When you host a special event at ICE, you can have your seasonal, delicious meal — and cook it, too! ICE’s
Special Events department hosts over 400 culinary events every year, and with each, we turn an event or celebration into a fun, memorable cooking experience.  

ICE cooking eventThis month, we’re rolling out our summer menu, incorporating the season’s best produce, and offering a brand new hydroponic garden option, which allows you and your guests to take a guided tour of our onsite hydroponic garden and then whip up a tasty meal using fresh-picked herbs. We caught up with Philipp Hering, ICE’s Special Events Lead Chef, to get the lowdown on this fresh new menu.

Everything on the new seasonal cooking menu looks SO good — which are your favorite dishes?

Thank you! I love to incorporate new, trending ingredients and to make them accessible to the general public, who either don’t how to use them or wouldn’t give them a second thought. That being said, my current favorites on the menu are our pastas — specifically, the Tagliatelle with Summer Vegetables. It’s a simple preparation, but the flavors and colors pop — perfect for the season. I also have a soft spot for our Tuscan Chicken “Under a Brick.” I love roasting chicken and this method puts a new spin on it.

It seems like the dishes draw influences from around the globe — how do you go about creating the menu? Where do you look for inspiration?

The menu is a collaborative effort between the members of the Special Events department. We discuss our favorite trends, taste a lot (probably too much!) and then build out the recipes.california cuisine plated plating We chat with other chefs at ICE about what they are currently doing. I also draw upon my experience cooking at Barbuto. It was really a chef’s restaurant, so I was lucky to meet lots of great local chefs and gain inspiration from them as well. Once the recipes are created, I test them to make sure that they work in our hands-on format. The goal is for the recipes to be fun and intricate, but also easy enough for guests who have little-to-no culinary experience to be able to grasp the techniques and create the dishes by themselves. It’s amazing to see what people can do when they put their minds to it!

The new menu includes herbs from ICE’s hydroponic garden — can you name a few herbs that you might be using, and the dishes you’ll use them for?

The hydroponic garden is a luxury that I’ve never had anywhere else in my culinary career. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with the team that manages and cares for the garden to see what I can incorporate into our menu. They have beautiful mustard greens that we will be using in our vegetarian Poke Bowl — it’s reminiscent of the freshest wasabi you could get. We also get super fresh and aromatic basil to garnish our ravioli. Herbs, such as marjoram and thyme, are used for our aioli and sauces.

What do you hope attendees take away from the hands-on cooking portion of the event?

Like I said, I want them to learn a couple tricks, but ultimately have a great meal and some fun while they’re at it. I like to teach a variety of skills, from basic knife skills to rolling out pasta and making ravioli, to grilling and pan-searing meats. People are always hesitant in the beginning, but once they see how fun and easy it is, they get really into it. We have guests who are extremely interested in cooking and will ask me all sorts of culinary questions, sometimes completely unrelated to our menu, which I love. It’s so rewarding to see people have a great time, leave full and have learned a thing or two.

Interested in hosting an event at ICE? Space is limited, so click here for more information and to book your event today.


If you want to cook like a pro, it’s essential to master the fundamentals. That’s why ICE culinary students start their training by learning the proper techniques for basic cuts: from slicing and dicing to a julienne and chiffonade.

In a new video from ICE + Wüsthof, Chef James Briscione, ICE’s Director of Culinary Research and two-time Chopped champion, demonstrates the proper technique for three basic cuts: the slice, the dice and the julienne, just as he does with ICE culinary students. They look simple, but don’t skip these essential skills — mastering these cuts will make you a better, more efficient chef, as you use them again and again for mise en place and more.

Three tips from Chef James:

  1. Slice: The key to slicing is smooth, long cuts. Let the knife glide through the item you are cutting with a smooth sliding motion, rather than just pushing the knife through.

  2. Dice: Dicing should give you perfect cubes. It’s all about consistency — to get the right shape, every cut must be the same 1/2 inch wide, 1/2 inch long, 1/2 inch tall. Use a ruler when you first start to help improve your consistency.

