By Chef Chad Pagano, Chef-Instructor, Pastry & Baking Arts

Whether for a competition, special event or mere display, I have constructed many sugar showpieces over the years. These pieces have been inspired by countless themes, ranging from country music songs to classic American novels. As a big football fan, the most exciting to date is the showpiece I created this past weekend for the Taste of the NFL in Brooklyn.


Chef Chad and student Amanda Rondeau carefully assemble the sugar showpiece.

After discussing the theme and the feel of the event with my colleagues at ICE, it was time for me to begin the well-rehearsed design process. This starts with a simple sketch of the piece. In this instance, the design was some what difficult for me because it required one large sculpture and two smaller side pieces. Further, the piece had to feature both the ICE logo and the Taste of the NFL logo. Ultimately, I decided to design the showpiece in the image of the Lombardi trophy.

The next step in this process is to create a Styrofoam model of the pieces. This allows you to see all the parts of the piece three dimensionally. Further, it lets you add color to the piece, helping you decide upon your color scheme.

Unfortunately, because of time constraints, I skipped the luxury of this step. I felt comfortable doing this because the piece itself already had a three-dimensional representation off of which I planned to base the color scheme: the silver of the Super Bowl trophy and the red, white and blue of the NFL. Additionally, the structure of the focal piece was a based on tried-and-true techniques that I had used many times before.


A glittering football cast in solid sugar

Skipping the model, I moved on to the next step: drawing out the shapes to scale. After creating these mechanical drawings, I placed them under clear vinyl and used both silicone “noodles” and caramel bars to form the molds of the shapes themselves. After casting all the necessary pieces to form the base, I began making, rolling and cutting out pastillage, which is used in the sugar of the main structure and to form the buildings on the logo pieces. Lucky for me, the talented Chef Kathryn Gordon agreed to help me create the other necessary garnishes—including ribbons, curls and bubble sugar—that I would eventually need to finish the piece once it was created.

The last step was molding the football itself, which would ultimately serve as the major focal point of the piece. To create the most realistic representation possible, I ended up purchasing a cheap rubber football and casting sugar into it. After allowing the sugar to solidify inside, I cut away the ball’s rubber. The result was excellent! The only issue was the heaviness of the piece—about as heavy as a cinder block of pure sugar! To remedy this, I spent a couple of hours hollowing out the ball by slowly melting the sugar inside with a blow torch and pouring off the liquid.


Chef Chad Pagano (left) and Chef James Briscione (right) at Taste of the NFL Event

With all the necessary pieces packaged and sandwiched between plastic wrap and sheet pans, I loaded them as carefully as possible into my jeep. Then, the slow, nerve-wracking trip to Brooklyn began. I could not believe the condition of our city’s roads; it felt like we hit every pothole between 23rd street and Red Hook!

By some small miracle, my pastry assistant—student Amanda Rondeau—and I made it to the event with all the pieces intact. When we arrived, we unloaded the various parts and our equipment with the help of the Taste of the NFL event staff. We then began to assemble the piece in its totality. This went well for the most part and was only complicated by the glaring halogen lights and the occasional gawkers.


Putting the final touches on the sugar showpiece.

After several hours, Amanda and I had fully assembled the showpiece—just in time to clear the room for the bomb sniffing dogs to sweep through. While waiting outside, Amanda, Chef James Briscione and I passed the time by cracking nervous jokes about the dogs breaking the piece. To our relief, the showpiece was still standing when we cleared security and returned to our booth.

However, as I got closer, I noticed some of the more delicate garnishes had fallen off and shattered on the table. Looking around in confusion, I noticed a Port Authority police officer and his dog quickly approaching. When he reached me, he extended his hand and apologized. I responded that losing a few garnishes was a small price to pay for a bomb-free event, and told him not to worry about it. After all, it’s important to keep your priorities straight.


Overall, it was an absolute pleasure creating a sugar showpiece for the Taste of the NFL. As I said at the beginning—it’s my favorite sugar creation yet!


