Julian Medina, chef-owner of Toloache, Yerba Buena, Coppelia, Tacuba Mexican Cantina and La Chula has been creating refined Mexican cuisine for over fifteen years. Raised in Mexico City Julian moved here in 1996 and graduated from ICC (formerly French Culinary Institute) in 1999. He has been featured in many publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker and on Iron Chef America in 2011.
After immigrating to America, Jae Lee owned and ran a successful Japanese restaurant. Over time though, he realized the need for a solid culinary education to build on and solidify his knowledge. Read the story of how Jae Lee went from 2016 California Culinary Arts graduate to Sushi Chef and General Manager of Kenji Sushi in San Jose, California.
There are times when you’re so tired from work, but still can’t hate it because you love what you do.” – Jae Lee
ICC: What were the steps and thoughts that lead you to the decision to attend the ICC?
Jae: I was born and raised in Korea, and during my childhood days, I remember always making my own snacks after school. Even with the instant cup noodles, I tried something different by adding seafood and some spices to make a fancy noodle soup and I did this pretty much throughout my childhood days. After I graduated high school, I wanted to go to culinary school in the U.S. but I first had to take ESL classes and learn English. During those days, I worked part-time jobs in the food industry. After I got married, I thought skipping culinary school and owning my own business would be a good idea so I started my own Japanese restaurant. I owned this restaurant for seven years and although is was successful, I wished I knew more than just Japanese or Korean food. I wanted to broaden my knowledge in professional culinary techniques. I had regrets on not going to culinary school, so I sold my business and found ICC.
ICC: Today, you have taken on responsibility in your family’s business—How you get involved with Kenji and what are some of your day-to-day tasks?
Jae: Working as a Sushi Chef and also in general management, I start my mornings off by making sure all staff members are prepared for the day. I check the receipt and quality of all deliveries for the day’s ingredients and I ensure the cleanliness of the restaurant. The task that gives me the most joy is creating a meal with raw fish behind the sushi bar while a customer is in front me watching how I make things. I love seeing the smiling faces of customers and hearing them tell me that they love what I made them.
I work at Kenji because my family owns the restaurant but, my main motivation is the style and the concept that this restaurant pursues. It blends in with my previous Japanese restaurant business and the new things I learned at ICC.
ICC: What advice would you give to someone considering enrolling in culinary school?
You should not hesitate to pursue a culinary education if you love sharing with people the food you’ve made. You learn so much in school! Even after owning my own restaurant business for 7 years, there’s still so much I learned. Coming to ICC was definitely one of the best decision I made throughout my career.
ICC: What were your greatest challenges at school and how were you able to overcome them?
Jae: My greatest challenge at school was attending evening classes while working full time but my passion for learning new things kept me going.
ICC: What is the best industry advice you’ve ever received?
Jae: The best advice I’ve ever received was when one of my professors who said that most important thing about business is the ‘concept of the restaurant’. Because my career goal is to have my own restaurant again, I find this very practical advice.
ICC: Tell us about your current role at Kenji Sushi in San Jose?
Jae: I work as a Sushi Chef at Kenji and also do general management. I start my morning off by making sure all staff is covered, checking all deliveries for today’s ingredients and cleanliness of the restaurant. Creating a meal with raw fish behind the sushi bar, while a customer is in front of you watching how you make things; this is one of my joy of my job. Seeing the smiling faces of customers telling me they love what I made them.
Connect with Jae Lee on Instagram via @jay_lee_man and @kenji_sushi.
Lauren Dinley is a graduate of the International Culinary Center in Campbell, California. After receiving her diploma in Professional Culinary Arts, alumni Lauren Dinley took on a very sweet position with B. Toffee. Learn her story below on following your passion and setting realistic expectations for yourself to achieve goals.
In what capacity do you work for B. toffee? What does your job entail in a broad sense as well as day-to-day?
B. toffee, although is growing rapidly, is still a small company with a reasonably small team. When I started working for B. toffee, my main job description was toffee production and packaging. In the last year, I’ve worked with the owner, Betsy, in the office, in an attempt to see the business side of things more. Prior to this holiday season, we added a few new people to our team, giving us time to train them in production. Because of this added help, I was in charge of all of our web orders, getting them packaged, labeled, and shipped. On a day-to-day basis, I’ll arrive early in the day and either start toffee production or packaging of the toffee. Some days we have more orders going out, so I help ship them before getting started in the kitchen.
