Chef Kathryn Gordon, chef instructor in ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program, has been named one of Dessert Professional Magazine’s 2017 Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America and inducted into their prestigious Hall of Fame. We’re ecstatic, we’re proud and we’re breaking out the bubbly — and serving it with Chef Kathryn’s elegant and celebratory pomelo and cantaloupe calissons. For those of you who haven’t heard of calissons, they’re a traditional almond candy that can be found in sweets shops throughout Provence, France. Chef Kathryn adds her personal, summery touch by sprucing them up with pomelo confit, candied cantaloupe and marbleized orange blossom glaze. And, of course, served alongside a chilled flute of champagne with a couple spoons of fresh, bright cantaloupe granita.

celebratory summer cocktail

Chef Kathryn’s Celebratory Summer Cocktail

Pomelo and Cantaloupe Calissons
Yield: Makes 40 (1-inch dome) calissons

Ingredients:

1900 grams blanched almond flour
100 grams powdered sugar
1 gram fine sea salt
60 grams pomelo confit (recipe below), drained well
60 grams candied cantaloupe (recipe below), drained well

Preparation:

  • Place the almond flour, powdered sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 30 times, stopping and scraping the sides of the bowl every five pulses to ensure ingredients are mixing smoothly.
  • Add ¼ of the pomelo confit and pulse. When a dough starts to form, hand knead in the remaining pomelo confit and candied cantaloupe. Press mixture into 1” flexipan molds. Let air dry for two days. Unmold and place on a glazing rack.
  • Glaze with orange blossom glaze and air dry.

Pomelo Confit

Ingredients:

Peel of 1 pomelo and cold water to cover
Pinch of salt
200 grams granulated sugar
150 grams water
25 grams glucose syrup

Preparation:

  • Cut the pomelo peel (with pith) into ¼-inch dice. Place the peels in a small non-reactive saucepan (stainless steel or tin). Add salt and enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and blanch for five minutes. Pour the mixture through a chinois and rinse in cold water. Repeat the blanching process four more times, without adding additional salt.
  • Stir together sugar and 150 grams water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once the mixture is boiling, add glucose syrup and blanched pomelo peels. Turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. Chill and reserve syrup for cocktail.

Candied Cantaloupe

Ingredients:

200 grams granulated sugar
50 grams orange juice, freshly squeezed
Flesh of 1 medium orange-fleshed cantaloupe (about 1200 grams), cut into ½-inch dice

Preparation:

  • Stir together sugar and orange juice in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Add diced cantaloupe. Turn off heat and let cool for one hour. Reserve syrup and extra fruit for granita.

Marbleized Orange Blossom Glaze

Ingredients:

20 grams orange blossom water
15 grams water
200 grams powdered sugar
Pink, egg yellow and orange gel food coloring

Preparation:

  • Stir orange blossom water and water into powdered sugar. Divide into three bowls, and stir in pink, egg yellow and orange colors, respectively. Place each color in a disposable pastry piping bag. Cut a small hole in each and place those three pastry bags in a fourth pastry bag. Cut a hole at the bottom, straight across. Squeeze out the glaze, and swirl over the calissons on the glazing rack. Let set one hour before removing with a small offset spatula.

Canteloupe Granita

Ingredients:

Reserved syrup and fruit from candied canteloupe

Preparation:

  • Puree in food processor. Place in shallow pan in freezer. Break up crystals around pan perimeter every half an hour until frozen and slushy. Keep frozen until time to serve cocktails.

Celebratory Summer Cocktail

Preparation:

  • Fill chilled champagne glasses to one-third with reserved pomelo syrup. Spoon in cantaloupe granite until halfway filled. Top with champagne or sparkling wine. Serve with pomelo and grapefruit calisson.

You, too, can study pastry & baking arts alongside Chef Kathryn — click here for more information on ICE’s career programs.


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.

 

What drives you? How do you reach people? When you make your mark on the world, what will it look like? What’s your culinary voice? With the 2017 #CulinaryVoice Scholarship Challenge in full swing, we turned to the judges, ICE’s industry-leading chefs and instructors, and posed them that same question. Here’s a look at their answers.

Culinary Voice ICE Instructors

(Top to bottom, left to right)

Tom Kombiz-Voss, Dean of Hospitality Management: “Inspiring and training each student to reach his or her highest potential in the hospitality industry.”

James Briscione, Director of Culinary Development: “Creative … and never satisfied.”

Sabrina Sexton, Culinary Arts Program Director: “Inspiring future chefs to better their community.”

Kate Edwards, Restaurant & Culinary Management instructor: “Hello! … And every little thing that matters.”

Michael Laiskonis, Creative Director: “Innovation and inspiration.”

David Waltuck, Director of Culinary Affairs: “Sharing 4+ decades of knowledge and experience.”

Anthony Caporale, Director of Beverage Studies: “The art of the drink.”

Steve Zagor, Dean of Culinary Management: “Mentoring, coaching and educating the next generation of the industry.”

