Hard Work Tastes Like Miso, A Friday Evening at Hachi ju Hachi

By Savannah Sharrett,
Communications Liaison

For a refreshing, crash-course in what it means to have passion, spend a little time with Chef Suzuki and his team.

Recently, I spent a Friday evening at Hachi ju Hachi, located in downtown Saratoga, CA. Entering the restaurant, the first thing I noticed was a sense of calm to the dimly lit space. Looking in from the front door, the sun light reveals long walls lined with small tables. Straight ahead is a sushi bar with a clear view of the open kitchen.

This understated gem has been open for 8 years and has many loyal, regular customers. Looking up at the ceiling and around the walls, there is clear evidence of appreciation. Written in Sharpie, you’ll find hundreds of comments of praise. Beaming with pride, Owner & Chef, Jin Suzuki says of the walls, “You’ll notice that there is not one celebrity and only ordinary people”. The restaurant is open for regular business hours but every two weeks, the doors close to the general public to host a special sushi night where they invite a small group of people for a carefully curated tasting menu.

From time to time, students from the ICC have had the opportunity to work under the apprenticeship of Chef Suzuki. Currently, you can find two of our alumni working alongside each other in his kitchen. Working under Chef Suzuki’s guidance and training in the art of Japanese Cuisine, EJ, a 2013 culinary graduate and Kristen, a 2016 culinary graduate are cultivating qualities like patience and respect for their craft. There is something to be said about the precision and attention to detail this team of 3 is able to maintain consistency.

In an effort to understand the success of HJH, I asked EJ to share his thoughts on the restaurant’s philosophy on food. He said, “Chef Suzuki is not just a mentor. It is not just food; its philosophy and life. To survive in this kitchen you must have the mindset that this isn’t just food or recipes, it’s a lifestyle. You have to respect that”. He added, “Techniques are done correctly. Make your mistakes but don’t do it again.” In reference to the passion that has grown within him over time, EJ asks himself, “Do you want to cut cucumbers every day? Yes! Do you want to crack eggs every day? Yes! I want to.”

Although they were given a foundation in French Techniques from their schooling at the ICC, I appreciated that both EJ and Kirsten had an ease using Japanese terms. When I asked them if that was a requirement for working at HJH, EJ said, “Learning the proper words shows respect”.  Working with Chef Suzuki has certainly added to their culinary repertoire and given them versatility.

When I had first arrived that evening, EJ had been working on Saba mackerel, preparing them to be marinated at room temperature and then overnight in the fridge. I asked him if there were certain techniques he had especially enjoyed learning at HJH and he mentioned something called San Mai Oroshi– a 3 part technique used to open a fish that results in 2 full fillets with the spine still intact. He was also very proud to show me and let me taste his frozen sweet potato puree that was served like an ice cream.

I then asked Kirsten to share her thoughts on the restaurant’s philosophy. She was quick to say that, “It all starts and ends with respect”. Throughout the evening, I was impressed to hear her call Chef Suzuki, Itacho, which means in Japanese, “head of the cutting board”. Having now worked at HJH for a year, she has gained many new skills from her mentor. She was kind enough to give me a demonstration on the difference between Japanese and French knife techniques. She also mentioned that she was currently learning something called, Katsuramuki. This term refers to the ability to slice a vegetable such as a cucumber or a daikon into one long, thin sheet. For this technique, she was taught to use a Usuba, a “single-bevel knife used for cutting veggies”. Initially feeling like this task was daunting, Kerstin describes the learning process as a practical lesson in discipline and now feels driven to do it every day. She notes that her constant goal is, “doing better than the last time. I did this today and I’ll do it tomorrow”. Comparing her limited year of experience to her mentor, Chef Suzuki, she happily exclaimed, “I’ll meet you there in 30 years”!  Being the newest to the kitchen, Kirsten benefits from the experience of not only Chef Suzuki but also her fellow apprentice, EJ. In regards to her training under both of them, she noted, “They never go easy on me but I know it’s because they care and that in turn makes me care as much as them”.