  3. Julienne: Julienne will reveal all of the flaws in your cutting technique. Make sure that your knife moves straight up and down, meaning it should form a perfect 90˚ angle with your board when it makes contact. But also be aware of how the knife lines up. You want to make sure that the knife tip and handle are in a perfect line, not with the tip of the knife leaning to the left or right of the handle. In other words, the knife should also form a 90˚ angle with the edge of the table.

Think culinary arts is your calling? Click here to learn about ICE’s career programs.

By Caitlin Raux

Before even graduating from high school, Francesca Kolowrat (Culinary Arts/ Management ’17) was already a champion horse jumper with dozens of achievements under her belt, including an individual ranking of 15th in the European Championships in 2015 and 2016. One of the top young riders from the Czech Republic, Francesca could have easily continued on the same path and led a very successful career in the equestrian world. Instead, she decided to explore her passion for food and nutrition at ICE. “I didn’t want to look back on my life and think that the world offered so many opportunities and I didn’t take them,” she said, speaking with a level of maturity and decisiveness that makes you forget she’s just 18 years old.


With a dream of one day opening an Australian-inspired café in her hometown of Prague, she came to ICE to get the necessary culinary skills and business acumen before embarking on a four-year degree at the University of Sydney, where she plans to study Nutrition.

With two weeks remaining in her program, we caught up with Francesca to chat about studying culinary arts in NYC and about taking small steps to achieve big goals.

When did you start with show jumping?

I was about 12 when I started doing it seriously. I proceeded until last summer, just before I moved here.

Did you compete internationally?

There were a lot of international competitions — the national cups. I traveled all around Europe — to Italy, Spain, Hungary, Germany, Austria, Ireland. The European Championship was in Ireland last year. I placed 15th twice in a row — first in Austria, then Ireland.


Why did you decide to come to culinary school?

I needed a career change. I didn’t want to look back on my life and think that the world offered so many opportunities and I didn’t take them. Even though I got to travel with show jumping, I was on the show grounds from morning until night. I didn’t really have time to explore and when there was some free time, I would sleep because I was exhausted from so much exercise.

I wanted to pursue other passions, and I’m very interested in fitness and nutrition. I really wanted to see how the restaurant and hospitality business works so that one day I can combine it with my passion for nutrition — I was accepted to the University of Sydney so I’m going to study nutrition there. This was my gap year, but I didn’t take the year to just travel: I’ve been educating myself in culinary arts and culinary management. That way, when I get a bachelor’s degree, I’ll be ready if I want to form my own business targeting fitness and nutrition. I’m building up these small steps towards my bigger goals.

There are a ton of culinary schools in Europe. Why did you choose to come all the way to NYC?

Because I’ve always loved New York, but I wanted to expand my experience beyond traveling here on holidays, and really get a feel for what it’s like to live in America. When I Googled “best culinary schools,” ICE was the first one to pop up and I said, “This is it.” I stopped my search. I spoke to Ron from Admissions and he told me I could start November 1. I knew it was the right opportunity and if I didn’t take it, I would be upset. It was hard for me to tell my team I was moving. I had people who were relying on me — I had my groomer, who takes care of my horses, and my trainer, who was with me 24/7, and it was difficult to tell them it was finished. But I wanted to try different things and figure out what I was most passionate about.

I knew it was the right opportunity

How was your experience at ICE?

I love the management program and I really like the culinary arts classes. You get to learn about back-of-house and front-of-house. I’m doing my externship now at Ellary’s Greens on Carmine Street in the West Village. It’s owned by Leith Hill and she’s given lectures in the [culinary] management classes about her business. I think that the externship has been the most beneficial part of the [culinary arts] program because you get to experience how it works in a real restaurant, how to deal with people, prepping, being on the line, catering, deliveries. You get to experience how it would be if you worked in the industry. At Ellary’s, they always ask me if I want to try new things, too; for instance, though I’m a culinary arts extern, I’ve been doing pastry work at the restaurant lately, which I discovered I love during the pastry module [at ICE]. Since I’m so into health and nutrition, I love taking the actual recipes and substituting ingredients that are more beneficial for the body. I like getting creative with it. People love sweets, they’re addicted to sugar and they always will be. With me it’s the same. I want to treat my body, but I want to treat it to good things.