Entries and voting are open! Click here to enter or vote for your favorite video. 


By Jenny McCoy
—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

Drinking vinegars, also known as shrubs, have become increasingly popular. Restaurants like Pok Pok NY in Brooklyn are now bottling drinking vinegars and selling them in grocery stores across they country. Even though not everyone knows about shrubs, drinking vinegar for health purposes has been done for a very long time.

Long ago, the Romans and Babylonians were mixing vinegar with water. The word “shrub” is derived from the Arabic word “sharbah,” which translates as “drink.” Even sailors from the 16th-18th centuries drank shrubs to prevent scurvy! Today, they are infused with every flavor one can imagine and lauded for their health benefits, some even claiming weight loss.

spoon-university

Shrub cocktail from the Spoon University event at ICE (credit: Katherine Baker)

Here’s the skinny

Shrubs are made with a combination of fruit, sugar and acid. More traditionally, they are made with equal parts fruit, sugar and vinegar. My preferred ratio is two parts fruit, one part sugar and one part vinegar—I tend to like my shrubs on the fruitier side, so I double the fruit. To make something so simple just slightly more complex, shrubs can be prepared in two ways—hot and cold—and they have infinite flavor combinations.

As for their health benefits, I can’t imagine anything made of four parts, one of which is sugar, to be very healthy. However, drinking vinegar itself has its merits: vinegar helps keep blood sugar levels in check by preventing your body from fully digesting starch. In doing so, your body will have a lower glycemic response to the starch you eat, which may decrease your chances of developing heart disease and diabetes. So, the next time you plan to eat a ton of bread, drink some vinegar first. Drinking vinegar is also considered to be healthful for an assortment of other reasons. But since this isn’t a post about diet (and instead includes recipes for alcoholic drinks), we’ll skip that talk for now.

To make a shrub—the cold way

This method will create a shrub that tastes fresh, light and slightly more acidic because the mixture will not be cooked.

Combine two parts chopped fruit and one part sugar in a large airtight container. Refrigerate the mixture for two days, allowing the fruit to macerate and the juices to release from the fruit. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing as much liquid from the fruit as possible. Transfer the mixture to a large airtight container and add the vinegar. Refrigerate the mixture for one week before using.

To make a shrub—the hot way

This method is quicker, but will deliver a less fruity flavor and be a bit mellower because the mixture will be cooked.

Simply combine all of the ingredients—two parts chopped fruit, one part sugar and one part vinegar—in a large pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer for three minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain and refrigerate until cold. It can be used immediately.

Flavoring a shrub

When making shrubs, you can use any fruit you’d like. Certain fruits may work better with either the hot or cold method. If you choose a fruit that doesn’t cook well, such as watermelon, consider the cold method. If you choose a fruit that tastes great raw or cooked, such as a pineapple, you can use either method. But if you choose a fruit with a very delicate flavor, such as a pear, consider the hot method to amplify its flavor.

I also love to infuse other flavors into my shrubs. Vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns or any other flavor that infuses easily into a liquid are a great option. Herbs, freshly grated ginger or turmeric root are also knockout alternatives. You should also consider the vinegar you use: distilled, for example, tends to be too acidic. Instead, use cider or rice vinegar for a mellow flavor. And don’t think you need to stick with just those options. White or red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, even a bit of balsamic vinegar make for special shrub combinations. Lastly, you can use any variation of sugar you prefer—give demerara sugar or raw honey a try.

Flavor recommendations

Hot method

  • Quince + star anise + brown sugar + cider vinegar
  • Bing cherries + vanilla bean + dark brown sugar + cider vinegar

Cold method

  • Strawberries + basil + turbinado sugar + champagne vinegar
  • Grapefruit + fresh bay leaf + granulated sugar + honey + rice wine vinegar

You’ve prepared your shrub…what now?

Once you’ve prepared your shrub, you can serve it as a nonalcoholic spritzer—combine equal parts shrub and seltzer, and add more seltzer or shrub to taste. Or, better yet, you can use the shrub as the base for a cocktail. A good rule of thumb is two ounces of shrub, two ounces of your choice of alcohol and two ounces of seltzer. From there you can doctor your cocktail to taste. Don’t forget to garnish either version with some fresh herbs or slices of fresh fruit.

Here is a peach shrub recipe I recently concocted for a mixology demo performed at ICE for Spoon University. For the demo, I lined my tabletop with over a dozen varieties of fresh herbs from our hydroponic garden at ICE and encouraged guests to concoct their own cocktails by choosing herbs to mix into the drink they wanted to try!

catskill-provisions

(credit: Caitlin Gunther)

Peach Shrub with Catskills Provisions Honey Whiskey

Servings: makes about four cups shrub (enough for 12 or so servings)

For the shrub

Ingredients:

3 large ripe peaches, chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup honey
1 cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup rice wine vinegar
½ teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  • In a large pot, combine all of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for about three minutes.
  • Remove mixture from heat and let stand until cooled to room temperature. Pass mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and chill until cold.

