ICC CA Teams Up With Local Catch

By Rachel Lintott
Assistant Director, International Culinary Center CA

In February of this year, I had the pleasure of tagging along with our students on their Professional Culinary Arts Immersion plus Farm-to-Table field trip for a couple of days. On day one, after an eye-opening trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to learn about the nationally acclaimed Seafood Watch program, we made our way out to the Monterey Bay Municipal Wharf. The significance of meeting on the water was not lost—we were there to learn about Local Catch, a Community Sustained Fishery (CSF). Amidst the bustle of the wharf, Founder Alan Lovewell and Chef Kevin Butler explained to us the concept of a CSF. Like the more colloquial Community Sustained Agriculture (CSA), CSFs seek to directly connect fishermen to consumers.

Here in the Bay Area, we are fortunate to live in close proximity to our food—while driving down The One to Monterey that day, we passed through artichoke and strawberry fields and the quaint Moss Landing Harbor. Even though our food is so close we can literally jump out and touch it, modern economics make it difficult to source local seafood.

CSFs like Local Catch are seeking to break this trend to benefit consumers and fishermen alike.

What are the benefits of buying from a CSF?

When it comes to sustainability, CSFs like Local Catch are stewards of our oceans—that means they care about keeping our waters healthy by not overfishing and through responsible fishing techniques.  Supporting responsible fishermen means we are better positioning ourselves to enjoy delicious seafood for years to come. And speaking of delicious seafood: fresh fish (that hasn’t traveled to and from a packaging facility) tastes better. CSFs bring local fish from the dock to you—guaranteeing freshness. CSFs also help fishermen get a fair price for their product (no middle men and no competing on the international market). Supporting your local food economy means supporting your community.

Since that eye-opening day on the pier, ICC has been working with Local Catch to bring fresh, Monterey Bay seafood to the Silicon Valley. By becoming a pick-up site for the CSF, we seek to support local fisherman and the local economy, to protect our oceans and to educate the public on sustainable seafood.

Interested in joining Local Catch? Email me your name and email address: rlintott@culinarycenter.com

The details:

– Cost: $22/week for the Full Bounty option or $26/week for the select California Classic option (think more standard fish like Salmon and Halibut).
– Quantity: 1-1.5 lbs, or enough to create 3-4 entrees.
– When: Pick up will be on Tuesdays.
– Where: The ICC in Campbell—a school that rivals Disneyland as the happiest place on Earth.
– In addition to the fish, Local Catch provides seafood demos (in the ICCs state-of-the-art demo theatre where the likes of Jacques Pepin and Cesare Casella have taught our students); recipes, fishermen interviews, information about the natural history of the fish, and much more.
– Allergies can be accommodated.

Tools of the Trade

By Renee Farrell
ICC Student/Professional Culinary Arts


On the first day of our culinary education we were issued with a huge bag of tools and gadgets boldly emblazoned with the ICC logo. Brimming with excitement we tore through them and started to learn to tools of the trade, those trusted items we will use over and over again for years to come.

As culinary students, there’s a certain pride we gain from understanding the difference between a boning versus a fileting knife, or how to use a channel knife and trussing needle. We start to feel the departure from amateur towards professional and it’s exciting. The enthusiasm begins to swirl and it’s all about the tools. Or is it?

The most common school of thought falls under the category of: a fancy toolkit does not a chef make. This may have an association bias, as no one wants to surrender an ounce of their talent to a piece of metal. It also shows grit and substance to believe that a bad tradesman blames his tools. However, there will always be tools that make life easier, and others that you feel the urge to throw at the wall.


Our head chef has a pretty mean looking toolbox full of items you can tell have been tried and tested, and the contents honed to his specific style. The surprising part is his most beloved tool is a small mesh strainer with a broken handle that is perfect to scoop things out of hot boiling water or fat. Seriously, a five dollar broken strainer! Another highly skilled Chef who is part of the Spanish Culinary Arts program at ICC told me he buys his knives and equipment from Ikea. Ikea! He may have told me this to prove his point: that it’s all about skill and your tools are merely instruments available to give you a hand. There is something very organic about this theory and the key tenet is demonstrated by rockstar chefs from the most revered eras of classic cuisine. After watching Jacques Pepin debone an entire chicken with his bare hands, stuff it with leaks, onions and thyme so that it resembled an intact, perfect chicken… well, I have to say I agree.

