By James Briscione—Director of Culinary Development

An invitation to speak at a TED event has always been a secret dream of mine. No fame or fortune comes with being a speaker at these local conferences, but to receive an email, out of the blue, to present at TEDxWarsaw was one of those moments that made my heart skip a beat. It felt like getting an invite to sit at the cool kids table, because someone, somewhere, thought that I had an “idea worth spreading.”

In particular, when that idea is something you have been crafting, developing and refining for years, that invitation can be the ultimate validation. Of course, as soon as I accepted, the panic and nerves set in. I had one shot—15 minutes—to explain something that took me the better part of four years to figure out. On top of that, I would be halfway across the world, presenting to hundreds of people from different backgrounds and industries. Intimidating, to say the least.

Culinary Arts Instructor James Briscione - Warsaw - City - Institute of Culinary Education

Before I even begin to dive into my talk, I want to share some experiences about where I spoke, because Warsaw is probably more interesting in and of itself than any of the talks presented at TED. Beautiful, fascinating, confusing—it’s a city whose history is as incredible as it is sad. The gorgeous Old Town is tourist central, with small cobblestone streets and tightly-packed buildings. It is reminiscent of other towns I’ve visited in Italy that date back hundreds of years. The difference between this Old Town and those Italian villages is that Warsaw was almost entirely rebuilt in the 1950s. World War II devastated the city, leaving 95% of the buildings—homes, churches, businesses—completely leveled. The reconstruction realistically imitates the former architecture, and today only cracks in the plaster facades give a hint to the old bones that lie beneath. Elsewhere in the city, you’ll see hulking concrete relics of the Communist era, as well as modern European streets with bustling coffee shops and restaurants.

Pierogies - Culinary Arts - James Briscione - Warsaw - Polish Food

Speaking of restaurants, you knew we were going to get to the food eventually, right? Like many of you, my initial thoughts were, “So, Polish food…how many pierogies can you actually eat?” It turns out, I can eat a lot of pierogies! But there is more amazing food happening in Warsaw. I was fortunate to have an awesome host, Gosia Minta, a well-known Warsaw-based blogger and cookbook author who helped me explore the thriving food scene. Like any great cuisine, the food in Warsaw is enhanced thanks to pristine local ingredients and creative chefs putting their twists on traditional dishes.

James Briscione - Fine Dining - Warsaw - Alewino - Restaurants - Culinary Arts

In particular, a memorable meal at alewino surpassed all my expectations: from a warm mousse of smoked eel and farm eggs to foie gras with ramps, morels and buckwheat. It wasn’t just the best meal I had in Warsaw, it was one the best meals I’ve had anywhere recently.

Warsaw - Polish Cuisine - Breakfast - James Briscione - Culinary Arts

Beyond this fine dining experience, there were many other charming spots to mix with the locals over coffee or enjoy a breakfast of traditional bread. But as much as I would have loved to be in Warsaw for an extensive foodie tour alone, there was much work to do. I had my culinary perspective to share—like why a chicken and mushroom burger spread with strawberry ketchup makes perfect sense—and how it may even help solve some the biggest issues that face our current food supply.

Want to know more? Watch my TEDx Talk below!

Want to study the science of flavor and more with Chef James? Learn more about ICE’s School of Culinary Arts.

 

Plating isn’t just an aesthetic choice. It controls the way we interact with our food, from first glimpse to final forkful. Watch as ICE Director of Culinary Development James Briscione reimagines roast duck, using cutting-edge dishware from Front of the House.

From classic French technique to new Nordic and linear styles of plating, Chef James visualizes some of the leading traditional and contemporary methods of visual presentation.

To watch more stunning plating videos from ICE, visit ICE.edu/FOH.