By James Briscione, Director of Culinary Development and Culinary Arts Chef-Instructor

For ICE’s recent hands-on cooking event with the New York Jets, I crafted a fun spin on classic chili. Slow-roasted pork carnitas and beer impart a deep, smoky flavor, while the simple addition of beans and broth rounds out the dish. The recipe was a hit at the Jet’s House “50 Yard Lounge” Super Bowl pregame party with player Nick Folk, so it’s sure to be a winning addition for any gameday menu.

carnitas chili

Pork Carnitas Chili & Jalapeno Griddlecakes

Serves 8


  • 2 pounds fatty pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco Pepper Sauce
  • 1 beer
  • 4 cups chicken stock, divided
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 15 oz can pinto beans, drained
For garnish
  • fresh cilantro or scallions
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • sour cream
  1. Place the pork cubes in a bowl, add the brown sugar, smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, kosher salt and Tabasco.
  2. Toss well to evenly coat the meat.
  3. Wrap tightly and refrigerate overnight
  4. The next day, preheat oven to 350˚F.
  5. Transfer the pork to a large, heavy sauce pot.
  6. Add the beer, 1 cup of the chicken stock, onion, garlic, and bay leaves.
  7. Bring the pot to a simmer and cover with a lid.
  8. Transfer to the oven and cook 2 hours.
  9. After two hours, remove the pot from the oven and transfer the pork cubes to another ovenproof dish, leaving any the liquid behind in the pot.
  10. Increase the oven temperature to 450°F.
  11. Place the dish with the pork cubes in the oven, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes, or until the pork is browned.
  12. While the pork cubes are in the oven, place the pot with the liquid back on the stove. Add the remaining chicken stock (3 cups) and bring to a simmer. Skim any excess fat from the surface.
  13. When pork is browned, remove from the oven and drain and discard the excess fat. Allow the pork to cool, then shred it with a fork.
  14. Add the beans and shredded pork to pot of simmering liquid. Stir well and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  15. Divide into bowls and serve with cornmeal pancakes.

Jalapeno and Cheddar Cornmeal Pancakes

Yield: Approximately 20 cakes

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 oz melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 14 fl oz milk
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  1. Place the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together the melted butter, eggs, milk, jalapeno and cheese. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together until just combined.
  2. Preheat a griddle or cast iron skillet. Lightly oil the surface and drop spoonfuls of the batter onto the heated surface and cook until bubbles form. Flip and brown on the second side.
  3. Once browned, remove from griddle. Serve with chili.

It’s almost Super Bowl Sunday, and we’re gearing up with recipes for our favorite game day snacks. What’s more, in the spirit of friendly (fishy) competition, we’re testing two iconic dishes from the Ravens’ and 49ers’ hometowns: Baltimore Crab Cakes and San Francisco Cioppino.

Which recipe will win this seafood showdown? It’s all up to you. Vote “crab cakes” or “cioppino” in the comments below.

Photo Credit: King Street Marketing Group

Photo Credit: King Street Marketing Group

Baltimore Crab Cakes with Spicy Rémoulade

This spicy crab cake recipe one of the regional highlights from our “All-American Hot and Spicy Favorites” recreational cooking class.

Yield: Serves 4

Crab Cakes:


  • ½ pound jumbo lump crab meat, picked over (leave in large chunks)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • Tabasco, several dashes (to taste)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons bread crumbs, to bind
  • Panko breadcrumbs for coating crab cakes
  • Canola oil for sautéing
  • Lemon wedges for garnish


  1. Combine crab meat, red pepper, shallots and parsley in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and egg; season with cayenne and Tabasco.
  3. Gently stir into crab mixture and mix to combine.
  4. Stir in 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs and if necessary to make the crab cakes hold together, add in another 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs.
  5. Form into 4 crab cakes and coat with panko. Refrigerate until ready to fry.
  6. Preheat oven to 350º F
  7. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add enough canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add in crab cakes and cook over medium-high heat until the crab cakes are lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Flip crab cakes over and continue cooking another 2 minutes on the other side, or until lightly golden.
  8. Transfer to a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake the crab cakes 10 minutes to cook through.

Spicy Remoulade:

Yield: about 1 pint

  • 1½ cups mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cornichons
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chervil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon, Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 to 4 dashes Tabasco


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise, capers, cornichons, chives, chervil, tarragon, mustard, anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Cover the sauce with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use (overnight, if necessary).
Photo Credit: GW Fins

Photo Credit: GW Fins

San Francisco Cioppino

We can thank Italian immigrants for putting “cioppino” on the culinary American map. Chef Renee Marton has generously shared this recipe from her “Fishing for Soups” cooking class.