And this is all fine and dandy, but it may only be 99% true for us mere mortals. Tools do play an important part in the life of a professional. To prove my point, go to a Sur La Table on any given Saturday morning and you’ll see chefs perusing the cutlery section with the elevated enthusiasm of comic book enthusiasts at Comic Con. Cutlery obsessions are akin to technology obsessions, there is always something new and exciting available – ergonomic handles, Japanese vs European blades, peelers that will change your life and don’t even get me started on sharpening stones.

But they are just that. Tools. So at this early phase of our culinary ventures we put ourselves in the hands of our beloved German knives and taillage until our fingers hurt. Maybe those ergonomic handles are worth it after all.

Food Media Library at ICC

By Renee Farrell
International Culinary Center Student
Professional Culinary Arts


I am a food media junkie. And I should qualify that social media just doesn’t cut it. If I can’t hold it, flick through it, chances are I’ll forget about it and get distracted by an app pop-up halfway through. As a pious consumer of cookbooks, food magazines and food TV, I consider the culinary library at ICC my Mecca.

The library is an incredible source of inspiration, and it’s the only place I know with more cookbooks than my house. Libraries are often criticized for their stale moth-ball environment, but the ICC library has a vibrancy to it and it’s extremely current. The latest and greatest are there. Just look at the range of magazines: Cherry Bombe, Kinfolk and So Good are anything but stuffy.


This feeling of currency and relevance is pretty much expected as ICC has its finger to the pulse. But all of this has no depth unless the classics are present, and they are. The reference section is deeply technical and is relied upon by students and chef-instructors in equal measure. Classic cuisine is the soul of ICC, and it’s a regular occurrence for of the authors of these books to be gracing the hallways. Today, I’m reading a book with Jacques Pépin on the cover; tomorrow, I’m watching him give a live demonstration in the school’s amphitheater. It’s almost surreal.


As an additional nod to tradition and legends past, the ICC library stocks a collection of Gourmet Magazine dating back to 1969, paying homage to its relevance as a pioneering brand of food media. The female-centric ads in earlier editions are a lesson in cultural progression… but that’s another story entirely.

The culinary library truly is one of a kind. It’s an incredible resource for the students at ICC, who can be found there on any given day absorbing culture by researching recipes from Mexico, refining their food styling skills from masters like Donna Hay and Martha Stewart, or expanding their repertoire with a new Japanese technique. Whatever the culinary need, it’s bound to be filled within the glass walls of this fish tank full of food media.

Dinner Lab Chef Anthony Nichols ’09

Long before this collaboration came to be, Anthony Nichols (pictured on the right with culinary director Mario Rodriguez ’09), kindly sent us a thoughtful essay about the first time he created a Dinner Lab experience. It’s a perfect sentiment as we start our celebration.

“I was in an abandoned and gutted Wendy’s on Beekman Street – the location of my first five-course tasting menu for Dinner Lab NYC. I found our non-traditional place raw and romantic. As we were loading in, one of the staff found a 3-D iridescent portrait of Jesus Christ as a shepherd with a flock of sheep – it looked tacky, I found it charming – so I hung it on a ledge near the pass and got to work.

After three days of efficient and flawless prep, we finally began to plate my “When Land Meets Sea” themed dinner. First came the Fluke Tartare over Macoun Apple Chips.The plate looked delicate, precise and refined. The second course, Fried Brandade over Romesco and Root Vegetable Chips, looked as if it belonged on a coral reef in the Galapagos Islands. Suffice it to say, I was pleased, happy with my staff and delighted to do my food, my way.

Later that evening, as my staff plated the Pan-seared Duck Breast over Almond Mole and Watercress, a guest waved me over to her table and proclaimed, “You are the sauce KING!!” I smiled, thanked her and went back to plating the next course.


Then, in the midst of everything, I had a fleeting thought about my time at FCI and the countless hours obsessing about court bouillon, brunoise and consommés. I recognized, I was part of something special, something larger than my Misono chef’s knife – I am a cook, part of a lasting and noble profession in the greatest city in the modern world. Then I quickly turned my attention to the waiting brandy cake over a bed of pistachios and cranberries.”