By James Briscione—Director of Culinary Development

Preserving seasonal produce is one of the world’s oldest culinary traditions. Growing up down South, the end of summer meant two things: the start of football season and time to start “puttin’ up.” If you’re unfamiliar with the term, puttin’ up is the act of harvesting seasonal produce and preserving it to last throughout the winter. This meant canning ripe tomatoes or peaches, blanching and freezing field peas, making jam with figs, berries and persimmons, and pickling every vegetable in sight. It’s not just a Southern thing: across the globe, you’ll find a wide range of traditional methods for extending the life of seasonal flavors.

citrus mandarin buddha's hand, meyer lemon

However, down South, this mindset only seems to strike at the end of summer. I’m sure it has something to do with those stories we read to children about the little squirrel storing up his acorns before the snow falls. Yet winter can be puttin’ up season too. After all, cold weather provides us with an incredible bounty of citrus, including some highly aromatic fruits that are, in some cases, only available for a matter of weeks. This year, I’m picking my favorite unique citrus and puttin’ ‘em up!

Buddha’s hand citron is a wild-looking fruit that looks like a cross between a lemon and an octopus. It has no pulp or juice and is made up entirely of delicately perfumed rind. 

Meyer lemon is less sour than the standard lemon and has a complex, floral aroma that falls somewhere on the spectrum between lemon and orange.

Mandarin orange is a small, squat orange that is closely related to (and sometimes labeled as) a tangerine. They are slightly sweeter than the standard orange, and mandarin rinds boast aromatic hints of vanilla and spice.

Kumquats hail from Southeast Asia and look like tiny, oblong oranges. Their taste can range from sour to sweet, depending on the variety. Unlike most citrus, kumquats are typically eaten whole (rind and all).

Unlike other vegetables and fruits, heat is often your enemy when preserving citrus. Of course, heat is the safest way to preserve foods—ensuring no bacteria remains behind to cause spoilage—but the delicate aromas that are unique to each citrus varietal are destroyed when heated. For that reason, we prefer to use salt or acid to create an environment where bacteria is killed and aromas survive. Below, you’ll find pickling, preserving and candying recipes for preserving seasonal citrus.

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Pickled Kumquat

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, sliced
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 1 lb kumquat, sliced and seeds removed

Combine the sugar, vinegar, ginger and cardamom in a saucepot. Bring the mixture to a simmer, and then set aside to cool. (It is important to make sure the liquid is fully cooled before pouring over the citrus, to ensure the protection of the fruit’s nuanced flavors.) Place the kumquats in a clean jar and pour the pickling liquid over the fruit. They will be ready to eat in 24 hours.

Preserved Mandarin and Meyer Lemons

For the mandarins:

  • 8 mandarin oranges
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • ½ vanilla bean, split
  • 3 pods star anise
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorn
  • 5 tbsp kosher salt
  • 7 tbsp sugar

For the Meyer lemons:

  • 8 Meyer lemons
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 2 pods star anise
  • Pinch saffron
  • 5 tbsp kosher salt
  • 7 tbsp sugar

Wash the fruit well in warm water and dry. Cut the fruit into quarters and remove any visible seeds. Place the fruit in a bowl with your spices, salt and sugar. Mix thoroughly. Pack the mixture into clean jars or heavy-duty zip-close bags. If using jars, fill to top. If using bags, press out all of the excess air. Seal tightly.

Store at a cool temperature (below 70˚F or in the refrigerator) and leave to cure approximately three weeks (refrigerated preserves will take longer), occasionally turning the jars or bags to shift the contents. Rinse citrus well before using.

Candied Buddha’s Hand

  • 1 Buddha’s hand citron
  • 1½ cups sugar, plus more as needed for finishing
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • Candy thermometer

Wash and dry the citron. Separate the “fingers” from the body and slice into ½-inch thick slices. Dice the body into ½-inch cubes. Taste a piece of the fruit: if it is bitter, place the pieces in a pot, cover completely with cold water and bring to a simmer. Drain the citron, discarding the water and cover with fresh water again. Bring back to a simmer and repeat one more time. (If the fruit is not bitter, you can skip this step.)

In a clean pot, combine sugar, salt and 1½ cups water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the citron and cook at a low boil, until the temperature on a candy thermometer reads 230˚F. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Once cooked, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

When cool enough to handle, place the pieces on a rack and leave, uncovered, at room temperature to dry overnight. The next day, lightly toss the dried citron pieces in a bowl with granulated sugar to coat completely. Shake off any excess sugar and store in an airtight container.

