By Michael Laiskonis, Creative Director

When ICE moved into its current facility at Brookfield Place, staff and students were treated to new features like the Chocolate Lab – my home base – as well as our indoor hydroponic farm. This innovative space focuses on unique varieties of culinary plants grown for flavor, and their efforts benefit our students in the teaching kitchens as well as chefs and restaurants throughout the city. Every time I walk past the brightly lit farm, I can almost taste the dozens of flavors growing within and my imagination immediately starts to stir. This first in a series of posts traces some inspired ideas that emerge when we crossbreed these amazing raw materials with advanced pastry projects in the Chocolate Lab.

Anise hyssop parfait

The farm features several staple herbs — varieties of basils and mints, for example — plus new and exciting crops rotating into production on a weekly basis. During a recent tour and tasting of the hydroponic farm’s offerings, two items stood out: anise hyssop and purple oxalis. The former was an old friend, a sweet expression of licorice and mint. The latter, however, was something I was unfamiliar with. A relative of the sorrel family, the deep violet leaves of the oxalis resemble the flapping wings of a butterfly and provide an interesting tartness. More surprising was the flavor that came from its stem — a refreshing acidity that called to mind delicate young rhubarb stalks. To highlight these herbs, I began constructing flavors and textures in my mind. Sweet apricot, aromatic vanilla, honey, cream…with these building blocks in place, I picked my hyssop and oxalis and then headed into the lab.

Anise hyssop parfait

Sprig of Nepitella

As I assembled ingredients, the dessert’s architecture materialized. The anise hyssop would infuse an airy mousse, or parfait. The apricot would be lightly sweetened with honey and provide a fluid liquid center inside the parfait. A shiny glaze speckled with vanilla would enrobe the parfait, which would find its place atop a crunchy, buttery pastry base. Still enamored with the oxalis stems, I considered lightly candying them to preserve their slender form and to balance their flavor. The format of a petit gateau, an individual dessert often found in boutique pastry shops, offered the perfect format in which to condense these flavors and textures for maximum impact.

Stay tuned for more sweet collaborations with the hydroponic farm at ICE!

Anise Hyssop Parfait – Apricot, Honey, Vanilla and Purple Oxalis
Yield: Makes 16 individual desserts

Pâte Sucrée

Ingredients:

120g unsalted butter, softened
2g salt
90g confectioner’s sugar
30g almond flour
50g whole egg
60g all-purpose flour (1)
175g all-purpose flour (2)

Preparation:

  • Combine and blend the butter, salt, confectioner’s sugar and almond flour in a food processor.
  • Add the whole egg and first measurement of flour (1); process just until incorporated.
  • Add the remaining flour (2); process just until incorporated – take care not to overmix. Wrap the dough and chill.
  • Chill or freeze. Allow a minimum of one hour resting period before use. Roll or sheet very thin, to a half sheet pan sized rectangle. Transfer to mesh silicone mat and par-bake sheets for five minutes at 150°C/300°F to set; cut 7cm (2 ¾ in.) discs and continue baking approximately five to ten minutes, or until golden brown.

Honey Apricot Coulant

Ingredients:

0.5 sheet gelatin, hydrated
200g apricot puree
15g honey

Preparation:

  • Combine puree and honey in a saucepan. Bring just to a simmer.
  • Whisk in the gelatin. Drop into small silicone half-sphere molds. Freeze.

Anise Hyssop Parfait

Ingredients:

200g whole milk
30g anise hyssop
60g egg yolks
75g sucrose
10g gelatin powder (225 bloom), hydrated in 40g water
400g heavy cream (36% fat), whipped

Preparation:

  • Place the milk and anise hyssop in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat, remove from heat, cover and allow the mixture to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain.
  • Prepare a crème anglaise with the infused milk, egg yolk and sucrose; cook to 84°C/183° Add the hydrated gelatin. Strain and cool to 25°C/77°F.
  • Fold the crème anglaise base into the whipped cream and deposit into silicone ‘stone’ molds. Allow to stand at room temperature for five to ten minutes, insert the frozen apricot coulant centers, top off the mold with additional mousse if necessary and continue to freeze completely.

