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Recipe: Chai Panna Cotta

Article by ICC Alumni Swarna Koneru
2016 California Professional Culinary Arts Graduate

Recipes involving chai vary widely all over India  —the country of its origin. Now found throughout the US,  chai flavors are very popular with variations of cardamon, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, black pepper etc added into the mix.

These days, chai latte mixes are readily available in the super markets where you can steep into water or milk directly and enjoy. While a latte generally means a mixture of steamed milk and espresso, a chai latte is made with tea powder in a similar fashion.I happened to find this Dulce De Leche Chai Latte mix at a gourmet store and wanted to experiment with it.

I ended up creating a Chai Panna Cotta in a 2 oz shooters size for my guests at a recent party. I felt this size of desserts was good in that everyone can taste each kind, yet not eat a ton of dessert.

Preparation time
20 minutes, plus 4 hour setting time 
Serves
4-6 larger portions, or 18 2 oz portions
Serving Size
One 2 oz shooter
Calories Per Serving
Approximately 98 per serving
Difficulty
Easy
Ingredients:
1  cup whole milk
4 teaspoons plain gelatin powder (I used Knox)
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 Tablespoons Chai Latte Powder of your Choice (I used Mc Stevens Dulce De Leche Chai Latte)
½ cup  sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (Optional)

Procedure:

Sprinkle Gelatin powder all over the milk in a small shallow bowl and allow gelatin to soften.

In a medium saucepan set over low heat, bring the heavy cream and sugar to a low boil, and add the Chai Latte Powder and mix until combined and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Remove cream mixture from heat and whisk in the vanilla and gelatin along with the milk until combined. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and transfer to your serving cups and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours.


Tips:
  • You can serve this with a little whipped cream on top or some caramel sauce or chocolate sauce on top if you like.I sprinkled a few coffee flavored chocolate shavings on top.
  • If you do not like a lot of sweet, reduce the amount of sugar you add, sugar content in the mixes can vary by brand so first add the chai latte powder and then adjust your sugar content accordingly.
  • If you do not have access to the chai latte powder, you can use your homemade masala chai mix as well.
  • When sprinkling the gelatin do not dump it in one place in the milk else it will not soften completely and get lumpy.

 

What is your favorite flavor combo with Chai? Let me know what you think!


Connect with Swarna on https://prathimakoneru.com as well as Pinterest and Facebook
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James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Steven Cook

After graduating the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Chef Steven Cook completed the Professional Culinary Arts program at the French Culinary Institute in 2000. His education and drive combined make him one of the heavyweights in the Philadelphia scene of restaurateurs and culinary entrepreneurs.

In 2005, as chef-owner of Marigold Kitchen, Cook met his business partner Michael Solomonov. Together, they opened Zahav in 2008. The restaurant earned “4 bells” in its first year from Philadelphia Inquirer critic Craig La Ban. At Zahav, Cook and Solomonov served Israeli cuisine of salatim and mezze, and their collaboration also merged with the restaurant movement for small plates.

In 2012, Food & Wine recognized the pair as ‘Empire Builders’ for their restaurant group, CookNSolo. The empire now spans various cuisines and cites, and their first book Zahav: A World of Israel Cooking earned the James Beard Award for “Best International Cookbook” in 2016. In partnership with Broad Street Ministries, Cook also helped develop soon-to-launch, nonprofit Rooster Soup Company.

Nomination: Outstanding Service (Zahav)

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here. 

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James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Josh Skenes

Becoming a chef has always been something Josh Skenes wanted to pursue. He remembers making mud pies as a child and growing his own herbs in his gardens to add to his omelettes. Right after his high school graduation, he moved to Boston with the expectation of going to Art school. However, Skenes rerouted his life and moved to NYC instead to attend the International Culinary Center to pursue his passion for cooking and food.

While a student at the International Culinary Center, he worked full-time under the famed Chef Jean Georges in Jean-Georges Vongerichten. After graduating culinary school in 2001, he moved back to Boston and cooked under Anthony Ambrosia at Ambroia.

In 2003, he moved to San Francisco where he became the executive chef of Chez and help the restaurant received a star rating of 3.5 /4 by the San Francisco Chronicle. Skenes caught the attention of Chef Michael Mina and was asked to help open Stonehill Tavern at the St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach in 2005. There, Skenes was awarded more stars for his innovative spin to modern America cooking. He returned to San Francisco, where he served as a consultant to various restaurants and help them develop their recipe, menu, and overall concept.

