A native of Toulouse, France, Chef Eric Bertoia has a resume that boasts a host of impressive hotels and restaurants on both the old and new continent, among them the Ritz Hotel Escoffier in Paris and Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Group restaurants. Today, as technician pastry chef of Paris Gourmet, he shares his expertise with professional pastry chefs across the country. In anticipation of his upcoming CAPS course at ICE on April 30thEntremets and Plated Desserts, we asked Chef Eric a few questions about his current role, his experience working for Daniel Boulud and his recommended food destinations.

Chef Eric Bertoia

Can you tell us a little bit about Paris Gourmet?

Established in 1983, Paris Gourmet is a leading specialty food importer and distributor of gourmet and pastry ingredients from all over the world.

The Paris Gourmet Education Center conducts continuing education classes for chefs and restaurant staff, and researches and develops products in pursuit of quality and innovation. Paris Gourmet is also extremely active in trade events and chef competitions.

What do you do in your role as “technician pastry chef” at Paris Gourmet?

At Paris Gourmet, we have an education center and test kitchen. We have classes for groups and one-on-one classes for professional pastry chefs working in hotels, casinos, restaurants and catering. As technician pastry chef, my primary focus is teaching these chefs how to use our products and demonstrating techniques. We conduct demonstrations in our kitchen and all over the United States, and very often work with restaurants and hotels to change their menus. Every month we have new products with which we create and test new recipes. We also host the annual U.S. Pastry Competition and lend support and advise Pastry Team USA for the Pastry World Cup in Lyon.

Tell us about your experience working for Chef Daniel Boulud’s restaurant group, Dinex Group.

I was the corporate pastry chef for Dinex Group, managing and supervising the pastry departments of 15 restaurants and the two retail stores. I was overseeing operations in New York, Palm Beach, Miami, Las Vegas, Montreal, Toronto, London and Singapore. Every restaurant in the Dinex Group has a unique concept: bistro, brasserie, gastronomic, Mediterranean, plus catering. As corporate pastry chef, I was rotating between each site and was responsible for creating menus for launching new locations — organizing the department, training pastry chefs and staff and explaining the company’s expectations.

What do you miss most about working in restaurants full-time?

What I miss the most is that all the restaurants had a different level or theme of gastronomy, from the bistro to the retail store. The task of creating a concept and menu for each made it challenging.

Eric Cake Ice 4 1

What do you find to be one of the biggest challenges when teaching techniques on plated desserts versus other types of desserts?

One of the biggest challenges is to maintain consistency, in terms of plating, aesthetic, texture, temperature and, most importantly, taste. An emphasis on the freshness of ingredients is another important point in my classes.

Can you offer some food destination recommendations for our students and readers?

In New York, the bakery products are all well done, from viennoiserie to bread. Minneapolis has the classic American comfort foods and it offers global cuisine like Greek and Vietnamese, plus high-quality pastry shops like Patisserie 46. Lima, Peru — amazing seafood, quinoa, beef and others specialty products. Berlin, Germany — here you can find great local restaurants and Turkish/Middle Eastern cuisine. In Singapore, you can find Chinese, Malaysian and Indian food that’s representative of the ethnic diversity of the local population, as well as European and American cuisine.

Don’t miss the opportunity to perfect your plated desserts with Chef Eric – click here to register today!


By Gabby Guarino,
Student, Culinary Arts ’17 

Gabby is a student in ICE’s Culinary Arts program and our newest student blogger. She’s been cooking since before she was allowed to use the stove — making “soup” by using hot water from the sink to “boil” pasta and then throwing in some spices. Before culinary school, she received a bachelor’s degree in communications and human resources management from Rutgers University. She worked in marketing for a stint before launching her blog, “The Semi-Healthy Foodie,” and in October 2016, she finally decided to pursue her dream of going to culinary school and enrolled at ICE. For her first blog post, she takes us through a daunting pastry lesson: Danish dough. 

GabG_1

Tackling Danish dough was one of the most challenging things I’ve had to take on in culinary school so far. When I think of a Danish, I think of buttery, flaky crust with a cheese or fruit filling. I think of the beautiful layers and the soft, chewy dough. Before culinary school, I casually enjoyed a Danish now and again, not thinking much of it. Now that I know the time and effort that goes into making that perfectly layered dough, I have a new appreciation for pastry chefs (and their Danishes) everywhere. There is a certain technique and process that’s essential to get the dough just right. Have you ever wondered how all of those buttery layers of dough are created? It may seem daunting, but with some time, patience and good instructions, it’s totally possible.

Apple Danish

For starters, Danish dough is considered a laminate dough, which means that there are layers of fat encased in dough and each layer remains separate. The laminate dough process is tedious but so rewarding. Before I explain the process, here are a few key words to know: beurrage, detrempe and paton. The fat component of the dough is called beurrage, the dough component is called the detrempe and the act of making the dough and encasing the fat in dough is called paton. Okay, enough with the fancy words — let’s get to it.

