Interview with Essie Bartels (Essentials of Fine Cooking’16)

My name is Essie Bartels. I am the Owner & Spice Mixologist for Essiespice. It’s a small start-up out of New Jersey. We make small batch spice blends and sauces/condiments that use traditional West-African cooking methods and spices but with a fusion of world flavors. In 2016, I took the Essentials of Fine Cooking course at ICC.

– What did you do before attending ICC?

I worked in Corporate America for 8.5 years but around the 6 year mark, I started making Essiespice Sauces and spice blends. I worked at Hitachi, Panasonic, Unilever and ADP. My career allowed me to travel a lot and I also studied in Europe while in College — my work and my travels are a big part of my sauces.

– What is your best memory from your time at ICC?

Chef Guido made a sauce out of duck stock and fat and it was the best sauce I have ever had in my life! I honestly will never forget that sauce.

icc_chef_guido

– What was your inspiration behind Essiespice and your products?

I am inspired by West African cooking and spices. A lot of my inspiration also comes from visiting 24 countries during my travels. I want to teach people about the indigenous food from West-Africa especially our spices, and also to highlight my experiences with global flavors and cuisines.

– Describe a day in your life.

No two days are ever the same with me! There are some days where I have to do a lot of paperwork for inventory and stock levels tracking. I could also be working on posts for our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Some days I’m planning recipes and shooting them for our social media pages. I also do my own production in an incubator in NYC, so I could be getting the ingredients for any and or all of our sauces and then actually getting my team together to work on the actual production of the sauces: cutting, cleaning, blending, cooking, and bottling. Other times, I am meeting with bloggers or writers. I also do deliveries to the stores that order my spices and sauces and sometimes I do actual in-store demos and tastings to show customers how to use the products.

essie_spice_icc

– What would you tell someone who dreams of starting a food business?

I would tell them to go for it. Honestly, no good thing will come easy. I won’t lie and say Essiespice hasn’t been the most challenging project of my life. It has tested everything in my life: patience, courage, endurance… that’s what you have to get ready for.

You will most definitely have to develop a thick skin and unless you have a lot of savings or investment from the start, you’ll have to get dirty and be a jack of all trades. Once you decide this is what you want to do, there’s a lot of research that has to be done with certifications and food safety so that is something to be mindful of and also you have to make up your mind that you’re in it to succeed so nothing will deter you. Because a lot of things will come at you and you have to stand firm.

– What’s next for you?

I’m getting ready to launch a Crowdfunding Campaign for Essiespice in the next 6 weeks. We need to raise money to keep Essiespice running smoothly into a stable and viable business that supports women entrepreneurs. We will also use part of the funds raised to research and create new product lines and introduce auxiliary products Made in Ghana to the US and world market.

Alumni Interview with Deanna La (Pastry Arts ’15)

My name is Deanna La and I am 36 years old. I am a mother of one beautiful young lady who is the inspiration for all I do. Her name is Alika and she is 13 years old. I come from a huge family and many of the women in my family bake. I grew up baking traditional sweets from Honduras with my mom and I can’t think of a single birthday as a child that went without a home made caramel cake from my grandmother. Even my aunts on my fathers side are wonderful bakers and they always made traditional Honduran caramel cakes, chocolate cakes filled with pineapple and what people from the islands call pone. Those are soft cakes baked in casserole dishes and are made with things like pumpkin, cassava and banana.

I started baking on my own at about 14 years old. The first things I ever baked on my own were vanilla cakes with whip cream frosting, cheesecakes and chocolate chip cookies. I stopped baking for a long period of time at around 22 and didn’t pick it up again until around 28 when I met my husband and we started throwing huge dinner parties for family and friends. It wasn’t until around 33 that I started taking my baking more seriously and thinking that it was something I would like to do for a living.

new_york_cake_show_winner

– What did you do before attending ICC?

Before I went to ICC I felt like a wanderer. I worked as an administrative assistant for many many years in various fields from investment baking to pharmaceuticals until I found myself working in IT for a financial software company. It was different and for a while I enjoyed the work and learning something new but it wasn’t right for me. After three years I found myself dreading going to work. I became very depressed and disinterested and longing for the freedom to set my own direction. That’s when I started to look for culinary schools to take what had already become more than a hobby to the next level.