Even with his 30 years of experience, Chef Suzuki doesn’t hesitate to point out that he is still learning and feels that it is his responsibility to pass on the knowledge he does have. He comments, “Most people are looking for an instant result but cooking isn’t about that.  It takes patience and discipline. The journey is not 6 months, it takes years”. Chef made sure to note that he will never claim to a master chef. Explaining that personal joy is essential, he expresses, “ I just like what I do and that’s enough”.  I asked him how he received his own training and he explained that throughout his early career in Japan, he had 3 different mentors. With that attitude in mind, the ICC is looking forward to hosting Chef Suzuki on our campus this August for a class on the history and usage of miso. (Click here to learn more.

Later that evening, Chef Suzuki asked me to stay for dinner and was very generous. I left the restaurant that evening feeling peaceful and energized. If you ever find yourself in the Bay Area, Hachi ju Hachi should definitely be on your itinerary.

 

 

 

Photo Gallery: Highlights from The NY Cake Show 2017 at Pier 36

The International Culinary Center hosted a demonstration stage at The NY Cake Show 2017 throughout June 10th and 11th at Pier 36. The stage featured 45-minute lessons with ICC Pastry Chef-Instructors including the school’s Director of Pastry Operations, Chef Jansen Chan, Senior Coordinator (Pastry), Chef Jurgen David, and Chef Michael Zebrowski, Chef-Instructor and ICC Alumni. Additional ICC alumni on the roster included Justine MacNeil, Executive Pastry Chef of Del Posto, Chef Pietro Aletto, Executive Pastry Chef at Boutrous, and various other established pastry professionals.

As a returning Education Partner of the New York Cake Show, we were excited to be part of one of the country’s premier cake competition. We were especially proud to feature our outstanding alumni chefs and pastry chef-instructors throughout the weekend at our very own demonstration theater. Amazing pastries, such as rhubarb pie, baklava sticky buns, and gluten-free chocolate cakes, were on the menu – a very exciting weekend for all our attendees! I was especially proud of our The Cookie Games V winners showcasing how to make their Browned Butter Masala Chai cookies.” – Chef Jansen Chan, Director of Pastry Operations at ICC.

 

Photo Gallery: The Cookie Games 2017

Thank you to all student participants in the 5-year anniversary of The Cookie Games, as well as our fabulous judges. The roster of judges included Angie Mar (Chef/Owner at Beatrice Inn), Dorie Greenspan (Cookbook Author), Florian Bellanger (Executive Pastry Chef at MadMac), Robb Riedel (Managing Editor of Food Network Magazine) and Erik Murnighan (President of the International Culinary Center).

Congratulations to this year’s 1st place winners, Madeline Dudek and Clara Lim, students in ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program for their India-inspired Browned Butter Masala Chai cookie. To check out their recipe to try at home, click here.  In addition to prizes furnished from our sponsors, including KitchenAid, the ladies were awarded with the opportunity to demonstrate their award-winning cookies at the New York Cake Show at Pier 36 on Sunday, June 11.

The Exploration of Tea with Rishi Tea

Written by: Vanessa Da Silva
ICC Wine Studies Coordinator
Certified Sommelier

Justin, a self-described crazy person (when it comes to tea) has spent the last 2 decades not only sourcing some of the finest teas in the world but also, painstakingly retracing the historic roots & practices which have shaped the tea trade over the last 1,200 years! Justin, along with Keiko Nicolini & an entourage (truly) of trained tea enthusiasts, walked us through the cultivars & techniques of these rare & artisanal teas at a recent demo in ICC’s New York campus.

There are so many things we overlook when considering tea. Here are 5 teas that will make you thirsty:

Woojun Green Tea, South Korea – This tea is crafted in South Korea by Mr. Lee Chang Yung & his family. This is the first young leaves that are picked for the season, and Mr. Yung hand fires the tea leaves in a wok in small batches to bring out all of their beautiful fresh aromas. This tea, picked just in mid-April, was bursting with fresh spring flavors of grass & just bloomed fresh white flowers.

White Peony King Organic White Tea, Fujian province, China – Rishi was Organic, long before the USDA Organic seal came into play in 2002. They have built their career on sourcing from environmentally responsible tea farms across Asia. This White Peony King was described as the “Grand Cru of tea” and it well delivered. The tea was smooth & delicate with aromas of magnolia, hints of honey, and a savory saline quality full of umami.  It’s a generally overlooked fact that white tea is the ‘freshest’ of teas. With very minimal processing, most white teas are just allowed to dry out to fully express their pure & delicate flavors.