Francesca at ICE’s May Commencement Ceremony

What kind of desserts do you like?

I prefer raw desserts made from things like coconut — coconut milk and coconut oil — cashews, or dates.

Next is Sydney! I’ve heard the food culture there is amazing.

Actually, I’m developing my business plan in my Management class and my café is Australian-inspired. Even though I’ve never been to Australia, I’ve learned from social media and what friends have told me about the cafés and breakfast and brunch menus there, and I’ve been so inspired by them: protein slash vegetable-based slash locally sourced products. Avocado toast came from Australia — come on! Even the plating I’ve seen — they use black plates with bright vegetables and it’s almost like a painting.

I also import my chocolate from Australia! It’s called Loving Earth chocolate. Everything natural, there’s no added sugar. They use coconut nectar as a sweetener. I can eat loads of it — literally, like two boxes.

What would you say is your culinary voice?

I want to show people that healthy things can be tasty. When people hear “healthy,” they think of a salad — to be honest, I don’t even like salads. Anything can be tasty, but you don’t always have to add stuff: you don’t have to add sugar to sauces; you don’t have to add roux to sauces to thicken them — you can just blend vegetables and add those instead. I want to give people ideas for changes they can make — even small things — to feel better.

Ready to explore the possibilities of a career in food? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs. 

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.

By Robert Ramsey — Director, Advanced Culinary Studies

There are few things in life more satisfying than freshly baked naan: the supple, chewy flatbread found in many central Asian cuisines. Made from just a few ingredients and leavened with yeast, the recipe isn’t much different than the breads found in so many cultures all over the world. Then what is it that makes naan so distinct and delicious? Certainly, the chutneys, condiments, relishes and a good slathering of ghee (clarified butter) add to the appeal, but many would argue that the cooking method is what’s behind the incredible flavor and texture. That cooking method is, of course, baking in a tandoor oven.

In Tools & Techniques of Tandoori Cooking, our upcoming Advanced Culinary Center class on Sunday, June 4, Chef Mike Brockman, corporate chef of Wood Stone and expert in tandoori cooking, will guide us through the nuts and bolts of this ancient technique. The initial focus will be naan — with plenty of requisite tasting — but we’ll also cover beef kebab, saffron ghee, chicken tikka, vegetable skewers and plenty of sauces. Attendants will get firsthand experience with the diverse uses of a tandoor oven and walk away with a new understanding of a very old technology.

By this point, you’re probably wondering what the heck a tandoor oven even is! I must admit, even though I have access to this hard-to-find piece of equipment on a daily basis (ICE’s Advanced Culinary Lab includes a Wood Stone tandoor), I had quite a few questions myself. So I decided to contact Chef Mike to get some answers.

First, let’s start with the basics: what is a tandoor?

A tandoor is a cooking cylinder made of clay or masonry, with the heat source on the inside and very thick, well-insulated walls. The food is placed into the oven through a hole in the top, which also serves as the chimney. The heat source is usually open flnaaname or coals and these days many of them are powered by a gas flame inside the cooking chamber. Unlike other cooking methods, bread is baked in a tandoor by sticking the dough directly to the walls inside the oven. Because the walls are so thick and the flame is inside, the heat is much higher as compared to a regular oven —over 700° Fahrenheit. Cooking with the tandoor must be approached with a different set of skills than western style roasting and baking. In my class, we will cover the proper approach, as well as the special equipment required for this ultra-high heat method.


We know that tandoor cooking is often associated with Indian and Persian cuisine, but what are the other culinary uses?

In today’s culinary world, the tandoor should simply be regarded as another method for creative chefs to put heat to food! If it can be put on a skewer and propped in the tandoor, you should give it a go.

Are there any at-home hacks for those of us who don’t own a tandoor oven?

