At ICE, we make it our mission to help students find their culinary voice — that creative drive within each of us that determines how we express ourselves through food. Whether it’s a career training program, a recreational course in pie crusts or a special event featuring handmade pasta, we’ll give you the tools to hone your culinary creativity. Join us as we ask some of today’s leading food industry pros to share their culinary voice.

Donatella Arpaia — restaurateur, cookbook author and Iron Chef judge — made a name for herself through her award-winning restaurants that combined classic, delicious cuisine with modern surroundings. The talented restaurateur, who spent a brief stint as a corporate attorney before pursuing her passion for hospitality, helped earn her restaurants serious food world acclaim, including a James Beard Award nomination for Best New Restaurant. Asked to describe her culinary voice, Donatella confided that it’s very much a reflection of her own personal style — something that’s helped to bring her professional success. Watch the video to see what that winning combination means for this talented hospitality expert.

Find your culinary voice with ICE — learn more about our career training programs.

 

At ICE, we make it our mission to help students find their culinary voice — that creative drive within each of us that determines how we express ourselves through food. Whether it’s a career training program, a recreational course in pie crusts or a special event featuring handmade pasta, we’ll give you the tools to hone your culinary creativity. Join us as we ask some of today’s leading food industry pros to share their culinary voice.

Like choosing a favorite child, it’s not easy to choose a favorite restaurant. Still, when taken to task, top chefs consistently pick Marea, Chef Michael White’s Michelin-starred mecca for Italian seafood that sits pretty on Central Park South. Bobby Flay describes it as “probably my favorite restaurant in the city — from perfect crudo to pasta with sea urchin, Michael White brings his A-game always.” Asked for his preferred Big Apple eateries, Anthony Bourdain named not one but two Michael White restaurants: “I’ll go to [Osteria] Morini for a bowl of pasta, or if I really want to blow it out I’ll go to Marea, but just for the pasta. Not that the fish isn’t magnificent, but I’ll go in and eat three or four different pastas. If I am carb-loading that would be a good choice.” Even the James Beard Foundation chose Marea as the Best New Restaurant in 2010. Other restaurants from Chef White’s Altamarea Group, like Ai Fiori, are time-tested New Yorker favorites, too.

So what does the king of elegant seafood and craveable carbs think about when he’s in the kitchen? What is his culinary voice? It begins with something he likes to call “taste memory.” Watch the video and discover what that means for Chef Michael White.

Find your culinary voice with ICE — learn more about our career training programs.

 

At ICE, we make it our mission to help students find their culinary voice — that creative drive within each of us that determines how we express ourselves through food. Whether it’s a career training program, a recreational course in pie crusts or a special event featuring handmade pasta, we’ll give you the tools to hone your culinary creativity. Join us as we ask some of today’s leading food industry pros to share their culinary voice.

Restaurateur and chef Marc Forgione savors a challenge. Since winning Iron Chef in 2010, as well as earning the first Michelin star for his eponymous restaurant that same year, he has continued to wow diners with his bold and delicious takes on local ingredients. Chef Forgione — who, according to the New York Times, “excels at simplicity” — shares the five straightforward ingredients of his culinary voice.

Start honing your own unique culinary voice — learn more about ICE’s award-winning career programs.

At ICE, we make it our mission to help students find their culinary voice — that creative drive within each of us that determines how we express ourselves through food. Whether it’s a career training program, a recreational course in pie crusts or a special event featuring handmade pasta, we’ll give you the tools to hone your culinary creativity. Join us as we ask some of today’s leading food industry pros to share their culinary voice.

Duff Goldman’s slogan is simple: If you can dream it, we can create it. Whether it’s a lifelike Betty White cake or a multi-tiered, hand-painted wedding cake (with or without lasers), the pastry chef and owner of the Baltimore-based, wildly popular Charm City Cakes bakery and star of Food Network’s Ace of Cakes is up for any confectionary challenge. We asked Duff to share his culinary voice with us, and his response should come as little surprise to anyone who’s seen his creations: “I really like to make people smile; I like to make them laugh; and I always like to make them think.” Watch the video and find out more about Duff Goldman’s unique culinary voice.

Find your culinary voice with ICE — learn more about our career training programs.

