Tonight, Top Chef: Just Desserts will premiere on Bravo. ICE alumni Zac Young, Malika Ameen and Seth Caro will make their TV debut as contestants on the show. The show will be hosted by fellow ICE alum Gail Simmons and will feature appearances by well-known pastry stars such as Sylvia Weinstock, Sherri Yard and Michael Laiskonis. It promises to be a sweet season of watching chefs make cakes, cookies and other sweets.
We spoke with ICE alum Zac Young last week. Today, we take a look at Malika Ameen. Ameen graduated from ICE’s Culinary Arts program in 1997 before making the shift to the world of pastry. Now, she lives in Chicago with her three sons. She works as a pastry consultant and is starting an online cookie business, ByM Desserts. We asked about transition to pastry, her style and her time at ICE.
How did you make the shift to pastry?
My favorite part of the culinary program was the two weeks we spent doing pastry. I enjoyed that so much. I went to do my externship in Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Vong. Shortly after, I went to work with pastry chef Gina DePalma (also an ICE alum) at the Club Room. I just loved it so much and I never looked back. It really turned me on.
Does your culinary training set you apart from other pastry chefs?
I think savory chefs are terrified of pastry and vice versa. Pastry chefs are used to being in their own world. I enjoy both a lot. There are techniques in savory that can be easily used in pastry, which we are starting to see that more and more. My culinary training helps me to keep an open mind in the pastry kitchen. More…