 

For the cocktail

Ingredients:

2 ounces peach shrub
2 ounces Catskills Provisions Honey Whiskey (or any other brand you prefer—but if using a non-honeyed whiskey, you may want to add a teaspoon of honey or simple syrup)
2 ounces seltzer
Lemon wedges
Fresh herbs, such as lavender, thyme, rosemary or basil

Instructions:

  • In a glass filled with ice, combine the shrub and whiskey and stir. Top with the seltzer.
  • Garnish with a wedge of lemon and fresh herbs.

 

Boozy Blueberry Basil Shrub

Servings: makes about four cups shrub (enough for 12 or so servings)

For the shrub

Ingredients:

3 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
1 bunch basil, leaves torn or roughly chopped

Preparation:

  • In a large pot, combine all of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook for about three minutes.
  • Remove the mixture from heat, add the torn basil leaves and let stand until cooled to room temperature. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and chill until cold.

 

For the cocktail

Ingredients:

2 ounces blueberry shrub
2 ounces gin, Hendrick’s recommended
2 ounces seltzer
Lime wedges
Fresh basil sprigs

Preparation:

  • In a glass filled with ice, combine the shrub and gin and stir. Top with the seltzer.
  • Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of fresh basil.

Want to study pastry arts with Chef Jenny? Click here to get more info about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.


By Jenny McCoy—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

As the summer nears its end, tables at the greenmarket abound with gorgeous fruits and veggies—produce that will be sadly missed in just a few months time. Yet in the modern kitchen, an age-old cooking technique exists to keep enjoying those summery ingredients during chillier months—preservation.

market peaches

For ages, humans have applied a variety of methods to preserve food, through drying, curing, fermentation, pickling and salting. But in 18th century France, Nicolas Appert, a maverick chef, began researching how to preserve foods in a new way, one that would maintain foods closer to their original fresh state. Initially, he believed that removing the presence of air from stored foods would help them last longer. Though a lesser amount of air can aid the preservation process, he wasn’t quite right. Inspired by a contest organized by Napoleon as a means for feeding the military, Appert continued his food preservation experimentation. Eventually, he found a heating process that could allow foods to remain unspoiled for long lengths of time. A decade and a half of his research resulted in a method we still use today: glass jars filled with foods, then corked and sealed with wax. The jars are then boiled until hot enough to kill microbes that cause food to rapidly spoil, pasteurizing their contents. Appert is credited with the “how-to” of this technique; yet it was later that we learned why it works (thanks, Louis Pasteur). Today we have incredibly easy-to-use canning jars which have screw-top lids and rubber rings in place of cork and wax, which create a vacuum when heated, resulting in a hermetic seal (thank you, John Landis Mason).

mason jars and canning

credit: Casey Feehan

Coming back to the present day, I recently paid a visit to Grand Army Plaza, home of Brooklyn’s largest farmers’ market, and loaded up my son’s little red wagon. Courtesy of the enormous assortment grown by Phillips Farms, I did a one-stop-shop and rolled away with flats of blackberries and blueberries, more than a stone of white nectarines, pluots and Jersey peaches, Kirby cucumbers, serrano chiles and jalapeños, and enough varieties of tomatoes to warrant a separate blog post. My neighbor and I shared the bounty and eight hours of canning commenced. We deviated from the classics and made nectarine-coriander mostarda, blueberry-thyme jam and tomato-peach salsa. But we also honored tradition and made good old peach preserves with a hint of lemon and vanilla bean, garlic and dill spears, blackberry jelly, bread and butter slices, and a pack of pickled peppers. After all the gallons of water boiled and dozens of jars filled, the following recipe stood out from the rest, plus: I’ve included a set of simple steps on how to properly can using the water bath method.

plumcots

credit: Casey Feehan

Recipe: Blueberry-Thyme Jam

Yield: About 4 cups

Ingredients:

2 pints blueberries

2 cups granulated sugar

½ cup water

Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

8 to 12 sprigs of fresh thyme

¼ teaspoon salt

Pectin, as needed

Instructions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, cook the blueberries, sugar, water, lemon zest and thyme until mixture is simmering and berries are broken down.
  2. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the mixture thickens to a jam-like consistency. (For faster cooking, mix 1 teaspoon of pectin with 1 teaspoon of sugar and slowly sprinkle over blueberries while stirring constantly. Allow the mixture to boil for a minute to activate the pectin.)
  3. To test the jam for doneness, drop a small spoonful on a cold plate. If the jam develops a skin once cooled, it is thick enough. If it is too thin, continue to either reduce the jam or add more pectin and sugar until desired thickness is achieved. Can the mixture while it’s hot or let cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to can (using the below steps).