How did you get involved with the company?
In Fall 2012, pre-ICC, I took a semester at Orange Coast College in their Culinary Arts program. Periodically, restaurants or other companies in the industry would contact the director of the program seeking interns or students looking for employment. Betsy had emailed our director and upon reading the job posting I applied, this was either November or December of 2012. I actually didn’t get hired until February 2013 because Betsy was so busy with the holiday season!
What inspired you to enroll in culinary school? Were there certain steps/thoughts that lead you to the decision?
Cooking has always been something I’ve enjoyed. When I was 16, I was going through a major chef wannabe phase and I began researching culinary schools. Shortly into my research I came across The French Culinary Institute (Pre-ICC days!) and realized that’s where I wanted to learn. I continued my research once I graduated from high school, but started taking courses at Orange Coast College until I knew for sure what I wanted to do. At that point ICC opened a California campus, I emailed the school to set up a meeting/tour. I also reached out to CIA in Napa, why not check it out if I was to be that close? I knew instantly upon arriving that that was the school for me; the tour was amazing, every chef I encountered was great, and the students were both friendly and informative. The school (ICC) was warm and friendly. After my visit, I went back to Southern California where I completed a few more semesters at OCC. This included the one culinary semester. I spent an entire summer saving money and by December 2013 I was officially attending ICC!
What were your greatest challenges at school? And how were you to overcome them?
Honestly, being away from home was the hardest. At that point, it was the first time I’d be out of my family home, and it was exciting and fun, but difficult at times. Luckily, my roommates and classmates became my new little family away from home, and we’re still close friends. School itself came easy to me, I think that’s because I found my niche. I felt comfortable at school, even on challenging days I was calm and ready for whatever was to be thrown our way. Every chef instructor was incredible, they all had a great sense of humor and were so knowledgeable.
If someone was hesitant to pursue and education in the culinary arts, what would you say to encourage them?
I’d tell them to first get a job in the industry. I think a lot of people have this fantasy of what its like to work in the industry based off of cooking shows, celebrity chefs, and even food bloggers. I think a lot of people don’t realize how hard the work is, and that chances are you aren’t always going to be recognized right away. You have to, in most cases, put in the hard work, challenge yourself. You have to be willing to work under great chefs, who at one point in their lives were in the same place as you. I think another important thing for people considering going to culinary school is that the possibilities in the food industry are endless; you don’t have to only pursue a career in restaurants. I think it’s important to get experience in as many different areas within the industry as possible. I knew going into school that long term, restaurants was not where I wanted to end up, but getting some experience from them is so beneficial.”
Connect with Lauren on Instagram via @_tothetable_
Ahead of today’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration, ICC’s Lead Chef-Instructor and resident charcuterie master Jeff Butler teaches us how to create our own corned beef and cabbage dish. The multi-day process will leave you with satisfying results to impress your family and friends on St. Paddy’s day and beyond. You won’t need the luck of the Irish to complete this recipe, although I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt! Watch the video of the full process below, and view the step-by-step procedure.
Ingredients by Step
3 kilo of water
60 Grams pickling spice mix
12 cloves of garlic
15 gram black peppercorns whole
288 grams Kosher Salt
12 grams Instacure #1 or DQ #1 curing salt
60 grams granulated sugar
1 Beef Brisket 12-14 lb (5-6 kilo)
200 Ml White wine vinegar
1 bottle lager beer
5 Bay leaves
10 grams pickling spices
5 grams black peppercorns
5 cloves garlic peeled
6 Boiler Onions, peeled and left whole
6 Carrots, peeled and left whole
6 stalks celery left whole
1 Green cabbage cut into 8 wedges
10-12 red bliss potatoes
Bring water to a boil and remove from flame and put in the pickling spice, garlic and black pepper corns and allow infusing off flame for 1 hour, then strain and reserve leftover spices for step 2.
Chill the infused water down to below 40 degrees.
