Jacques Torres Sugar Demo, Through the Eyes of a Culinary Student

Written by Olivia Hamilton
Culinary Student, Level 1

ICC had a sweet treat yesterday with Chef Jacques Torres, also known as Mr. Chocolate and the Dean of Pastry Arts at ICC. He is multi-talented in the world of desserts but one of most impressive disciplines he practices (in my opinion) is his work with sugar. As a current Level 1 student in the Culinary Arts program, it’s exciting to see how the other half (pastry) lives.

Sugar is hard to work with no matter who you are, or how long you’ve been working with sugar. It will burn you if you aren’t careful, along with breaking or falling apart just when you thought you had it finished. Even with these obstacles, Chef Jacques Torres made his sugar sculpture demonstration seem like a walk in the park while keeping us laughing. Whether he was using molds or manually pulling the sugar, we, the audience, were on the edge of our seats the whole time knowing how delicate sugar can be.

While filling the molds with the hot liquid sugars, Torres explained that it is best to use glucose with poured sugar. Whereas pulling sugar is more successful mixed with vinegar because it stays pliable for longer, but is also more delicate to work with. The molds were to be used to create the base structures for the sugar masterpiece that was unfolding in front of our eyes.

The Dean then showed us how to properly mix the color into pulling sugars which reminded me very much of an omelet. Clear pulling sugar is placed on a Silpat then drops of red, blue, and green food coloring is added about 3 inches apart only using the bottom half of the sugar. Chef then used a cake tester to spread a bit of the food coloring within each section. Then came the folding; he folded the sugar over in half like you would with an omelet before presenting it. Then Chef separated it into 3 sections (by color) and began to knead the sugar almost how you would with bread dough.

Torres shared with us that no matter how many years he has worked with sugar, he always seems to have the red food coloring dye his hands. While working with the super hot sugar, he also explained how your reflexes may not always help you. When you burn your finger, your first instinct is to put it in your mouth but then you burn your finger and your mouth. The best thing to do when you have sugar burning you is to wipe it off in a towel/apron or place your finger in cold water. Also sometimes you’re too late to realize that you have burned your hands and may end up with blisters that can last up to 10 days.

With all that potential of getting burned, the Dean still prefers to work without gloves, since that is the way he started doing it almost 40 years ago. Also when he started working with sugar, gloves were hard to come by and could only be purchased at a medical store. Though sweat can affect the sugar, Torres noted that his hands no longer sweat, or perhaps he sweats sugar?
Once the sugar was the right temperature to pull, Chef started to place celery sized pieces of each colored sugar next to each other. He then started to pull and stretch the sugar with a pastry students help. The sugar was pulled so far it seemed as if it was as long as the student was tall. He then used this long, skinny, multi-colored ribbon to create a bow that looked like it belonged on a birthday present.

Next, Torres showed us how to make a beautifully blossomed rose for the display piece. He started with an oval type of shape about the size of my thumb. After, he would create each petal by pulling a bit of sugar from the colored sugar patty increasing in size with each petal. He said the trick with making a good rose is, “the less you touch it, the better it is”. Another important part of making beautifully pulled sugar is that if it is too warm when you pull it, it won’t be shiny.

The master of sugar then showed us how to make a bird with a cute bonnet upon its head. The body was about the size of a hummingbird and a knife was used to help define its neck. Similar to the rose, he created the bird’s wings by pulling it piece by piece laying 5 on top of each other in a fan style. He then “glued it” by using the torch to melt the wing slightly enough that the melted sugar would help it stick to the body. He then repeated this for the other wing and did the same technique to place on the beak.

Watching Chef assemble this piece was like seeing someone play Jenga with puzzle pieces. Each piece of sugar, whether it was the stand, backdrop, or the delicate ornaments (like the bow, bird, and flower), had to be placed ever so carefully. It would be so easy for this whole creation to be destroyed in a split second, but Dean and Chef Jacques Torres is a master for a reason.

 

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 Cookie Games 2017 Winners: Browned Butter Masala Chai Cookies

This year’s first place winner of The Cookie Games at the International Culinary Center’s New York City campus came from Professional Culinary Arts students. The duo of Madeline Dudek and Clara Lim chose the country of India as their main inspiration for their original cookie recipe. Creating Browned Butter Masala Chai Cookies, the duo received the highest score among the 10 competitors judged by the likes of Dorie Greenspan (Cookbook Author), Angie Mar (ICC Alumni and Chef/Owner of Beatrice Inn), renowned pastry chef Florian Bellanger, Robb Riedel of Food Network Magazine, and ICC’s President, Erik Murnighan.

The following recipe yields 48 cookies. Try them out for yourself today!


INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups butter, unsalted, divided
  • 1-2 star anise
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp. chai spices
  • -2 parts EACH ground cardamom and ground ginger
  • -1 part EACH ground fennel seed, ground coriander and ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice
  • 4 ½ cups flour, all-purpose
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp. molasses
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup pecans, ground and toasted

For garnish:

  • 1 red beet, peeled and cubed
  • Coconut chips, unsweetened
  • 2 cups white chocolate, chopped
  • Ground cardamom, as needed
  • Ground cinnamon, as needed

    PROCEDURES

Prepare the browned butter by melting 1 cup of butter in a saucepan placed over medium heat with 1-2 star anise to infuse. Stir until nutty and light brown. Remove immediately from the heat and add the chai spices and Chinese five spice. Set aside to cool. While still liquid, strain the butter through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the spices.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the cooled browned butter, butter, and sugars until light and fluffy. Add one egg or egg yolk at a time, scraping the sides occasionally. Add vanilla and molasses and mix. Add all dry ingredients and pecans and mix until just incorporated. Flatten the dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest in the refrigerator.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out and cut into diamond shapes. Place onto baking trays, lined with parchment paper. Return the portions to the refrigerator until chilled.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Allow cooling before decorating.


For garnish:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a blender, process beet pieces with a small amount of water. Transfer the puree to a cheesecloth lined bowl, and squeeze the juice out. Discard the beet products.

Mix coconut chips with some of the beet juice to dye them red and spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes. Allow cooling before decorating.

Melt 3/4 white chocolate in a metal or glass bowl over a pot of simmering water, stirring constantly. When completely melted, remove the bowl from the heat and add remaining white chocolate, stirring to cool the chocolate. When completely melted, add cardamom and cinnamon, as desired. Drizzle the tempered white chocolate over the cooled cookies.

Before the chocolate sets, finish with a piece of cooled, coconut chip in the center of each cookie.

Professional Quality in Cake Techniques & Design

Written by Michelle Apiar
Assistant Director of Admissions & ICC Pastry Grad ’04
Chef/Owner of Haute So Sweet Cakes

When I saw this Slimer cake, I was taken aback by the professional quality of the cake.  Being in the special occasion cake industry for over 10 years, this is the type of cake that customers would ask for.  It is a symbol of something that is hot in pop culture right now (and in the 80s with the original Ghostbusters) I could see this being either a Groom’s Cake or a Kid’s cake.  The level of skill on this cake is advanced.  For example, the difficulty of carving the creases in the body with cake and covering with fondant can be very difficult, and the fact that there are no tears or cracks in the fondant is impressive.  Carving out the mouth area and adding the sculpted fondant tongue and teeth seamlessly inside is a high-level skill.  The details in the cheeks, nose, and eyes brought in the personality of the character that brought the cake to life.  Not to mention that the fluorescent green is a perfect match to the original character, and the hot dog is an iconic detail as well.

This cake holds all the elements that are in demand in the cake industry right now and this student created a cake that I would be proud to present to my customers.  If the students are learning these types of skills in the Cake Techniques and Design class, they will be well equipped to work in the cake design industry or build a cake business of their own.

Click here to learn more about ICC’s Cake Techniques & Design program.

Follow along with Michelle’s cake design business via @HauteSoSweet on Instagram or Facebook.


International Culinary Center Students Win 2017 Culinary Clash in San Francisco

The InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts is proud to announce the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco and Anna Ruiz, a culinary student at the International Culinary Center®, as the winner of the sixth annual Ultimate Culinary Clash, which took place on Thursday, May 18, 2017, at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco Hotel. With the assistance of the hotel’s Executive Chef Michael Wong and student sous chef Sarim Yaun, also from the International Culinary Center®, Anna received top honors while competing against three other culinary students who were paired with top chefs from InterContinental properties in the U.S. and Mexico. She received a $5,000 scholarship from the InterContinental brand and student sous chef Sarim Yaun received an additional $2,500 in scholarship. Winning student Anna Ruiz impressed the judges with her Glazed Pork Belly, Fennel Pollen Grits, Dandelion Greens dish while student sous chef Sarim Yaun served an Asparagus Veloutée alongside Anna’s dish.

Part cooking competition and part scholarship fundraiser, the Ultimate Culinary Clash brought together the winners of four regional Culinary Clash competitions to face-off against each other. The student chef finalists presented a small plate of their winning entrée from the regional Culinary Clash to an esteemed group of judges, composed of a special group of hotel executives, media, and renowned chefs, including Ryan Scott, Top Chef Alum, Emmy-award winning host of “Food Rush,” author of “One to Five,” and regular guest on NBC’s Today Show. Each dish in the competition was judged and scored on taste, creativity, and presentation. Winning student Anna Ruiz impressed the judges with her Glazed Pork Belly, Fennel Pollen Grits, Dandelion Greens dish while student sous chef Sarim Yaun served an Asparagus Veloutée alongside Anna’s dish.