How to Hot Water Bath Can:

  1. Sterilize your canning jars prior to filling. You can do this by placing them in boiling water for one minute (without the lids on!), or by running them through the dishwasher. Wash the lids in hot soapy water. Allow the jars and lids to air dry (do not towel dry as this will negate your sterilization efforts).
  2. Fill your jars with hot, warm or room temperature foods (you can also can cold foods, but they take longer to pasteurize so I don’t recommend it). I suggest filling the jars with really hot foods to speed up the canning process. Also, a canning funnel will make life a lot easier. Gently tap the jars on a hard surface to remove air bubbles.
  3. Be sure to wipe any spills or drips on the edge of the jars with a clean paper towel, as they must be clean and dry before closing. Do not use a kitchen towel or your fingers, as this will introduce bacteria into your sterilized jars. When you screw on the lids, secure them tightly—but not as tight as possible.
  4. Set a metal rack on the bottom of a large pot. (The pot must be at least two inches taller than your canning jars.) If you don’t have a rack, fashion a ½- to 1-inch thick pad made of scrunched up aluminum foil. This helps the jars from being set directly on the bottom of the pot, which causes them to rattle around as they boil.
  5. Fill the pot with water to a couple inches from the top and bring to a rolling boil.
  6. Using tongs, carefully place each jar into the boiling water, allowing at least an inch of space around each jar and making sure that there is at least one inch of water above the tops of the jars. You may need to remove some water if your pot threatens to overflow. Cover the pot.
  7. Once the water has returned to a full, rolling boil, set a timer.
    • For jars filled with hot foods, boil the jars for at least 30 seconds for every ounce. For example, an 8-ounce jar will boil for 4 minutes.
    • For jars filled with room temperature foods, boil the jars for 1 minute for every ounce. For example, an 8-ounce jar will boil for 8 minutes.
  8. Once the timer goes off, carefully remove the jars with tongs and set them on a towel-lined countertop. Let them stand at room temperature until completely cool, up to several hours. Do not touch the lids until they are completely cooled, as you may inadvertently seal them by hand. If you hear snapping sounds, don’t worry—that is the vacuum sealing doing its job. Once the jars are at room temperature, any of the jars that did not seal properly can be stored in the refrigerator and eaten immediately. Otherwise, the rest of the canned goods can be stored in the pantry until the seasons change and you crave deliciously sweet raspberries in the dead of winter.

Want to study with Chef Jenny? Click here to get more info about ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.


By Michael Laiskonis—ICE Creative Director

Early last year, as the ICE staff was preparing to move from the school’s longtime home in the Flatiron District of Manhattan to its newly constructed downtown facility, I was immersed in organizing the details for our unique bean-to-bar Chocolate Lab. Considering our new digs in the oldest part of the city, it hit me that perhaps we were bringing chocolate back to the neighborhood—old New Amsterdam. I began to ponder the ghosts of chocolate makers past. Surely there must have been numerous traders, processors and merchants dealing in the popular product at various points in the city’s nearly 400-year history. Little did I realize how difficult the search for answers would prove, yet what I have uncovered thus far has only reinvigorated my quest.

Late 18th Century Map of Manhattan

Late 18th Century Map of Manhattan

I’m a bit of a history buff—with interests in our culinary past, of course, but also the rich history of the vibrant city I’ve called home for over 12 years. I’ve also spent countless hours tracing my family histories back to Eastern Europe, as well as my maternal lines back to England and Holland. My ancestors arrived in the first waves of settlers in the American colonies dating back to the mid-1600s. My meandering research came quite close to home at one point—a Dutch extended cousin turned out to be a prominent businessman in 1650s New Amsterdam, operating a brewery on Beaver Street, the site occupied today by a towering office building in Manhattan’s Financial District. This personal discovery fueled my broader search for chocolate in this colonial outpost—if I could find a distant relative in the neighborhood, surely I would eventually find traces of cocoa as well. But first, I had to step back a bit further to consider the greater story of chocolate’s travels.

The story goes that Columbus encountered cacao in the course of his later voyages at the turn of the 16th century, but was unimpressed or simply unaware of its attraction. At best, he may have traveled back to Europe with a token handful of the beans, which only grow in the tropics. Most historians agree that it was through Hernando Cortes, who conquered the Aztecs in the 1520s, that chocolate would make inroads into European aristocracy, eventually gaining popularity on par with coffee and tea. Throughout much of its history, chocolate was consumed as a beverage in coffeehouses or sold in small coarse-textured blocks (and only upon its arrival in Europe was sugar added). During its first century in Europe, accessibility to chocolate soon spread beyond the noble classes and was enjoyed by a wider audience. The drink thrived in those countries whose empires extended to tropical zones where cacao could be cultivated for the masses back home.

By the time the American Revolution was underway, chocolate had firmly established itself in the colonies. Numerous references and connections to the drink have been attributed to patriot luminaries like Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. The first colonial chocolate manufacturer was Baker’s, established by 1765 in Dorchester, Massachusetts (the famous brand still exists today). While this may be true in large-scale production, there were many small local producers and bean grinders predating Baker’s throughout the larger cities of Boston, New York and Philadelphia. These craft producers, around 70 total, are the objects of my interest. Unsurprisingly, they have been difficult to trace in great detail. Perhaps because chocolate at this point was still minimally refined, there were likely few who devoted themselves to chocolate full time. Individual grocers and local mills may have handled very small quantities. The dearth of pre-revolution information about chocolate culture in Lower Manhattan didn’t discourage me, but it did lead my search into a different direction.