When not creating Dinner Lab experiences, Anthony is executive chef at Restaurant and Associates – Young and Rubicam. Follow him on twitter @ChefAnichols1.

The Importance of Tasting

By Kaitlin Wayne

ICC Student, Professional Pastry Arts


In the individual desserts unit of Level 2 Professional Pastry Arts, we focused on making custards – such as crème brulee (my all time favorite), crème caramel, ice creams, sorbets, cheesecake, molten cake, and donuts.

Part of our class time is dedicated to “degustation,”or tasting. While this may sound like we all just sit around the kitchen and eat ice cream, there is far more to it than that. We are not learning how to eat; we are learning how to literally taste. This distinction is essential. When I taste something, I don’t just think to myself, “Mmm this is delicious!” I think more critically about what I am eating, the layers of flavor, the texture, and the overall balance.

Take vanilla ice cream, for example. Here are some things that you should be looking for in a successful plate with vanilla ice cream: Is the ice cream smooth on the palate? You should not feel any icy patches or grainy textures and there should be a strong vanilla flavor. These mistakes can often result when the temperature of the ice cream is abused by leaving it out, letting it melt slightly, and then returning it to the freezer. As for the overall plate and pairing with the ice cream, look for contrast in color and flavor. This is very important in terms of balance. For example, rather than plating my quenelle of white ice cream with a creamy-colored and similarly-flavored crème anglaise, I might pair it with a rich, dark chocolate sauce.

I can see how being able to taste a dessert and ask yourself questions like this will help you to grow as a chef. I am a strong believer in the fact that culinary and pastry arts are the only professions where you truly use all five of your senses at once. By learning to dissect every component of a plate and identify the elements that make up a truly successful dessert, I can already tell that going out to eat will  never be the same again!

Mastering a Chocolate Candy Stand

By Kaitlin Wayne
Student,  Professional Culinary Arts


When I first came to tour the International Culinary Center, I was completely impressed with all the beautiful displays of chocolate formed into all shapes and sizes. So, when the chocolate unit finally came around in my Professional Pastry Arts course, I must say I was nervous to take on this daunting task. How was I ever going to make a structure made of chocolate, strong enough to hold a vessel filled with chocolate confections? Designing and planning soon became my best friends. I was nervous and unsure of my ideas until I began to put them on paper and work out the kinks. Using all of the chocolate techniques we had learned in class, I was able to put those skills to work to create something I ended up being very happy with.

The most important part of chocolate work is tempering. Tempering, tempering, tempering. This process involves cooling and agitating the chocolate to precise temperatures to produce stable beta crystals. You can tell when chocolate has been properly tempered by its “snap,” shine, smooth texture and whether it sets quickly. (Insider tip: A digitial thermometer is your best way to ensure proper temperatures when tempering chocolate.) Now, once you have achieved getting your chocolate in temper, you can begin building your masterpiece. Some of the techniques I used included cutting the chocolate into my desired shapes – like leaves, a flower and a log. I also piped the chocolate into a disk for the milk chocolate portion of the flower, and used a paring knife to create the white chocolate petals.

While this was a stressful task at times, the end product was worth it! To be able to stand back and look at the work you have done knowing that you overcame what was once such an intimidating task is extremely rewarding. As pastry chefs, often we have to take on challenges that can be laced with pressure and difficulty, but we get through them only to push ourselves further the next time around.

Learn more about Professional Pastry Arts.

Dean Emily Luchetti’s Mocha Zabaglione Trifle


  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Large Pinch salt
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Whip the egg yolks and sugar in an electric mixer on high speed until thick. Reduce to low speed and add the water. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Again, whip on high speed until thick. Reduce to low speed and add the dry ingredients.

Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold them into the batter. Spread the batter onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, measuring approximately 11 by 16 inches with 1 inch sides.

Bake the cake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Remove the cake from the pan by running a knife around the inside edge of the pan. Invert the pan on the work surface and carefully peel off the parchment paper.

Zabaglione Cream

  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup Marsala
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, Marsala, and salt in a stainless steel bowl. Place the bowl over a pot of boiling water, making sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Whisk continually until thick like mayonnaise, about 3 minutes. Place the bowl over an ice bath and cool to room temperature. Whip the cream to soft peaks. Fold the cream into the Marsala mixture. Refrigerate.

