By Carly DeFilippo

Wall Street consultant. Macaron master. International pastry competitor. Best-selling author.

Like many culinary professionals, ICE Chef Instructor Kathryn Gordon never intended to work in food. Yet today, this former management consultant is one of ICE’s most celebrated pastry instructors, and one of the country’s foremost experts on the finicky art of French macarons.

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ICE Chef-Instructor Kathryn Gordon

Growing up, Kathryn didn’t have a “home base.”  Her father’s work in the oil business meant that the family was constantly on the move, offering her exposure to various regional cuisines, such as the Creole recipes of New Orleans.  She even spent part of her childhood in Australia and attended high school in London, where she sampled a wide range of ethnic foods.

Before she realized her culinary ambitions, Kathryn completed her undergraduate studies at Vassar College, and later, obtained her MBA at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Her work as a consultant in the high-stakes world of Wall Street trading left her more than prepared for a new career in the fast-paced world of restaurant kitchens. So, after earning an honors certification from L’Academie de Cuisine in Washington DC, it’s no surprise that Kathryn excelled in the kitchens of New York’s “big three” restaurants — The Rainbow Room, Tavern on the Green and Windows on the World — then, the three highest-grossing restaurants in the country.

Among her many contacts in the industry, Kathryn names Kurt Walrath as her most influential mentor. From serving dinner for 700 at the Rainbow Room to Sunday brunch for 2,000 at Tavern on the Green, there were few tasks he challenged her to take on that she did not master. Yet it was at Windows on the World, as Pastry Chef of Cellar in the Sky, that Kathryn realized her primary job responsibility was teaching — instructing a sizable staff of experienced chefs and interns during her time there.

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Chef Kathryn teaching techniques to a class of recreational students.

Shifting her focus, Kathryn was hired as an instructor (and subsequently became the Program Director for the pastry program) at New York Restaurant School, one of the city’s top culinary schools (now closed). During that time, she also collaborated with an American artist who owned a hotel in France to launch a series of culinary tours and French pastry classes for U.S. based industry professionals.

In 2003, Kathryn joined the faculty at the Institute of Culinary Education and has since helped to launch ICE’s own culinary study abroad programs. She has also proved a formidable competitor in National and Regional pastry competitions, and has even been the Master of Ceremonies for a number of pastry events, including the live Carymax World and National Pastry Championships.

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Chef Gordon instructs the class on the art of making the famously finicky French macarons.

Back in ICE’s New York teaching kitchens, Chef Kathryn aims to create extreme scenarios that challenge students to think on their feet. In 2011, she also published a best-selling guide to crafting French macarons — one of the pastry world’s most notoriously tricky sweets. Described by the Wall Street Journal as the most “comprehensive and inspiring” book on macarons in any language, she is now at work on a companion book for Running Press Publishers.

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Chef Kathryn checks on macarons baking in the oven.

Inspired by her attention to detail and determined focus, it’s no surprise that Kathryn’s students have gone on to find their own significant success. Two, in particular — Dana Loia of Dana’ Bakery and Kathleen Hernandez of Cocoamains— have followed in her footsteps, opening entrepreneurial macaron businesses catering to NYC’s latest dessert craze.

Click here to learn more about Chef Kathryn, her macaron classes and work with the ICE Center for Advanced Pastry Studies.

Ever wonder what’s cooking at ICE? Five-Course Friday gives you a snapshot of what we are whipping up weekly. Whether you pop in to a recreational class, catch a professional demo or watch the transformation from student to chef, there is something scrumptious happening daily.

Vegetarian appetizer from Culinary Arts class

Colorful rice dish from Rick Bayless lesson in Culinary Arts

Succulent chicken from Culinary Arts students

Amazing, amazing, amazing turkey mole from Culinary Arts

Colorful and delicious macarons from Pastry Arts

Have a delicious weekend!