Weigh the water; you will need to have exactly 3 kilo of water in total. If you have lost water due to evaporation then supplement the difference with cold tap water.
Thoroughly mix in kosher salt, Instacure #1 and sugar into the 3 kilo of water to create the brine.
Pump the brine into the brisket spacing apart injections in a pattern with approximately 1 inch spacing.
Submerge the meat in a plastic container with the remaining brine and add the reserved spices and garlic from step 1.
Let meat sit 3-5 days in the brine. Flip the meat daily in the brine so that it gets evenly cured.
Remove the meat from the brine, wipe off spices and discard brine.
Put brisket in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring up to a simmer.
Make a cheese cloth sachet (spice bag) of bay leaves, pickling spice, garlic, and black peppercorn.
When the water begins to simmer, skim off the foam that floats to the top. Then add the beer, vinegar and the sachet to the poaching liquid.
Gently simmer the meat for 1 hour. Check tenderness of the meat, if it slides easily off of your meat fork it is done. Check tenderness of meat every 15 minutes
Add the carrots, celery and onions to the pot and simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour
Check the tenderness of the meat if it is tender then remove the brisket, cooked carrots, celery and onions from the broth and allow to rest covered.
While the meat is resting add the cabbage and potatoes to liquid in the pot. Cook until tender. Remove and discard the sachet.
Slice the brisket across the grain and warm in some of the broth. Cut the carrots, onions, and celery into servable chunks and warm in the broth.
Serve the warmed cooked corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and vegetables with good mustard and prepared horse radish.
For our first ICC Alumni Spotlight of 2017, we caught up with Professional Culinary Arts alum chef Rodrigo Schweitzer. Explaining why he felt attending the International Culinary Center in New York was the right choice to pursue his culinary dreams, the Brazil based chef elaborates on ICC’s full immersion program. Learning the fundamental techniques and skills for success in only 6 months, an international student such as Rodrigo has the potential to save thousands of dollars in living expenses and tuition when making their culinary school decision.
The main reason why I chose ICC was because of the full immersion program. So, in my research, I knew that a student here could graduate in 6 months but being taught what they teach in other schools in 2 years. They taught me to be a prepared cook.”
Following up on life after culinary school graduation, Schweizer earned his spot as the winner of Hell’s Kitchen Brasil (Season 3), taking home the 100,000 gold bar prize. Becoming known as the ‘Fit Chef’ while on the show for sharing his weight loss story, Chef Schweitzer helps individuals reach their goals of losing weight through healthy eating habits. With the momentum of the Hell’s Kitchen win still strong, he shares plans to open an elevated pizzeria in Brazil with ‘nontraditional’ toppings.
Watch the full interview to learn about the chef’s new endeavor and more!
Written by Angela Samartano
ICC Social Media Manager
Christmas weekend has finally arrived, and the International Culinary Center lead chef-instructors are here to make sure you’re fully prepared for your home festivities. No matter which holiday your family celebrates, there’s never a wrong time to cook a ham from scratch. While not a culinary student myself, I was able to watch along as Chef Jeff Butler and Chef Pascal Beric demonstrated the process of creating a holiday ham from scratch to the Level 1 students in the Professional Culinary Arts with Farm-to-Table program. Needless to say, it was a multi-sensory experience – eyes were opened (to the rigorous multi-day process), mouths watered and noses were not disappointed at the smell and taste of the final product.
Charcuterie is a major portion of the Professional Culinary Arts program within Level 3. Cured meats are a staple in the culinary world, no matter where you are in the world and the International Culinary Center’s program truly prepares you for every and any meat-based dish you may desire.
Lead Chef-Instructor Jeff Butler, explains the importance of acquiring a professional education regarding proper techniques and execution of charcuterie.
Charcuterie is important because it differs greatly from regular cooking. It requires discipline, great attention to detail and patience. A dash extra of salt or the lack of an ingredient can result in an inedible product. In regular cooking, we can play with the seasoning and adjust until the moment we put it on the plate. In charcuterie, you might not know the results of a recipe until months later after the item has aged. Good charcuterie skills allow for the almost complete use of a pig from head to tail. It puts the chef in touch with ancient skills that go back thousands of years, history on a plate. You can’t learn it in a day and we put a lot of effort into the curriculum to give the student a strong foundation of charcuterie skills. Plus, you get to make hotdogs – and I love hotdogs.”