To assemble the trifle:

  • 1 1/2 cups strong coffee, room temperature
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • Cut the cake into quarters. Cut each quarter in half horizontally.

Spread about 1 cup of zabaglione cream in the bottom of a 2 1/2 quart bowl. Cut pieces of cake to fit in a single layer over the cream. Using a pastry brush, brush the cake with about 1/3 cup of the coffee. Repeat layering cream and coffee soaked cake until the cake and zabaglione is used up, finishing with the zabaglione on top. Finely chop the chocolate or grind it in a food processor. Refrigerate the trifle for two hours or overnight before serving.

The cake can be made up to two days before you assemble the trifle. Store it wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature. The zabaglione can be made a day in advance. The zabaglione can be made a day before you serve it.

Learn more about studying at ICC in New York or Californiawww.culinarycenter.com

A Tale of Two Waffles

Once upon a time, there were two waffles… One originated in Brussels while the other one was born in Liege. And they lived happy ever after! Come on now, this is no fairy tale! Well at least not THAT type of fairy tale. As you may (or may not) know Belgium produces quite an array of products enjoyed worldwide. This small country, roughly the size of Maryland, is famous for its chocolate, its beers, its delicate pastries, its cuisine, its casinos, its world famous racetrack at Spa Francorchamps, the Ardennes and Bastogne (where 4 star General Patton engaged in the battle of the Bulge)… the list goes on and on. But, nothing else quite compares to its unique one-of-a-kind “gaufre” – or as we know it here in the United States – the Belgian waffle.

Belgians are surely proud of their waffles. Pancakes are considered everyday food (for breakfast or as a snack), but waffles are a serious business; they are much more special. I remember looking forward to this one waffle shop as a child, where I would stop for a “gaufre Liégeoise” on my way home from elementary school. Around 4 o’clock, when school ended, the smell of sweet, lightly caramelized sugar would filled the air.  There was no way I would pass on the opportunity to savor such a delight. Even though I stopped almost everyday at the same time, the merchant always asked if I wanted it hot, warm or lukewarm. Warm it was, for me at least. Nothing can, or will, ever compare to that soothing feeling of comfort.  To this day, whenever I have a chance to travel home, I make it a point to visit this unique waffle shop. Although faces and surroundings have changed a bit, the waffle shop and the quality of the product remain the same.

In Belgium, the waffle iron is almost as beloved as the waffle itself. From its original heavy cast iron form to the most sophisticated electric version, pretty much every Belgian household owns a waffle iron of some kind. Some waffle irons are passed on from generation to generation. Mind you, this item is a must on every bride-to-be’s gift registry.  In several museums, and even in some homes, a magnificent collection of waffle irons can be found. Some made of beautifully forged silver or copper that date as far back as the 13th century. Many are fashioned with elaborate patterned grids and produce the most beautiful waffles. Over the centuries, these delectable treats have inspired poets and tempted royalties alike – such as French King Francois, who adored his waffles prepared hot off a silver iron. However, waffles were never meant to be enjoyed by royalty, famous people or inspired personages alone – they are indeed for everyone!

There are hundreds of waffle recipes from all over Belgium, often passed from one generation to the next. Most of the waffles are made with yeast, creating lighter, crustier waffles than the waffles made with baking powder typically found here in the U.S. Belgian waffles first came to the U.S. when they were introduced during the 1960’s World’s fair. I find it hard to believe that despite the variety of easy-to-use and readily available electric waffle irons today, waffles in the U.S. remain mostly a breakfast food item. Try to offer waffles during your next party or family get together, as a meal! Serve them with an array of toppings – from fresh fruit, to ice ream, hot Belgian chocolate, crème chantilly, butter, syrup, Nutella or jam! I usually invite friends of family members to visit in the late afternoon and seduce them with the enticing smells of freshly brewed coffee, coco and baking waffles. No one (to date) has ever been able to resist this happy feast. Keep the waffle iron in sight or in the dining room and make it part of the fun. Your imagination and creativity are really the limit!

Please enjoy the following recipes. Both have been tested over time. Do not rush the process. “Take care of the recipe. Pay attention to all steps and details. The finished product will take care of you!”