Learn more about pickling, preserving and other advanced culinary skills in our career culinary arts and continuing education programs at ICE.


By James Briscione—Director of Culinary Development
 

At ICE, we’re constantly challenging ourselves to identify the issues, trends and ideas that will shape professional kitchens for years to come. In 2015, the topic of food waste was on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

For Thanksgiving, my fellow ICE Chef Instructor Jenny McCoy shared two simple recipes utilizing sweet potato scraps and apple cores. In turn, I’ve been challenged to elevate these eco-friendly ideas with a modernist take on food waste. Utilizing leftover vegetables, egg whites and red wine, you can create a sustainable panna cotta that’s fit for fine dining.

food waste compost cuisine vegetarian

Leftover Vegetable Panna Cotta

Makes eight four-ounce servings of panna cotta

  • 2.25g iota-carrageenan (0.3%)
  • 0.375g kappa-carrageenan (0.05%)
  • 500g vegetable puree (made from about 1 lb, or 2 cups leftover vegetables)
  • 250g milk (1 cup)
  • optional: red leaf sorrel (or other small-leaf greens) and edible flowers
  1. Set up a blender and lay out eight four-ounce ramekins. Rub the ramekins with butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Measure the iota-carrageenan and kappa-carrageenan and reserve.
  3. Combine the vegetable puree and milk in a saucepot and bring to a boil. Season to taste.
  4. Quickly transfer the boiling puree mixture to the blender and blend on low. With the blender running, add both of the carrageenans and turn the blender to high. Blend on high for 10 seconds to hydrate the carrageenans.
  5. Immediately pour the puree into the ramekins and refrigerate to set. Refrigerate at least two hours before unmolding.
  6. To plate, unmold panna cotta and decorate with broken shards of meringue, small-leaf greens and edible flower petals.

Crunchy Red Wine Meringue

  • 480g (2 cups) red wine
  • Optional spices: cinnamon stick, fennel seed, star anise
  • 13g (1 tablespoon) red wine vinegar
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 120g (4) egg whites
  • 220g (1 cup) sugar
  • 70g (½ cup) powdered sugar
  • Fresh cracked black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 150F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper.
  3. Simmer the wine with spices of your choosing in a small saucepot. Cook until reduced to a glaze. Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar. Set aside to cool while you prepare the meringue.
  4. Place the egg whites in a bowl and add a pinch of salt. Whisk by hand or with an electric mixer until very frothy. Continue beating, adding the sugar one tablespoon at a time. When the egg whites are smooth and glossy and hold stiff peaks, stop whisking and fold in the powdered sugar.
  5. Gently fold in the cooled red wine reduction. Don’t worry about any remaining streaks, by the time the mixture is spread on a tray, the color will be homogenous.
  6. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking tray. Spread with a spatula into a very thin layer. Dry in the oven at 150F until crisp, about four to six hours. Break into pieces and store in a cool, dry place.

Click here to learn more ways ICE is innovating in the kitchen.

 

By James Briscione—ICE Director of Culinary Development

When ICE set out to develop a Culinary Technology Lab to represent the evolution of cooking, we embarked on a time-traveling mission. Not only were we looking to the future with modernist equipment, but we also wanted to delve deep into the history of culinary techniques.

Among the most interesting “time machines” in our lab are two of the oldest known cooking implements: the tandoor oven and the plancha grill. Originating in Persia, the word tandoor comes from the Babylonian word for fire, and the use of tandoors dates back to 3000 B.C. The plancha, originally a flat top grill made of clay, hails from Central America. Today, the plancha is most associated with cooking at high heat over a metal surface, which can be as simple as a piece of sheet metal suspended over a fire.

If you’re not familiar with tandoor ovens, fire is literally at their core. This vertical clay or ceramic cylinder, traditionally dug into the ground, houses an intense fire at its base that heats both the oven’s thick walls as well as the air within the tandoor’s chamber. Extremely well-insulated, the tandoor can reach temperatures as high as 900˚F—which means when working in the tandoor you have to wear a protective sleeve (or embrace the idea of smooth, hairless forearms). Cooking inside the tandoor takes place in two ways: by sticking a product on the walls of the cylinder or by suspending it on a spit laid over the center.