Four Seasons Spring Oolong Tea– As the name suggests, this tea produces leaves at least 4 times yearly always offering a fresh ‘spring’ taste.  Within this category, we tasted two teas of the same cultivar (variety), made in the same way, but one grown in Taiwan & the other in Thailand. Now, we wine-enthusiasts are very familiar with tasting notes in wine & the idea of ‘terroir’; however, I had no idea that Tea could show similar variations based on where they are grown. These two blew me away. The Taiwan-grown tea (where this variety originated) was incredibly fresh reminding me of hydrangeas, fresh lychee fruit, and white raspberries.  In contrast, its Thai counterpart, showed a distinct nuttiness of toasted almond skin, along with bright sweet basil & sage. The comparison was a big eye opener & finding two Oolongs to compare could be a lot of fun!

Vintage Ancient Pu-erh Palace Organic Pu-erh Tea, Yunnan province, China – This tea was another eye-opener as the concept of vintage tea is completely new to me. Pu-erh teas are among the few that benefit from long-term aging, a minimum of 2-years is required before they are suitable for drinking as the teas are fermented and need to mellow out. These teas were from the Menghai Broad Leaf cultivar and we tasted the 2012 and 2009 vintage. The 2012 (just 5 years old) was strong and tannic with notes of bittersweet chocolate; whereas, the 2009 (now over 8 years old) was smooth and luxurious with notes of dark roasted coffee, cocoa, and black cherry.

Flowery Jin Xuan, Organic Oolong Tea, Doi Mae Salong, Thailand – There were so many dynamic Tea throughout the day, it was difficult to narrow down to just 5, but this was a personal favorite. This ball-rolled Oolong is oxidized to give a greenish-golden hue. It has a beautifully silky mouth-feel that made it seem almost milky (which is why this cultivar is often referred to as ‘Milk Oolong’. The tea was pleasant & smooth and smelled exactly of fresh blooming lilacs, which brought me right back to my childhood in rural Maine.

In addition to all of this, we learned that it takes around 35,000 tea leaves (each plucked by hand) to make just 1 kilo of dried tea!

The passion & expertise from the team at Rishi was infectious around the room, I heard question after question from our graduates being met with enthusiasm. It is clear that this is merely scratching the surface in what is becoming an area of interest in more & more restaurants.

 

ICC Announces Baking Demonstrations at New York Cake Show June 10-11

Patiently waiting for this year’s New York Cake Show?

The 2-day event spanning from June 10 & 11 at Pier 36 gets better with a stage of demonstrations sponsored by The International Culinary Center. The award-winning culinary school is proud to announce a series of exciting baking demonstrations from pastry chefs, covering a range of topics from healthy baking substitutions and gluten-free baking to cookie crafting and French macarons.

The demonstration stage will feature ICC Pastry Chef-Instructors including the school’s Director of Pastry Operations, Chef Jansen Chan, as well as Senior Coordinator (Pastry), Chef Jurgen David, and Chef Michael Zebrowski, Chef-Instructor and ICC Alumni. Additional ICC alumni on the roster will be Justine MacNeil, Executive Pastry Chef of Del Posto, Chef Pietro Aletto, Executive Pastry Chef at Boutrous, plus many other established pastry professionals.

Each demonstration will be 45 minutes long, and attendees will receive tastings and recipes during each sitting. Tickets to attend the demonstrations are $25. Don’t miss the opportunity to watch and learn from these leading pastry chefs. Check out the full schedule of ICC demonstrations below and register via the links below.