So far, I’m aware of only one residential installation of a Wood Stone tandoor. Otherwise, a grill is probably the only place most home cooks can achieve 600-700° F. If you happen to have a stone hearth oven, that is also a great substitute.

Interested in learning to cook with ICE’s Wood Stone tandoor alongside Chef Mike? Click here to register today!

If you have questions or are concerned about your level of experience, contact Chef Robert Ramsey at rramsey@ice.edu.

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 Kelly Newsome — Student, Culinary Arts

I’ve been thinking about getting Julia Child’s face tattooed on my forearm for about two years now. Julia is one of my greatest inspirations. Like me, she was a late bloomer, marrying at 34 and starting her culinary career soon after. Her pure joy and passion for food was evident in everything that she did. She was an authentic voice in a world crowded with phonies, and that’s probably why she became so popular. She got the timing right. After being in the Culinary Arts program at ICE for just over a month, one thing I’ve learned is that timing is everything. It took me 15 years to get to culinary school. It’s something I wanted to do since graduating from college, but more practical voices prevailed and as a result, I forged a career on the periphery of the food world. Ironically, I couldn’t be happier that my path to ICE ended up this way.

Culinary Student Kelly Newsome

At 38, I knew that I would probably be the oldest in my culinary school class. It was a recurring thought, neither negative nor positive, just inescapably following me like the hook of my favorite song. Somehow, I knew that my age would play an important role in this journey. Pre-ICE, I spent nearly a decade working on the business side of the food industry. There were two serious attempts at culinary school and in each case I was talked out of it. You won’t make any money and the hours are terrible, was a common remark on my ambition. I let the doubters win. Yet every step I made in my career was an effort to get closer to the kitchen.

In 2007, after an intense Googling session, I found my first move towards a career in the food world – the NYU master’s in Food Studies program. At the time, I was working a dead-end job and desperate to pursue my passion for food and gastronomy. I applied in secret, fearing that my parents would not understand or support this unorthodox program. When I was accepted and finally told my parents, they surprised me with their overwhelming support. One year into the program I landed my first “food” job with a food science company that made natural food colorings. Not exactly Food & Wine, but it was a start.

It took me three years to finish my degree. My days were spent in the vast and complicated world of food ingredients and corporate food companies while my nights were shared with the brightest minds in food academia. Still, something was missing. Without realizing it, I had snaked myself into a career on the sidelines of food in order to make other people happy. After landing what I thought was my dream job, I realized that the cutthroat corporate food world was not for me and it was time to follow my dream of going to culinary school — so I finally took the leap and enrolled at ICE. My circuitous route led me to wonder how some of my classmates found their way to culinary school.

My classmate Tommy Kim’s road to ICE could not be more different than mine. After 9/11, he decided to join the Marines and served tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. While deployed, food was a frequent topic of thought and conversation. “I was constantly dreaming about all the wonderful foods I missed while I was away and hungry. You’d be surprised how much we used to talk about food while deployed. It was always about girls and food — but mostly food, haha.”

Tommy’s military experience served as the unexpected catalyst for his own food journey. Time spent fishing and hunting, while based in North Carolina, deepened his appreciation for food and nature. Deterred by the long hours and tireless work of professional cooking after serving six years in the military, Tommy decided to pursue a more lucrative career in medicine. However, just before med school interviews, Tommy’s inner voice took charge and he decided to pursue food.

He explained, “I had realized I was not really following what my heart desired. This was my tipping point. This is when I told myself to find that one thing that I knew that I had to be. That I had to stop being arrogant and stop thinking that I had to be something incredible. To be humble and to only express myself with what I love without care of what anyone thought of it. It was food and nature, it was something I found that brought me true joy.”

Fulfillment was the driving force behind my classmate Liz Bossin’s decision to pursue a career in food. People don’t often associate culinary arts and finance, but Liz discovered that her passion for food, love of hospitality and talent for relationship building could provide her with a unique edge in food and finance. After graduating from Villanova with degrees in both political science and philosophy, Liz worked as a legal assistant at a large firm in NYC. She quickly realized that law was not in her heart. “My job was extremely demanding – I regularly worked 60-80 hour weeks and got absolutely no satisfaction out of it. I quickly realized that if going to law school meant slaving over monotonous documents for the world’s biggest corporations, I wanted no part of it.”