While he was helping others develop their concept, he started to cultivate his  own concept for Saison – which he opened first as pop up and then opened it as a full restaurant. Skenes has received many awards and accolades for his talents and restaurants. This year makes the third consecutive year that Skenes has earned a 3 Michelin star rating for his venue.

NominationOutstanding Service (Saison) 

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here.

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Alumni Profile: Bernice Cheng [2014 Sommelier Graduate]

Learn about 2014 Intensive Sommelier Training graduate Bernice Cheng below as she discusses life after Somm School with ICC. Bernice shares her journey from working as a corporate finance lawyer before switching careers to pursue life as a professional sommelier. Following her ICC California graduation, Bernice founded xBorder Wines where she is now based predominantly in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The more I study, the less I know. It’s a never ending journey which fascinates me and I know will continue to be a passion that lasts a lifetime.” -Bernice Cheng


bernice2What is xBorder Wines and, as founder, what does your job entail? 

xBorder Wines by its name “Cross Border” captured in the “x” in xBorder is a way to leverage my prior legal and business experiences doing cross-border mergers as well as acquisitions transactions in private practices (and corporations) into the food and wine world. The business operates primarily in Beijing (where I am based), Shanghai and Hong Kong where there is an abundance of wine lovers, wine students and wine companies of all sizes (local and international) who are thirsty to create ideas and deliver cool innovative products and services to the Greater China market.

I do a fair amount of wine events – ranging from working with chefs to showcase wine pairings with regional Chinese and Japanese cuisine; to coordinating trunk shows with wacky themes for designers in HK breaking into the mainland Chinese market; to hosting wine events for law firms at the partner level on fine and rare wines to more introductory wine tastings for associates.  Given my legal background, I also advice some small wine companies on how to break into the Chinese market, and also local individuals/wine companies which are interested in buying chateaus and wineries abroad.


Please tell us about what it took to create xBorder Wines. What was your vision/goal as an entrepreneur? Do you have a website?

I am currently working with web designers to create a new website for xBorder Wines to showcase all that I do. My previous website xBorderfoods was more focused on food than wine and it was more of a blog to be honest. xBorder Wines had been an evolution, I started blogging about my travels then writing about my experiences in cookery schools and the sommelier courses when I first left the corporate world and still finding my path. Through the site, I received so much encouragement along the way which was enlightening and encouraging. As I gained more wine qualifications and did more wine tastings, the word got around and I slowly evolved my business model. I guess the combo of a lawyer who turned into a wine professional was a bit of a novelty so it helped in promoting my services.


What inspired you to enroll in the ICC?

I had always been interested in food. Initially, I thought this certification (Intensive Sommelier Training) would be a good way to round off my experience so that I could offer a more complete service in pairing wines with food. It was only after I enrolled in the course that I realized wine was my destiny! I felt wine studies encapsulated all of my greatest loves; it is also a discipline which continues to change and challenge the equilibrium.


How have the skills you learned at the ICC helped your career?

The Somm diploma I gained at the ICC was integral in helping me get my Intro and Certified Somm qualification with the Court of Master Sommeliers. Getting the Sommelier job title was the first step for me in my wine journey and  it allowed me to meet the entry requirement to attend trade events. My education was key for me to build my contacts and network in the wine world.


What were your greatest challenges at school and how were you able to overcome them?

The biggest challenge was accepting the fact that everyone in the classroom had tasted more wines than I had, and having the courage to say what I believe—I feared my wine experience was shallow compared to everyone else. Over time, I learned to trust that practice tastings and hard work would somehow pay off. I believe in the process!


What advice would you give to an individual who’s possibly looking to pursue an education in wine studies? 

Life is too short, you only live once. You don’t know what you don’t know unless you’ve tried. Even if you don’t make a career out of it, this is a very pleasurable and sociable life skill to have under your belt.


What is the best industry related advice that has been passed along to you? 

This is the best exam advice I had received – You are your own worst enemy, just trust in the process… it will come to you if you give yourself a chance.


For more information on xBorder Wines and Bernice Cheng, visit www.xborderwines.com

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[Recap] Jason Licker Returns to ICC to Launch First Cookbook

On Thursday, February 23, international Pastry Chef and alum Jason Licker returned to his Alma mater for a special event to launch the United States release of his first-ever cookbook, Lickerland.  Having lived abroad exploring various parts of Asia for the last decade, the culture definitely has influenced Jason’s flavor profile and approach to pastry arts. Encompassing dozens of Asian-accented desserts, the unique cookbook also includes pages that help consumers decipher the different taste experiences (including sweet, salty, sour, etc.) of each recipe.