We assume that chocolate first arrived in America as a European import, but when and where are still unclear. The earliest written accounts of chocolate in the northeastern colonies do not appear until the 1660s, with sporadic references to trade shipments continuing into the 1670-80s. By the time England assumed control of the renamed New York in the 1660s, its cocoa trade was taking shape. Their early colonies in the Caribbean had begun planting cocoa and adding sugar to it. As trade from the Caribbean increased—and by extension, from South and Central America—the colonial port cities became vital links in the supply chain. The port of New York City quickly became an important hub in this network of the cocoa trade—a pivotal discovery in my research. By the early 1700s, shipping documents reflect a significant flow of cocoa beans from the West Indies into New York; while much of the precious cargo was ultimately destined for Europe, local consumption was on the rise, too. Great quantities of cocoa were arriving from the Venezuelan port of Curaçao via a network of Jewish merchants of Spanish descent. This network grew to include dozens of businesses, some of which would eventually branch out into local wholesale and retail chocolate trade. I had finally caught a glimpse of the history I had been hoping to find—the emergence of the cocoa trade in lower Manhattan. What’s more, the city has more contemporary ties to the cocoa trade as well. The New York Cocoa Exchange occupied the narrow flatiron-shaped building at the intersection of Wall, Pearl and Beaver Streets from 1939 to 1979 (the building still bears that name, though its tenants now include a sushi restaurant and condominiums). At present, the offices of Atlantic Cocoa, a major player in the international chocolate trade, are located just a short walk from ICE, adjacent to Battery Park.

Present-Day John and Water Streets

Among the names of early merchants, several clues began to emerge, and with them more details into the chocolate world in colonial New York. While the extent of their processing and manufacturing is not yet clear, I finally began to pin chocolate-related locations to the map. Spanish-born Jacob Louzada was one such early merchant, active through the 1720s; his son Aaron is reported to have processed chocolate as well. I came across the Gomez family, with three generations involved in chocolate—first with trade and later with manufacturing. Moses Gomez was active in trade and chocolate making as early as 1700. By the 1750s, Daniel Gomez advertised the sale of drinking chocolate near “Burling’s Slip”—today, near the foot of John Street and South Street at the East River. More promising is a surviving advertisement from 1780 describing the shop and “chocolate manufactory” of Rebecca Gomez, which carried all manner of imported food goods, including her own superfine “manufactured chocolate, warranted free from any sediments and pure. Great allowance made to those who buy to sell again.” Rebecca’s shop stood at the corner of Nassau Street and Ann Street—a busy intersection of its day and a stone’s throw from the ICE Chocolate Lab. Rebecca’s son-in-law, Abraham Wagg, was a grocer who also dabbled in chocolate. Other 18th century names and locations have surfaced as well, such as Peter Low, who had made chocolate in Manhattan before moving the business across the river to New Jersey, as well as Peter Swigart and his chocolate-making shop on Bayard Street, in what is now the heart of Chinatown.

While it remains difficult to find traces of chocolate in the very earliest days of the Dutch colony, we see that it became a common item on the docks and in the shops of New York in the 1700s. After unearthing the stories of these early entrepreneurs, I am excited to discover what I might find as chocolate making in this neighborhood has evolved, coming into the 19th century and, ultimately, full circle back to our little lab on the third floor of Brookfield Place at ICE!

Further reading for chocolate aficionados:
  • On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao, by Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz
  • Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage, by Louis E. Grivetti and Howard-Yana Shapiro

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


ICE’s 
Center for Advanced Pastry Studies (CAPS) is excited to announce our upcoming course on September 12-13, Ideas in Food: Gluten-Free Baking Science and Technique, led by Aki Kamozawa and Alex Talbot, chefs and creators of the award-winning blog Ideas in Food. In this new course, Chefs Aki and Alex will share the ingredients that are vital to creating gluten-free desserts, as well as gluten-free bakery and restaurant techniques. Participants will roll up their sleeves and learn to create a handful of tasty desserts, sans gluten. 

In anticipation of this upcoming course, we interviewed Chefs Aki and Alex to get their thoughts on gluten-free baking, plus a sneak peek of what to expect in the classroom.

GlutenF-Free Flour Power

Alex, you met your partner in crime, Aki, while working in the kitchen of Boston restaurant Clio—what was the catalyst for your transition from the kitchen to food media? 

I suppose the catalyst was the creation of our blog Ideas in Food in 2004, though I’m not sure I’d call it a transition. Food, the kitchen and the exploration of delicious things have always been our driving forces. And these days we have Curiosity Doughnuts in the Stockton Market in Stockton, NJ, that keeps us united with the kitchen.

Have you seen any recent shifts in jobs in the food and restaurant world?