Liz’s tipping point came when she took a knife skills class at Brooklyn Kitchen in December. A conversation with the kitchen assistant who had recently finished culinary school in Paris resonated with her. Liz knew that she didn’t want the career of a traditional restaurant chef. Rather, she was interested in food styling, working in a test kitchen, writing or owning her own specialty shop. She never considered going to culinary school until hearing the kitchen assistant talk about her career options after exiting culinary school and it didn’t involve working in restaurants. Suddenly, Liz realized that culinary school “made so much sense for launching a fulfilling, long-lasting career guided by her passion.”

Kelly's Julia collection

Inside Kelly’s kitchen: her Julia collection

Don’t be fooled — it isn’t easy to just follow your passion. Most people never get this opportunity. Some never even discover what it is. And when you do find it, you will always have voices telling you why you shouldn’t. Liz, Tommy and I come from vastly different backgrounds. What we share, however, is our inability to ignore our love of food and the unique circumstances that led us to ICE at the same moment in time. So here we are, three passionate foodies who finally got the timing right. To me, “getting the timing right” means doing what you want, on your own terms, when you’re ready. You make the hard choice to change careers or go back to school or move across the country. And then you’re in it and you realize you absolutely could not be doing anything else. I think I’m getting a little bit closer to my Julia tattoo.

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

Ever wanted to make fresh ravioli at home, but too intimidated to try? In a new video from ICE and PEOPLE magazine, ICE Chef Robert Ramsey shows how easy it can be with one simple trick, and shares an addictively delicious homemade ravioli recipe that confirms the adage that less truly can be more.

This recipe melds simple, straightforward ingredients into a flavorful, decadent dish. With just five ingredients, Chef Robert’s brown butter sage sauce is the perfect companion for his pillowy homemade ricotta ravioli.

Before you get started on your fresh egg pasta dough, here are a few tips from Chef Robert for nailing your homemade ravioli every time — you’ll never look at the store-bought stuff the same again:

  1. Using a ravioli tray is incredibly efficient and makes picture-perfect ravioli — but separating them can be tricky. “Flash” freezing them for 10-20 minutes in your freezer will make this step a snap, literally — you will know the ravioli are set once you can snap them apart easily, like a chocolate bar.
  2. Don’t have a ravioli tray? Just make the ravioli the same way, laying out a sheet twice as long as you need, piping the filling equal distance apart, folding the second half of the dough over the first, and then cutting with a ravioli wheel or knife. (That said, a ravioli tray costs the same as a wheel, and it’s easier to use. You can find one here.)
  3. When cooking the ravioli, you can tell they’re ready when they puff up like a balloon — this means that the filling is hot enough to create steam.
  4. Remember to reserve some of the pasta water for your sauce. Because of the starch in the pasta water, adding a spoonful of the cooking water will make the sauce “creamy” without adding cream. But be careful not to add too much as the pasta water is already salty.
  5. If you’re looking for other sauces to substitute, try these combinations: tomato sauce, oregano and Parmesan; classic pesto with a sprinkle of pine nuts; or capers, olive oil, lemon zest and parsley.

Ricotta Ravioli With Brown Butter, Sage and Hazelnuts
Servings: makes about 4 servings


For the pasta

1 recipe for Pasta All’Uovo recipe (below)

For the filling


2 cups ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

For the sauce

4 ounces (1 stick) butter
1 bunch fresh sage, leaves picked
6 ounces hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese


For the filling

  • Combine all ingredients in the work bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl. With the whisk attachment or hand whisk, whip the mixture until completely smooth.
  • Transfer to a piping bag and reserve in the refrigerator until ready to fill pasta.