During the 90-minute event, attendees learned more about Chef Licker through a fun-spirited Q&A with his former Pastry Chef-Instructor, Jurgen David. Additionally, everyone in the audience experienced a tasting from the cookbook. Chef Jason Licker took us through the step-by-step process of creating his White Chocolate-Junmai Sake Cream dessert with a toffee crumble. Utilizing techniques he learned in his Professional Pastry Arts many years ago, it’s easy to identify how his culinary school education has played a major influence throughout his career.

Attending the ICC was critical because in any profession, you need to crawl before you walk. With the hands-on schooling experience, I built a firm foundation of pastry knowledge.  There is nothing like learning during a hands-on job, but if you have a great education, you have an advantage. I think I would have discovered my passion for Asian cuisines no matter what because I just love food and discovering other cultures. With the culinary education I had though, it made it easier to apply those experiences abroad and translate that into my style of pastry.

 

Following the event that included students, faculty, family, friends and press, we asked Jason Licker about how it felt returning to his culinary school after all these years.

 It was an incredible moment of overwhelming joy to launch my first cookbook at where I first learned the foundation of pastry. It was a feeling of coming home.  Having (Pastry Chef) Jurgen David, a teacher of mine, now question me about my book was a full circle feeling. I was once a student in the audience, and now, I was demonstrating how to make one of my signature desserts. The team at the ICC made this special moment memorable.”

Watch highlights from the event below!

To purchase your copy of Lickerland, visit www.jasonlicker.com

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James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: William Wright

Executive Chef William Wright has embraced the art of regionalism and simplicity into his cuisine. He honed his culinary skills at Michelin-starred restaurants in Sicily, where he served under legendary Italian Chef Pino Cuttaia at Ristorante at La Madia, and in New York City at Telepan and A Voce. After moving to Houston, he served as sous chef at Philippe Restaurant and then Table on Post Oak. His menu introduces Houstonians to delicious but unfamiliar flavors and modern trends in Greek cuisine while retaining the simple, healthy, fresh style at the heart of Greek cooking. His menu introduces Houstonians to delicious but unfamiliar flavors and modern trends in Greek cuisine while retaining the simple, healthy, fresh style at the heart of Greek cooking.

Nomination: Rising Star Chef of the Year

For more information on the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Semifinalists, click here. 

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James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Joseph Baldino

Growing in South Philadelphia, Joseph Baldino has always been around great cooks and food. His mother and two aunts were credited as his earliest mentors. His life goal was to eventually own his own restaurant. Starting as a busboy at a small local trattoria, Baldino graduated from Temple University, and shortly after, enrolled in The French Culinary Institute. 

Following his culinary school graduation, Chef Baldino became the sous chef and eventually chef de cuisine for Vetri and Osteria. He traveled the world to work alongside esteemed chefs such as Georges Perrier, Jose Garces, Michael Solomonov, Alice Waters and Daniel Boulud. In 2011, he opened his restaurant Zeppoli, which was inspired by his stay at Anna Tasca Lanza’s farm in Sicily. Just months after opening, he received his first nomination from the James Beard Foundation, and has since become a semi-finalist three more times.

Nomination: Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic 

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PASTRY CHEF JASON LICKER REVEALS ‘LICKERLAND’ COOKBOOK + LAUNCH EVENT

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French Culinary Institute  graduate and professional Pastry Chef, Jason Licker has announced the US release of his first-ever cookbook. Celebrating 56 Asian-accented desserts, each recipe is the embodiment of Jason’s journey throughout some of Asia’s most captivating culinary capitals. Lickerland collects Pastry Chef Licker’s most cherished recipes from his magical career, seamlessly balancing Asian ingredients with classic French pastry techniques and presented beautifully with images by award-winning photographer, Jason Michael Lang.

After spending the last 12 years traveling and cooking throughout Asia, Jason is heading back stateside to make the International Culinary Center the first stop on his American Lickerland tour. Currently available throughout Asia and Europe via www.JasonLicker.com, Jason will be commemorating the United States release at his alma mater, the International Culinary Center on Thursday, February 23, 2017 from 3:30pm-5pm ET.

You need to experience the bitter to realize how sweet things can be. This statement isn’t just about understanding your palate; it’s also about perseverance when faced with uncertainty. I never planned on becoming a chef. In fact, I had no idea what I was going to do. I may have always had a love affair with food, but it took a tragedy for me to realize it was actually my true calling. This book is about the memories I cherish that shaped who I am today. It’s about discovering flavors of the world in a journey that changed my life. I hope, in some small measure, it can help change yours. At the very least, you should be well-fed along the way.” Jason Licker, Pastry Chef

Limited signed copies will be available February 11th on www.JasonLicker.com or purchase on www.Amazon.com after February 23rd. A limited amount of signed copies will also be available at the event for purchase.