The greatest shift is the growth of smaller off-the-beaten-path jobs. When we were at Keyah Grande in 2004, the idea of a restaurant in a mountain setting on a 4,000-acre ranch in the middle of nowhere—Pagosa Springs, Colorado—was crazy. Nowadays, these restaurants and jobs are idolized.

Your most recent cookbook is titled “Gluten-Free Flour Power” and your class here at ICE will focus on gluten-free baking. What ignited this gluten-free flame for you both?

Gluten-Free Flour Power grew out of our consulting business, where chefs needed a support system for their guests. We wanted to make a handbook of delicious gluten-free recipes. What is equally exciting and oft missed is that our recipes work gram-for-gram for both gluten-free and all-purpose flour.

What has been your biggest challenge in the realm of gluten-free baking?

The biggest challenge with gluten-free has been the stigma of “gluten-free.”

Which recipe are you most proud of?

The kouign-amann is pretty special.

What is your main goal for your class here at ICE?

The goal for the class is to break down a few walls and open the door to what is possible in the gluten-free kitchen.

If you had to state your overall food philosophy, whether on eating or producing, what would it be?  

Make it delicious.

Click here to reserve your spot in Chefs Aki and Alex’s course today!

Each year, ICE’s Center for Advanced Pastry Studies offers a variety of single and multiday continuing education pastry courses for working baking and pastry professionals taught by master chefs and critically acclaimed artists from all over the world. At CAPS, you will refine your skills, learn new and innovative techniques, and expand your current repertoire with hands-on classes among peers. What’s more, all CAPS classes are approved for American Culinary Federation certified education hours.

Classes have a limited enrollment and fill quickly. ICE alumni receive 15% off!

 

By James Distefano, Pastry & Baking Arts Chef Instructor

Pastry & Baking Chef Instructor (and alum of NYC vegetable haven, Rouge Tomate) James Distefano shows PEOPLE magazine an unexpected way to eat not one, but two summertime treats. Watch him take you through each step in our video—then try the recipe yourself with his tips and directions below.

Looking for more recipes from PEOPLE & ICE? Click here for fried chicken sandwiches, French pastry made easy, knife skills and more.

Is there anything better than corn in the summertime? To me, corn is one of the highlights of the season’s produce. As a kid spending summers at the Jersey shore, the last thing I wanted to do was leave the beach early and shuck corn for dinner (but I did love eating it!). Now, it’s one of my favorite summer ingredients to work with, its subtle sweetness giving it the versatility to work in many dishes. What’s more: whether you’re using it in a soup, salad or simply grilled and buttered, corn is an ingredient that doesn’t need a lot of gussying up.

When thinking about fresh ways to eat corn, I wanted to highlight its sweetness by combining it with another summertime staple: ice cream. You may not believe corn and dessert go together, but consider this: while we commonly think of corn as a part of a savory dish, it’s also in plenty of your favorite breakfast cereals.

The inspiration for this homemade corn ice cream comes from a former boss of mine, Richard Leach. Rich has an amazing talent for creating and pairing desserts with uncommon ingredients. When I was a young kid working for him in the mid-90s, putting corn in a dessert was a mind-expanding notion. One day when we were talking about food, he calmly asked me if I’d ever had a bowl of corn cereal with peaches in it. “Of course, I have,” I said quickly—and then realized what he was getting at. My mind melted. Corn: it wasn’t just for dinner anymore!

The best part about this recipe is that you can make it without an ice cream maker. If I haven’t convinced you of corn’s delicious virtues as a dessert, you can try adding different flavors (see my tip below) or keep it easy by just adding the vanilla extract to the cream for a simple ice cream. Here are some pro tips to help you out:

  1. The scoop on the scoop: To get picture-perfect scoops of ice cream, dip your scoop into a tall container of warm water. The water will warm the scoop enough to enable you to dig into the ice cream and shape it into a nice round ball without the ice cream sticking to the surface. Just make sure to tap any excess water off of the scoop before digging in to avoid any messy dripping.
  2. Flavor-ific: If you’d like to add another flavor, such as a spice, you can whip it with your egg yolks. If you’re keen on adding something else such as chocolate chips, candy or nuts, replace the amount of roasted corn kernels with the ingredient of your choosing. If you’d like to try adding fresh herbs, mint, cilantro or tarragon would all taste delicious with the corn! Add any of the above to the batter at the end when you’re folding in the whipped cream. For this recipe, two to three tablespoons of chopped herbs should be enough.
  3. End results: To get the best from your eggs, let them come to room temperature because they will whip up more quickly and easily and hold more air (volume). To get the best results from your heavy cream, the cream and the bowl you will be using to whip in should be as cold as possible to whip up more quickly and easily and hold more volume. When you maximize the volume of both, your ice cream will be lighter and creamier!
  4. Bowled over: Since most of us only have one KitchenAid bowl to work with at home, I’d recommend whipping the cream first and storing it in your refrigerator while you whip up the egg yolks, followed by the egg whites. Whipped cream tends to hold its volume (the air trapped during the whipping process) longer than either whipped yolks or whites.
  5. Whip it good: To get the most out of your whipping cream, set the speed on your mixer between seven and eight or medium-high. At this speed, as the cream is whipping, the whisk will “cut” more evenly sized air bubbles into the cream. This is important because uniform air bubbles will “pop” closer to the same rate, whereas if you whip your cream on high speed, you will have irregular sized air bubbles—some large, some small—meaning your whipped cream will deflate more quickly than you want…and nobody wants to feel deflated!