The day I decided to quit my job and go to culinary school full time, I had already taken a leave of absence from work and it had done me no good. Returning to work, I was happy to see my co-workers but I still felt dread and unhappiness with my job. I was already set with ICC to attend classes at night but I was sitting in my cubicle feeling down when I typed a text to my husband that said. “I can’t do this anymore” of course alarmed he called me to clarify what I meant (haha!) and I told him that I was truly unhappy with my job and I couldn’t do it anymore. He knew I was miserable and he told me that he would support whatever decision I made so I got up from my desk, went into a conference room and called the school to see if there were any spots left for the day program. It was my luck that there were and I gave my two weeks notice that day, a few minutes after the school confirmed.

– What is your best memory from your time at ICC?

My best memory from ICC has to be when I took first place in the NY cake show as a student. All the messages of support I got from the school, fellow students and alumni was wonderful but the day after when I came into class and Chef Alain came by to congratulate me that was amazing. I have never really won anything before so to have that accomplishment for something that I really took a huge leap of faith to pursue and then have someone like chef Alain take his time to come by and recognize me was pretty great.

– What was your inspiration behind your masterpieces for the NY Cake Show 2015 and 2016?

The inspiration for my cake in 2015 was my mom. The theme was Mother’s Day that year and my mom has always been an avid gardener. Her yard is filled with so many wonderful flowers and roses in very color so I wanted to make a cake that was filled with flowers and color while still keeping it in the simple clean lines that I feel define my own personal style.

For my 2016 cake I absolutely had no idea. Unlike when I was in school, I was working full time with clients and I was pretty busy in the months and weeks leading up to the competition. I had several ideas but nothing I was truly in love with when my husband said “your cake tier looks like grand central” it all clicked together from there and I went full steam in that direction.

new_york_cake_show_winner_2016

– What would you tell someone who wants to be a Cake Artist?

As with anything, love what you do. If you don’t love this business you won’t get far. It takes hard work, long hours on your feet and dedication for often little pay. Many of the tasks involved are tedious and repetitive so you must be patient. You also have to keep in mind that you are providing a service to people for events that will forever be a part of their memories so you must be kind, compassionate and strive to do your best work always no matter what the budget.

– What’s next for you?

I will continue competing and I will be looking to expand my business Just Eats Custom Cakes to a store front shop. I will be sure to give an update when that happens!

Follow Deanna:

Instagram // Website

Interview with Julianne Feder (Culinary Arts’13)

ICC alumna Julianne Feder has a rather unusual and diverse culinary background. Her goal is to learn every aspect of the food world (in her true nerdy way), and so she’s done sales and marketing for a small Italian specialty foods importer, worked on a farm in Tuscany, helped scout companies for a food start-up accelerator, went to culinary school, and worked in some of New York’s best kitchens before becoming a private chef. Julianne is now a food writer, a private chef, and she runs the marketing for a restaurant group.

– What did you do before attending ICC?

I worked in agriturismo in Tuscany (we raised gorgeous pigs and made salumi) and before that I did sales and marketing for a specialty Italian food importer, selling truffles, aged balsamic vinegars and more. It was a lot of fun and I even went on a truffle hunt!

– Describe a day in your life.

I wear a lot of hats these days. I am the Director of Marketing at Tarallucci e Vino, I write regularly for Thrillist for the Food and Drinks Section, and I still work as a private chef on the weekends. So, the average day could be organizing and food styling a photoshoot for the restaurant, coming home to brainstorm recipes to develop or topics to research for a new Thrillist article and then coordinating with a client about an upcoming dinner party. It’s a lot of juggling!

julianne feder gastronerd culinary school

– How did you come up with the idea behind The GastroNerd?

I am a huge food nerd. I have always found the stories, etymology and histories behind ingredients and dishes fascinating, and felt that learning about them helped inform my cooking. The GastroNerd is my way of sharing that passion. Think of me kind of like a new wave of Alton Brown (I say humbly…).

– What would you tell someone who wants to be a private chef?