  • First, make a basic dough with yeast, sugar and cinnamon, and let it rest for about an hour.
  • Next, make sure your butter is very cold and cut it into thin blocks. Flour the butter and line up the blocks of butter into a rectangle. Pound them together with a rolling pin until they form a sheet that is about 10-12 inches wide.
  • Roll out the dough into a rectangle about one-third longer than your butter sheet. Place the butter sheet on the dough and fold into thirds like a letter. Roll the dough out, turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat the folding and rolling process. Rotate the dough again and repeat.
  • Next, refrigerate the dough for at least an hour. Remove the dough from the refrigerator, roll it out and cut into 4×4 inch squares.
  • When ready to bake, you can fill Danish dough with different fruits, jams or pastry creams.

Once you break down the steps, the process is quite simple and the result is the flakiest Danish. Those layers of butter and dough create the amazing structure that made the Danish famous. With this pastry lesson, not only did I master Danish dough, I also stepped out of my comfort zone, challenged my inner baker and acquired a new appreciation for Danishes and laminate doughs.

Apple Danish

Ready to challenge your inner baker with professional culinary training from ICE? Click here for more information.

This St. Patrick’s Day, try your hand at an Irish-inspired sweet — no baking involved! Chef Sarah Chaminade shares her boozy take on cheesecake, with a buttery, chocolate cookie crust and a creamy filling accented by Bailey’s Irish Cream.

Baileys_Cheesecake_edited_300dpi-1

No-Bake Bailey’s Irish Cream Cheesecake
Yield: One (nine-inch) or four (four-inch) cakes

Ingredients:

200 grams chocolate wafer cookies
100 grams unsalted butter, melted
200 grams heavy cream
150 grams Bailey’s Irish Cream
10 grams powdered gelatin
500 grams cream cheese, softened at room temperature
150 grams sugar
50 dark chocolate pearls

bailey's cheesecake

Preparation:

  • Process the chocolate wafer cookies in a food processor until they resemble fine crumbs.
  • Transfer crumbs into a large mixing bowl and stir in melted butter. Mix until combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of a parchment-lined cake pan or ring molds, and place them in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
  • In a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, or with an electric hand mixer, whip the heavy cream to medium peaks and set aside in your refrigerator.
  • In a medium bowl, add the Bailey’s Irish Cream and sprinkle the gelatin over. Set aside for two to three minutes.
  • In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Over a double boiler or in a microwave, heat the gelatin-Bailey’s mixture slowly until gelatin is dissolved and liquid is smooth. While still warm, pour the gelatin mixture into the stand mixer bowl with the cream cheese mixture and mix together at low speed until combined. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the whipped cream, reserving a small amount of whipped cream for decoration (see next step).
  • Fill your prepared cake pan or molds with filling to the top. Using a piping bag filled with reserved whipped cream, pipe rosettes of whipped cream around the edges of the cake and top with chocolate pearls.
  • Refrigerate the cheesecake for at least four hours or preferably overnight before serving.

bailey's cheesecake

Master baking with Chef Sarah in ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program — click here for information. 


By Caitlin Raux

Students enroll in our pastry arts program for many reasons — for some, it’s to mix flour, eggs and sugar for the first time and launch a budding pastry career. For others, it’s to hone their skills and enhance their existing experience. Diploma (and whisk) in hand, our pastry grads set out on a range of career paths — from recipe writers to startup chefs to educators and more. Here’s a snapshot of the many possibilities of what you can do with professional pastry training from ICE:

Pastry Arts alums

  1. Boost your kitchen confidence and enhance your resume as a food writer or editor like Lauren Katz, Associate Recipe Writer at Blue Apron.
  2. Run the pastry program at LA’s most ‘gram-worthy resto with a “major cult following,” like Meadow Ramsey, Pastry Chef of Sqirl.
  3. Conquer the world of cake like Elisa Strauss, chef instructor in ICE’s Cake Decorating program, who started a boutique cake company and a cake design consultancy (not to mention, penned a few cake cookbooks in her spare time).
  4. Use the skills and discipline learned in the pastry arts program to launch your own business… be it bar or bakery, like Ben Wiley, co-owner of five bars in Brooklyn: Bar Great Harry, The Owl Farm, Mission Dolores, Glorietta Baldy and Cardiff Giant.
  5. Follow in the footsteps of one of your pastry chef mentors and go on to lead the pastry kitchen in an acclaimed NYC restaurant like Thea Habjanic, who, after being hired at Le Bernardin by Chef Michael Laiskonis, went on to become Executive Pastry Chef at the restaurant where Chef Michael designed the dessert menu, La Sirena.
  6. Help train the next generation of pastry chefs like Andrea Tutunjian, ICE’s Dean of the School of Pastry & Baking Arts and Director of Education at ICE.
  7. Join the dynamic world of startups like Michal Shelkowitz, Pastry Chef of the San Francisco-based meal delivery service, Munchery.
  8. Flex your restaurateur muscle like Zoe Nathan Loeb, who co-owns several popular California eateries: Rustic Canyon Wine Bar & Seasonal Kitchen, Huckleberry, Sweet Rose Creamery, Cassia and Esters Wine Shop & Bar.

