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James Beard Foundation Award Semifinalist: Andrew Zimmerman

After graduating first in his class from the French Culinary Institute, Zimmerman went on to work in various kitchens before landing a position at 2Senza in Red Bank, New Jersey. Working for three years under his mentor, Chef Renato Sommelia, the rising star chef packed his bags for the Midwest upon accepting a position along Chef Sandro Gamba at Park Hyatt Chicago. In 2004, Zimmerman met restaurateur Terry Alexander, who hired him as Executive Chef at MOD, and after his stint at MOD, the duo opened the widely-acclaimed del Toro. Zimmerman later returned to the Park Hyatt as the chef de cuisine at NoMI, under Chef Christophe David. In 2008, he was introduced to Emmanuel Nony, and the next year, Nony offered Zimmerman the executive chef position at Sepia. At this West Loop restaurant, this rock star chef integrates modern American and traditional European influences into dishes that blend complex textures and flavors with and clean, elegant presentations—sort of like a tight riff on a classic melody.

Nomination: Outstanding Wine Program (Sepia)

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

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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’!

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Wine Class

Fall Wine Event Series at California Campus

The International Culinary Center® proudly introduces a fall wine series dedicated to providing a fresh understanding and appreciation for an array of intriguing grapes, regions and producers at their Silicon Valley campus. Lead by Master Sommelier and ICC instructor Dennis Kelly, each event will be open to the public spanning from 6pm through 8pm.

ICC California WineKicking off on Thursday, October 13, expand your palette beyond the more popular wines such as Chardonnay and Cabernet. Learn how grape variety, wine styles and geographic regions play a major influence in the outcome, while tasting six different esoteric wines including Xinomavro and Scheurebe. On Thursday, November 10th ICC invites you to become versed with one of the world’s most versatile wines, Pinot Noir. Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, attendees will experience just why Pinot Noir should have a place at your holiday table through theory, smell and taste. Lastly, pop into the full swing of the holidays with Champagne: Behind the Bubbles on Thursday, December 8. Discover the nuances existing between bottles from vintages, vineyards and unique producers and celebrate the symbol of celebration.

Thursday, October 13 – Esoteric Wines
Thursday, November 10 – Pinot Noir from Around the World
Thursday, December 8 – Champagne: Behind the Bubbles

All classes require an RSVP, as seating is very limited. Please RSVP to Associate Wine Director, Rachel Lintott: rlintott@culinarycenter.com


Library Notes Wine

Library Notes // Wine 101

By Sara Quiroz
ICC Librarian

Visitors to the ICC Library sometimes mistakenly think it’s nothing but cookbooks. On the contrary, we have a very wide range of books and DVDs available on almost every subject in the culinary world. This of course, includes everything our Sommelier students may need throughout their course. If you’re not quite ready to commit to the full course but would like to dip your toe in the world of wine, here are a few highlights from our collection to get you started.

Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine by Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack provides a thorough overview of everything you need to know about wine, from fundamentals to styles to regions. Best of all, the content is incredibly visual. Wine Folly is full of great charts in bright colors; it’s a fun reader friendly guide without sacrificing the content. Pick this up if you are brand new and need an engaging starting point.

If you, like me, are more of a literary type, Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch is the pick for you! Lynch is a wine buyer who vividly recalls his travels through France painting colorful portraits of the producers and other assorted characters he met along the way. I participated in a wine book club and all of the Somm alumnus agreed it would have been incredibly helpful to read during the French portion of the class. How rare, to find a engaging and laugh out loud funny memoir that is also informative and educational. This is for the avid reader who wants to learn more about French wines.

Wine Grape: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties may very well be the most beautiful book in our collection. This hefty reference guide from Ecco includes gorgeous, lushly illustrated botanical drawings. Each variety is covered in detail, from color to origins to varieties commonly mistaken for the grape in question. I would recommend this for the amateur sommelier ready to take their education to the next level. Of course the Sommelier program here is not just about wine. The experienced Somm must also be well versed in beer, sake and spirits. Here are a couple selections of the many books we have available on the other beverages.

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While we hear a lot about food and wine pairings, it is rare to hear about how to pair beer with food. In Tasting Beer, author and beer enthusiast Randy Mosher covers the subject with the same care and detail so often afforded to wine. This book has a little bit of everything, history, tasting notes and pairing ideas all with colorful illustrations. If you are clueless about beer, but would like to know more, this book is for you.

There are many students who come by the library toward the end of the program who blind test wine with the best of them, yet are clueless when it comes to cocktails. We have an excellent selection of books on spirits, from histories to bartending guides. The Cocktail Lab by Tony Conigliaro stands out because it is more than just a collection of recipes; it details the science, art and history of a wide range of cocktails. Conigliaro covers the classics of course, but he also details his various cocktail “experiments” from perfumed drinks to sous vide cocktails.

There you have it, for the Sommalier in the stacks. Stop by the ICC Library to check out these and many more beverage books. To keep up with whats new in the library, follow us on Twitter and Instagram via @IntlCulLibrary or follow ICC directly at @ICCedu.