Get some real restaurant experience under your belt first. It will really up your private chef game. Be prepared to compromise a lot and go with the flow; remember you are there to serve your client first and foremost. Your clients will often make very specific requests or make last minute changes to your menu and event. You have to be very organized and independent. There is no one telling you what to do. You are on your own!

– What’s next for you?

I love my job(s) and I am excited to grow with them. Our restaurant group Tarallucci e Vino will be opening its 5th location soon and we can’t wait! I also will be writing more regularly for Thrillist and heading up more recipe development for them. I was also recently on the FoodNetwork (watch here). Hopefully I’ll be doing more with them and more general video content too!

Keep Up with Julianne:

The Gastronerd // YouTube

Interview with Chris Chowaniec (Culinary Arts’13)

ICC California alum Chris Chowaniec (left) and his brother Mark have turned their lifelong relationship with food into an exciting new business. The Chow Brothers “are committed to always being a fun and responsible food brand delivering unique flavors as accouterments, appetizers, and main dishes to good food fans everywhere!”

– How and when did you know you wanted to work with food?

My mom grew up on a farm. I grew up starting dinner prep for the family because my parents worked late. We never went out to eat, and family parties were really food festivals. Post college – my brother and I enjoyed throwing dinner parties back in Chicago, which turned into fundraisers. Shortly after, one of my friends started a private cheffing and pop-up dinner business in NYC back in 2008 and I went to help with him in the kitchen. When I got back, I realized I wanted to take our events to the next level – and formed The Chow Brothers. The culinary school bug was always in me, even though I have always worked in tech and photography. In 2013, before I turned 35 – I knew if I did not make the move to California and just do it, it would never happened. I committed to aligning all my work to focus on food, the food system, and cooking. It’s been my passion since I was young, and The Chow Brothers has allowed me to turn it into something bigger than myself.

– Tell us a bit about your photography – how did that start? Were you always interested in food photography or did that develop over time? What do you love about it?

My grandpa and dad taught me how to use medium format and 35mm film cameras when I was 9. I haven’t stopped carrying a camera around ever since. In 2007, after constantly taking photos, posting, learning, attending seminars and classes – one of my close friends asked me to shoot his wedding. So then I started my own photography business in 2009, and pivoted to food once The Chow Brothers came together. One of my mentors and friends who worked for Food and Wine Magazine brought me deeper into the world of food photography back in 2012, and when I moved to California for the ICC – I knew I wanted to work for a food magazine, so I knocked a lot on the doors of Edible Magazine. I love combining my knowledge and respect for cooking, plating, and serving into my photography. I guess what I like most about it is the ability to express my creativity and passion in a physical medium. That release of mental and creative energy into a solid form gives me purpose and allows me to communicate about food in ways that my words cannot.

Chow Bros Culinary School

– What inspired The Chow Bros? What’s next for them?

– Already discussed above – but we are definitely motivated to leave a legacy, celebrate our traditions, and responsibly grow a business we can rely on in the future. At a more simple level, it is about having fun and bringing people together with food.

What’s next? We are going to be producing gourmet pierogi like short rib and port, duck confit, and bourbon maple pork. Raw Carrot and Coriander Sauerkraut is already in progress and on sale in the Bay Area, and we are looking to outsource some of our production with partners. We are also trying to obtain our official organic certification for all of our products this year, redo our website, and break into some more bar and retail locations.

– What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I had to think about this one, because I have received a lot of it in my life from incredible people. But I guess the one that keeps on coming into my head is what my parents constantly told me growing up: study, study, study. I am the first generation in the US, and my parents are both from Poland. Their hard work ethic rubbed off on me for sure – but they insisted I do well in school, and go to college since they never had the opportunity. The advice I got out of it was to always learn new things. Challenge yourself intellectually and practically to be curious and learn how things work. Ever since I was a kid, I have been taking things apart, taking classes and workshops, and trying to things whether in kitchen or in life the better or right way. Curiosity is essential in the kitchen and it turns out it is some great advice in life.

– How did your ICC experience influence your career path?

The ICC gave me more confidence in my abilities and to appreciate the importance of not only a sustainable food system, but efficiency and excellence in the kitchen. At the end of the day – I have to run a business, the food has to be incredible, and the chef instructors at the ICC are passionate, experienced, and a great source of inspiration.