DEMONSTRATION TICKETS
GENERAL ADMISSION
NY CAKE SHOW WEBSITE
Full Schedule:
SATURDAY

10:00am
Healthy Baking Substitutions 
Chef Michelle Olson, Owner of Michelle Doll Cakes & Resident Chef of Sur La Table

1:00pm
Torta Barozzi: Italian Flourless Chocolate Cake 
Chef Justine MacNeil, Executive Pastry Chef of Del Posto

2:00pm
Roulades: Sponge Cake Construction 
Chef Jurgen David, ICC Senior Coordinator & Pastry Chef Instructor

3:00pm
Brioche Baklava Bun
Chef Pietro Aletto, Executive Pastry Chef of Boutros

4:00pm
Perfect Cake Mixing Methods 
Chef Jurgen David, ICC Senior Coordinator & Pastry Chef Instructor

SUNDAY

10:00 AM
Gluten-Free Baking
Chef Antonella Zangheri, Chef/Owner of Krumville Bake Shop

11:00 AM
Classic Home Style Layer Cakes 
Chef Katie Rosenhouse, Owner of Buttermilk Bake Shop

1:00 PM
Crafting Cookies with ICC 
Chef Jansen Chan, ICC Director Of Pastry Operations + ICC 2017 Cookie Games Winners: Madeline Dudek & Clara Lim

2:00 PM
Pie 101
Chef Michael Zebrowski, ICC Pastry Chef Instructor

4:00 PM
French Macarons & Fillings 
Chef Michael Zebrowski, ICC Pastry Chef Instructor

Why Become an Olive Oil Sommelier?

Written by Curtis Cord
Founder of Olive Oil Times and Executive Director of ICC’s Olive Oil Sommelier Certification program


There’s never been so much interest in high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Why?

Two reasons: First, there are the health benefits revealed in a never-ending stream of research that credits components in EVOO with helping us live longer, healthier lives.

And, there’s the taste. Extra virgin olive oil is an unprocessed fruit juice that reflects its terroir much like wine, and chefs around the world are only beginning to discover how to use different olive varieties to elevate their dishes to heights they never imagined.

But something else that has come to the forefront is the importance of choosing a high-quality olive oil to get the full advantage of these benefits. There’s a huge difference between a really great olive oil and one pretending to be. Mislabeled and substandard oils are a major concern for people who are responsible for making choices in this category.

Luckily for us, there are more excellent olive oils, from more regions, than ever before. At this year’s New York International Olive Oil Competition (an annual event that was launched at the ICC five years ago) there were 910 entries from 27 countries — and more winners than in past editions.

That’s great news for those of us who care a lot about what we eat and seek the best quality, especially in products as important as extra virgin olive oil.

But, there’s a problem. The only way to really know if an olive oil is good or not is to learn how to taste it. Most people can’t tell a high-quality olive oil that deserves the investment from an old, rancid one that shouldn’t be on the store shelves, to begin with.

In fact, we’ve been eating poor-quality olive oil for so long that a recent study found most people actually chose a rancid oil that has virtually none of the touted health benefits, over a fresh, healthful one simply because they didn’t know what they should be looking for and selected the one that seemed more familiar to them.


So what does good extra virgin olive oil taste like?

First of all, it can’t reveal what we call “defects” in olive oil sensory assessment. Some of the most common are rancidity (basically spoiled fruit, like a banana that has turned black), fustiness (when the olives have undergone advanced fermentation often by sitting around before they were milled) and muddy (that results from unclean milling equipment).

There are also what are called the “positive characteristics of olive oil”  — fruitiness, bitterness, and pungency — that are indicators of fresh, healthy fruit and careful processing. Trained tasters look for oils that exhibit a nice balance of the three.

To recognize defects and positive attributes take time and practice, but with so much at stake, more chefs, producers, food buyers, foodies and others are finding it well worth the effort to know how to assess the quality of this vital food for themselves, their families and the companies they represent.

The Olive Oil Program at the International Culinary Center brings the world’s foremost olive oil experts and educators to the New York and California campuses in a comprehensive series of courses spanning production, quality management, and advanced sensory assessment.

There has never been a greater need to foster a deeper understanding of this important food among today’s culinary leaders, and there is no better place than the International Culinary Center to lead the way to greater knowledge.

Register today to join our upcoming Olive Oil Certification courses at our California Campus beginning in October 2017 (click here). Course One runs from October 2-4 and Course Two runs fr October 5-7

 

5 Diverse Argentinian Wine & Food Pairings for Summer

Written by: Vanessa DaSilva
ICC Wine Studies Coordinator
Certified Sommelier

Chef & Sommelier Pablo Ranea is as warm & welcoming a presence as the diverse wine from Mendoza that he represents. Chef Pablo has the unique experience of being both a Chef & Sommelier in the heart of Mendoza; and being so, Chef Pablo knows better than most the great diversity that Argentinian wine has to offer.