To assemble ravioli

  • Once your pasta sheets are rolled out (after the final step in the dough recipe below), you can begin assembling the raviolis. Place one pasta sheet onto a well-floured ravioli tray. (Don’t have a ravioli tray? See Chef Robert’s tip above.) Using your hands, gently press the dough into the divots in the tray. Pipe about two tablespoons of filling onto each sheet of dough. Next, brush a second sheet of dough with cold water and place the wet side down on top of the bottom ravioli sheet.
  • Use a rolling pin, roll over the raviolis back and forth to seal and crimp the raviolis. Flip the ravioli tray to unfold the finished pasta. Transfer to a floured sheet pan and place immediately in the freezer.

For the sauce

  • In a small pot over medium heat, melt the butter, swirling constantly. When it begins to bubble and sizzle, keep swirling and watch carefully for browning. As soon as the butter turns golden brown and smells nutty, carefully add the sage leaves and remove from heat. The sage will fry in the butter, making it crispy and aromatic. Finally, add the chopped hazelnuts and the salt. Reserve the sauce in a warm place until you’re ready to serve the pasta (do not refrigerate).

To assemble the dish

  • Bring a large pot of water to a full, rolling boil. Add about ¼ cup of salt per quart of water. (Adequately salted water should taste like seawater.)
  • Remove the ravioli from the freezer. Break the raviolis apart and carefully place them into the boiling water and cook 4-5 minutes, until tender but not mushy.
  • Remove and toss directly into the pot of butter sauce. Gently mix to coat, and then spoon into a large pasta bowl. Finish with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and an extra touch of chopped, fried sage, if desired. 

Pasta all’ Uovo (Fresh Egg Pasta)
Servings: makes about 4 servings


11 ounces of all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon salt


  1. Place the flour on your work surface and make a well in the center.
  2. Break the eggs into the well and add the salt. With a fork, begin to gently beat the eggs in a circular motion, incorporating approximately ½ of the flour.
  3. Using a bench scraper, bring the entire mixture together.
  4. Knead the dough with your hands for 3 to 4 minutes. At this stage, the dough should be soft and pliable. If bits of dried dough form (which is normal) don’t incorporate them into the dough — brush them off of your work surface.
  5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  6. Cut the dough into four pieces and recover with the plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming.
  7. Remove one piece of the dough at a time from the plastic wrap and knead through the rollers of a pasta machine set at the widest setting. Fold the dough like a business letter to form three layers, pressing out all of the air. Turn the open end of the dough to the right (like a book) and repeat the rolling process. Continue the folding and rolling process five times on this setting.
  8. Repeat the folding and rolling process for the three remaining pieces of dough.
  9. Roll a piece of the previously kneaded dough through the pasta machine, reducing the setting with each roll until reaching the fifth-narrowest setting. Do not fold the dough between each setting.
  10. Once the sheets of pasta have been rolled out, use immediately, keeping the remaining sheets covered with a kitchen towel until ready to use.

By Caitlin Raux

A native of Bordeaux, Chef Aurélien Dufour’s passion for charcuterie — a branch of cooking so treasured in France it could have its own food group — dates back to his childhood, when he enjoyed cured meats with nearly every meal. By the time he enrolled in culinary school, he knew what he wanted to focus on in the kitchen. Chef Aurélien spent years sharing his passion with discerning diners in New York, as Executive Chef Charcutier for Daniel Boulud — and more recently, by launching Dufour Gourmet, an online wholesale marketplace for handmade pâtés, sausages and specialty meats. Recently, we asked Chef Aurélien a few questions about charcuterie and one particularly advanced dish — pâté en croûte.

Aurelien Dufour Portrait credit Melissa Hom

Aurélien Dufour (credit: Melissa Hom)

You moved to NYC from France in 2010 — has the reception of classic French cuisine in the US changed since then? 

I cannot tell you about the classic French cuisine but I can tell you that the French charcuterie has had a big evolution in New York City since I arrived in 2010. I noticed that people are very familiar with dry-cured items and they are now more and more interested in French charcuterie items like fresh sausages, pâtés and terrines. They want to know where it comes from, how it is made, the story behind it, how you eat it, and learn more about these kinds of products in general. It is also getting more attention from the culinary scene — many American chefs have started their own lines of charcuterie and there are more marketing events around it like Cochon 555 and Charcuterie Masters. 