– What’s your favorite memory of your time at the ICC?

Charcuterie class, learning how to bake bread, and our farm to table field trips. Respecting the whole animal and respecting our farmers, food, and food system are important values for The Chow Brothers.

Interview with Alumna Emilie Raffa from The Clever Carrot

ICC Professional Culinary Arts’06 graduate Emilie Raffa is the blogger behind The Clever Carrot and the author of The Clever Cookbook: Get-Ahead Strategies and Timesaving Tips for Stress-Free Home Cooking.

Emilie’s work has been featured in Oprah Magazine, Women’s Health Magazine, The Huffington Post, Food 52, Saveur, Food & Wine, Today Food, and in the pages of Artful Blogging Magazine. She was a finalist for ‘Best Food Photography’ in the annual the Saveur Blog Awards, and she also contributes to the digital cooking publication Feedfeed.

The Clever Cookbook Emilie Raffa

-What did you do before attending ICC?

Before attending ICC, I was working in sales. I couldn’t stand my job! Following my gut and enrolling in culinary school was one of the the best decisions I ever made.

-What is your best memory from your time at ICC?

This is going to sound silly, but I’ll say it anyway: the bread! Baguettes, to be exact. I remember arriving to class, ripping off a chunk of bread from the kitchen, and then settling in (at my station) to assemble my paper chef’s hat (yes, our hats were DIY and stapled together, by the way).

-Describe a day in your life.

Hectic! I like to wake up really early in the morning to write. Then, once the kids are up, I switch gears into Mom Mode. Then, it’s back to work again- cooking, photographing, answering emails and of course, more writing. My cat is incredibly demanding too, if that counts.

Clever Carrot Emilie Raffa

-What is your personal favorite recipe from The Clever Cookbook?

Tough question! I’d say my One-Pot Creamy Orzo with Asparagus. It’s like ‘risotto’ pasta.

-What would you tell someone who wants to publish a cookbook?

Do not settle. Wait for the right deal. Many bloggers are getting book deals right now so don’t sell yourself short with a subpar offer, especially if you will be doing your own photography, styling and recipe testing. Good things come to those who wait!

– What’s next for you?

I’m always brimming with ideas! Right now, I’m still promoting my cookbook so we’ll see after that!

Alumni Spotlight // Justin Mays

By Daisy Martinez,
Associate Director of Alumni Affairs

I am always happy to chat with grads who stop by the school and update us on their achievements, and I am often reminded of that old adage, “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover”. Justin Mays is a prime example of this. His youthful charm belies the extensive life experience he has under his belt, and his quiet, shy manner leaves you wondering how he navigates the tumult of a professional kitchen. After hearing his inspiring story, I knew that it was one “book” I had to share.

What were you doing before you attended culinary school?

I joined the Air Force in September of 2006 and headed to San Antonio, TX, for my military basic training. After that, I completed my career schooling in Biloxi, MS, before heading off to my first base in Panama City, FL. Little did I know at the time, the journey that was ahead of me was going to fuel the fire that pushed me to finally come to ICC and jump into the culinary world.

After a year in Florida, I was reassigned to Osan Air Base in South Korea, about 45 minutes south of Seoul. This is where my curiosity for food really took off, as I was exposed to all of these ingredients that I had never heard of, let alone seen. I tried everything I could get my hands on! Several hospital visits for food poisoning later, I learned what I could and couldn’t handle.

That year was both educational and exhilarating, and then we were moved to England. There, I met a lot of really good home cooks and was a part of a food group named the “Fairford Fatties”. Needless to say, we searched for as much “good” food that we could find. I also had made some friends in the restaurant industry and really enjoyed listening to their stories of dinner service over a few drinks. I think this was the first time of many that I would look at the ICC website and dream about one day launching my culinary career.

What was the next step for you to reach your goal of a culinary career?