 

Recipe: Corn Ice Cream:

Yield: 3 quarts

For the roasted corn kernels:

  • 3 ears corn (approximately 1 ½ cups kernels), shucked, silks and husks reserved for corn-infused heavy cream (recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2-3 tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Remove kernels from the cob and set aside. Cut cobs in quarters and reserve for corn-infused heavy cream (recipe below).
  3. Spread kernels on a parchment paper-lined baking tray.
  4. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of canola oil.
  5. Sprinkle with the sugar and season with a pinch of salt.
  6. Roast in the oven at 350 F for 15 minutes or until the corn begins to color.
  7. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature.
  8. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to two days.

Corn-Infused Heavy Cream:

  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups reserved husks, silks and cobs

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in one large pot.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Turn the heat off and steep for 15 minutes, covered with a lid.
  4. After 15 minutes remove the lid and cool to room temperature.
  5. Store corn-infused heavy cream in an airtight container for at least 24 hours or up to two days in the refrigerator.
  6. The following day, strain the infused cream through a colander to make the corn ice cream base (recipe below). You need to make sure you wind up with three cups. Add fresh cream to make up the difference if needed.

Corn Ice Cream Base:

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • Salt
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 3 cups corn-infused heavy cream, strained
  • 1 ½ cups roasted corn kernels

Directions:

  1. Combine the egg yolks, ½ cup sugar and a pinch of salt in the bowl fitted for the electric mixer with a whisk attachment.
  2. Whip on high speed until pale, thick and ribbony, make sure all of the sugar has dissolved. This should take three to four minutes. Remove whipped yolk base from the bowl and set aside in a large mixing bowl. Keep cold. Wash the mixing bowl and whip for the mixer because you will need it to whip the egg whites.
  3. Place egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl fitted for the electric mixer and begin whipping on medium speed until medium peak.
  4. Once egg whites are at medium peak, slowly add in the remaining one cup of sugar. Once all of the sugar is in, turn the machine up to high speed and continue to whip until the meringue looks like shaving cream. It will be light, fluffy and glossy looking.
  5. In three separate stages, gently fold the meringue (egg white mixture) into the egg yolk base, only folding about three quarters of the way. This will help prevent over mixing. After the third addition of meringue has been folded in, place back into the refrigerator to keep cold.
  6. Wash the mixing bowl and whip for the mixer because you will need it to whip the corn-infused heavy cream.
  7. Whip the corn-infused heavy cream to medium peaks in an electric mixer with the whisk attachment.
  8. Fold one quarter of the whipped corn-infused heavy cream into the ice cream base and mix three quarters of the way.
  9. Add the last three quarters of the whipped corn-infused heavy cream along the with the roasted corn kernels to the ice cream base.
  10. Gently fold everything together until no visible streaks of whipped cream remain.
  11. Pour corn ice cream into an airtight container with a tight lid and freeze immediately.
  12. Allow to freeze for 24 hours before serving.

The ice cream will last for up to four days in the freezer.

Want more delicious dessert ideas from Chef James? Watch him stun Dr. Oz with what he can whip up, sign up for one of his recreational classes—or go pro and get more information about ICE’s professional pastry program.

 

By Chef Michael Laiskonis, ICE Creative Director

‘Cuisine or Death.’ For many years that was my code in the kitchen: a half-serious way to motivate cooks in the face of minor adversity or toward the unobtainable ideal of perfection. A fellow chef once told me he had adopted a similar (if slightly more introspective) military mantra: adaptimproviseovercome. In thinking about the meaning of craftsmanship, I slowly realized how each of those words symbolizes distinct stages in development, marking key points in a cook’s training. One can’t progress to the next level without successfully mastering the last.

ICE - Pro Perspective - Michael Laiskonis

Knowledge, in any craft, is cumulative in nature and exponential in its possible effects. Only through rote mastery of fundamentals, followed by repetitive practice, can a craftsman (whether cook, musician, or architect) approach anything resembling inspired creativity—or, in other words, art. Creativity doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but rather in relation to one’s overall experience and skill set. In this way, good food is the result of many tiny accomplishments, some we can see immediately, and others that take years to germinate.

Adapting to an Unpredictable World

Despite the wisdom and efforts of countless recipe writers, there is no true cooking-by-the-numbers. In the theater of the kitchen, recipes are scripts that serve merely as a guideline, subject to a perpetual series of re-writes. A chef is thus a problem solver, working in a laboratory governed by the variability of nature and its produce, yet also by the strict parameters of chemistry and physics. This duality—unpredictable ingredients and unchanging rules of science—leads to a very practical, pragmatic view of the world that relies on keen observation. “It is what it is,” but there’s still a full dining room to be served, so as chefs we “make the best of it,” using our skills to adapt to the situation at hand.