Naan bread is the most famous product of the tandoor, and it is nearly impossible to make great naan without one. ICE culinary students have an entire lesson devoted to learning to make Asian flatbreads and chutneys, which includes chapati, phulka, poori and scallion bread. With the opening of our Culinary Technology Lab, they can now make authentic naan as well. To prepare naan, students stretch tender rounds of dough made with yeast and yogurt, then slap each round onto the walls of the tandoor. Approximately 90 seconds later, they reach in with a special hook to peel the bread off the walls, then finish it off by brushing the bubbly browned surface of the bread with ghee and freshly ground spices.

tandoor oven institute of culinary education

An ICE student prepares skewered meat in the tandoor oven

To complement your naan, one of the most delicious options is to load long skewers with yogurt-marinated chicken thighs and spiced vegetables like cauliflower, potatoes, peppers or onions, then roast them to smoky, tender perfection. There is no cooking mechanism that can mimic the tandoor’s flavor, especially for fans of traditional Indian cuisine.

You’ve likely experienced the modern version of the plancha in the form of the flat top grill that churns out hash browns, eggs and burgers at your local diner. But looks are the only thing that those one-trick pony flat tops have in common with the precision Wood Stone electric plancha in our Culinary Technology Lab.

For those who have traveled to Central or South America, you may have seen planchas in the form of a hot piece of sheet metal used to sear meat and vegetables over an outdoor fire. The plancha in our Culinary Technology Lab mimics that effect by heating its cooking surface—a nearly two-inch thick slab of steel—to 700˚F. But this plancha can do much more, with four independently controlled temperature zones that hold precise temperatures as low as 300˚F.

shrimp electric plancha institute of culinary education

Grilling shrimp on the electric plancha

Imagine how amazing that diner breakfast would be if your hash browns, eggs and sausage could be cooked at separate temperatures. On the Wood Stone plancha, the front half of the grill can be set on high heat to create crisp, golden and deeply flavorful exteriors on food, while the back half of the plancha maintains low temperatures to ensure a more gentle cooking geared towards a precise level of doneness. It’s a recipe for the most perfectly cooked hamburger you’ve ever tasted: almost charred and brown on the exterior; unbelievably juicy and tender inside.

One of my favorite high-end uses for the plancha is to forgo the greasy fare and sear sea scallops, prawns, tuna or even swordfish. I’ve also found that the plancha is the ideal surface to finish sous vide-cooked meats, which need to be rapidly browned on their exterior without disturbing the delicately cooked interiors. In short, it’s the perfect time-traveling mash-up of modernist and ancient techniques.

With the addition of the tandoor and plancha to the epic firepower of our hearth oven and vertical rotisserie, the Culinary Technology Lab has become my favorite place in ICE’s new facility. Click here to schedule a personal tour—you never know what you might catch me cooking.

 

By Casey Feehan

“There are no new ideas,” the old saying goes. Yet every day a chef will challenge himself to disprove that statement, reimagining the experience of eating and bringing new life to the tried-and-true. Take fish sauce, for example. The 2,000-year old staple of asian cuisine was recently upgraded to “it” condiment, but how to improve upon something with that kind of history? Enter Chef James Briscione’s recipe for Fish Sauce Peanut Brittle, a creative twist on the salty, nostalgic sweet that’s nothing short of surprising.

fish sauce peanut brittle

Fish Sauce Peanut Brittle

Ingredients

  • 415 g sugar
  • 88 g fish sauce
  • 4 g chile
  • 225 g peanut

Instructions

  1. In a heavy saucepan, stir together the sugar, fish sauce and chile. Place the pot over medium heat, swirling the mixture occasionally (do not stir). If you notice crystals forming around the edge of the pan, wipe the inside of the pot with a moistened brush to wash the crystals back into the mixture.
  2. Continue cooking at a simmer until the mixture has a deep brown color (12-15 minutes). Carefully judge the color as the fish sauce will make the caramel look darker than it really is. When fully cooked, remove the pot from the heat and stir in the peanuts.
  3. Immediately pour the mixture out onto a greased sheet of wax paper. Cool completely to harden, then break into smaller portions.