About the International Culinary Center®:

Founded by the late Dorothy Cann Hamilton as The French Culinary Institute in 1984, the International Culinary Center (ICC) is a global expert in professional culinary and wine education, with programs in New York, California and Italy, and graduates from more than 85 countries. The renowned six-month Total Immersion program has produced such talents as Bobby Flay, David Chang, Dan Barber, Christina Tosi and 15,000 more under the guidance of deans including Jacques Pepin and Jacques Torres. Awarded the coveted “School of Excellence” by accrediting commission ACCSC for its career education, ICC provides students with the credentials, confidence and connections to chart a successful career anywhere in the world.

About Jason Licker:

Before taking his passion for pastry into a global experience, Jason Licker received his diploma in Professional Pastry Arts through the French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center®) in 1999. While in culinary school, Jason earned his first internship at Union Square Café in New York City and following graduation, earned a pastry cook position at the world renowned Jean-Georges Restaurant. Moving on to his first Pastry Chef position at Metrazur for Charlie Palmer at the age of 23, Jason elevated his craft yet again with a promotion to Executive Pastry Chef for The Shore Club in Miami Beach. Overseeing all food and beverage outlets including Nobu Miami Beach, Jason fueled his new found affinity for Asian cuisine. Holding positions as Executive Pastry Chef at the Peninsula New York, The Westin Bund in Shanghai, The Venetian Macau Hotel and Resort among others, the winner of Iron Chef Thailand (Dessert) is now making his way back stateside for the release of his inaugural pastry cookbook, Lickerland.

To RSVP for the event, email MTarigan@CulinaryCenter.com with subject Lickerland.

For all press inquiries, please email ASamartano@CulinaryCenter.com

 

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Alumni Spotlight: Melissa Carroll, Pastry Arts Class of 2012 [California]

In a new alumni spotlight feature, Professional Pastry Arts graduate Melissa Carroll talks to ICC on life after graduating from ICC California’s Professional Pastry Arts program in 2012. Following her California graduation, Melissa traveled the globe before landing in the pastry kitchen of the South Congress Hotel in Austin, Texas.

To me, ‘Love What You Do’ is an incredibly important phrase that everyone should tell themselves. If you’re not enjoying your career, you’re not enjoying your life. We all have to work to provide a life for ourselves. What’s the point in working a job your hate when you could be doing something you love? ”

– Melissa Carroll


ICC: Tell us a little bit about your day-to-day responsibilities working for the South Congress Hotel in Austin, Texas. 

Melissa: I am a pastry kitchen supervisor at the South Congress Hotel in Austin, Texas. My job entails everything I used to do as a pastry cook plus helping with ordering, inventory, and writing prep sheets for our pastry team of about 12 people. Because I work night shifts, I’m responsible for both plating desserts on the line and pastry production. Within the hotel, there are two restaurants, one event space, one ice cream truck, and one bakeshop/coffee shop that we produce for. 


ICC: How did you first get involved with the hotel? melissa-carroll-7

Melissa: Before moving to Austin about a year and a half ago, I applied for the job from Illinois and later had a phone interview with my Chef, Amanda Rockman. Once I arrived, we met for a formal interview and I was offered the position as a pastry cook.  


ICC: What inspired you to enroll in culinary school? Were there certain steps/ thoughts that lead you to the decision?

Melissa: I’ve loved cooking since I was about 12 years old. I always found myself watching cooking shows and enjoyed making dinner for my family every night. Going to culinary school was always something I knew I’d enjoy.


ICC: How and when did you know you wanted to work in the food industry? What about it was appealing to you?

Melissa: In high school, I had dreams of opening my own cafe one day. One of my favorite parts of cooking is being able to cook for other people. Seeing the look on someone’s face when they’re enjoying your food is very rewarding. After high school, I attended art school for a semester. I then took the following semester off to save up for culinary school. I later went back to art school while working in kitchens to finish up my Associates in Fine Arts.


ICC: What were your greatest challenges at school? And how were you able to overcome them?

Melissa: Some of my greatest challenges in culinary school were remembering all of the different types of creams and exact temperatures to cook certain things to. It’s something I still struggle remembering but flash cards were definitely my friends when test time came around.


ICC: If someone were hesitant about pursuing a culinary education, what you say to encourage them?

Melissa: If someone is interested in pursuing an education in the culinary industry I would suggest them to stàge at a restaurant they admire first. Restaurant life isn’t for everyone, but if it’s something that they feel they’d enjoy after stàging for a day or two, I’d say it’s worth it. Being able to cook for people and using your creativity with food as your medium is very fulfilling.