Glaçage

Ingredients:

9g gelatin powder (250 bloom)
45g water (1)
120g sucrose
75g water (2)
150g glucose syrup
160g white chocolate
100g condensed milk
Orange color, as needed (water-soluble, powder)
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Preparation:

  • Hydrate gelatin in the first measurement of water (1).
  • Combine the sucrose, second measurement of water (2) and glucose in a saucepan and cook to 103°C/217° remove from heat and add to the white chocolate and condensed milk.
  • Incorporate the gelatin, as well as desired color and scraped vanilla bean pulp, and emulsify.
  • Chill, utilize glaze at 30-32°C/86-88°F

Assembly 

Ingredients:

White chocolate décor
Anise hyssop, leaves and flowers
Purple oxalis, leaves and candied stems

Preparation:

  • Place the frozen, unmolded parfaits onto a wire rack and glaze with the warmed glaçage. Briefly chill to set.
  • Transfer each glazed parfait to the baked sucrée discs and allow to temper. Finish with the white chocolate garnish, anise hyssop, purple oxalis and nepitella flowers.

Anise hyssop parfait

Want to explore the Chocolate Lab and hydroponic farm at ICE? Learn more about our Pastry & Baking Arts program.

 

It’s official: ELF the Musical is returning to the Theater at Madison Square Garden. What better way to commemorate this huge announcement than a huge Elf-themed confection? That’s why ICE’s expert pastry chefs joined forces and spent over 500 hours crafting a 10-foot tall replica of Buddy the Elf, made of delicious Rice Krispies Treats®. The colossal confection was unveiled on Wednesday, October 25 at the Garden, and the result was outstanding — fitting for a larger-than-life, sweet-treat loving elf like Buddy.

Like the musical’s principal character Buddy, who embarks on a heroic journey in search of his family, ICE pastry chefs Elisa Strauss and Penny Stankiewicz set out on their own courageous quest to construct NYC’s largest Rice Krispies Treats® sculpture. It took several weeks, 70 pounds of chocolate, 50 pounds of fondant, 15 pounds of edible glitter and 300 pounds of Rice Krispies Treats®, but, with the help of 9 ICE pastry and cake decorating students, the chefs pulled it off.

ELF the Musical and ICE jointly donated the sweet sculpture to the NYC Department of Homeless Services, a partner of the Garden of Dreams Foundation, a non-profit charity that works with the Madison Square Garden Company and MSG Networks, Inc. to positively impact the lives of children facing obstacles.

ELF will run for a limited engagement from December 13-29, 2017 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. Tickets are on sale now! 

Learn more about ICE’s career programs.

By Lauren Jessen — ICE Graduate + Blogger, A Dash of Cinema

Long before I attended culinary school, I attempted to make homemade marshmallows. Unsurprisingly, my first go was a sticky mess — my marshmallows fell flat. Flash forward a few years later to actually being in culinary school at ICE: when it came time to make marshmallows in class, I had flashbacks of my previous marshmallow miss and was nervous that the lesson would result in a frustrating mess.

ghost marshmallows

photos: Lauren Jessen

In class at ICE, the process ended up being frustration-free. Sticky? Yes. And even a little messy. However, the end product turned out better than I could have imagined. The marshmallows were fluffy, delicious and light. I learned the proper way to make marshmallows, as well as how to use the ingredients involved. The recipe we used in class was excellent, and I rely on it every time I want to make marshmallows.

You might be surprised to learn that the recipe contains only five ingredients, but when everything is combined and the whipping begins, sweet magic happens. The best part about homemade marshmallows? You can make them any flavor and shape! You can make classic marshmallows or add extract flavors such as vanilla, coffee or peppermint. Then, once the marshmallows have solidified, you can use cookie cutters to form them into any shape you desire.

These marshmallows are inspired by the 1984 film “Ghostbusters.” When the large Marshmallow Man threatens the city near the end of the movie, the Ghostbusters are shocked because they never thought a marshmallow would destroy them. They even talk about how they used to roast marshmallows at camp. I couldn’t resist making a smaller version of that frightful Marshmallow Man.