 

Sometimes, a moment of inspiration can change the course of your career. Whether it’s an ah-ha! moment or a taste of something outstanding, it sets you on a new path of discovery. For Pastry Arts student Calvin Luk, his moment came during a visit to the York Cocoa House Chocolate Emporium in the U.K. The Hong Kong native had relocated to York to study archaeology, but one sip of the famed York Cocoa House hot chocolate and he knew his future lay in the art of chocolate making.

Soon after his visit, Calvin began working at the acclaimed York Cocoa House. When he realized he was ready to take his education to the next level, he chose the Pastry & Baking Arts program at ICE. Asked why he chose ICE, Calvin explained that he was, unsurprisingly, drawn to ICE’s bean-to-bar Chocolate Lab, led by James Beard Award-winning pasty chef Michael Laiskonis. Once he arrived, Calvin knew he had made the right choice: “I had been studying chocolate-making for some time,” he says. “But it wasn’t until I met Chef Michael Laiskonis that I realized there’s so much more to learn.” What’s more, as a student at ICE, Calvin has had the opportunity to learn alongside not only Chef Michael — both in his career program courses and during elective classes in the Chocolate Lab — but also from other inspiring ICE chef instructors as well as prominent chefs through volunteering opportunities, like the annual Top Ten Pastry Awards, hosted by ICE each year.

At ICE, we make it our mission to help you take your inspiration to the next level — to pursue your passion and make a lifelong career of it. For Calvin, he’s been able to grasp the fundamentals of chocolate making and to explore his unique culinary voice. And it all began with a sip of delicious hot chocolate.

Ready to discover your own culinary voice? Learn more about ICE’s career Pastry & Baking Arts program.

You’ve probably heard of the “Maillard reaction.” Even if you haven’t heard of it, your food has definitely been affected by it. It’s the chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars that gives browned foods their characteristic color and flavor — think of the toasty, golden-brown crust of a crunchy baguette. While the Maillard reaction generally delivers a desired, flavor-enhancing effect, in certain instances, chefs want to avoid it — in order to preserve the purest flavor of their ingredients.

In a new video, ICE Creative Director Michael Laiskonis explains how he uses vacuum cookers to prevent the Maillard reaction when making creative confections like bright, full-flavored raspberry caramels in ICE’s Chocolate Lab.

Sweet tooth piqued? Ready to study the pastry arts with Chef Michael? Click here for information on ICE’s Pastry & Baking Arts program.

Always cook pasta until al dente, right? Wrong! Because most of us are probably committing more noodle no-nos than we realize, Chef James Briscione will show you how to cook perfect pasta every time in a new video, “You’re Doing it Wrong: Cooking Pasta” — watch now to learn why you should finish cooking pasta in the sauce, step away from the olive oil and, yes, you will need that very large pot to boil the water.

Stop doing it wrong. Start making really good pasta.

Want to learn to cook pasta and more like a chef? Click here for more information on ICE’s career training programs.

 

By Caitlin Raux

On any given morning, you can find Christina Delli Santi (Hospitality Management, ‘15) quietly tending to the flower cart in the entrance of the Ace Hotel. For Christina, it’s a brief moment of peace and reflection, and an opportunity to check in with herself before she spends the rest of the day checking in with others. Soon enough, she’ll be assisting hotel guests, plowing through meeting after meeting and making sure everything in the hotel’s front office is copacetic — all part of her duties as Director of Front Office. A former hair stylist who left salons to pursue a career in hospitality, client satisfaction is a natural priority for Christina. “I love people — hearing their story and trying to help them — that’s hospitality to me,” says Christina.

Early on a Tuesday morning, Christina and I met in the buzzing Ace Hotel lobby, where laptop-wielding creative types were already competing for prime real estate at the cozy lobby tables. We chatted about her switch from hairstyling to hospitality, and how in just two years, she moved up the ranks to director-level at Ace.

How long have you been working at Ace Hotel?

I’ve been in the building for two years now. I originally started over at The Breslin [the Ace Hotel’s acclaimed gastropub, led by Chef April Bloomfield], through my externship.

So you studied hospitality management but started with a culinary position?

When I was looking for an externship, there was an alum who was working here at the time. ICE Career Services advisor Tessa [Thompson] reached out to him and told him that I was really interested in working at Ace or The Breslin. Originally, when I enrolled in the hospitality program, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to work in hotels. I enrolled in the program more for the event organizing aspect. I wanted to do weddings and parties. I figured I would work for a restaurant group or something like that. I never thought about working in a hotel. The idea of a bigger hotel wasn’t for me.