David Neves, Head of F&B Solutions, InterContinental Hotels Group said: “The InterContinental brand’s commitment to its world-class restaurant and beverage program means that we constantly innovate menus that pair local flavors with global inspiration, with our Michelin-starred chefs and celebrity restaurateurs. It gives us great pride to foster the development of the next generation of culinary talent with the Culinary Clash.”

Over the course of three months, four InterContinental properties across the United States and Mexico held local competitions with culinary students. The first place winners from each hotel received the opportunity to move forward to the Ultimate Culinary Clash in San Francisco, and the following is a list of this year’s student participants:

The Ultimate Culinary Clash serves as an opportunity for the InterContinental brand to showcase its commitment to culinary excellence. The regional competitions began six years ago as a local annual cooking competition at the InterContinental San Francisco hotel’s Luce restaurant. The competition invited students from a local culinary school to compete for a chance to work with the restaurant’s Michelin-star Chef Daniel Corey and showcase their own menu for one night in Luce. The competition was later expanded to include other InterContinental hotels from the U.S. and Mexico.

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.

 

Student Life: Teamwork On The Line

Written by AJ Fusco
Professional Culinary Arts Student

The “line”, a stressful environment in the kitchen full of heat, noise and controlled chaos.  Adrenaline and your team get you through the next “push” as the tickets pour out, just like water out of a fire-hose.  

The “line”, heavy fifty foot lengths of hose filled with water, held onto by the “attack team” as they make the “push” down the hallway towards the fire.  Just like in the kitchen, adrenaline and teamwork gets you through it.

firefighterhoselineThis correlation between the firehouse and kitchen was clearly evident to me the first time a I cooked on the line at the restaurant.  It may seem obvious, but unfortunately it can be easier said than done.  Firehouses and kitchens are a conglomeration of personalities, some you can say “work well with others” while some prefer to try and get the job done on their own.  Unfortunately, the latter almost always leads to the job not getting done properly, efficiently or at all for that matter.  Teamwork on the line is best when it has almost become instinctual, you notice when the other cook may be falling behind and know exactly what needs to be done to help get through the situation.  Same thing applies to the fire-ground.  When you see your brother having a difficult time performing a task, you jump right in to help without them needing to ask.  And herein lies another common thread, the unwillingness to ask for help.line-cooks

We have all been there, you are in the weeds or the hose-line is getting heavy, yet you don’t ask for help.  More often than not it is due to some underlying self-pride or machismo that we fear may be in jeopardy.  There have been cases where firefighters should have called a “mayday”, the term used when you are in distress and need assistance, but don’t due to the same reasons cooks don’t ask for help.  Unfortunately in these cases it is worse than some burnt steaks or overcooked vegetables.

At the end of the shift, we all want to go home knowing we did the best we could.  Working as a team is essential for this to happen and sometimes we need to just swallow our pride and admit we need a little help.  

Like the saying goes, “teamwork makes the dream work”!


Connect with AJ through his website, http://www.forkandhoseco.com/ as well as @ForkAndHoseCo on Instagram + Facebook.

It Takes A Village – The Support System of ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training Program

Written by Jared Gniewek
Intensive Sommelier Training Program Student

I am blessed to have support from many different avenues as I stumble through the ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training Program. I couldn’t imagine going it alone with the sheer amount of information we need to absorb and engage with. Wine is the quintessential rabbit-hole that gets deeper and deeper the further in you explore.

My family, employer, friends, students and faculty at the school create a support system from which I’ve benefited in some vital ways. Frankly, I don’t know if I could succeed on my own. The proverb is “it takes a village to raise a child” and I would extend that sentiment to myself becoming a pinned and certified Sommelier.

My family, who pushed me to begin the program, has truly been there for me. My wife has been the dutiful wine-widow as our schedules clash throughout the program. She hasn’t pressured me to drop hours at my day job or slack on my studies to spend more time with her and the cats and the endless streaming entertainment which haunts all our homes nowadays.

My Aunt, whom I saw at Christmas, received a Coravin as a gift. It was bonus wine tasting time while I showed her how to operate it (prime that needle folks!) and got to dig into a pretty elegant Burgundy 1er Cru followed by a brassy Napa sledgehammer.