These Ghost Marshmallows are a perfect addition to any Halloween party. Eat them solo or add them to a hot cup of cocoa for a sweet and spooky twist.

ghost marshmallows

Ghost Marshmallows

Ingredients

85 grams cold water (1)
18 grams gelatin powder
265 grams granulated sugar
100 grams corn syrup (1)
100 grams water (2)
90 grams corn syrup (2)
Dextrose, as needed for dusting

Preparation

  • Place the first measurement of water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water and allow it to bloom and soften for 5-6 minutes.
  • In a saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup (1) and water (2), and heat to 230°F.
  • Meanwhile, add the corn syrup (2) to the bloomed gelatin.
  • Pour the cooked sugar mixture into the stand mixer bowl and whisk at a medium speed until the mixture has become thick and lightened. The mixture will look like marshmallow cream after 10-15 minutes of whipping.
  • While the mixture is whipping, prepare a sheet tray for the marshmallow mixture: spray a quarter sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust with dextrose.
  • Once the marshmallow mixture is thick and lightened, transfer it to the prepared pan. Wet your hands with water and smooth the surface, patting the mixture down until it evenly covers the sheet pan.
  • Leave the sheet tray and mixture uncovered and let it set for one hour at room temperature.
  • After an hour (or you can leave it overnight), remove the marshmallow slab from the pan and flip it onto a dextrose-covered cutting board.
  • Cut the marshmallow slab into squares, or use a cookie cutter (generously coated with nonstick cooking spray to prevent sticking) to cut the marshmallow slab into your desired shape. (I used a ghost-shaped cookie cutter for this recipe.) Toss the shaped marshmallow in additional dextrose.
  • To make eyes and a mouth for the ghosts, use a toothpick to add small drops of chocolate syrup to create the face.

Ready to master marshmallows and much more? Learn more about ICE’s career training programs.

By Michael Laiskonis — Creative Director

While it’s back-to-school season for most, class is always in session at ICE. More to the point, cooks are perpetual students for whom the learning never ends, no matter our level of skill or experience. Ideas and inspiration that fill our social media feeds are at our fingertips 24 hours a day, but I still rely on — and often prefer — books and magazines. The autumn publishing season also means a shelf-load of new releases. Below are a few of those just-published books I am looking forward to, as well as one or two that I’m finally catching up on.

Image courtesy of Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream

Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream: The Art and Science of the Scoop
By Dane Cree

Summer may be over, but that doesn’t mean ice cream season is. Dana Cree’s book is a revelation on two fronts — in addition to creative frozen dessert recipes, it was one of the first books of its kind to make accessible the technical approach to ice cream that professionals employ. A well-traveled pastry chef, Dana presents the material much in the same way she approaches high-end plated desserts: serious, but with a playful ease.

BraveTart

BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts
By Stella Parks

When I first started reading Stella’s BraveTart blog several years ago, I knew it would lead to a book. She approaches sweet traditions and preparations not just through the eyes of a cook, but rather an investigative journalist, always digging deeper to tell a story or to better understand the complex chemistry of the pastry kitchen. If baking perfection is built simply on the sum of many well-executed steps, the attention to detail in Stella’s book gives cooks of all skill levels essential building blocks for classic American desserts and beyond. Be sure to check out her work as contributor to Serious Eats.

Megan Giller

Bean-to-Bar Chocolate: America’s Craft Chocolate Revolution: The Origins, the Makers, and the Mind-Blowing Flavors
By Megan Giller

As a cook, I often think about how the discovery of a new ingredient or technique is able to radically redirect one’s career path. Certainly, I never set out to make chocolate, but since we created the Chocolate Lab two years ago, I think about chocolate for most of my waking moments. For Megan Giller, a sartorial moment with a fruity, complex bar made from Madagascar cocoa beans created an obsession that led to a blog, and then this book. While covering the basics of chocolate from origin to processing to tasting, she also takes on the task of documenting the dynamic “craft” chocolate scene in real time. I liked the idea so much, that when asked, I wrote the foreword. I will also join Megan for a discussion and tasting here in NYC next month. Also of interest is a new release from our friends at Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco, Making Chocolate: From Bean to Bar to S’more.

Bread Wine Chocolate

Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love
By Simran Sethi

Just as important as acquiring recipes and technique, a deeper understanding of the complex culture of our foodways is also valuable to cooks. Released last year, Simran’s book explores our relationship with nature through the lens of products we might take for granted. Her perspective on chocolate has also led to my favorite podcast of the year, the Slow Melt, which tackles issues big and small, in addition to insightful interviews with the most influential of today’s “craft” chocolate-makers.