Ready to embark on your career in the pastry arts? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs.

By Michael Laiskonis — Creative Director

I began what I refer to as my first “real” cooking job 22 years ago this spring. Looking back, stumbling into a modest restaurant called Emily’s was perhaps the smartest move in my career, setting a tone that still guides me. Situated in a hundred-year-old Victorian house in the sleepy Detroit suburb of Northville, that kitchen was my school, my hobby, my life. In those early days, I could have ended up in any run-of-the-mill, turn-and-burn establishment, but at Emily’s I found out what real cooking was all about, the refinement and the passion, and a little about the business as well. Describing the kitchen as tiny would be an understatement — there was barely enough room for three cooks. The chef and owner, Rick Halberg, became my first important mentor. While I learned a lot from Rick — taste, technique, respect — I learned the more crucial lessons by simply standing back and watching him work.

Laiskonis Chocolate Hazelnut

Rick cooked with a certain sense of economy — not in a financial way, but with an economy of movement and energy. To this day, I enjoy watching seasoned chefs cooking — not on television, but real chefs and real food in a real kitchen. The best seem to convey an intimate relationship with their tools and the ingredients as if they were extensions of his or her own body. While he worked, Rick had this extraordinary sense of calm and fluidity that amazed me. He was relaxed but also attentive and laid back without losing that sense of urgency. It was a small kitchen, but Rick appeared to glide through the requisite motions, from the reach-in to the pan, from the oven to the pass. I don’t think I ever saw him wear an apron, yet he never had a spot on him, even at the end of the busiest service. In those early days, Rick worked the two-man line with the sous chef every single night. With two decades of hindsight, I’ve come to realize his carefully measured movement was a manifestation of both an extremely organized head and the inner happiness of “just cooking.”

In this business, such economy is vital. The physical nature of the work, the repetition and the multitasking all require some form of internal and external management. But it all begins with mental organization. I’ve had my off days, where my actions aren’t as precise or deliberate, probably because my brain is all over the place. Those of us who work in kitchens probably know a perpetually disheveled cook or two (or have been one themselves). It’s true that behind a sloppy demeanor there usually lies a cluttered mind. I was once given the advice that to find the most efficient way to complete a task is to ask a lazy person. Perhaps there’s a kernel of truth hidden in that, but not in the sense of trying to get by with the minimum effort. To me, economy is more about vigilance, planning and trimming excess energy. It’s a tough concept to teach someone, but so is a sense of urgency. We need both skills in order to be an effective cook.

Personal economy also informs the bigger picture of how we execute service, set up the kitchen or even conceive a dish. Our method of constructing a dessert with building blocks of several components should eventually shift toward thoughtful editing, the reductive act of taking away the superfluous. As a young cook, I too often felt the need to show the world everything I knew on every plate. As I matured and left that ego behind, I learned the value of focus and a less-is-more approach. The essence of economy has informed how I approach making chocolate in the ICE Chocolate Lab. When working with just two or three ingredients, the decisions made at each step of the process become all the more apparent.

Profiterole

I recently had the opportunity to come full circle, back to the spirit of those formative years as a cook and pastry chef at Emily’s. Though the restaurant closed several years ago, Rick is still cooking and I jumped at the opportunity to return for a reunion of sorts, bringing together not only former front- and back-of-house staff, but a room full of faithful regular diners as well. It was just like the old days— the two of us weaving in and out of each other’s way in the confines of a tight kitchen as we prepped our courses for the meal. Sure, I’ve picked up a few skills since learning lessons from him. But what he probably didn’t notice was that I still have my eye on him, still taking cues on how to cook from a place of purity, with economy and intention.

Ready to learn from our acclaimed chef instructors? Click here for more information on ICE’s pastry & baking arts program.


In a new video from ICE and Direct Eats, Chef James Distefano, former executive pastry chef of the acclaimed Rouge Tomate, delves into baking with alternative butters. First, he shares the recipe for a mouth-watering maple butter crepe cake. Then, he shows us how to whip up blondies made with cashew butter, with an added touch of yum from chocolate chips and salted cashew brittle — delicious and (sorta’) nutritious. Finally, for those of you with peanut allergies, Chef James has a new best friend for you — sunflower butter, a great alternative for recipes calling for peanut butter. He uses sunflower butter to bake his sunflower seed financiers, a light, airy and peanut-free sponge-cake with just a hint of vanilla. Grab a whisk and check out this inventive butter exploration, then scroll down for the complete recipes. 