From there I was off to Istanbul, Turkey. Long story short, loved the food, met the woman I would marry, and made a connection with a country unlike any I had before. My new bride and I headed back to Korea, where we were blessed with two beautiful girls. My first move back to the United States in six years was to St. Louis and for my wife’s birthday we went to Sydney Street Cafe in the downtown area. The food blew us away! At that moment, I knew I had to make my dream a reality soon. It was killing me, literally. I couldn’t sleep without dreaming of cooking and creating. It pulled at me and made me experience goals and aspirations I had never dreamed of. But, I had a wife and kids to take care of, so my dreams were just that…

I got out of the military while in St. Louis due to some ongoing medical issues and moved to my hometown to become a distribution manager for a large steel and aluminum company. I had essentially what I had always worked for: a nice salary, two nice cars, a nicely furnished home, and financial freedom. By most standards, I was on top of the world. Well, you know how they say money can’t buy happiness? Well, that was true in my case. I was missing something in my life that I needed. I lacked fulfillment and happiness. Not to mention, by this point I was literally driving my wife crazy about becoming a chef. An opportunity presented itself, and I decided that if I didn’t do it then, I never would.

Photo from the Wallsé Gallery
Photo from Wallsé

That’s a big step to take when you have a family to provide for. What kind of support did you get from them?

My wife and I looked around and wondered “how are we going to make this possible?” What would we do with all of our stuff? How would we afford everything? I guess when you want something bad enough, you find a way. My wife and I took to Craigslist and started having yard sales to afford school, then sold my truck. We knew we couldn’t afford to come to NYC all together, so my wife and kids stayed with family in Istanbul while I started my training at the ICC.

However, I discovered I wasn’t ready for that separation from my wife and girls. Their absence became unbearable, and after four months I brought them back to NYC to be with me until I finished. I worked with some friends and happened to have a buddy who was going to be out of town so we rented his place. The end goal was moving to Turkey upon graduation and finding something there, but we ran into hiccups with my citizenship paperwork and not to mention security issues that were plastered all over CNN. We made the decision to stay in New Jersey where my family could have a nice place to live while I chased my dream.

Okay, so now you are attending the ICC, and your family is back with you from Turkey. How long after you graduated did you find employment in your “field of dreams”?

I worked as a Chef de Cuisine at Savann Restaurant in Harlem while in school and a few months after graduation. While I loved my time there, I needed to elevate my cooking to a different level. I saw an opening at Wallse for an Entremetier Chef in the West Village and started doing some research on the place. I discovered it had been a Michelin-rated restaurant for 15 or 16 straight years, and I said to myself, this is it. This is where I want to be.

That is a really inspirational story. Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

I want to push my limits and have my limits pushed daily for excellence. I want to learn and develop, not just into a cook, but a chef. I want to have that background that separates me from my peers; the experience of an education that is worth its weight in gold. I’ve found that, and now my journey continues. We have a long way to go, but my quest for perfection and my desire for a brand will be fulfilled. I’ve sacrificed too much for it not to.

Chef Justin was able to apply the ICC Military Scholarship towards realizing his dream of attending the ICC. Maybe you can too!
Military Scholarship
Applicant must be a military veteran, active military member or the spouse/child of a veteran or active military member who has been honorably discharged from the United States Armed Forces.

Interview with Samantha Seneviratne

International Culinary Center Culinary Arts’06 and Bread Baking’08 graduate Samantha Seneviratne is a New York-based food writer, recipe developer, food stylist, and blogger.

She has worked as a food editor in the kitchens of Good Housekeeping, Fine Cooking and Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. Samantha has recently published her first cookbook, The New Sugar and Spice: A Recipe for Bolder Baking.

-What did you do before attending ICC?

I was working as a Production Coordinator for a documentary series at Thirteen/WNET. I decided to attend culinary school in the evenings.

-What is your best memory from your time at ICC?

I did the culinary program but my heart was always in pastry. I remember Pastry Chef Alain Ridel in Level 3 and 4 used to let me bring in recipes that I was curious about and try them out during any downtime. He helped me experiment and try new things that weren’t even a part of the curriculum. He went above and beyond and I appreciate it!

Samantha Seneviratne The New Sugar and Spice

-What is your personal favorite recipe from The New Sugar and Spice?

That’s so hard! It’s like choosing your favorite child. Today I’ll say the Cardamom Cream Sugar Doughnuts are my favorite. I can’t ever get enough cardamom.

-What would you tell someone who wants to publish a cookbook?