Yield: 8 servings


  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 anchovies
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 cups celery, medium diced
  • 2 cups carrots, medium diced
  • 2 medium onions, medium dice
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1.5 quarts homemade fish or shrimp stock
  • 1 28 oz can diced fresh tomatoes, pureed until chunky, sauce-like consistency
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper, ground
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 16 mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
  • 16 littleneck clams, cleaned
  • 1 lb 16/20 shrimp, shelled and de-veined
  • 1.5-2 lbs white, firm-fleshed fish: cod, halibut, monkfish, cut into 2 inch cubes.

Just before serving:

  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 tbsp grated lemon zest
  • sprinkle of grated nutmeg
  • Two baguettes, sliced and baked with dried herbs, salt and olive oil, until toasted.


  1. Heat olive oil over medium flame. Add onions, carrots, celery and anchovies. Cook until soft but not brown.
  2. Add garlic, basil, oregano and thyme. Lower heat and cook for 5 minutes. Add nutmeg, bay leaves and cayenne pepper. Cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add red wine. Wait 4 minutes, then add fish stock, red wine vinegar and half the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer and reduce by 40%. Add rest of tomatoes if the broth doesn’t seem thick enough or needs to be a bit sweeter, and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Add clams and simmer for 7 minutes. Reduce heat to just under a simmer and add mussels, fish and shrimp. Cook another 5-6 minutes. The shells should be open and the shrimp and fish pieces opague, but not curled or smaller than when you put them in the pot. Remove any of the mussels or clams that did not open.
  5. Just before serving, add parsley, lemon zest and nutmeg. Stir everything together.

Serve in wide soup bowls, with toasted baguette slices. While it is not necessary, Renee likes to serve this cioppino with a drizzle of cilantro/pine nut pesto.

ICE is proud of its alumni and their accomplishments. From four-star restaurants to food media, from test kitchens to personal chefs, our alumni continue to win awards, accolades and attention for their endeavors. ICE alumni are finding success in a plethora of different avenues in the food world. Check out just some of the alumni finding success and making recent headlines.

*Michal Shelkowitz (Pastry ’05) of Dovetail was nominated by Food & Wine for their People’s Best New Pastry Chef award. You can vote for her online.

*Gaetano Cortes (Culinary Management ’09) delivered over a dozen pizzas from his Long Island pizzeria, Umberto’s, to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl–winners, the New York Giants! Gaetano and the pizzas were featured in the New York Post, Wall Street Journal and Fox 5.

*Joncarl Lachman (Culinary Arts ’02) is happy to report that his first restaurant, HB Home Bistro is included in Michelin Guide’s group of recommended restaurants.

*Jeff Harris (Culinary Arts ’05) and his Dallas restaurant, Bolsa, were featured in an interview on the Dallas Observer.

*Marshmallows from Three Tarts, the bakery from alums Marla D’Urso (Pastry & Baking Arts and Culinary Management ’03), Sandra Palmer (Pastry & Baking Arts ’03) and Kiyomi Toda-Burke (Pastry & Baking Arts ’03), were seen on Good Morning America.

*Rory O’Farrell’s (Culinary Arts ’97) Water’s Edge was featured in a Daily News story about Restaurant Week.

*Dave Crofton (Pastry & Baking Arts ’03) and his wife Dawn Casale, the owners of One Girl Cookies, and their new book, One Girl Cookies, were seen on Eater.

*Sara Dima (Culinary Arts ’04) was mentioned in the New York Times‘s Diner’s Journal, along with chef Ilene Rosen, for 606 R & D, a home-style restaurant and bar they are opening in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

To connect with these ICE alumni and many more, you can connect with Career Services on Facebook or LinkedIn.

New York is a buzz with excitement to see the New York Giants play in the Super Bowl this weekend and one ICE alum is working hard to make sure they play their best. ICE alum Gaetano Corteo (Culinary Management ’09) will be delivering over a dozen pizzas to Indianapolis for the team. His family’s pizzeria, Umberto’s Pizzeria in New Hyde Park, Long Island, has a Friday tradition of delivering pizzas to the Giants.

Today, the Friday before Super Bowl XLVI, Gaetano will take an early Delta flight this morning, carrying the pizzas in custom-made heat-retaining bags. Reports are that special arrangements have been made with federal airport screeners to get the piping-hot pies quickly through security at La Guardia. In the New York Post, Gaetano, Umberto’s general manager said, “It’s a dream come true.” And in the Wall Street Journal, he joked that he didn’t want to risk angering lineman David Diehl,  “I don’t want David mad at me. I don’t stand a chance against him—I’m just 5-10.”

Fingers crossed the pizza makes it there safely!

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