Fou de Patisserie

Fou de Patisserie
http://www.foudepatisserie.com/

This time last summer, I had just returned, inspired and energized, from a quick three-day tour of the Paris haute patisserie scene. Few resources capture the trends of the moment better than the French magazine, Fou de Patisserie. Each issue (virtually ad-free) is jam-packed with recipes and ideas from pastry legends and rising stars alike, including Philippe Conticini, Christophe Felder, Cedric Grolet and Cyril Lignac. In addition to publishing, the magazine also runs a shop in Paris — part pop-up, part fancy pastry exhibit — featuring the work of a rotating line-up of pastry chefs. On the topic of pastry magazines, one can’t forget what may be the most exciting resource, So Good, the hefty haute patisserie magazine of international scope.

Modernist Bread

Modernist Bread: The Art and Science
By Nathan Myhrvold, Francisco Migoya

After the release of the mammoth multi-volume set of Modernist Cuisine several years ago, the question on everyone’s mind was: “What will Nathan Myhrvold do next?” To the surprise of many, The Cooking Lab, which is home to Modernist Cuisine, immediately took on the subject of bread – its traditions and pathways toward innovation. Talented pastry chef Francisco Migoya led the effort, which resulted in a new set of books that actually rivals the first in size (and weight). Ahead of its October release, Francisco visited ICE last month to offer a sneak preview of the book, over three years in the making. From what I’ve seen thus far, all I can say is that the project will become a defining resource for bread bakers for years to come.

What are you reading this fall? Let us know in the comments! 

Take your pastry practice to the next level — learn more about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

By Jenny McCoy — Pastry & Baking Arts Chef Instructor

It’s hard to truly determine who ought to be credited for the first brownie. One version of history credits Bertha Palmer, a Chicago businesswoman and socialite, for inspiring the sweet that is about as American as apple pie. On a recent visit to Chicago, I took a walk down one of the brownie’s memory lanes.

Bertha was the wife of Potter Palmer, a wealthy businessman who was very much involved in the development of downtown Chicago. They were introduced by a mutual friend and Potter’s former business partner, Marshall Field (whose department store acquired and popularized Frango chocolate truffles, by the way). As a wedding gift to his bride, Potter gave Bertha an extraordinary gift — The Palmer House hotel. Under the couples’ ownership, largely directly by Bertha, The Palmer House became the epicenter for entertainment amongst socialites in Chicago and well-heeled travelers worldwide. In 1893, for the World’s Fair: Columbian Exposition, an event that would draw influential people from around the globe, Bertha entertained the notion of creating a small confection that has since become beloved all the world over.

Palmer House brownieStorytellers say that for the World’s Fair, Bertha asked The Palmer House pastry chef to create a small cake or confection that could be included in boxed lunches for ladies visiting the fair. The pastry chef developed a thick, dense, fudgy chocolate bar, covered in walnuts and a sweet apricot glaze. It was unlike any other confection and became incredibly popular. Though it still wasn’t called a “brownie,” as similar versions of the dessert later appeared in the Sears Roebuck catalog and in cookbooks by Fannie Farmer and others, its name was given. More than a century later, you can still enjoy a square of warm chocolate goodness topped with ice cream made with the same recipe used in 1893 at The Palmer House. Or, if you can’t make it to Chicago anytime soon, you can create a batch of brownies yourself using the recipe below, adapted from the original.

The Palmer House Brownie
Adapted from the original recipe found here

Ingredients:

14 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 pound unsalted butter
12 ounces granulated sugar
4 ounces all-purpose flour
8 whole eggs
12 ounces crushed walnuts
Vanilla extract
Apricot Glaze (recipe below)

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 300° F.
  • In a double boiler, melt chocolate with butter.
  • In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients except walnuts.
  • Pour chocolate into dry ingredients and mix with a spatula for 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add eggs and vanilla to chocolate mixture and mix to combine. Pour into a 9”x 12” baking sheet, sprinkle walnuts on top and use your fingers to press walnuts down slightly into mixture.
  • Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. When finished baking, the brownies will have risen about ¼ inch and the edges should be a little crispy. Note: Even when properly baked, brownies will test “gooey” with a toothpick in the center due to the richness of the mixture. Remove brownies from oven and allow brownies to cool for about 30 minutes.
  • While brownies cool, work on your Apricot Glaze (recipe below). Once brownies cool, use a brush to spread a thin layer of the Apricot Glaze on top. Cut into squares and serve (highly recommended with a scoop of ice cream).