You can do it! It takes an insane amount of hard work but anyone can do it. And, a great agent is worth her weight in gold.

new sugar spice book

-What’s next for you?

More of the same if I’m lucky! I have my second cookbook coming out this summer called Gluten Free for Good and I would love to write another baking book.

Library Notes // Life is one long sheet of pasta

By Sara Medlicott,
ICC Librarian

Marc Vetri is 1998 alum of the ICC Art of International Bread Baking program and an Outstanding Alumni award winner of 2005. Marc is the Chef and Founder of Philadelphia’s critically acclaimed Vetri Family of Restaurants. Marc is also known for his extensive charity work and writing.

In 1998, he and his business partner, Jeff Benjamin, opened the eponymous, fine-dining restaurant, Vetri, which propelled Marc to the culinary forefront. Within two years of the restaurant’s debut, Marc was named one of Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs” and received the Philadelphia Inquirer’s highest restaurant rating.

Inspired by traditional Northern Italian osterias, Marc launched Osteria in 2007 which now boasts two locations. Amis is a Roman style trattoria, which was named one of the top 10 places for pasta in the US by Bon Appétit, features share plates of hand rolled pasta and house cured meats.

Marc Vetri at International Culinary Center FCI

Following these successes, Marc opened Alla Spina (Italian for “from the tap”) in 2012. An Italian gastro pub, the restaurant boasts 20 beers on tap including both Italian and local brews as well as pub fare. The following year, the group further expanded by opening Pizzeria Vertis which was named one of the Top 25 Best New Restaurants by GQ Magazine. This was followed by the opening of Lo Speedo, a casual eatery with an emphasis on flame cooked food in October 2014.

But Marc is not content with being a wildly successful chef. He is also passionate about giving back to his community and educating children on healthy eating. The Vetri Foundation, founded in 2009, works on several initiatives with a goal of helping the children of Philadelphia to develop healthy eating habits.

Eatiquette is a revolution for school lunch. The Vetri Foundation helps public schools to plan and execute healthy seasonal meals using fresh ingredients. Students sit at small round tables, serve each other and assist with clean up. They learn about portion control and meal preparation.

Another initiative, My Daughter’s Kitchen provides weekly after-school cooking classes to students. For middle school and high school students inspired to continue in the culinary world, the Vetri Foundation provides a thirteen-week Culinary Arts training program hosted at the public library.

Marc Vetri also writes. He is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post and has published three cookbooks. Marc released Il Viaggio di Vetri: A Culinary Journey in 2008 and Rustic Italian Food in 2011.

Marc Vetri pasta cookbook

Il Viaggio includes recipes for appetizers, pasta, fish, meat and more, along with wine pairings. The book is also interspersed with Marc’s own stories and recollections of Italy. Rustic Italian Food is what Marc calls “A return to real cooking”, which includes a wide range of bread recipes, pasta, salumi, pickles and preserves among others all focused on the theme.

His most recent book, Mastering Pasta: the Art and Practice of Handmade Pasta, Gnocchi and Risotto was published just this past March. Marc opens with, “Sometimes I feel like my life is one long sheet of pasta,” and that certainly shows in Mastering Pasta. Much more than a collection of recipes, it includes his philosophy of life and the kitchen, a lengthy explanation of variations in flour and the anatomy of wheat and, of course, recipes for preparing pasta flour and instructions for shaping the final product.

Mastering Pasta

Marc decided to do the book after seeing Dr. Steven Jones of the bread lab speak on flour and wheat. He then heard similar sentiments echoed throughout Northern Italy while researching the book – fresh wheat is essential to good pasta. Marc discovered that wheat starts to lose its flavor after 48 hours. He now has a mill in his restaurant Vetri, and they are milling their own wheat.

The book also includes “Pasta Swaps” suggesting which shapes will go well with similar sauce and ingredient sets. While the book is probably ideal for a serious home cook with some pasta making experience, the background and explanations are so thorough yet easy to follow that even a complete novice could use Mastering Pasta to get started.

All three of Marcs books are available at the ICC library. Stop by and have a look!