When did you realize that you wanted to specialize in charcuterie?

I spent my childhood in Germany where I was introduced to the charcuterie tradition — there you eat it for breakfast and dinner every day, so it’s a lifestyle. When I moved back to France as a teenager, I enrolled in culinary school and decided to specialize in charcuterie.

I was lucky to learn from the talented chef and distinguished charcutier Gérard Berranger, a “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” — the highest and most prestigious award in the food industry in the country. He taught me the technique and tradition of French charcuterie. By his side, I mastered pâtés, terrines, galantines, ballotines, crépinettes and sausages, and also participated in many charcuterie competitions.

pâté en croûte

pâté en croûte (credit: Aurélien Dufour)

Name the characters that would appear on the classic charcuterie board.

On a beautiful wood board, I would display pâté en croûte, two kinds of pâté, two kinds of terrines, a variety of cooked ham, such as jambon de Paris, a dry ham like Bayonne, and dry sausage like saucisson sec. To complement, I would have cornichons (French pickles), slices of bread and mâche salad.

Can you tell us about the origin of pâté en croûte?

From what I’ve heard and read, the pâté en croûte was already used back in Middle Ages. The dough around the meat was not edible — rather, it was a different way to cook the meat and it extended the shelf life. With time, the dough became edible and the pâté en croûte became a classic French charcuterie item.

Describe your approach to preparing a pâté en croûte.

First, it depends on the season, as this will determine which meats and vegetables you can use. Then, you need to know exactly how you will incorporate each ingredient into the different layers to build the pâté en croûte. I always draw my product on paper before I start producing it. It is also very important to have high quality ingredients to create this kind of charcuterie item.

pig’s ears en croûte

pig’s ears en croûte (credit: Aurélien Dufour)

What’s the most inventive or creative pâté en croute you’ve seen?

I would say that the most impressive pâté en croûte is the classic Oreiller de la Belle Aurore. It is basically a huge pâté en croûte in a shape of a pillow (“oreiller” in French) made of several game meats, poultry, duck, hare, foie gras and more. It was first created by Mr. Brillat-Savarin who made it as a sign of love to his mother and since 1937 has been a specialty of Charcutier Reynon in Lyon, France. In the past few years, other charcutiers have started recreating their own Oreiller de la Belle Aurore.


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By Rick Smilow, President of ICE

The weekend of March 4th, I had the pleasure of attending the annual IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) conference in Louisville, KY. ICE has been a part of IACP for over 20 years. The group’s membership is particularly focused in the food media and culinary communications arena. If you’re looking for an annual gathering of food editors, authors, recipe developers, food bloggers, test kitchen executives, culinary entrepreneurs, journalists and culinary experts, this is your place.

IACP Conference

Maureen and Rick with Jenna Helwig and Kristin Donnelly

I attended — for the 17th time in 20 years — with Maureen Drum Fagin, ICE’s Director of Career Services. We counted at least 24 ICE alumni or former ICE team members in attendance, several of whom were leading educational sessions at the conference. That included SeeFood Media President and founder Jamie Tiampo (Culinary Management, 2006) with the workshop “How to Bid, Plan and Distribute Digital Food Videos,” and food journalist and cookbook author Jody Eddy (Culinary Arts, 2007) was part of a panel discussion entitled “Is What’s Mine Yours? How to Avoid Cultural Appropriation in Your Writing.”