Pro Tip: The brownies are easier to cut if you place in the freezer for about 3-4 hours after glazing.

Palmer House brownies

For the Apricot Glaze

Ingredients:

1 cup water
1 cup apricot preserves
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

Preparation:

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together water, preserves and unflavored gelatin.
  • Bring to a boil for two minutes. Use hot.

Want to master brownies and more with Chef Jenny? Click here to learn more about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program. 

By Kathryn Gordon and Jeff Yoskowitz

ICE chefs Kathryn Gordon and Jeff Yoskowitz recently visited South Korea with ICE alumnus Heejin Lho, who wanted to share with the chefs the traditional foods and culture of her country. While Chef Jeff found his favorite meal (surprisingly) in a food court and learned how to navigate intensely hot kimchis, Chef Kathryn was impressed by the elegant, edible flowers like gardenia and magnolia. Below is a conversation between Chef Kathryn and Chef Jeff that took place during the latter half of their visit.

Korean Temple Food Center

Korean Temple Food center (Photo credit: Melissa Hope)

Chef Kathryn: Jeff, to start this off, what have you liked best so far?

Chef Jeff: Many things fascinated me this week. I liked making songpyeon — the half-moon shaped rice cakes made with pine needles and dough from sticky and non-glutinous rice [in the Songpyeon Rice Cakes class hosted by the Tteok (Rice Cake) Museum in Seoul]. The dough was counterintuitive in terms of its dryness level. If it was too wet, you couldn’t form the cakes because it stuck to your hands.

Fried Stick Rice Flour Cakes (Photo credit: Melissa Hope)

Chef Kathryn: That rice cake dough was amazing because it was colored by fruits, plants or flowers like strawberry, mugwort and gardenia — but the dough didn’t like me! My right thumb just didn’t “get it” in terms of the shaping for the first 15 minutes. Meanwhile, you were the teacher’s pet!

Chef Jeff: I also really liked our Korean Temple Food center cooking class led by the Buddhist monk. It exposed us to new vegetables and cooking methods, like gingko nuts, lotus leaf, perilla leaf, burdock and acorn jelly. We ate acorn jelly three times this week — I had no idea it was so prevalent! It made me want to track down acorn flour in the U.S. and figure out how to remove the bitterness.

So much flavor came from the lotus leaf, which provides an impermeable layer so whatever you cook in it retains its moisture, while deriving some yellow color and flavor. It was also interesting that the blanched and diced lotus root, which provided texture in the rice, is the root from white flowers, not the pink lotus flowers. I also liked learning about the traditions of mixing sticky and non-glutinous rice.

Chef Kathryn: I loved that in Buddhist temples they eat every part of every plant. We ate a salad made from succulents at The Shilla Seoul hotel banquet. We were exposed to foods that we never knew were foods before.

Chef Jeff: The organization and customer service at The Shilla Seoul was really impressive, but so was the customer service at the high-end food markets at the department stores. At the Hyundai Department Store, I counted 12 people in front of the wine area alone, just waiting to assist you with selecting wine. Each area — the fish, the seaweed island or dried roots — had multiple people waiting to help you in your selection and pack it up. I have never seen that level of presentation, care and customer service before.

Chef Kathryn: Heejin carefully selected our menu for the week so we didn’t just taste traditional Korean dishes. What dish did you find the most interesting?

Chef Jeff: I was a little skeptical when she said we were going to a food court for Korean-style shabu shabu, but the dinner at the Shinsegae Department Store was one of my favorite experiences.

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul (Photo credit: Jeff Yoskowitz)

I loved how they made so many dishes from the one base broth. The same broth that cooked the sliced beef was reduced with mushrooms, scallions, cabbage and other vegetables before more meat was added. The broth then reduced a second time while we ate that course, and subsequently it was either used to cook noodles and assorted greens, or to make a thick porridge-like stew with rice and greens.