Bon appétit,

Chef Alain V. De Coster CEC, CCA, BMCA

ICC Chef-Instructor, Professional Culinary Arts

Gaufre de Liège:

These waffles are little more time consuming to make but the end result is definitely worth the effort. Two separate batters are prepared and ultimately mixed together for a deliciously sweet and crunchy waffle. Please do not forget to preheat your waffle iron.

Batter 1:

  • 1 ¼ oz fresh cake yeast (or 2 ½ packages of dry yeast)
  • ¼ cup warm water (about 100° F)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup of milk, warmed to 100° F

Batter 2:

  • 9 tbsp unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
  • Pinch of slat
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • ½ pearl sugar (or ¾ cup crushed sugar cubes)

To proceed:

Prepare batter 1: In a small mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water with 1 tbsp of the flour and the sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes or so. Sift the remaining flour into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the yeast mixture, egg and milk. Using a wooden spoon mix well until smooth, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until the batter has roughly doubled in volume.

Meanwhile prepare batter 2: in a medium size bowl mix the butter, flour, salt, vanilla, baking powder, cinnamon (if using), granulate sugar and pearl sugar until a paste is obtained. Using your hands work batter 2 into batter 1 until well blended. Shape the obtained dough into roughly 10 even sized balls approximately 2 ½ to 3 oz each. Flatten each ball slightly until a disk type shape is obtained. Dust lightly with flour.

Bake in a medium hot waffle iron. Do not let the iron become too hot or the sugar will burn! Bake until waffles are golden brown but still lightly soft, for about 3 to 4 minutes. Serve the waffles lukewarm or cooled to room temperature on a rack. Sugar waffles will keep well for several days in an airtight container, if you manage to have any left over!

NB: Crushed sugar cubes can be substituted fro the sugar pearls. Using a rolling pin crush 1 cup of cubed sugar into small pieces, approximately the size of a sunflower seed. Don’t worry about making them the same size!

Gaufre de Bruxelles:

The following recipe is for a satisfying stack of waffles. It will make about 40 delicious waffles. For a smaller group, simply divide the recipe to yield what is needed. These waffles can be frozen when needed. Leftover waffles can be used as next day’s breakfast by simply reheating them in your waffle iron for a minute or so.

  • 2 oz fresh cake yeast or 4 packages active dry yeast
  • 6 cups of milk, warmed to 100° F
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm
  • 12 tbsp margarine, melted and cooled to lukewarm
  • 1 cup vanilla sugar or 1 cup sugar + 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 cups all purpose flour
  • 6 large egg whites, beaten to soft peak

To proceed:

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1 cup of the lukewarm milk. In a large, deep mixing bowl (the dough will double or triple in volume), whisk the egg yolks with ½ cup of the remaining milk, the melted butter and margarine. Add the yeast mixture, sugar and the salt. Gradually add the flour to the batter by sifting it in. Alternate additions of flour with the remaining 4 ½ cups of milk. Stir with a wooden spoon after each addition. Fold in the beaten egg whites. Cover with a clean towel and transfer to a warm area. Let the batter rise for 1 hour or so. The batter, as noted, will double or even triple in volume pending the ambient temperature you let it rise at. While this process takes place, ample time should be on hand to warm the waffles iron to proper temperature, brew coffee, set the tables and get ready yourself for a great feast. Check the better from time to time as to not let it erupt over the bowl you placed it in. Should it be rising to fast, simply stir it once or twice. The easiest way to get the batter onto the waffle iron is to transfer it into a water pitcher and pour it directly onto the hot waffle iron. Look Mom, no mess! Serve the hot waffles at once, letting your guests decide which topping is best for them. Should you whish to refrigerate these delicate waffles, allow them to cool before storing.

Advice for International Students: Friendships

I didn’t know anybody in NYC before making this leap towards my dream of becoming a professional pastry chef. Naturally, I was a bit nervous making the move from Toronto, but was excited more than anything. My first week or so was a bit lonely, and initially making friends was a slow process. Although everyone in my class was extremely friendly, spending time together outside of class was not really mentioned. However, after a couple weeks we all got more comfortable together and made plans outside of the kitchen. Now, I have made some close friends whom I can see having long lasting friendships with.