1. Spicy empanadas with 2015 Filus Torrontés, Salta IG

Torrontés is a white grape variety that is most often found in the Salta region of Northern Argentina. Its tropical aromas of ripe peach, lychee and honeysuckle balance spicy flavors & its refreshing acidity contrast well with the crispy texture of the fried dough.

2. Grilled octopus with 2013 Corazon del Sol ‘Luminoso’, Uco Valley IG

This red wine from the high altitude vineyards of the Uco Valley (over 1,00 meters) is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre & Syrah, grapes commonly found in Rhone Valley blends.  The high altitude vineyards give an almost light body & beautifully balanced characteristics to this wine with flavors of cured meat, ripe plums, and just a touch of cigar smoke, those gamey smoky qualities will make a lovely pair with grilled octopus and the round acidity from the Syrah grape will cut through the fattiness of the Octopus.

3. Chocolate Tart with 2013 Gauchezco ‘Oro’ Malbec, Mendoza IG

This is not your typical Malbec! This single vineyard wine is reserved & complex with notes of ripe blackberries, toasty nutmeg, savory tarragon, and potpourri. You read that right, we’re suggesting dessert with this red wine! Try a bitter chocolate tart with berry coulis, a rich chocolate flourless cake, or red wine poached pears with lots of spice. The fruitiness of this wine will help it to compliment the sweet aspects of the dessert, and the soft tannins will make the bitter chocolate taste even sweeter, keep the dessert on the savory side & it should be a beautiful pair.

4. Lamb & grilled endive with 2014 Gascón Malbec Reserva, Mendoza IG

This malbec has 3% Petit Verdot giving a ripe wine with aromas of plum & jammy blackberry firm structure and lovely aromas of violets & freshly turned earth.  The gamey nature of lamb & smokiness from the grilled endive will contrast the ripe nature of the wine while also complimenting the more earthy tones. A great pair for grilling on a warm night.

5. Goat Al Asador with 2014 Rutini Cabernet Sauvignon / Malbec,  Mendoza IG

This wine from the Tupungato region of Mendoza is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon & 50% Malbec. It is warm, full & complex with tones of purple flowers, smoky tobacco, cloves & cured meat. Chef Pablo told us about the traditional method of cooking goat ‘Al Asador’ where the animal is stretched out & roasted slowly over an open flame. This slow roasted gamey meat will pair beautifully against the soft tannins & complex nature of the wine.


ICC New York Campus to Host Upcoming Japanese Cuisine Competitions

The following (2) organizations promote the development of Japanese cooking abroad and are aimed to improve the quality of chefs working at Japanese restaurants — in Japan and throughout the world. These organizations are offering (2) upcoming competitions to help expand a chef’s knowledge of Asian cuisine and provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to the right chefs.


The Japanese Culinary Academy (NPO)

Established in 2004 in efforts to promote the global understanding of Japanese cuisine, The Japanese Culinary Academy (JCA) helps contribute to the population of Japanese food chefs for the next generation. Active in programs such as the Food Education Project, the Japanese Culinary Art Competition, and the Japanese Culinary Fellowship aimed at top-level chefs overseas.

The Japanese Cuisine Academy works on educational, cultural and technological research as well as dissemination activities in order to promote the development of Japanese cuisine for people living in various parts of the world as well as in Japan. Providing the opportunity to study abroad in some of Japan’s most fine dining venues, The Japanese Culinary Academy competition is aimed at chefs eager to experience new flavors, and challenge yourself by “creating an aroma.” This is an opportunity for young, motivated chefs to compete against each other to create a new Japanese cuisine.

The Japanese Culinary Competition will commence at the International Culinary Center (NYC) on Sunday, October 29th for the pre-competition. To enter the competition and potentially win the 1st prize of 1,000,000 yen, submit your application by the June 30, 2017, deadline!