- 1- hind leg of pork with all bones removed except for the shank, approximately 10-12 lbs. 4.5-5.4 Kilo
- 5 Liter cold water
- 480 Grams of Kosher Salt
- 20 Grams of Pink Curing Salt #1
- 150 Grams of Honey
- 5 Grams Brine Phosphate (optional)
- Activa Meat Glue (optional)
- 5 gallon Bucket
- Brining needle
- Ham netting
- Hog rings
- Hog ring pliers
- Immersion circulator
- Hand immersion blender
- Powdered sugar shaker
Step by Step Process:
Step 1: Mix the water, salt, sugar, pink cure #1 and phosphate with the hand blender for approximately 2 minutes, until no solids are visible.
Step 2: Using the brine needle, gently pump the meat. Keep the meat in a large tub so as to not lose any leaking brine. Pump the brine in a grid pattern with a 1 inch spread. Do not try to poke needle through skin. Do try to pump around the shank. When finished pumping, submerge meat in remaining brine and the brine that has leaked off during pumping in the bucket.
Step 3: Let sit in refrigeration for 3 days. And then resume with the brine in the bucket and repeat step 2. This ensures that your meat is completely saturated with brine and the curing is complete.
Step 4: Let sit for 2 days. And remove from brine. Discard leftover brine. Pat meat dry with paper towel.
Step 5: Using Activa, in the powdered sugar shaker. Liberally dust the interior of the ham. This will keep the ham from having holes in the finished slices.
Step 6: Tie the Ham into the Ham netting.
Step 7: Twist the Ham inside the netting to tighten it upon itself and hog ring pliers to clamp the netting closed and to hold the tension. Use an extra hog ring to ensure it stays closed. Let the Ham sit in the refrigerator over night to set the Activa. You can also use butchers twine to truss the Ham, but take great care to keep it tight and trim loose ends to make sure they will not be caught in the immersion circulator.
Step 8: Set up the immersion circulator and set it to 145 F or 63 C. Submerge the ham in the water bath and cook for 14 hours. You can vacuum seal the Ham prior but you do not have to. The water bath will be discarded when finished.
Step 9: Remove Ham from the circulator. Take off netting , score the skin with a cross hatched pattern, be careful to not go into the flesh.
Step 10: Put ham in a roasting pan fitted with a rack. Begin to bake at 250 F. bake for 2 hours.
Step 11: Remove from oven and turn the temperature up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with the convection fan turned on if possible.
Step 12: Brush ham with vegetable oil and place in the 450 degrees Fahrenheit oven after fully preheated.
Step 13: When the ham is beautifully browned remove it from oven and allow to rest for 30 minutes and serve with the sauce of your choice.
Step 14: ENJOY!
To learn more about the various levels of ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program and reserve your spot during our January 30 start date, CLICK HERE.
Watch as ICC Level 4 Culinary Arts students take a break from working hard in the classroom, to standing completely still. Watch as ICC students engage in the latest social media trend, the Mannequin Challenge. Special thanks to Chef Jeff Butler, Chef Herve Malivert and Chef Karen Chirgwin for participating as well!
For more information on our Professional Culinary Arts program, click here.
For more information on our Military Scholarship, please visit: http://bit.ly/MilitaryICC
The ICC library is continuously growing and evolving. In this new column, we will highlight a few favorites from our new acquisitions shelf.
Sushi Lovers alert! If you loved the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi then you are already familiar with Jiro Ono, the brilliant and delicate sushi craftsman. In Sushi Chef Sukiyabashi Jiro by Shinzo Satomi, the reader is welcomed into his kitchen. First published in Japan in 1997, it is only now available in English from translator Rei Perovic. With beautiful color photos as well as maps and diagrams, it is no stretch to call this book a sushi bible. Our own Chef Jeffery Moon loved it and called it the best sushi book he has seen. Satomi digs deeper that simple instruction during his interviews with Jiro providing an insight into his style and philosophy. This book is a must read for aspiring chefs, seafood lovers and Japanese food enthusiasts.