My employer at the wine shop has adjusted my schedule to accommodate the class as well as allowing me to have anything in the store at cost so I can expand my palate without breaking the bank (and make me a better hand seller to boot). He has even allowed me to run tastings in the space with some of my fellow class members participating.  Five of us got together on a Sunday, just a few weeks ago and I pulled (at cost) 6 typical wines from France and set up a blind tasting right in the store. It was a great exercise for all of us who felt overwhelmed. Plus we had some laughs, which always help lock in content!

Speaking of my ICC classmates, we have been setting up events and been in constant communication through a messaging app one of my compatriots set up for us all. Keeping abreast of each other’s feelings on the pressures of the program and being able to reach out to each other has made the experience far less daunting.

The ICC faculty has made their availability clear but also that we need to be doing these types of things outside class in order to succeed. Wine must become a lifestyle for the months of the program. (Oh no! I’ve gotta devote myself to something I love! The DREAD!)  I try to keep it on my mind always, and part of my habits daily. This village is pretty rockin’!

icccartoon1

Student Life: Beginning the Intensive Sommelier Training Program

I started the Intensive Sommelier Training program on Monday. It’s now only Tuesday and my head is SPINNING. Learning wine is daunting. You need to remember that you can’t expect to know everything (at least in a day!) and it’s nearly impossible to have tried every wine available. It’s like film, in that you will probably never see every single movie ever created.

I certainly didn’t come in “cold” as I’ve been working as a wine clerk in a boutique wine shop for four years now. The shop wine experience has been great, the owner, values our opinions in the buying process so we taste everything and debate it coming in, he has supplemented my Intermediate Certification through the WSET and he charges us cost on our take home bottles. It’s been a great recipe for gaining hands on spit bucket experience, but is it a career?

jared-screenshotGreat wine knowledge can open the doors to opportunities working in retail beyond a clerk position. I could move on to a store that needs managers, or could work for a larger retailer that uses buyers. Or even transition to the distribution side and begin representing wine portfolios to stores and restaurants. Will I stay with retail after getting that pin? IF I get that pin?

This is a real study and the last thing I should do is get too cocky just because I happen to know what Tokaji is. [Our instructor] Scott stressed HUMILITY in his first lecture on Monday night. If the current 200-something individuals who have achieved the Master Sommelier level can accept the concept of humility, I think I can too.

Despite my head start, I am nowhere near where I need to be yet to become a Certified Sommelier. I am familiar with a different tasting method, which I’m going to have to unlearn to some extent. I am going to have to learn to slow down and deductively ascertain varietals and regions. I am woefully unkempt in appearance, coming from the more relaxed hardwood floors of hand sales rather than the more refined manner of dress seen throughout high end restaurants and expected for class. I feel like Jed Freakin’ Clampett over here!

My study skills are weak. I managed to read the material for the first class and get my notes taken, but my head and focus are so addled that it took me all day to get through it. In any case, despite what some might think, this is rigorous joyful labor and definitely not a dalliance into a hobby. Not at this level. I am ready to become a Certified Sommelier, but my head? Still spinning!

Student Life: The Transition From Biology to Baking

I fell in love with baking at a very young age. My homemaker mom loves to bake, and so I would always be right by her side learning by osmosis. It was fun not only eating a yummy homemade dessert but also getting to spend some quality time with her. 

ava3The thought of going to pastry school was far from my mind so after I graduated high school, I went off to college with a love for science and laboratory research and majored in biology. Along with biology classes, but I also had to take other science classes, such as Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Genetics. These classes were incredibly difficult, and the vast amounts of homework and studying took a toll on me. Baking helped me to release the stress and keep me focused. I always thought baking is a science: you follow a recipe to create something, just like you follow a procedure to obtain results in an experiment. Kitchen, research lab, same difference, right?


This past summer was tough for me because I finished my four years and I needed to find a job. While in college, I realized I loved being in the lab, though I knew something was missing. I thought I wanted to land a job as a research scientist, but when I spoke to someone in the field, he made me realize that it was not for me. During my job search, I baked cookies, brownies, cakes, and cupcakes that I gave away with utter abandon. I doled out my confections to family, friends, neighbors, and the firemen that came one evening when the smoke alarm when off (Don’t ask. I now know what not to do when making caramel.) They all praised me for my skill. Most recipients told me I should sell my products!ava12

Today, I am halfway through the Professional Pastry Arts Program. I have already learned so much, from baking cookies and piping rosettes to learning how to properly ice cakes with butter cream. I even had the honor of volunteering at a Jacques Torres demonstration, and it was an amazing experience. It was like watching Picasso paint! I also love that I can go home to teach my mom some of the techniques I’m learning. She sparked my love for baking and taught me so much over the years, so it is nice for me to be able to teach her for a change. 

Follow along with Ava’s adventures on Instagram, via @ava_szabby.