Acorn Jelly with Vegetables

Acorn Jelly with Vegetables (Photo credit: Melissa Horn)

Chef Kathryn: I liked being exposed to edible flowers. I always love cooking with flowers, but never tasted gardenias before this week. When we visited the Tea Story teahouse in Seoul, they had so many teas based on plants and flowers that we don’t typically eat or cook with in American or Western European cuisines, like mistletoe, magnolia and lotus.

Chef Jeff: And then there’s the situation of trying to order hot tea with a meal — the restaurants we experienced literally did not have any.

Chef Kathryn: We learned that with Korean cuisine, you don’t always drink tea with a meal, like you might at a Chinese or Japanese restaurant.

Chef Jeff: Yet coffee shops are everywhere and seemingly open at all times. Per capita, there seems to be an extremely high interest in coffee — I counted three coffee places on one city block alone. The availability of coffee is much more noticeable than in New York.

Chef Kathryn: What did you think of the dessert scene in Korea?

Chef Jeff: I was impressed by how aesthetically clean the cakes and tarts look in every pastry window, and not just in high-end shops and stores — even a chain-style bakery. There is nothing “homey” here, unless you count the fruit. And the fruits in general are enormous! We’ve never seen such big peaches, apples, figs and grapes.

We tried grape tarts one afternoon. We also saw a lot of desserts made with green grapes throughout the week that are not popular in the United States including shaved ice and blended drinks.

Chef Kathryn: What about the kimchi? We ate kimchi made with a lot of greens, cabbage and daikon this week, and were introduced to white kimchi, which I had never had before this trip.

tea ceremony

Tea Ceremony (Photo credit: Melissa Hope)

Chef Jeff: I feel more educated generally about kimchi, although I definitely learned I prefer the garlic (non-Buddhist) style.

Chef Kathryn: In terms of heat and the dishes we’ve eaten with gochujang chili paste — in one meal, your eyes were watering at the end!

Chef Jeff: There are some hot foods you put in your mouth and then it spreads slowly. Once the heat from the kimchi spread, it was too late for me to do anything about it. I did gain a better appreciation of all the contrasting flavors, and the range of foods to pair with something hot came more easily with practice than in the beginning of the trip.

Chef Kathryn: What else besides food did you find most interesting this week?

Chef Jeff: As we were driving south through the countryside to Cheolla Province, the sheer mass of vertical apartment building construction was astonishing. They don’t build one building at a time. We would look towards a range of mist covered forested mountains and see clusters of towers going up simultaneously with cranes on top of each building.

Want to explore the pastry arts with Chefs Kathryn and Jeff? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs.

By Michael Laiskonis — Creative Director

Jean-Louis PalladinAs a young cook honing my skills in the mid-1990s, I fell into a position at Emily’s, a small restaurant in suburban Detroit led by Chef Rick Halberg. With twenty years’ hindsight, I now look back at my time there as an important educational phase of my career — a cook’s equivalent to graduate school. The food culture we see today was only in its infancy then, and our resources were limited to print — this was well before we could scan social media feeds for instant inspiration and ideas from around the world. Emily’s served as a creative incubator for the cooks who worked there. In our downtime, we swapped the latest books and magazines, mining them for techniques and flavors to infuse into the menus we developed. We looked to Europe, of course, but we were also keenly aware of the rumblings here in the U.S. Then, as now, it was an exciting time to be a cook.

Our research materials included dog-eared copies of Art Culinaire (still publishing and quite relevant today), rare issues of the European import Opt Art and the highly influential series of books Charlie Trotter began writing in 1994. One book, however, stood out among the pack: Jean-Louis Palladin’s Cooking with the Seasons, originally published in 1989. By day we cooked French-inspired classics, but at night we studied Jean-Louis’ modern and sophisticated interpretations, documented in sleek photography. Though highly refined techniques and luxury ingredients jumped from every page, the book also served as a love letter to the ethos of “local” and “seasonal” cooking. I recall one dish that we ended up adapting into our repertoire: a deceivingly simple but elegant terrine fashioned from ultra-thin slices of house-cured salmon, spinach and anchovy butter. As my own path was heading toward a concentration in pastry, I also experimented with the book’s dessert recipes, including Palladin’s traditional clafoutis (a staple of his native southwestern region of France) and a raspberry-studded crème brûlée.