Cashew Butter Blondie
Yield: Makes about 18 1½” x 1½” squares

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
3 cups cashew brittle
1½ cup chocolate chips
6 ounces unsalted butter, lightly softened
⅓ cup salted cashew butter
2 cups light brown sugar
2 cups sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Stir together the all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • Combine about two tablespoons of your dry mix with your salted cashew brittle and your chocolate chips in a separate bowl and set this aside as well.
  • Place the lightly softened butter, cashew butter and both sugars in to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on to medium speed and allow the mix to blend sufficiently until it is light and fluffy and well mixed. It should not look waxy.
  • Combine the vanilla extract with the eggs.
  • Turn the mixer down to low speed and slowly add the eggs to the mixer (one at a time) making sure the egg is fully absorbed into the sugar base. Repeat until all of the eggs and vanilla have been incorporated.
  • Add all of your dry ingredients (not including the brittle and chips) and mix on low until barely combined.
  • Turn the mixer off, add in the bowl containing the brittle and the chips and turn machine back on and mix until no flour is visible.
  • Spread blondie batter onto your prepared baking tray. Be sure to spread the batter evenly.
  • Bake the blondie for approximately 25-30 minutes or until the blondie is firm to the touch with a golden brown color.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to fully cool (overnight is best) prior to cutting.
  • Cut into small 1 ½ x 1 ½ inch squares and store in an airtight container for up to three days.

For the salted cashew brittle:
Yield: Makes 3 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar
¾ cup light corn syrup
1 cup water
¼ stick unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1⅔ cups cashews, toasted (toast for 7 minutes at 350°F)
½ teaspoon baking soda

Preparation:

  • Line a baking tray with a nonstick silicone mat.
  • Place sugar, light corn syrup, water, butter and salt in a medium sauce pot. Gently stir to combine.
  • Bring syrup to a boil over low to medium heat. Be sure to wash the sides of your pot down to prevent the sugar syrup from crystallizing. To do this, dip a pastry brush into a small container of water and apply the wet brush to the sides of the pot.
  • Once the syrup comes to a boil, insert a candy thermometer and allow the syrup to cook until it reaches 300° F. Once it reaches 300° F, turn the flame off and remove the pot from the stove. Be sure NOT to stir the syrup as it boils.
  • Stir in your vanilla extract and the toasted cashews.
  • Wait about 30 seconds before stirring in the baking soda. The addition of the baking soda helps aerate the brittle and gives it a more delicate bite.
  • Pour the hot brittle on your prepared baking tray and, working quickly, spread the brittle as thin as you can with a buttered spatula.
  • Allow the brittle to cool sufficiently before breaking it apart into small, bite-size pieces.
  • Store the brittle in an airtight container for up to two days.

 

Sunflower Seed Financier
Yield: Makes about 15-18 3” cakes

1½ sticks unsalted butter
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped
½ tablespoon salt
1¼ cup egg whites (about 8-10 eggs)
4 tablespoons sunflower seed butter
⅔ cups sunflower seeds, toasted (toast for seven minutes at 350° F)
3½ cups powdered sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¾ cup dried cranberry

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. (If using a convection oven, lower your temperature down to 325° F with low fan.)
  • Prepare your molds or baking tins with cooking spray, or butter
  • Place butter, vanilla bean and salt into a small pot and begin to melt over a very low flame.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together your egg whites and sunflower seed butter to form a smooth paste. Set aside.
  • Combine the toasted sunflower seeds, powdered sugar, all-purpose flour and the cornstarch in the bowl of a food processor process until the sunflower seeds are finely ground.
  • Place the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
  • Add the egg white-sunflower paste and whisk to evenly combine and form a stiff batter. Turn the speed down to low while you check on your melting butter on the stove.
  • Increase the flame on your melting butter and continue to cook the butter until the butter begins to turn a deep golden brown and gives off a nutty aroma. Whisk the butter to incorporate the toasting milk solids at the bottom of the pot and continue cooking until it foams. Once the butter is a dark, amber brown, turn the flame off.
  • Turning back to the stand mixer, increase the speed to medium and steadily pour the browned butter into the bowl containing the cake batter.
  • Once all of the butter has been incorporated, turn the mixer on high to thoroughly blend all of your ingredients.
  • Turn the machine off and using a piping bag or spoon, divide the batter into your prepared molds.
  • Garnish the individual cakes with some dried cranberries.
  • Bake the cakes at 350° F until they are golden brown around the edges and gently spring back when lightly touched.
  • Allow the cakes to cool in their molds for 15 minutes before unmolding on to a clean tray or plate. Cakes will last up to one day in an airtight container.