I ended up getting an externship at The Breslin. At first I was in the events department, doing a little bit of everything — working with the kitchen, ordering food and organizing private bookings for parties. It was really cool because it was exactly where I wanted to be, in terms of learning.

Christina Delli Santi

How did you transition to director of front office? And so fast!

A few months after I started, Ace was about to open another location in Pittsburgh and the front office manager left to work there. The front office manager had been there for a while — one thing about Ace Hotel, a lot of people who come here wind up staying. It becomes like a home that people enjoy coming to and working. The front office manager who left, Sean Walsh, actually works at ICE now as a teacher in the hospitality program. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to take his position, because it meant running a whole department — the bellmen, the front office, the rooms — but I knew that I loved it there and I could do it. So I just did it. I applied for and got the position as front office manager and stayed there for about a year. Now I’m director of the front office.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I love getting in super early, when the lobby is still quiet. It can get a little crazy-busy, so I love arriving around 7:00am. The first thing I do is review the VIP arrivals. I do a walk-through of the lobby, because this is the “shared space” and we have to communicate with all the other departments, from housekeeping to engineering to the Breslin staff, about it. Then I check the flower cart, which is my moment of peace for the day. I grew up around flowers because my parents own a flower shop, so that’s the moment I take to meditate on what the day will bring. After that, the day really revs up: I see who’s coming in, read the guest preferences, make sure everything is ready. We have guests that have been coming here since we opened [in 2009]. I think our number one guest has been here 200 times. We get a mixed crowd of really cool business travelers, like startups and bloggers, who really enjoy the lobby vibe. My team reviews the names of all guests who are coming, so they see if we have VIPs, or if someone works for a certain company or industry, we’ll write them a special note or do something that pertains specifically to them. I meet with all of the department heads at 9:30am and everyone goes through their whole day. We group in the morning, then we break and talk to each other a million times per day. The morning is about getting people out the door and the afternoon is about getting them in. I usually come to the desk around check-out time to see how guests enjoyed their stay. Then I come back at check-in time to make sure everything is flowing properly. It stays pretty busy. Sometimes I don’t realize I’ve been here for 12-14 hours. Ace hotel

You said you were a hairdresser before switching to hospitality. What inspired that career change?

I became a hairdresser right out of high school. I’m from north [New] Jersey and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do out of high school. I didn’t think college was for me, so I went to cosmetology school when I was 18. I was a hairdresser for about 10 years. I had so much fun with it, working in tiny salons throughout Jersey before joining a bigger company called Toni & Guy, to advance my career. I loved it because you’re always giving something to people — helping them if they have a bad day or giving them a new hairstyle. I love people — hearing their story and trying to help them — that’s hospitality to me. Eventually I started managing salons, and was offered the opportunity to become a partial owner of a salon. I was 28 at the time — I’m 30 now, so this was pretty recent. But I wanted to try something new. As I got older, school seemed more interesting to me. I actually wanted to go to class and learn. I knew I wanted to go back to school and get into hospitality and events. I had some experience with organizing events while working in the salons. I found ICE and thought [the hospitality management program] was perfect because I didn’t want to go to school for three years. I’m the kind of person who’s very hands-on — I learn things on the job.

It’s interesting that you began the hospitality program with event-planning goals. A lot of people aim to work in more traditional hotels and tourism positions.Christina Ace hotel

I definitely came with an event-planning motivation. I wanted to learn how to break down budgets and plan events, and expand my food and beverage background a bit.

Do you keep in touch with anyone from the ICE hospitality program?

I do. It’s hard because everyone is so busy all the time. But I always float around opportunities that come up at the hotel. I’ve interviewed three people I graduated with for various positions here. I think I talk to Tom [Voss] the most. He called me last week to ask if he could bring hospitality students in for a tour.

What is your favorite part of your job?

I really love the people I work with. I think it’s so important to work in an environment with passionate people. At the end of the day, we do the same thing. The people who have worked here for years and have been in the industry for so long, they do the same thing most days. You check people out, check people in and create an experience for them. But every day, it’s so fun to work with the people here because everyone has so much passion. I think we’re the type of company that we don’t just have the same thing going on. There’s always new artwork in the galleries and fun events going on. It’s not your traditional hotel. We get to have a lot of fun. Our guests become our friends. If they’re having a bad day, they can come talk to us. But my General Manager always says, “Take care of the internal (employees) first, and then the external (guests) will follow.” Because if you take care of your team, they, in turn, will be able to take care of your guests.