Library Notes // Top Cookbooks of 2015

By Sara Medlicott,
ICC Librarian

One of the best parts about being a culinary librarian is getting the chance to spend time with all the great new cookbooks. I’m getting to know our staff and students well enough that as I make a new acquisition I can guess who will be the first to check it out. Everyone is looking for something different in a cookbook whether it’s new recipes, a great story or pure inspiration. Cookbooks also make great gifts. You can wrap one in an apron, pair it with recommended kitchen tools or wrap it in a basket with the necessary ingredients for a recipe. Here are my top picks for the year, and judging by the circulation records and the ICC community suggestions.

For the adventurous home cook

Do you know someone who is constantly venturing to the outer boroughs to taste cuisine from distant lands? They prefer Siracha, Valentina and sesame oil over ketchup, mustard and olive oil and they probably love Mind of a Chef. These cookbooks are for adventurous home cooks or anyone who is stuck in a culinary rut ready to try something new.

Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking: Authentic Dishes for the Home Cook
You might already be familiar with Maangchi from her channel on YouTube, you will find the book has the same tone and feel; though of course it includes much more content. It’s as if a good friend is teaching you how to cook. All the content is conversational and easy to follow.

Mamushka: A Cookbook by Olia Hercules
Olia includes recipes from all over Eastern Europe. This is a great book for someone who likes an involved project in the kitchen, whether it is baking bread, making sweet conserves or fermentation, Olia covers it all.

The Food of Taiwan: Recipes from the Beautiful Island by Cathy Erway
I have been a huge fan of Cathy ever since I read The Art of Eating In: How I Learned to Stop Spending and Love the Stove (check it out!) so I was thrilled to see she had published a cookbook. This book includes a little bit of everything, great information and history as well as all you need to get started cooking Taiwanese food.

Best Cookbooks of 2015

For the foodie who loves a story

I find that there are two camps about wordy cookbooks, people either love the backstory or they just want recipes and photos.

My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl
Ruth has a lot of fans already, just seeing her name on the cover is enough for most people. Fans of Garlic and Sapphires and Tender at the Bone will be pleased with the memoir aspect of the book, but unlike her other memoirs, My Kitchen Year features recipes much more prominently. New Yorkers will also love all her interpretations of city favorites and the anecdotes about the changing city interwoven in her narrative.

For the lover of classics with a twist

Two of my favorite cookbooks this year also happened to be written by ICC alumni. These selections focus on classic, traditional recipes but not in any way you are used to! Fresh new takes on pasta and deserts, perfect for those who crave comfort food but want a new interpretation.

Mastering Pasta by Marc Vetri is perfect for anyone who loves pasta. This book contains enough science, history and detail for people who really geek out in the kitchen but clear, concise instructions and plenty of pictures for newbies.

The New Sugar and Spice by Samantha Seneviratne includes many of the classics you are used to, like rice pudding, gingerbread and brownies but all with a twist. Instead of categorizing the recipes by type or season, they are divided by spice from cardamom to ginger to pepper. If you are getting bored with your baking repertoire, this book is the perfect way to spice it up – literally.

Book Gifts 2015 Food

For the dinner party hostess

This book is for that perfect hostess, looking to try something new. Inspired by a supper club, it’s all about the essentials of an excellent dinner party; great food, great drinks and great company.

The Groundnut Cookbook by Duval Timothy, Jacob Fodio Todd and Folayemi Brown tells the story of the supper club they started in London in 2012 with a goal of bringing the traditions and flavors of Africa to Britian. The book is divided into menus, and each section includes not just the recipes but the story of how each menu developed.

Don’t see what you’re looking for? Stop by the library and our librarian, Sara Medlicott, can give you a personalized recommendation. All selections are available in the library and available for purchase very close to school in the McNally Jackson bookstore at 52 Prince St.

Interview with Gary Chan from Bibble & Sip

My name is Gary Chan, I’m the founder & main proprietor of Bibble & Sip, and a 2014 graduate of ICC’s Pastry Techniques Program.

Last week was Bibble & Sip’s 1-year anniversary. Hard to believe it’s been a whole year already. Coming up with the cafe name took some efforts, but at one point Bibble & Sip just fell into place and stuck. “Bibble” is an archaic word that means to eat indulgently; “sip” implies cultured enjoyment. I wanted my cafe to be a casual and fancy experience at the same time, a relaxed environment offering sophisticated flavors.