For more details on how to enter, visit: http://culinary-academy.jp/eng/usa/index.html 


Japanese Cuisine and Food Culture Human Resource Development Committee

This organization runs the Japanese Cuisine and Food Culture Human Resource Development program which invites 15 selected foreign chefs to learn and master Japanese cuisine. If chosen, the opportunity lands the chef in Japanese language training at Naganuma School, Japanese cooking training in Taiwan at The Academy of Hospitality Kyoto Culinary Art College. From there, the chosen chefs will spend 6 months in a top-class Japanese restaurant mastering their craft.

Last year, 3 ICC graduates completed the program, where they studied in Kyoto, Japan. Applicants must have cooking experience already, and be serious about Japanese cuisine.

Enter by May 31, 2017, to be considered! Visit http://www.tow.co.jp/program/ to learn more.

 

Celebrating 5th Year of The Cookie Games at ICC New York Campus

The International Culinary Center® New York campus will be holding its fifth annual school-wide cookie competition on Thursday, May 25th from 3:30-5:30 PM in the ICC Amphitheater.

The Cookie Games was developed to challenge current ICC students to create an original cookie recipe inspired by a country of their choice. Teams of one or two submit a name and recipe for their cookie concept. Recipes should have a country of origin and will be judged based on creativity, execution, and taste. Based on submissions, an in-house committee will select 10 finalist teams to produce their cookie for a high-profile judging panel. The judges will award first, second and third place winners. In addition, all audience and press attendees at the ceremony will have a chance to try each of the eligible cookies and vote for a Fan Favorite.

Each year students deliver a wide assortment of international concepts such as Duck Fat Cookies (France), Rosy Taro Cookie (China) and Mole Cookie (Mexico). Winning entries have included: Dulcetto Bar (Russia) by Bojena Linton (2013), Coconut Daun Pandan (Malaysia) by Vianna Sinnan (2014) and Chocolate Cardamom Button (India) by Savita Bhat (2015).

This year, our judge’s panel will feature Angie Mar (Chef/Owner at Beatrice Inn), Dorie Greenspan (Cookbook Author), Florian Bellanger (Executive Pastry Chef at MadMac), Robb Riedel (Managing Editor of Food Network Magazine) and Erik Murnighan (President of the International Culinary Center).

Judges in the past have included: Kate Heddings (Senior Editor of Food & Wine), Daniel Holzman (Chef/Owner of The Meatball Shop), Bob Truitt (Corporate Pastry Chef of Altamarea Group), Jacques Torres (Chef/Owner of Jacques Torres Chocolate), Christina Tosi (Chef/Owner of Milk Bar) and Emily Luchetti (Chief Pastry Officer of Big Night Restaurant Group).

The 2017 event occurs with generous support from our premier sponsor, KitchenAid, as well as additional sponsorship from Michele Et Augustin and Island Ware. 

 

Use the official hashtag #TheCookieGames to share your favorites on social media!

ICC Annual Commencement Ceremony 2017

On Sunday, April 23, the International Culinary Center®  celebrated graduates throughout the past year at our annual commencement ceremony, held at Carnegie Hall in New York City.  Jacques Pépin, our Dean of Special Programs, offered the keynote address with wise words for graduates on how to stay humble and work hard throughout their culinary careers.

In addition to the hundreds of Culinary Arts, Pastry Arts, Cake Techniques, Bread Baking and Sommelier graduates, the school also recognized this year’s selected Oustanding Alumni winners. Chef Julian Medina, the chef/owner of Toloache, Tacuba, Coppelia, Yerba Buena and La Chula received the award for Excellence in Culinary Arts. Susanna Yoon, head chocolatier and founder of Stick With Me Sweets received this year’s Excellence in Pastry Arts award. Rhonda Crosson, the head baker for MeyersUSA received the award for Excellence in Bread. Hugh Mangum, a graduate of ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program (2001) received the award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship as the chef/owner of Mighty Quinn’s – having multiple locations of the New York style BBQ establishment across the globe. Last but certainly not least, ICC celebrated Jhonel Faelnar as this year’s Outstanding Sommelier. As the Sommelier for The NoMad Hotel, Jhonel is the only ICC graduate to receive the distinction of being an Advanced Sommelier and is currently studying for the Master Sommelier exam.

We wish nothing but continuous success to all graduates and alumni and look forward to seeing you “Love What You Do” throughout your careers.