Maple Crepe Cakes
Yield: Makes 1 cake

For the crepes batter:
Makes about 30 crepes

Ingredients:

⅞ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup oat flour
1½ teaspoons sea salt
⅓ cup sugar
1 tablespoon maple butter
1⅓ tablespoons maple syrup
1½ cups milk
5 eggs
¼ stick butter

Preparation:

  • Crack the eggs and whisk them together with the whole milk, maple butter and maple syrup. Reserve in a pitcher and keep cold.
  • Combine your dry ingredients: all-purpose flour, oat flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Create an opening in the center of the bowl and begin to slowly pour your liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients a little bit at a time to avoid any lumps from forming. The batter will be very stiff initially; however, as you incorporate more liquid it will begin to thin out. Use all of your liquid, making sure to avoid any lumps from forming.
  • Melt the butter in a small pot then whisk the warm butter into the crepe batter. Stir to evenly combine.
  • Strain the crepe batter through a large mesh strainer making sure to remove any large lumps in the process. Store the crepe batter in an airtight container for up to two days.

To make the crepes:

  • Gently heat a nonstick pan or a cast iron pan over low heat. Allow the pan to sufficiently warm up.
  • Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Using a small ladle, add some crepe batter to the pan and quickly rotate the pan to evenly coat the bottom in a thin layer.
  • Cook the crepe until the batter has set and it begins to curl up around the edges. Flip the crepe over (you can use a small rubber spatula for this) and cook the other side. The whole cooking process for one crepe is roughly two minutes.
  • Place crepes onto a parchment-lined baking pan in a single layer, cover with another sheet of parchment paper and repeat until all of the crepe batter has been used.
  • Wrap the crepe-filled baking pan with plastic and refrigerate until you are ready to use them.

 

For the pastry cream:
Yield: Makes 2 cups

Ingredients:

2 cups milk
⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg
4 egg yolks
½ stick + 1 teaspoon butter
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation:

  • Whisk together the cornstarch and the sugar in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Place the milk into a medium pot and slowly bring to a boil over a low flame.
  • Whisk the whole eggs into the cornstarch mixture, then whisk in the egg yolks.
  • Pour one third of the boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to thoroughly combine. Return the remaining milk mixture to a boil.
  • Whisk the egg mixture into the remaining boiling milk. Make sure to whisk and stir with a spatula until the pastry cream comes back to a boil. Maintain the boil for another minute, whisking and stirring continuously with a spatula to avoid any scorching.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the butter and vanilla extract.
  • Pour the pastry cream onto a plastic wrap-lined baking pan and spread it out into a thin layer. Place another piece of plastic wrap directly touching the hot pastry cream so it doesn’t form a skin. Poke a few small holes with the tip of a small knife in the plastic to vent out some of the steam.
  • Place the pastry cream in the refrigerator until it cools down and feels cold to the touch.

To assemble the layered crepe cake:

  • Place a crepe on a clean flat plate.
  • Spread enough pastry cream onto the crepe to evenly coat it without it being too gloppy or overly thick. There should be just enough pastry cream on there to thinly and evenly coat the crepe.
  • Place another crepe on top of the pastry cream and gently and evenly press down to “glue” the crepes together.
  • Repeat steps two and three until you have used 17 layers of crepes and 16 layers of pastry cream.
  • Once the layered crepe cake has been built, wrap with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight so it can set firm. When ready to serve, top with maple-glazed bananas (recipe below).

For the maple-glazed bananas:
Yield: Makes 2 cups

Ingredients:

2 sticks butter
2½ tablespoons maple butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
⅓ cup maple syrup
¼ teaspoon sea salt
5 ripe bananas

Preparation:

  • Melt the butter in a 12” sauté pan over a medium-low flame.
  • Stir in the maple butter, vanilla extract, light brown sugar, maple syrup and the sea salt.
  • Bring this mixture to a boil and allow to boil for one minute.
  • Peel the bananas and cut them into half-inch slices.
  • Immediately place the bananas into the maple-butter mixture and glaze the bananas for one minute in the hot mixture.
  • Remove the crepe cake from the refrigerator and generously spoon the maple-glazed bananas on top of the crepe cake, allowing the maple glaze to run down the sides of the cake.
  • Cut the cake into wedges and serve immediately.

Ready to master pastry & baking with Chef James? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs. 

Interview by Carly Evans

Inspiration can happen at any moment. For Scott Green, Executive Pastry Chef at The Langham Hotel Chicago and one of Dessert Professional’s Top Ten Pastry Chefs of 2016, his life-changing moment of inspiration occurred back when he was a student with a scholarship to study fine arts in Chicago, while watching a pastry documentary. Shortly after, he switched from fine arts to pastry arts and never looked back. As Chef Scott explains, “One moment of inspiration propelled me along a path as a pastry professional that has spanned more than fifteen years and taken me around the world.”