For more recipes by ICE Chef Instructors, click here.

 

By Chef James Briscione, Director of Culinary Development

Recently, a little known group composed of the world’s most famous chefs gathered to surprise and celebrate one of their own: Chef Wylie Dufresne. The group, Gelinaz, descended on New York’s Lower East Side to toast the 10th anniversary of Dufresne’s restaurant wd~50, an American temple to avant garde cuisine.

The Gelinaz tribute dinner for Wylie Dufresne's birthday.

The Gelinaz group gathers to honor Wylie Dufresne

While modernist cuisine might not be the first thing that pops into a person’s mind when they think Wylie Dufresne, his food certainly falls into that category. This isn’t surprising. Ask a chef tagged with the “modernist” moniker, and he or she will likely say that they never thought of their own cuisine as such. The label is typically fixed upon a chef by others in the culinary community—often as part of an ongoing debate about the positives and negatives of modernist techniques.

So what exactly is modernist cuisine? In short, it’s a buzzword—the latest term used to describe an innovative and avant garde style of cooking. First popularized by Ferran Adria (the “foam guy”) at his restaurant El Bulli, modernist cuisine has since become known the world over. Previous to Adria, the techniques used in modernist cuisine were housed under the umbrella of molecular gastronomy: a scientific discipline that studies the chemistry of food. Great minds such as Nicholas Kurti, Herve This and Harold McGee made tremendous strides in this field, ultimately inspiring chefs like Adria, Heston Blumenthal and Grant Achatz to incorporate scientific methods into their cooking. Thus, modernist cuisine was born.

The most famous stereotype of modernist cooking? Foam.

The most famous stereotype of modernist cooking? Foam.

The problem with “modern cuisine” is the same that plagues all artistic fields—it is poorly replicated by people that don’t have a firm grasp of the necessary techniques. (For a comparable example, do a Google image search for “bad abstract art”). Beyond the foam, sous-vide and reverse spherification, modernist cooking is really about examining ingredients and asking, “What makes a carrot good?” and “How I make the good part of a carrot better?” Technology has enabled us to find the precise time/temperature ratio that produces a carrot more tender, sweet and delicious. Now, does that carrot taste better when it is in the form a delicate sphere? Probably not. But is it pretty cool looking? Heck yeah!

Applying modernist technique to a dish, without the overly-abstracted presentation.

Applying modernist technique to a dish, without the overly-abstracted presentation.

This is where that slippery slope begins. It took me many years as a chef to learn restraint. To understand that “because I can” is not a good reason to put something on a plate. In the 1970s, we were faced with a comparable culinary movement: nouvelle cuisine. As this lighter perspective on French cooking swept the globe, it led us to some strange and debatably appetizing places. (Imagine raspberry coulis, pushed into a squeeze bottle, to ultimately dot a plate of lightly cooked veal or some other horrific combination.) These things happened because people read an article about Michel Guerard or Fernand Point, but didn’t take the time to understand the heart of what these chefs were creating. Yet no matter its bizarre derivatives, nouvelle cuisine did inspire chefs to question and reimagine the way they approached their own cooking.

New styles of presentation and plating are among the most important influences of the modernist movement.

New styles of presentation and plating are among the most important influences of the modernist movement.

Today, while it could be argued that the stereotypes of modernist cuisine—spheres, foams and other abstractions of ingredients—are considered passé, we see restaurant menus detailing fermented this and housemade that. This trend of DIY, chef-crafted ingredients is a direct result of the scientific modernist movement. Over the past 10 years, kitchens became laboratories. In those labs, ingredients were broken down into their basic components so they could be better understood. Curious chefs discovered new ways to manipulate products, presenting them in new forms on your plate. And while the end product of these “labs” may have shifted from housemade cantaloupe caviar to artisanal pork katsuobushi, let us not forget that the path is essential.

