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.


ICC In The News: Highlights from March 2017

Welcome to a new monthly feature! ICC In The News will provide monthly highlights from articles published that feature alumni, deans, faculty and more within the ICC community. Alumni successes are always popping up across various publications and this will be our new way to aggregate content with the purpose of congratulating those highlighted and inspiring students [and potential students] to continue to follow their passion and love what they do throughout their career.

  • On the newly released 2017 list, ICC California Dean David Kinch lands at #90 for his Manresa restaurant, while alumni David Chang’s Momofuku Ko in New York City’s Bowery neighborhood makes the list at #58. Click here for the full list.



Paste shares some valuable lessons for life beyond the kitchen from female TV chefs such as Julia Child, Martha Stewart, Lidia Bastianich and ICC Associate Director of Alumni Affairs, Chef Daisy Martinez. Click here for the full story.



ICC alumni Rawlston Williams makes the list for the unbeatable flavors of the Caribbean he brings to the menu at The Food Sermon in Brooklyn, New York. Later this year, Williams will also take his unique cooking style to the second restaurant in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. Click here to view the full list



Edible Manhattan talks to ICC alumni Franco Barrio, chef at the West Village restaurant, Bespoke Kitchen, in regard to creating a vibrant and fresh menu for spring in the dead of winter. Along with details Barrio’s rich culinary résumé, click here to learn tips on how to create seasonal menus.



This month, Dean of Pastry Arts, Jacques Torres, opened a brand new chocolate museum in the heart of New York City. ‘Choco-Story’ has received press from various publications including NBC News, Eater, Time Out New York, Insider Food, Refinery29 and more. To read the NBC News article and purchase your museum tickets, click here.

Chocolate Museum


When asked about the biggest influences in his life, celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian mentions ICC’s Dean Emeritus proclaiming, Chef Alain Sailhac for his tremendous knowledge of culinary techniques and cuisines — he taught me most everything I know.”  Click here to read the full article.

Geoffrey Zakarian


Alumni and restaurateur Ashish Alfred opened Maryland restaurant Duck Duck Goose less than one year ago. The chef-owner of the contemporary French bistro was surprised to learn that his venue received the distinction of “Best in Maryland” by Southern Living Magazine. Click here for the more details, including Alfred’s reaction.

Duck Duck Goose Maryland


Graduates of ICC’s Olive Oil Program are already applying their expertise across networks and around the world. Click here to read the Olive Oil Times’ catch up with the new Oleologists.


Chocolate Demo with Dean of Pastry Arts, Jacques Torres 2/1/2017

To kick off the month of February, Dean of Pastry Arts Jacques Torres prepared the ICC community for the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday. Sharing words of wisdom on chocolate trends, the business side of Valentine’s Day and advice on how the famous Jacques Torres Chocolate locations handle one of the busiest seasons of the year.

Watch the full Facebook Live video, here. 

Want the ability to use the techniques shown here by Dean of Pastry Arts, Jacques Torres? Click Here to learn more about ICC’s Professional Pastry Arts program.

View the full gallery, here: 

Learn From the Culinary Masters of Technique – ICC

The International Culinary Center’s dedication to cultivating talent in its students begins with the passion and commitment of its renowned faculty and staff. Among those on the ICC Team driving student success is a long list of esteemed culinary professionals serving as deans and master chefs.

Meet Deans Jacques Pépin and Jacques Torres

At the heart of ICC’s culinary instruction is a curriculum carefully designed by world-renowned deans and taught by a core of accomplished chefs hailing from all corners of the culinary world. Among the other famous names filling these roles as deans are Jacques Pépin and Jacques Torres.

Jacques Pépin: Dean of Special Programs

Jacques Pépin began his culinary career at the famous Le Pavilion restaurant when he came to New York by way of Paris, France, where he had received his training at Plaza Athénée under Lucien Diat. In the years before joining the ICC staff in 1988, Pépin served as the personal chef to French head of state, Charles de Gaulle, and earned a master’s degree in French literature at Columbia, all while honing his own culinary technique.

Pépin’s culinary prowess and charm have also made him a superstar of culinary television. He launched his series The Complete Pépin in 1997 and went on to receive a daytime Emmy award for Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, a series he hosted alongside Julia Child. He has since been a guest judge on Top Chef and has aired several other of his own cooking series.

A living legend among culinary professionals and foodies, Pépin has received countless accolades, including the Chevalier de L’Ordre du Mérite Agricole, Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, several James Beard Foundation awards — including the Lifetime Achievement Award — and an induction into the foundation’s Cookbook Hall of Fame.

Known for his humorous and vibrant demonstrations, Pépin not only assisted in creating the curriculum for ICC students, but has long supported the culinary school’s focus on helping students find success by building technique from the ground up as the firm foundation of any cuisine.

“Before you can express your talent, you have to learn basic technique. You have to become first a craftsman.” – Jacques Pépin

Over the years, Pépin has released dozens of cookbooks, with his newest, Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul in the Kitchen, released this year and accompanied by a television series, Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul, airing nationwide this fall.

With decades of unparalleled culinary experience, Pépin’s zest for cooking is as unyielding and as deeply personal as ever. In a recent piece he wrote featured in the New York Times, “Jacques Pépin’s Food Memories,” Pépin conjures a philosophy of food that is magical, familial and sentimental:

“For most people, the dishes that matter are the dishes that have been cooked with love. …Those dishes remain much more embedded in our taste memory than the recipes and dishes of great restaurants, even for a professional cook like me.”

Jacques Torres: Dean of Pastry Arts

Master pastry chef Jacques Torres  started his journey into the pastry world at age 15 as an apprentice. In addition to being named Pastry Chef of the Year by both the James Beard Foundation and Chefs of America, Torres is the youngest title winner of the esteemed Meilleur Ouvier de France. After joining the ICC faculty in 1993, Torres helped design the curriculum for ICC’s Pastry Arts program, becoming the dean of the program in 1996.

ICC Dean of Pastry Arts Jacques Torres

He starred in the Food Network series Chocolate with Jacques Torres, and he has been featured on countless other television programs, including as a judge on Cake Boss: Next Great Baker.

Beyond his role at the culinary school, Torres has earned a name for himself — he is often referred to as “Mr. Chocolate,” a name he shares with the website for his well-loved chocolatier that operates many locations throughout New York City as well as a state-of-the-art factory.

Featured in countless articles by publications including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, the French-native was recently dubbed “Brooklyn’s Wonka” by Newsday. In the article, Torres explains his philosophy on dessert and on life: “You have to play big if you want to make it big,” he said.

Torres often shares his expertise with ICC students during hands-on demonstrations, evidence of which can be seen on his Instagram, and he remains an important part of passing on his real-world expertise to ICC culinary students.

“Making chocolate is a way of life, not a profession.” – Jacques Torres

Learning Technique Helps Gives You Confidence

Fundamentals are the cornerstone of the ICC experience. By learning classical techniques from our chef-instructors and some of the greatest culinary minds in the world, students gain the foundational skills needed to begin a journey to any place on the culinary map.

“We just concentrate on the cooking itself. That’s why we can do in six months what other people take two years to do.” – Jacques Pépin