Chef_Scott_GreenWe chatted with Chef Scott about his craft, the next culinary destination and his advice for pastry students.

You have won many awards for your talent in pastry — which was the most challenging competition for you?

My first team competition, the National Pastry Team Championship in 2011, was probably the most challenging. Although I had other competitions under my belt, this was my first team event and first competition at such a high level. Competitions of that nature demand a completely different set of skills in terms of how you work, how you organize, etc., so getting prepared was a steep learning curve. Just a few months beforehand, I felt very underprepared, but we really pulled it together as a team (Josh Johnson, Donald Wressell, Della Gossett and myself) and ended up winning first place. Getting through those circumstances was trial by fire and definitely prepared me for future competitions.

Your restaurant Travelle is in Chicago, a city that has risen as a leading destination for food and drink. Which U.S. city do you see as being the “next” Chicago in terms of a culinary destination?

I don’t know that a city can claim that title. So much has changed and is changing about the restaurant industry — how chefs interpret the dining experience, new definitions of eating out like “fine casual” and food trucks, the prohibitive costs of real estate in major U.S. cities, consumers’ expectations — and the list goes on. It’s changing the fabric of how people eat and eat out at restaurants. There’s also a saturation of restaurants in the major U.S. markets (New York City, Chicago, LA, Miami, San Francisco) and prohibitive costs to keeping those restaurants open. All of this pushes talented chefs and restaurateurs into “undiscovered” locations like Portland, Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, Cleveland…just a few cities that have developed sophisticated and diverse food cultures within recent years. I suspect that the current restaurant capitals of the U.S. will maintain their status as dining destinations (including Chicago), but soon you’ll be able to go to the airport in, say, Buffalo, and still find great food.

How have advancements in technology changed your craft over the years?

Technology is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, chefs can now express greater and more complex creative and artistic visions thanks to technology like 3D printing, molds, advanced stabilizers, ingredients and crossover technology like immersion circulators and rotovap [rotary evaporator]. From a purely artistic standpoint, technology has expanded the boundaries of what is possible and I love that. However, this is not a purely artistic profession. What is most important and what I feel is becoming lost in the buzz and noise of so much technology available to us (including the rise of social media) is the fact that our responsibility as chefs is first and foremost to create food that tastes good. This has always been a profession of skilled technicians and there’s a fine line when technology replaces that skill. Is it really so impressive to envision a cake and then have a machine 3D print a model, hire someone else to make a perfect mold of the shape a machine made and then simply fill that mold with mousse and cake? Is it so amazing to coat a cake in mirror-like glaze if that glaze doesn’t taste good? To me the answer is no. I’m not impressed by that at all — but millions of Instagram users are; so the trends persist. While I embrace technology and all that it offers in the realm of creative expression, it has to be tempered with the foundation of our craft and a constant alignment with what is most important: form follows function.

Chocolate Strawberry

Chocolate Strawberry

Do you think it is important for pastry students to have a background in savory/culinary studies?

I think any and all education is a good thing. Knowledge truly is power. You never know how a certain set of skills or knowhow can be applied to your career or your work. So while I don’t think it’s necessary for pastry students to have a savory background (I have no formal savory education), I also don’t think it’s a bad thing.

What is one piece of general advice you would give pastry students?  

This is easy: Leave your ego and sense of entitlement at the door. I repeat: Leave your ego and sense of entitlement at the door. Get rid of it altogether because it will do nothing to help you succeed in your career. Do what you are told every day, as well as you can, as fast as you can, as clean as you can, and be open to critique and feedback until the day you are told to do something else. This is called work ethic. There’s no timeline that entitles you to a raise or promotion or new set of tasks — that’s just not how our profession works. Keep your head down and work hard. The success will come in time to those who are truly willing to sacrifice in order to achieve it.

Click here to check out our upcoming advanced pastry courses at ICE. 


In a new video from ICE and PEOPLE magazine, ICE Chef Jenny McCoy
 shares the secret to impressing your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day (hint: it’s CHOCOLATE).

Chef Jenny layers her ultra-rich chocolate cake — with an extra dose of delicious from the addition of espresso — with piles of velvety Nutella-mascarpone frosting and adds an exciting crunch from chopped hazelnuts. What’s more; though it looks and tastes impressive, this simple recipe requires minimal ingredients and no stand mixer or fancy tools — who needs the extra stress on the big day? Trust us: it’ll be love at first bite. Watch Chef Jenny demonstrate how to create the cake in the video below — then keep scrolling for the full recipe and her pro tips for whipping it up at home.