Click here to learn more about Chef James and his work on the very modern Cognitive Cooking project with IBM.

 

By Casey Feehan

Five decades may have gone by, but Nutella remains as sweet as ever. The beloved chocolate-hazelnut spread celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with a nation-wide, 16-city food truck tour. In light of the tour, ABC News turned to chefs across the nation, including ICE’s own Director of Culinary Development, Chef James Briscione, to develop iconic Nutella desserts that celebrate the local culinary culture of each of the truck’s 16 stops. James chose to reinterpret Bananas Foster, a classic New Orleans dessert invented in the 1950s. It’s difficult to imagine caramelized bananas and rum leaving room for improvement, but a whipped Nutella cream transforms the dish into a celebration-worthy stunner.

Nutella 50th Anniversary - Banana's Foster Tart with Nutella Mousse - James Briscione / ice.edu

Bananas Foster Tartlet with Nutella Cream

Yield: 4 servings

For the Frangipane:

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup granulated white sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup finely ground hazelnuts or almonds
  • 1 fl oz dark rum
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Instructions:

  1. Combine the sugar, salt and butter in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg, vanilla and rum; continue mixing until fully incorporated.
  3. Add the ground nuts and flour and fold together until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Excess frangipane may be stored refrigerated up to 2 weeks.

For the tartlets:

Ingredients:

  • 4 (4-inch) rounds puff pastry
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • Granulated sugar, as needed
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup Nutella

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F
  2. Place the rounds of puff pastry on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Spread the frangipane on the dough, leaving an approximately ¼ inch border. Bake the tart until the crust is risen around the frangipane and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool on the pan.
  3. Thinly slice the bananas and tile over the tarts. Spread a thin, even layer of sugar over the tart and brûlée with a torch.
  4. Pour the cream into a chilled bowl and whisk to soft peaks. Place the Nutella in a separate bowl. Whisk half of the whipped cream into the Nutella. Add the remaining cream and fold together until smooth and lightened.
  5. To serve, place the brûléed tart in the center of a plate and top with the Nutella cream.

 

By Kiri Tannenbaum

 

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

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

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

Fifty_Shades_of_Kale_1_8

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

 

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

 

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

justmarriedandcooking-lg-cover

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

 

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

 

Article originally published in the ICE Fall 2013 Main Course.

By Carly DeFilippo

It’s been barely two months since Seohyung Im faced off with three of her culinary peers to represent ICE at the Northeast Regional San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition. Since then, she not only met regularly with her chef advisor, James Briscione, to practice the various techniques required for her dish, but also mentally prepared for hectic media frenzy that would surround her in the kitchen.

Seohyung prepares her dish, under the watchful eyes Chef Instructors from the various competing schools.

Seohyung prepares her dish, under the watchful eyes of her competitors’ Chef Advisors.

This Wednesday, at the regional competition, Seohyung competed against seven of the most talented student chefs from culinary schools across the Northeast. Charged with preparing a “stylish and imaginative” entree, suitable for presentation at a fine dining establishment, students were judged on criteria including quality, originality, practicality, technique and personal style.

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Seohyung plates, as the clock winds down, under the bright lights of the cameras.

In addition, competitors were evaluated on their ability to articulate their culinary perspective in front of a judging panel that included such renown chefs as Laurent Tourondel and ICE grad Missy Robbins, as well as numerous representatives from the mainstream food media.

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Seohyung’s roasted venison with tofu and pine nuts.

Seohyung was the first student chef to present her dish, flawlessly finishing within the stringent two hour time limit. The bar was set extremely high, with each competitor producing what Dean of Students, Andy Gold, considered the most distinguished cuisine he had ever seen at the annual competition.

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The esteemed panel of judges digs into Seohyung’s dish.

On behalf of the entire ICE family, I would like to thank Seohyung for her incredible talent, dedication and work ethic. We could not be more proud of your efforts, and look forward to seeing what you cook up next!

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Seohyung and Chef Advisor James Briscione

For more photos from the Northeast Regional competition, including the dishes of the other student chefs, click here.