Last week, ICE hosted a party to celebrate the launch of Les Petits Macarons: Colorful French Confections to Make at Home, a new book from ICE Pastry & Baking Arts Chef Instructor Kathryn Gordon and the former Director of ICE’s Center for Food Media Anne E. McBride. The book demystifies the delicate, delicious pastries with a thorough look at macaron techniques and a veritable trove of recipes and ideas for fillings and decorations.

The party brought together many macaron enthusiasts and professionals to celebrate the book — we even spotted Chef Michael Laiskonis in the crowd. We wanted to share some of the photos with you. Congratulations to Chef Kathryn and Anne! More…

I can remember it like it was almost yesterday, sitting in the tea salon at Ladurée by the Opera in Paris. I felt like a silly schoolgirl next to all those ladies who lunch, but while I was eating my coupe I was momentarily as happy as I could have ever imagined being. I’ve been to Paris twice, once on my own and once on a work-related stage in the kitchens of the pastry gods and both times my favorite moments always happened inside the vaulted doors of Ladurée. Once you walked inside there was a special magic in the air. It was so thick you could feel it and a few moments later you knew you would be lucky enough to taste it. Visions of coffee eclairs and rose religeuse dance in my head whenever I think Ladurée.

When I heard that they would be opening a shop here in our own little city, excited couldn’t begin to describe my feelings. I could already taste the pastry cream as I anxiously waited for the moment it would open. But sometimes all good things don’t come to those who wait. Ladurée had announced its opening for the Saturday before Hurricane Irene flew into town. Alas it was not to be. It finally made its debut the next Tuesday with lines down the street. Probably not a site that Madison Avenue has ever seen before, not even for a must-have Gucci. Since I couldn’t make it, hubby kindly ventured up to get a lay of the land and return with a goody bag for me. More…

Macarons seem to be everywhere these days. The delightful, colorful treats are springing up in stores in a huge variety of flavors. In addition to the plethora of versions available in bakeries and patisseries, home bakers can make versions of their own. Les Petits Macarons: Colorful French Confections to Make at Home, a new book from ICE Pastry & Baking Arts Chef Instructor Kathryn Gordon and Director of Center for Food Media Anne E. McBride helps demystify the delicate, delicious pastries.

With dozens of flavor combinations and a variety of methods, the book is a chance to begin making your own macarons at home. The book contains recipes for shells flavored with pistachio, blackberry, coconut, an­­d red velvet, filled with options such as sesame buttercream, strawberry guava pâte de fruit, crunchy dark chocolate ganache and lemon curd. Chef Kathryn also included savory options like shells made with saffron, parsley, and ancho chile paired with fillings like hummus, foie gras with black currant, and duck confit with port and fig. The options for customization are endless!

In addition to a huge variety of flavors, Les Petits Macarons also outlines four different methods for making the cookies. Other macaron cookbooks focus on one, sometimes two, but Les Petits Macarons features the classic French, Italian and Swiss methods, as well as a fourth quick-and-easy type that helps just about any home baker achieve macarons. As we gear up for the book’s release on October 4, we asked Chef Kathryn and Anne about the book, the recipes and macaron mania. More…

As I tend to be a bit obsessive-compulsive about things, I recently found myself possessed with the idea of getting to Paris after learning about a bakery that specializes in what is the equivalent of a French version of the Hostess snowball. It was all I could think about.

To curb the insanity, I find myself trying to recreate the experience. I made and ate those French snowballs every day for two weeks until I couldn’t stand them anymore. I needed a fix, and bad. So when I heard about this new French pastry shop that had opened downtown, well I knew it was on my to-do list. Cooler bag in hand, I made my way to Mille-feuille Bakery. It is a tiny sliver of a shop in the Lupa neighborhood, hardly where one would expect to find perfect French pastries. When you walk in the first thing you will notice is the incredibly heady smell of butter, real butter, not the fake popcorn butter smell that perfumes the Food Emporium bakery at 8:30 am on any given morning. The display of available pastries is very small but just a few feet from you is Chef Olivier in his kitchen, preparing whatever deliciousness is at hand. Now, I’m a bit of a cleanliness freak, so I can appreciate seeing exactly how my food is prepared (again, the obsessive-compulsive in me comes out). More…