Here are some cake-baking tips from Chef Jenny, so you can stress less about dessert and focus more on giving that romance a chance. We can hear Barry White already…

  1. The components of the cake can be made up to two days in advance and assembled right before serving.
  2. Don’t let the cakes cool in the pans for more that 10 minutes, as this can cause them to shrink and stick to the pans.
  3. Can’t find mascarpone? Swap for cream cheese!
  4. Use the plate and wheeled ring in your microwave as a cake turntable substitute. (Want to see how? Check out this video.)
  5. If you don’t have a pastry bag and pastry tip, just use a spatula to spread the filling over the cake layers.
  6. Lining your cake pans with parchment will ensure they don’t stick — but how to cut a circle of parchment to perfectly fit the size of your pan? Watch this.
  7. Thinking about going pro with your cake deco? Check out ICE’s Professional Cake Decorating Program.

Decadent Dark Chocolate Cake Recipe with Nutella-Mascarpone Filling

For the Dark Chocolate Cake
Yield: Makes two 8-inch round cake layers

Ingredients:

1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1¼ granulated sugar
1 cup brewed coffee, at room temperature

Preparation:

  • Position rack in center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray. Sift flour, cocoa, espresso, salt and baking soda together in a bowl or onto a piece of parchment.
  • In a large bowl, add eggs, sugar and coffee, and whisk until thickened and light in color. Gradually whisk in dry ingredients until smooth.
  • Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer cake pans to a cooling rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Gently invert and cool to room temperature before using.

For the Nutella-Mascarpone Filling
Yield: Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients:

3½ cups Nutella or chocolate-hazelnut spread
1½ cup mascarpone cheese

Preparation:

  • In a large bowl, fold the Nutella and mascarpone together until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use or up to 3 days. If needed, stir the filling to soften before using.

To assemble:

Ingredients:

1 recipe Dark Chocolate Cake
1 recipe Nutella-Mascarpone Filling
1 cup roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

Preparation:

  • Place one Dark Chocolate Cake layer on an 8-inch cardboard cake round. Pipe a 3/4-inch thick layer of the Nutella-Mascarpone Filling, starting at the edge of the cake and working your way into the center. Scatter the top of the filling generously with the chopped hazelnuts. Gently place the second layer of cake on top of the filling. Pipe the remaining filling on top of the cake, swirling into a decorative pattern, and sprinkle with remaining nuts.

Want to take your pastry & baking skills to the next level? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs.

By James Distefano – Chef Instructor, School of Baking & Pastry Arts

When I was the executive pastry chef at the original Rouge Tomate, my job was to incorporate more fruits and alternative grains into my baking while cutting back on the refined sugar and flours. I saw this directive as a positive challenge — one in which I could expand both my knowledge of ingredients and also my palette.

My medjool date sticky toffee pudding is a great example of this. It combines sweet medjool dates with whole wheat and buckwheat flours. Using the dates allowed me to cut back on the sugar and still retain the cake’s sweet decadence. I added a touch of cocoa powder to play into that richness while counterbalancing with the cocoa powder’s bitter qualities. Finally, I topped it off with a little banana caramel sauce. You might think that’s bananas, but who doesn’t love a date on Valentine’s Day?

sticky_pudding

Medjool Date Sticky Toffee Pudding
Servings: Makes about 8-10 servings.

Ingredients:

170 grams medjool dates, pitted
6 grams vanilla extract
10 grams baking soda
392 grams water
85 grams butter
227 grams dark brown sugar
75 grams eggs
122 grams all-purpose flour
85 grams whole-wheat flour
14 grams buckwheat flour
56 grams cocoa powder
6.3 grams baking powder
1.5 grams salt

Preparation:

  • Heat oven to 350° F.
  • Place the dates, vanilla extract and baking soda in a medium-size bowl and set aside.
  • Bring the water to a boil, then pour over the dates and cover with plastic wrap to soften them. This should take about five minutes.
  • Once the dates have softened, puree them into a smooth paste utilizing a blender. Set this loose date paste aside.
  • In a bowl fitted for an electric mixer, cream the butter and dark brown sugar on medium speed until it is light and fluffy.
  • Turn machine down to low speed and gradually add the eggs.
  • Alternately add your dry ingredients and the loose date paste, beginning and ending with your dry ingredients until all of the dry ingredients and the date paste have been incorporated.
  • Portion batter into individual molds and bake at 350° F until set. They will feel lightly firm with a soft spring to them.
  • Allow them to cool to room temperature before unmolding.
  • Serve with Banana Caramel (recipe below) or store until ready to serve. These cakes will last up to one day stored in an airtight container.