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– What did you do before attending ICC?

I graduated with a degree in Communication Arts, aiming to take part in the family electronics/film business. But very soon I realized it wasn’t a choice of passion. So I detoured from that prescribed route and started my own design company. After many years of hard work that didn’t quite pay off, I reevaluated my life and decided that design was just another safe route devised from the foundation of my former education. If I were to completely abandon what I should logically be doing with my life, where would my passion take me? And that’s how I ended up in ICC.

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– What is your best memory from ICC?

There are many great memories, but if I must name the foremost, I would say the train ride home each day. That feeling is so nostalgic, where after a long and tiring day, my body would collapse on the train seat and everything I learned and did during the day got processed through my head. And the best part was, I would be holding the end product of the day, still warm on my lap, with its aroma filling the surrounding, and I just couldn’t wait to share it with my family.

– What inspired you to open Bibble & Sip?

Baking has always been a passion. Running my own business is a personal endeavor. With all the knowledge learned from ICC, I had so many flavor and recipe ideas that needed physical shaping. Thanks to my supportive family, teachers, and mentors (Chef Michael Zebrowski, Chef Michael Brock), those ideas not only took shape, but also shaped my dream cafe.

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– What was the greatest challenge in opening your business?

The greatest challenge was overcoming the initial discouragement of an open but empty cafe. The first week when we opened, we pretty much watched skeptical passers-by day after day. All those pastry items (and hard work!) were thrown away at the end of the day, that heartache is indescribable. But we’re quite lucky that business picked up very quickly.

– What is the most rewarding part of running Bibble & Sip?

The most rewarding is seeing our regular customers come back time after time. It gives me so much confidence and gratitude to see the familiar faces. I love the feeling of looking down the line and knowing exactly what the next person is about to order. Of course, it’s also a different type of rewarding feeling to see excited new visitors snapping photos. It means they’re here from good word of mouth.

– Describe a day in your life.

I live about 2 minutes away from the cafe, so my day pretty much starts, progresses, and ends within the few hundred feet radius. I go in early in the morning, check that the kitchen prep is on its way. I make sure all the shifts of the day are covered. Once the cafe door opens, it’s all business with a short lunch break. By now everyone is familiar with the flow of the day so all the tasks are pretty routine. We have a wonderful team that works together seamlessly. My work day ends after the cafe closes, and all the cleaning work is done, which is late, but at least I’m only 2 minutes from home.

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– What is your personal favorite drink and food at Bibble & Sip?

My personal favorite drink is just a simple cappuccino. My favorite food is the recently introduced Black Sesame Mousse Hazelnut Chocolate Cake. It’s been a successful new item so far. I’m glad the customers like it as much as I do.

– How do you come up with the new menu items?

It takes me quite some time to push out a new menu item. There is a long journey between the time an idea is formed and when a finished product finally gets put into the display case. It takes experimenting and re-experimenting, changes after changes, giving up then being picked back up again, tasting and reevaluating to finally be satisfactory.

It’s hard to say where inspirations come from, though the basis is generally French techniques and Asian flavors. But some of our best selling items are actually very personal recipes from home. My wife plays a huge role in the filtering process of what ends up on the menu. She was the one that gave me the confidence to sell our cream puffs despite it being such a simple item that I used to make for her as treats.

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– What would you tell someone who is looking into starting a career or business in pastry?

I would say, make sure you’re ready to devote 95% of your life into this business. Brush aside all other priorities for this commitment, and make sure that people around you understand. There are so many details that I wish someone had told me about, but every business differs. I mean things like which brand appliance is better than another. Or warnings like, never use this design company for your display case. It was one of my biggest investments I’ve made that turned into my currently biggest headache with all its malfunctions and the manufacturer’s negligence.

– What are your dreams for the future?

My dream isn’t very vast. I’m just constantly reminding myself not to take the current progress for granted, and that I still need to work hard to maintain and improve the good qualities that brought us the well acceptance. If fortunate enough, perhaps Bibble & Sip will one day have other locations!

Bibble & Sip
Bakery cafe
253 W 51 St New York, NY 10019
(646) 649-5116
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