One of the highlights of the conference was the awards ceremony (primarily for cookbooks), which was held Sunday night at the Louisville Palace Theatre. I am happy to announce that Chef Vivian Howard’s (Culinary Arts, 2003) book Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South won in four categories, including Cookbook of the Year. Vivian is the Head Chef and Co-Owner of Chef & the Farmer in North Carolina, as well as the host/star of the PBS series, A Chef’s Life, for which she has won a James Beard Foundation award and a Peabody Award.


chef/restaurateur/TV personality Vivian Howard

Other ICE alumni we caught up with include Jenna Helwig (food editor, Parents Magazine), David Bonom (recipe developer/food writer), Alison Tozzi Liu (editorial director, James Beard Foundation), Adeena Sussman (author/journalist), Kristin Donnelly (author of Modern Potluck: Beautiful Food to Share and formerly Editor at Food &Wine), Emily Peterson (instructor in NYU’s Food Studies program), Trish Lobenfeld (food writer/recipe developer), Juli Roberts (test kitchen manager, Rodale), Diana Andrews (food editor/test kitchen manager for Fine Cooking Magazine) and Julie Hartigan (writer/recipe developer).

Of course, when you are in Louisville, you are in bourbon country. Friday, as a supplement to the main conference, I attended a special one-day class called “Moonshine University” at the Distilled Spirits Epicenter, which has a small-scale yet sophisticated spirits production operation on-site. I now have a general understanding of how bourbon is made: the significance of heat and alcohol boiling points and a grasp of terms like “mash bill,” “congeners,” “sweet vs. sour mash” and a “number 3 char.” Typically, their classes run for several weeks and attract prospective artisan-spirits makers from around the world.

Moonshine University

Moonshine University

While I was at Moonshine University, Maureen was on a moving bourbon tour of Louisville. On her tour, Maureen chatted with two ICE alumni that hadn’t been on our radar: Tess Bosher, the Culinary Specialist in Hamilton Beach’s test kitchen, and Stacy Basko, a freelance recipe developer.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the food. Several of our meals were walk-around tastings and so we got to try bites from notable Louisville restaurants such as Milkwood, Decca and Proof on Main. It’s a matter of debate whether Louisville is in the northern part of the South, or the southern part of the Midwest, but either way, there are menu items — like grits, pickled vegetables and rabbit – that you’d be less likely to find in New York City. A tasty example was the sandwich served at the Sunday brunch at Harvest: house-smoked bologna, pimento cheese, a sunny-side-up egg and arugula.

One memorable meal inspired by another country’s fare was ICE alum Gina Stipo’s (Culinary, 1998) pop-up dinner “At the Italian Table.” We enjoyed Gina’s Italian dinner on Thursday night with David Bonom and his wife, Newsday columnist and visiting ICE instructor Marge Perry. Gina’s spent much of the last 12 years in Italy, teaching and leading food tours. When she came back to the US, her goal was to open an intimate and delicious Italian restaurant —The Italian Table achieves that goal. Eating there is like being invited to a warm and friendly Italian dinner party — where you don’t know most of the other guests! With just two large tables for 20 or so guests, her restaurant is open four nights a week and has a four-course pre-fixe menu that changes daily. The first (and only) seating of the night starts promptly at 7:00pm.


Gina Stipo’s “At the Italian Table” Dinner

Some former ICE team members were present as well. I enjoyed spending time with Anne McBride and Todd Coleman, who both held communications or marketing positions at ICE in the past decade. Anne and I co-wrote the book, Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food. She also has collaborated with ICE Pastry & Baking Arts Chef Instructor Kathryn Gordon on her cookbooks Les Petits Macarons and Les Petit Sweets. After ICE, Todd took a position at Saveur magazine, where he eventually became Executive Food Editor.

Beyond all the ICE names, one of the most interesting speakers at the conference was Ali Bouzari, who recently published a new book, Ingredient: Unveiling the Essential Elements of Food. His book focuses on the concept that there are eight “mother ingredients” (proteins, water, minerals, etc.) and that if a cook understands these concepts, their intuition and ability to execute any recipe or technique will be enhanced. I’m told Ali has done a TEDTalk on this subject and the book, and based on what I heard in Louisville, I bet it’s great!

All in all, it was a terrific conference. We caught up with ICE alums, explored delicious domestic foods and drinks (with some foreign flavors thrown in too), and were inspired by great culinary conversations.

Click here for more information about IACP.