Jean-Louis Palladin

Chef Palladin

Though perhaps eclipsed by chefs who came after (and those who became more ‘famous’), Jean-Louis’ influence on American cuisine can’t be overstated. He was often considered a “chef’s chef.” Cooking styles and aesthetics have changed and few are replicating his dishes today, but his legacy lives on with respect to his insistence on local ingredients. One might argue that most French chefs in the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s relied on imported ingredients. Palladin, upon arriving in 1979, made it his mission to seek out the best of what was here. His flagship restaurant in the storied Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. showcased these products with impeccable technique to honor them. A compatriot in this cause was Gilbert LeCoze, who opened Le Bernardin in New York; rather than ship Dover sole from Europe, LeCoze walked the stalls of Fulton Fish Market and championed fish from this region’s waters, and in the process changed the way American chefs sourced and cooked fish. And by no coincidence, Eric Ripert, the current chef and owner of Le Bernardin, worked under Palladin when he emigrated from France, just prior to being hired by LeCoze.

Michael Laiskonis

Tribute, 1999, with Chef Michael (top left) and guest chefs Susanna Foo, David Burke, Roberto Donna and Jean-Louis Palladin

I was afforded my own personal introduction to Jean-Louis years later in 1999, when he cooked as a guest chef at Tribute (also in Detroit), where I had recently become the pastry chef. Many lasting impressions came of these guest chef dinners over the years, but few memories top observing Palladin’s confident swagger at the stoves, his missives barked in an impossibly deep voice and thick French accent. Sadly, Jean-Louis would pass away two years later at the young age of 55, still very much in his prime. But since then, I occasionally pull his book from the shelf and contemplate the evolution of cuisine — what has changed and what fundamental ideas remain the same. I will also quiz younger cooks from time to time, to test their knowledge on the influencers who came before us — I can count how many cooks I’ve sent to the internet in search of Jean-Louis and his generation of chefs.

Michael Laiskonis dessert

Chef Michael’s take on raspberry crème brûlée

I was offered an opportunity to come, in a sense, full circle within my own Jean-Louis story, and straight into his old kitchen at the Watergate just last month. At the urging of my friend Paul Liebrandt, I accepted an invitation from current Watergate chef Michael Santoro to celebrate Palladin’s legacy and the 50th anniversary of the Watergate Hotel. An exclusive multicourse dinner also featured D.C. chefs Robert Wiedmaier, Brian McBride and Watergate pastry chef, Kieu-Linh Nguyen. The most difficult decision was which dessert to prepare, but after several days’ deliberation, all I needed to do was flip through Cooking with the Seasons and the inspiration became immediately clear. Upon seeing my old friend — that raspberry crème brûlée — I created a dessert that served as a metaphor for my own evolution: a sphere of vanilla mousse hiding a liquid raspberry center, glazed with raspberry and set upon a shortbread base. Inspired by the original, this dessert represented a culmination of skills acquired in twenty years, yet still clean and deceptively simple — in the manner of how Jean-Louis taught us to cook.

It’s your turn to study pastry arts with the masters — click here for more information on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

Soft serve ice cream is one of the true joys of summer. (On second thought, let’s be honest: we eat it year-round.) To satisfy our endless craving for soft serve, ICE Chef James Briscione shows us how to make three recipes for soft serve — each in under five minutes! As a bonus, two of them just happen to be vegan. Even better, the only kitchen equipment you’ll need is a hand blender and a jar.

First on the menu is Peanut Butter & Jelly — with raspberries and creamy peanut butter, it’s a sweet ‘n’ tasty throwback to your favorite lunchbox staple. Next is Spicy Mango Coconut, a refreshing tropical treat that gets a nice kick from fresh-cut chili. Chef James finishes with a silky Strawberries & Cream soft serve, hit with a touch of lemon zest to give it that extra je ne sais quoi.

Consider your days of ice cream truck chasing over.

You, too, can make ice cream, pastries and more like a pro — click here to learn about ICE’s career programs. 

By Tina Whelski

In today’s highly visual world, pastry chefs can stand out with unique sugar sculptures.