ICC: What is your fondest memory of culinary school? 

One of my favorite assignments at the ICC was coming up with my own seasonal dessert menu for a fictional restaurant concept. My chef instructors then picked two items from the menu and we had to present them. They chose the Gooey Butter Cake with a cranberry orange compote and cinnamon chantilly and a deconstructed “Fig Newton” with fig thyme jam, spiced shortbread, goat cheese anglaise, port wine reduction, and a candied thyme sprig. My favorite event that I was able to attend thanks to the ICC was a dessert tasting and tour at Farallon with Chef Emily Luchetti.

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Alumni Spotlight: Avery Ruzicka, Bread Baking Class of 2011

Throughout Avery Ruzicka’s youth, cooking always played a big role. Her professional interest in food emerged from the extensive time she spent abroad during and after high school, leading to her  first restaurant job in college.

Every night we sat down to a home cooked meal and the entire family took part in preparation,” says Ruzicka, a Greensboro, North Carolina native.

Encouraged by her parents to explore and experience other cultures, Ruzicka moved to Spain as a high school sophomore and also spent a year in England before heading to college. Ruzicka attended the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where she studied political science, international studies, and creative writing. A study abroad trip to France later exposed her to a new world of award-winning cuisine and led her to explore food writing.

I thought if I wanted to get into food writing, I had better learn the ins and outs of a kitchen, so I worked at restaurants while finishing my degree. I loved the intensity, creativity, and collaboration that came from working in a kitchen and decided to focus on food over writing,” says Ruzicka.

Soon after, she enrolled at the French Culinary Institute (now ICC) where she earned The Art of International Bread Baking diploma in six months.


ICC: In what capacity do you work for Manresa Bread? What does your job entail, both in a broad sense as well as day-to-day?

Ruzicka: The exciting part about Manresa Bread is that my day-to-day responsibilities are ever-evolving. If I look at my role every six months, some part of that has changed in an exciting and positive way. It’s always been my goal to keep learning in the culinary world and the added joy of starting my own business has allowed me to do that every day. If you work in food, you get to do a lot of things. If you are really engaged in it, you can learn a new technique or process all the time. I’m no longer just a baker; I’m a business owner on top of that. It really opens up a number of other doors to continue to learn and challenge myself. There are days where I’m in the bakery wearing an apron and getting my hands dirty and other days where I’m at my desk or hitting up our retail locations in Los Gatos and Los Altos.


ICC: Did your ICC education help you land this job? Do you use the skills you learned at the ICC at work?

Ruzicka: The Art of International Bread Baking program at ICC’s New York Campus definitely gave me a good foundation that I was able to build on with time and practice. I left ICC with a core understanding of how bread works. That’s what I look to Manresa restaurant with me and that’s the foundation for Manresa Bread.


avery-2ICC:  What inspired you to enroll in culinary school? Were there certain steps/ thoughts that lead you to the decision?

Ruzicka: I was interested in getting into food writing and so I thought I should get into a kitchen. I loved it so much and immediately decided to pursue cooking, knowing that I could go back to writing if I wanted to.


ICC:  What were your greatest challenges at school? And how were you able to overcome them?

Ruzicka: There were so many opportunities available to us that it was hard to participate in everything between course work, a full-time stage, and the extra programming offered by ICC. Getting to know the instructors and looking to them for guidance and feedback really helped determine where I wanted to focus my time and energy.


ICC: If someone was hesitant to pursue a culinary education, what you say to encourage them?

Ruzicka: Spend time to self-reflect on pursing a culinary career. It is a quickly changing career choice. From an income point of view, the rewards are not going to be astronomical but it is incredibly gratifying if it is something you are passionate about. The culinary field is a creative and exciting career choice. It will ask a lot of you and you really need to love it. There are so many options within the culinary field that keeping an open mind and committing to trying different roles from line cook to something in research and development can be beneficial to finding the niche that’s right for you. Be imaginative – if you can dream about a role in the culinary world, you can create it.


ICC:  What is your fondest memory of your time at the ICC?

Ruzicka: The joy of learning how to make bread was pretty magical for me. Going in every morning and baking off loaves was always so exciting to me. I have a lot of memories of waking up early to bake – even the smell of the baking bread in the kitchen. That has stayed with me for years!


ICC: What is the best industry related advice you’ve ever received? 

Ruzicka: Be actively engaged and present in your work every day and hold yourself to the highest standard, regardless of any standard someone else is putting in front of you.


For more information on Manresa Bread, please visit: http://www.manresabread.com/