As the weather starts to turn, we begin craving comfort foods that will fill the house with fragrance and cure an impending cold. The recipes in Small Victories by Julia Turshen fit the bill. Julia’s philosophy is the simpler the better and to grow as a cook and fund success in the kitchen, we must celebrate the small victories – each little step along the way. While certainly geared toward the home cook, culinary students can take away from this an open minded, expansive approach to recipes. For each included in the book, Julia provides what she calls “Spin-Offs” or variations that completely change the recipe or utilize the ingredients in a whole new way. So whether you are craving Snow-Day Udon Soup or Chicken + Pea Skillet Pie you will learn several other recipes right along with it. Recommended for simple go-to comfort recipes or novice cooks.
Chef Jose Pizarro owns three Spanish restaurants in London, but instead of creating a book dedicated to one of them, he chose to highlight the cuisine from his favorite city, San Sebastian. The Basque Book by Jose Pizarro is a beautiful colorful celebration of the famed Spanish city and the whole Basque region. All the recipes are labeled either “Pintxos” or “At the Table” – meaning small plates or main dishes. However, says Jose “Sometimes I just think anything goes.” Dive in for his take on classics such as tortilla and empanada as well as new favorites like Swiss chard stew or chestnut flan. An excellent pick for photography lovers, Spanish food fanatics and fine dining fans.
We have these and many more new books available for check out now in the library. Follow us on Instagram for the most current updates @intlcullibrary
International Culinary Center’s more than 15,000 alumni are making headlines around the globe in cities big and small, working in virtually every facet of the culinary industry, including restaurants, management, catering, food styling, business, TV, publishing and more. Some of our trailblazing alumni include pastry innovator Christina Tosi, Emmy Award-winning celebrity chef Bobby Flay, restaurateur David Chang and farm-to-table activist Dan Barber.
Christina Tosi: Chef, Owner and Founder of Milk Bar
You may know ICC Pastry Arts alumna Christina Tosi as one of the newest judges on Fox’s MasterChef and MasterChef Juniors, but this rising star has been making waves in the culinary industry since graduating from the International Culinary Center in 2004.
When restaurateur (and fellow ICC alumnus) David Chang hired Tosi to write the food safety plan for his restaurant Momofuku, Tosi impressed Chang so much that he ended up hiring her as his pastry chef. At the time, there were no desserts on the Momofuku menu—something Tosi would soon address by founding Momofuku Milk Bar in 2008.
Named “one of the most exciting bakeries in the country” by Bon Appétit magazine, Milk Bar is the sister bakery to the Momofuku restaurant group and provides baked goods for six retail locations (with another opening soon) as well as other restaurants in the Momofuku group. As the founder of Momofuku’s dessert program, Tosi helped Momofuku Ko earn two stars from the Michelin Guide and Momofuku Ssäm break into Restaurant Magazine’s list of the top 100 restaurants in the world.
In 2012, Tosi received the James Beard Rising Star Chef award, and she was a finalist for the James Beard Outstanding Pastry Chef award in 2014—an award she went on to win in 2015. In addition to being an award-winning professional chef and television personality, Tosi is also a published cookbook author. Her first book, Momofuku Milk Bar, was met with widespread praise and paved the way for her second book, Milk Bar Life.
Tosi and Milk Bar have been featured on television shows and in publications around the world, including The Today Show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Good Morning America, Conan, The New York Times, Vogue, Wall Street Journal and Forbes.
Bobby Flay: Chef, Restaurateur and Television Personality
“Every day I cook in my restaurants, I’m using techniques that I learned at ICC. Every day. And I always will for the rest of my life.” – Bobby Flay
Celebrity chef and serial restaurateur Bobby Flay graduated from ICC’s very first class in 1984. Since then, Flay has gone on to open multiple restaurants (including Mesa Grill, Bar Americain, Bobby Flay Steak, Gato and Bobby’s Burger Palace) and appear on countless cooking programs and specials on Food Network and Cooking Channel, including:
- Beat Bobby Flay
- Bobby’s Dinner Battle
- Boy Meets Grill
- Brunch at Bobby’s
- Emeril Live
- Grill It! With Bobby Flay
- Iron Chef America
- The Best Thing I Ever Ate
- The Main Ingredient with Bobby Flay
- The Next Food Network Star
- Throwdown! With Bobby Flay
Flay has won three Emmys for his shows Boy Meets Grill, Grill It! With Bobby Flay and Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction. In June 2105, Flay became the first chef to earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The accolades don’t stop there. In addition to multiple Emmy wins and nominations, Bobby Flay was named the James Beard Foundation’s Rising Star Chef of the Year in 1993 and received the James Beard Foundation’s National Television Food Show Award in 2005. In 2007, Flay was featured in the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America, and he went on to be inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame in 2013.
