of Spanish cuisine is based on the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs — great Mediterranean food cultures that the United States does not have. This is reflected in a huge culinary heritage that Spain and the Mediterranean have and which has moved in other ways to the American continent. The first cookbook was Roman when Spain was under its influence. It is therefore a difference of centuries, more cultural than philosophical. Spain has been influenced by many different civilizations and each has left us a different gastronomic heritage.

Are there any restaurants or food stores you’re looking forward to visiting in New York?

New York is one of the gastronomic capitals of the world for its large and varied range of restaurants and their high quality. I’m not only looking forward to trying the new American cuisine, but I also hope to try the huge variety of restaurants from other cultures that have made New York the mecca for foodies that it is nowadays. As for shopping, it is well-known that New York is one of the cities where you can find all the great products in the world and it will be a pleasure to get lost looking for aromas and flavors.

Hungry for a taste of Spain? Register for our Eat Spain Up courses today!