“I notice that people remember me more for my airbrush than my cake,” says Master Pastry Chef Stéphane Tréand, M.O.F. with a laugh. The recipient of the prestigious Meilleur Ouvrier de France, (M.O.F.), which means “best craftsman in France,” can’t wait to share his techniques with students who attend his Sugar Showpieces workshop this September 23-25 at ICE. Tréand believes that anyone can create their own work of art if they put in the time.

Stephane Treand

photo courtesy of thepastryschool.org

“Sugar work is not only for chefs, says Tréand. “It’s for everybody. Hopefully I can fill up the class with artistic amateurs.”

Students will learn airbrushing, casting, pulled ribbon, pulled sugar flowers and much more. Tréand advises beginners to use silicon molds, work with isomalt, wear plastic gloves and use lots of stencils when airbrushing. He’s also noticed a trend in the United States to build showpieces that can stand as tall as seven feet high, but he suggests that newcomers start slow with mini showpieces. And as with any craft, attitude is everything.

Stephane Treand“My philosophy is never give up, share and always want to learn,” says Tréand. “You have to be curious. You can always improve the way you’re doing pastry. Believe me, I’m still learning.”

Tréand discovered sugar showpieces in the 1970s when he saw another chef construct a Singer sewing machine made entirely of sugar.

“I was very impressed by how the cast iron was made of sugar,” said Tréand. “I was like, ‘Wow, how can you do that with sugar?’ I remember thinking that if I do something theatrical, like a showpiece, people will remember that, because it’s visual.”

Since most showpieces in the mid-80s were replicas of existing objects, like the Eiffel Tower, Tréand focused on more abstract shapes to distinguish himself.

Today, Tréand finds inspiration for designs everywhere.

“Driving on the freeway sometimes you see a structure and say, ‘Well, that’s a nice bridge’ and of course the background we have in France is of beautiful churches or art from the last few centuries mixed with European art deco,” says Tréand. “There are many things that we mix. Some chefs even find inspiration in tribal tattoos.”

Tréand warns that sugar sculptures should not get “too weird” though.

“People like to recognize what it is,” says Tréand. “You always need to be careful and do something that people can find themselves in.”

He’s practiced his own advice to great success. Tréand was named one of Dessert Professional’s Ten Best Pastry Chefs in America in 2007 and 2008. In 2009, he coached the bronze-winning USA team (which consisted of three of his former assistants) at the International Pastry Competition in Tokyo. Currently, he’s the executive chef consultant for Occitanial, a pastry shop in Tokyo, and he runs his own school in California, Art of Pastry Academy.

The greatest moment of Tréand’s career, however, remains the day he earned his M.O.F., the highest title anyone can get in an artisan manual trade in France.

“That’s my first moment of pride in my whole life,” says Tréand. ”I got it after three tries. My first final was in 1997. I failed. I failed again in 2000 and finally I got it in 2004. When you get it on the third time, it’s even more important because you know the value of it. Finally you’ve got it, and you know you’ve got it forever.”

Tréand finds that his students feel their own sense of pride when they complete their first showpieces.

“When they do something and realize, ‘Oh my goodness, I did that with my fingers and it’s pretty nice,’ they feel proud,” says Tréand. “They feel happy and that’s all we need, just feeling happy.”

Tréand is grateful he discovered the artistic side of pastry because it gives him the chance to do something new every day.

“I think it’s fun,” says Tréand. “It’s freedom. It’s creation.”

Space is limited — click here to register today for Chef Tréand’s Sugar Showpieces workshop at ICE.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years since we launched ICE’s bean-to-bar Chocolate Lab (the first education-focused one of its kind!). We decided to check in with ICE’s Creative Director Michael Laiskonis to find out what he’s been up to. As it turns out: a lot.

Having produced over 120 batches of chocolate with beans sourced from more than 20 countries, the Chocolate Lab has given Chef Michael the chance to tinker with each step of the chocolate-making process and bring out the best qualities in each bean. What’s more, Chef Michael has been meticulously tracking these changes and differences in process and flavor, which he then shares with interested students and colleagues in a number of hands-on classes at ICE.

Our Pastry & Baking Arts students have also had the opportunity to swap textbooks for hands-on experience with Chef Michael inside the Chocolate Lab, benefitting from a full understanding of the bean-to-bar process.. Watch below our two-year check in with Chef Michael.

Want to study in the ICE Chocolate Lab with Chef Michael? Click here for more information on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.