David Chang: Restaurateur, Author and Television Personality
“One of the biggest pros that the International Culinary Center has is its network of alumni and restaurants.” – David Chang
Restaurateur and innovator David Chang is perhaps best known as the founder of the Momofuku restaurant group, which includes the NYC-based Momofuku Noodle Bar, Momofuku Ssäm Bar, Momofuku Ko, Momofuku Milk Bar and Má Pêche, as well as restaurants in Australia and Canada.
A best-selling cookbook author, Chang also publishes a quarterly food magazine called Lucky Peach, which he created with former New York Times writer Peter Meehan. Contributors to the publication include Anthony Bourdain, Christina Tosi, Wylie Dufresne, Ruth Reichl, Harold McGee and Daniel Patterson. When he’s not opening restaurants or publishing books, Chang appears on television programs such as HBO’s Treme, Top Chef: All Stars, MasterChef Australia, and the 16-part PBS series The Mind of a Chef.
Since graduation from ICC’s Culinary Arts program in 2001, Chang has won multiple awards and accolades, including maintaining 2 Michelin Stars for Momofuku Ko:
- 2009-2015 Two Michelin Stars for Momofuku Ko
- 2013 James Beard Outstanding Chef
- 2010 Named one of the world’s most influential people by Time Magazine in the Time 100
- 2009 James Beard Best New Restaurant for Momofuku Ko
- 2008 James Beard Best Chef New York City for Momofuku Ssäm Bar
- 2007 James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year
- 2007 Bon Appétit Chef of the Year
- 2006 Food & Wine Best New Chef
Dan Barber: Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns
ICC Culinary Arts graduate Dan Barber has always been an advocate for sustainable agriculture and the connection between farm and table. His writings on food sustainability, agricultural policy and the farm-to-table movement have been featured in The New York Times, Food & Wine and Saveur, among other publications. Appointed to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition by President Barack Obama, Barber has worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the effects of everyday food choices.
Barber’s views on the connection between local, sustainable farm systems and great tasting food come to life at his Blue Hill restaurants. Blue Hill New York and Blue Hill at Stone Barns feature local food and wine selections whose ingredients come from local farms that respect timeless artisanal techniques (including Blue Hill Farm and Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture). Both Blue Hill restaurants have received the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant in the U.S.
In 2002, Barber was named one of the “Best New Chefs” by Food & Wine magazine. He also received the James Beard Best New Chef: New York City award in 2006 and the Outstanding Chef award in 2009. Time Magazine named Barber as one of the world’s most influential people in the Time 100 in 2009.
Barber went on to partner with International Culinary Center to create the Farm-To-Table extension of their Professional Culinary Arts program. ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts + Farm-To-Table program builds upon students’ foundational chef training by connecting it to the beginning of the food chain. By exploring how food is grown, raised, packaged and distributed, students gain a better understanding of how quality ingredients make it to the kitchen and are equipped to make informed choices for their own dishes.
A loyal ICC alumnus, Barber also likes to hire ICC graduates for his own food businesses.
Join ICC’s Trailblazing Alumni Today
The road to success begins with a first-rate education from a world-class culinary school. The International Culinary Center’s award-winning Total Immersion curriculum and intensive, fast-track programs prepare graduates with the skills and credentials they need to forge their own path in the culinary industry. And with more than 15,000 alumni making headlines in nearly every facet of the culinary industry, ICC is well-connected and will work with you throughout your career. To learn more about how ICC can help put you on the path to professional success, please complete the form on this page.