Banana Caramel Sauce                  

Ingredients:

75 grams granulated sugar
375 grams banana (about 3), very ripe, chopped into small pieces
125 grams whole milk
125 grams heavy cream
3 grams vanilla extract
1.5 grams salt

Preparation:

  • In a small pot heat the whole milk and heavy cream. Set aside.
  • In a second small pot, begin caramelizing the granulated sugar utilizing the dry sugar method.
  • Once all of the sugar has been added to the pot, allow it to turn a deep amber color, right before it begins to smoke.
  • Add the chopped banana to the caramelized sugar and gently stir, allowing the bananas to cook in the hot caramel for one minute.
  • Deglaze the pot with the warm milk/heavy cream and simmer the caramel sauce for five minutes.
  • Place the banana caramel into a blender and begin to process, making sure the blender is on its lowest setting first.
  • Gradually increase the speed until the blender is on its highest setting. Blend for 30 seconds more.
  • Strain the banana caramel through a chinois and immediately chill over an ice bath until it is cold.
  • Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

This is a great sauce for the Date Sticky Toffee Pudding and for just about anything else you’d serve with a traditional caramel sauce.

Sweet tooth piqued? Click here to learn more about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

You know you should be drinking more tea. Heaps of it. But what you probably don’t realize is how creative you can get with tea, especially in its powdered form. That’s why, in a new video from ICE and Direct Eats, Chef Jenny McCoy shows us how to make three sweet and tasty dishes using tea powder: Tropical Tea Ice Cream Sandwiches with Pineapple and Macadamia Nut Cookies, Chai White Hot Chocolate with Chai Marshmallows and Green Tea Cake with Raspberries. Check out the video to see how Chef Jenny gets it done, and then keep scrolling to get the complete recipes.

Tropical Tea Ice Cream Sandwiches with Pineapple and Macadamia Nuts
Servings: makes 12 servings

For the tropical tea ice cream:

Ingredients:

2 cups milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup sugar, divided
¼ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons tropical tea powder
5 large egg yolks
Ice bath

Preparation:

  • In a large bowl, whisk the yolks and ¼ cup of the sugar together until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside.
  • Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.
  • In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, cream, ¼ cup of the sugar, salt and tropical tea powder to a full, rolling boil. Slowly pour the hot liquid over the egg yolks, whisking constantly as to prevent the eggs from curdling. Set the bowl over the ice bath and stir until cooled to room temperature. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and freeze in ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s directions. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and let freeze for at least four hours to set.
  • To assemble the ice cream sandwiches, place one scoop of ice cream between two pineapple-macadamia cookies (recipe below). Serve immediately or store in the freezer for up to four hours before eating.

For the pineapple and macadamia nut cookies:

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups rolled oats
1 cup macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
½ cup dried pineapple, roughly chopped

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and dark brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Slowly add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, and mix until well combined. Add the oats, nuts and pineapple, and mix until just combined.
  • Evenly drop heaping tablespoons of the batter on to the prepared baking sheets, and gently flatten the cookie dough. Bake until light golden brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on the pans until at room temperature before filling with ice cream.

Chai White Hot Chocolate with Chai Marshmallows
Servings: makes 4 servings

For the chai white hot chocolate:

Ingredients:

4 cups milk
2 teaspoons chai tea powder, or to taste
2 pinches salt
1 cup white chocolate chips

Preparation:

  • In a medium pot, combine the milk, chai tea and salt together and bring to a simmer. Remove from the stovetop, add the chocolate chips to the hot mixture and whisk until smooth. Pour into cups and garnish with chai marshmallows (recipe below).

For the chai marshmallows:

Ingredients:

½ cup cold water, divided
4 ½ teaspoons powdered gelatin
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup dark corn syrup
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chai tea powder
½ cup powdered sugar, to coat
½ cup cornstarch, to coat

Preparation:

  • Lightly coat an 8×8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine ¼ cup of the water and vanilla extract. Sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the surface of the water and vanilla and stir to combine. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer, fit with the whip attachment, and mix on low speed.
  • Meanwhile, combine the remaining ¼ cup of water, sugar, corn syrup and salt in a small saucepan. Fit the pan with a candy thermometer. Over medium-high heat, cook the mixture until it reaches 245° F. Immediately remove the cooked sugar mixture from the stovetop and slowly pour into the stand mixer while running on low speed.
  • Increase the speed of the mixer to high, add the chai tea and whip until light, fluffy and just slightly warm. Immediately transfer the marshmallows to the prepared pan and let stand overnight to set.
  • Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Cut marshmallows with a knife lightly coated in nonstick cooking spray. Toss the cut marshmallows in the sugar and cornstarch mixture. Store in an airtight container for up to five days.

Green Tea Cake with Raspberries
Servings: makes one 9×5-inch loaf pan

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
5 teaspoons green tea powder
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups cake flour, sifted
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 325° F. Lightly spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and green tea powder until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Slowly add the flour and baking soda, and mix until well combined. Add the sour cream and vanilla and mix until smooth. Gently fold the raspberries into the batter.
  • Transfer the batter into the loaf pan and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then carefully remove the cake from the pan and let cool on a rack. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to three days.

Have a sweet tooth for the pastry arts? Click here for more information on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.