ICE - Pro Perspective - Michael Laiskonis

The first lessons of an apprentice typically focus on identifying quality: that is a good carrot, this is how one holds a knife, this is what the sauce should taste like. Such crucial observations are the central focus of a cook’s initial years in the kitchen. Until such “rules” have been ingrained into a cook’s common sense, he (or she) is rarely given much opportunity to think for himself.

These basics are further reinforced by repetitive acts; outliers become easier to identify as you increase your familiarity with the task. The best students turn these tedious chores into a means of better understanding the product or the method. The fish butcher will inevitably start to ponder the anatomy of the fish and later, the effectiveness of his technique and ways in which he can do the job faster, better. The pastry cook will learn (through endless trial and error and constant tasting) just the right color of her caramel sauce and by extension, the proper pan and the right level of heat. Eventually, she’ll advance to investigating the chemical properties of sugar as a whole and how best to harness them.

ICE - Pro Perspective - Michael Laiskonis - Fish Fabrication

Early training, then, is quite narrow in focus; its scope limited to the detail rather than the big picture. It’s with these basic skills of identification and repetition of technique that we learn how to adapt and, eventually, to improvise. Even more importantly, this concentration and repetition teaches the cook discipline.

Vigilance and attention to detail are the only barriers separating success from failure. By doing one thing over and over, one becomes acutely aware of the exponential impact one small mistake can have on the forthcoming steps of a lengthy process. Adaptation, therefore, is the reward for good judgment skills. Understanding what quality is and how to achieve it allows the chef to make the proper adjustments in regards to a particular ingredient or technique.

Improvising to Innovate

If the first stage of a cook’s journey solidifies the foundation of one’s craft, the second stage begins to allow for an intellectual connection between the head and the hands. A strong grasp of fundamentals allows the cook to be less fearful of experimentation. Better yet, it arms him with the mystic ability to imagine a dish that is greater than the sum of its parts. Once we have gained confidence in our ability to adapt, improvisation teaches us how to be intuitive, how to predict an outcome before we taste it.

While cooking, as a practice, tends to preserve traditional, established methods and flavor combinations, chefs have a built-in curiosity for the new. We are lifelong students, constantly searching for new ingredients and new technology, not only to invent things that are completely new, but also to make the ‘old’ dishes better or their preparation more efficient. Rather than leave well enough alone, innovative chefs see opportunity in taking something that isn’t broken and breaking it just to see what happens. This impulse to innovate is what moves the craft ever forward.

ICE - Pro Perspective - Michael Laiskonis

Modern professional cooking is not unlike the medieval guild system, whose structure was built upon the hierarchy of apprentice, journeyman, and master. Cooks in their second tier of development are indeed contemporary journeymen, working short stints under various chefs, investigating different styles of cuisine. With some fundamental experience behind them, they move from kitchen to kitchen to absorb the broadest range of skills possible, searching for their own culinary voice. Short-term, unpaid commitments, or stages, are a common way for chefs to quickly gain experience in a wide range of cuisines. As a result—unlike most professions—a lengthy and colorful resume is an aspiring chef’s golden ticket.

Like artists in training, these improvising cooks often express their budding talents by copying the masters. The exercise, in part, honors their culinary idols, but also helps a cook to get inside the master’s head, to peel back the individual layers of flavor and texture. This stage of development—absorbing and analyzing the work of others—marks the point at which a cook begins to truly think like a chef.

Overcoming the Obstacle of an Empty Plate

“The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star.” – Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste

Once you have a raw material in hand, enough technical skill to manipulate it, and the wisdom to know when it’s best left alone, a chef’s creativity finally enters the picture. But ‘creativity’ isn’t really the right term to apply to this process. I prefer to see it as an individual’s attempt at overcoming the known.

ICE - Pro Perspective - Michael Laiskonis - Apricot Bonbons - Facebook

In the world of cooking, there is little that is truly new. At its best, a dish is simply the expression of a personal challenge, filtered through the whole of a cook’s experience and knowledge. When confronted with an empty plate, we use our intuition to mentally arrange flavors and techniques. The initial obstacle is simply to prepare something delicious; the deeper challenge is to create a dish that refines, improves, and pushes our own boundaries as chefs. What we choose to put (or not to put) on that plate—a composition of flavors, textures, and temperatures—represents the ongoing evolution of not only the chef as an individual, but also the ever-widening spectrum of culinary possibilities.

ICE - Pro Perspective - Michael Laiskonis - Facebook Image

Photo by Michelle Flisek, of COOK in Philadelphia

 

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.

Kathryn Gordon Headshot cropped

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.

Chef-Instructor Kathryn Gordon - ice.edu

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.

IACP20-Kathryn Gordon

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.

Chef-Instructor Kathryn Gordon - ice.edu

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.