Ready for an exciting career in hospitality with opportunities around the globe? Click here to learn about ICE’s award-winning career programs. 

By Chef James Distefano

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!

 

Sweet Corn Ice Cream
Yield: 3 quarts

For the Roasted Corn Kernels:

Ingredients:

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

Preparation:

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

For the Corn-Infused Heavy Cream:

Ingredients:

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

Preparation:

  • Combine all of the ingredients in one large pot.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • Turn the heat off and steep for 15 minutes, covered with a lid.
  • After 15 minutes remove the lid and cool to room temperature.
  • Store corn-infused heavy cream in an airtight container for at least 24 hours or up to two days in the refrigerator.
  • 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.

For the Corn Ice Cream Base:

Ingredients:

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

Preparation:

  • Combine the egg yolks, ½ cup sugar and a pinch of salt in the bowl fitted for the electric mixer with a whisk attachment.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Wash the mixing bowl and whip for the mixer because you will need it to whip the corn-infused heavy cream.
  • Whip the corn-infused heavy cream to medium peaks in an electric mixer with the whisk attachment.
  • Fold one quarter of the whipped corn-infused heavy cream into the ice cream base and mix three quarters of the way.
  • Add the last three quarters of the whipped corn-infused heavy cream along the with the roasted corn kernels to the ice cream base.
  • Gently fold everything together until no visible streaks of whipped cream remain.
  • Pour corn ice cream into an airtight container with a tight lid and freeze immediately.
  • Allow to freeze for 24 hours before serving.

*Ice cream will last for up to four days in the freezer.

Want more delicious dessert ideas from ICE’s expert chefs? Click here to learn more about ICE’s professional pastry program.

 

Bright, fresh and packed with flavor, learning to cook with herbs is an essential part of a future chef’s training. A beautifully plated, delicious dish often seems incomplete without at least a hint of greenery. But selecting herbs to adorn your dish is only half the battle — the other half is prepping them. Chefs use different techniques to ensure each herb is handled with care. Understanding these basic cuts is key to a solid foundation in the kitchen — which is why ICE and Wüsthof partnered to create a video demonstrating the proper way to use a classic chef’s knife to cut three herbs: an expert chiffonade with basil, a neat chop with parsley and a smooth slice with chives. Watch, practice and repeat.

Knife Skills Tips from Chef James Briscione

 Chiffonade:

  • Arrange the leaves into a neat pile in the center of your cutting board. Tightly roll the leaves into a cigar shape and hold secure with one hand.
  • Position your knife at one end of the rolled herbs with the knife tip on the board, the heel and handle of the knife lifted high above. Make one smooth slicing motion so that the curve of the blade glides along the cutting board. The idea here is to slice through the herbs, not down onto them, to avoid crushing them. When the heel of the blade reaches the board, lift the knife back to the starting position. Point down on the board and line up your next cut. Continue repeating this motion until all herbs are cut.

Chop:

  • Arrange the leaves in the center of your cutting board. Gather into a tight ball and hold secure with one hand.
  • As with chiffonade, position your knife at one end of the herbs with the knife tip on the board and the heel and handle of the knife lifted high above. Make one smooth slicing motion so that the curve of the blade glides along the cutting board. When the heel of the blade reaches the board, lift the knife back to the starting position. Point down on the board and line up your next cut.
  • Then gather the cut herbs back into a tight ball and rotate the ball 90 degrees. Slice all the way through the herbs again, as above. Repeat until herbs are chopped.

Slice:

  • Place herbs in the center of your cutting board and hold them firmly with one hand.
  • Position your knife at the spot where you want to make the first cut. Curl your non-knife hand into a loose “claw” with your thumb tucked behind your fingers. Rest the front of your knuckles against the side of the knife blade to serve as a guide as you cut. The tip of the knife should extend just ½-inch beyond the front edge of the item being cut.
  • To cut, slide the knife forward driving the tip of the knife toward the cutting board while providing gentle downward pressure. It is essential to move your knife forward and down at the same time for efficient cutting. Continue the motion down until the heel of the blade reaches the cutting board. Lift the knife and reposition your hands for the next cut.

Learn to chop, slice and cook like a pro — click here for more information on ICE’s career programs.