ICC Alum Hosts Wine Business + Tasting Afternoon

By Rachel Lintott
ICC’s Associate Wine Director
Certified Sommelier

Each with a flute of pink bubbles in hand, ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training students all sat down at the long, wooden table in CooperVino’s private dining room/education salon. “I’m going to ask you all to guess what this is. You’ll never guess what it is,” exclaimed owner Michele Snock as she graciously greeted the class. A 2009 Intensive Sommelier Training graduate herself, Snock is now the owner of the recently opened wine bar and retail space in the new downtown Cupertino.

You see, it’s nearly impossible for a group of wine geeks NOT to challenge one another when it comes to blind tasting. It’s just too much fun, plus you might find yourself (as we did) sipping on something quite delicious.

icc_coopervino

Snock, a member of ICC’s Professional Advisory Committee (a group of professionals that help guide the school on industry trends, program improvements, etc.) invited the class to come in for a lesson on opening a business. Specifically, the path she took from corporate Silicon Valley, to becoming a Certified Sommelier, to opening and running a small wine business and what she’s learned along the way.

A few (not all) tips from Michele on opening a successful wine bar:

  • Love customer service and be gracious.
  • You don’t have to know everything. When hiring your staff, look for people with qualities and knowledge that you don’t have. Let them help you and learn from them.
  • You need extensive wine knowledge (ahem, I know where you can get that!).
  • Differentiate yourself.

After her presentation and ample discussion on the business of wine, a flight of Italian whites was presented. The students are at the beginning of the program — France — so it was a great glimpse at what’s to come. A floral 2014 Ippolito 1845 Ciro Bianco (100% Greco Bianco from Calabria), a refreshing 2014 Poggio del Gorleri Vermentino (from Liguria), and an exotic orange wine: 2009 Primosic Ribolla di Oslavia (100% Ribolla Gialla from Collio).

icc_coopervino_wine

And, the sparkling rose? Well the predominant minerality led the students to the Old World, but once France was crossed off the list there were some far-fetched guesses. Finally, she revealed to us that the wine was from Sicily — Nerello-Mascalese made in the metodo classico: 2011 Murgo Brut Rosé.

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Snock’s dedication and perseverance are apparent at CooperVino. Carefully selected wines, ambience, customer service and education intertwine to create an enjoyable and fun experience. Thank you Michele, for taking the time to support our students by sharing your knowledge, experience, hospitality and wine!

– Rachel

Be Fast. Be Fine.

By Yanling He
Professional Pastry Arts student
in Campbell, CA

“We must cultivate our garden.” — Voltaire

Five years ago I was on a road to become an engineer.

I graduated from university with Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering degrees and easily landed a job in a software company due to the high demand in tech industry. But then I started wondering what was waiting for me ahead: working 9 to 5 to build someone else’s dream while being just a bolt, a high salaried bolt…?

“Do I really want this?” I asked myself. “What will I do with this money? Get more food? Clothes? Entertainment?” I found myself thinking about Edward Norton and his famous saying, “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”

I decided to get off this road and to take my time to understand myself. I started traveling to the national parks, alone with my camera. Driving countless hours, walking countless miles and shooting countless photos.

national_parks

Every time I looked through the view finder and played with light, colors and composition, I remembered how I used to draw, paint and craft my imaginary world back when I was a little girl. I love painting, photography, computer graphics and all sorts of art, but I never pursued any of it seriously. I love expressing myself way more than advertising or selling myself, but I don’t know how I to live my life by just doing art.

art_student

One day I arrived in a small town far north in Washington. It was so unlike any big city with their famous shops and chain restaurants. Every shop in this town was unique. There was the best organized bookstore I’ve ever seen and the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted. I was surprised by the town’s slow and fine lifestyle. It made me realize that if we just hurry in life and chase the wrong things, we’ll neither be satisfied nor enjoy our lives. If people never think about what they eat, they’ll also never think about what they fill their minds with, – this is why doing art is hard.

library

I decided to start learning art, BUT, culinary art! The most basic and best applied art. I enrolled into the International Culinary Center’s Professional Pastry Arts program. I find it very relaxing and simple, and it feels like meditation. I might not necessarily be interested in the techniques as much as figuring myself out while doing the things I love.

pastry_student

I have no idea where this road is taking me, how long or how hard it’s going to be, but I am enjoying every moment of it. I know there must be people with similar feelings. Some of us take steps, while others hold back. I decided to write for ICC’s blog and share my own stories as well as those of my friends and people with passion and love for food, art and life. Let’s put more nutrients in our bodies and minds!

Yanling
Website // Instagram // Medium

art_cookies

Seared Scallops with Grapefruit Beurre Blanc

By Deniece Vella
2013 Professional Culinary Arts Graduate

With this elegant sauce, scallops that could make a very mediocre dish are instantly transformed into a restaurant-style dish.

Seared Scallops with Grapefruit Beurre Blanc

Serves 4

For the Grapefruit Beurre Banc

    1 shallot, diced
    ½ cup white wine
    ¼ cup white wine vinegar
    ¼ cup fresh grapefruit juice
    ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
    1 cup very cold unsalted butter, chopped into 1 inch cubes
    1 tablespoon cream
    Kosher salt

For the Scallops:

    16 bay scallops
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 sprig thyme
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. For the sauce, combine the shallot, white wine, white wine vinegar, grapefruit juice and lemon juice in a pot. Over high heat, reduce this mixture until about 2 tablespoons of syrupy liquid remain. Now over low heat, vigorously whisk in 1 cube of cold butter at a time. It will take about 5-8 minutes to incorporate all the butter. Finish by whisking in the cream and season with kosher salt. Keep warm before serving.

2. To cook the scallops, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Season the scallops with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the scallops to the hot skillet and allow them to brown on one side, undisturbed, for about 2 minutes. Flip the scallops and add the butter and thyme. Cook for another 2 minutes. Discard the thyme.

3. Serve seared scallops alongside beurre blanc sauce.

3

Pursue what you love

By Julia Johnson,
Professional Culinary Arts student

Respond to every call that excites your spirit. – Rumi

It’s hard to pinpoint a defining moment that began my love affair with food. It seems to be more of a compilation of many moments that led me from a teaching job, to a corporate position working for a celebrity chef, and then ultimately, to pursue my passion in earnest at International Culinary Center. In life, I’ve found, our paths aren’t as straight and defined as we often expect them to be.

international_culinary_center

Food has always been a hobby of mine – I’ve long enjoyed cooking for family, hosting friends for dinner parties, and blogging about my recipes. Cooking for a living, however, was always a dream – something that was fun to think about, but for various reasons, I never thought could be my reality. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I felt the call to leave my inhibitions behind and just go for it.

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It has been a little over a month since I started the Professional Culinary Arts Program at ICC. To say the program has exceeded my expectations is a vast understatement. I spend my days with 16 classmates from all over the world and we have already cooked our way through countless dishes at the direction of accomplished and inspiring chefs. Each of us has our own story, and a unique path that brought us to this point, but we are also bound by the same passion and a drive to pursue what we love. Food unites us all.

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I feel both privileged and honored to be writing for ICC, and look forward to sharing seasonal recipes that highlight the techniques I’m learning in class. Whether you are a chef, current student, alum of the school, or just love good food, I hope these recipes will inspire you in your own kitchen.

– Julia
Blog // Instagram

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Q&A with Tam Trinh of Sugarlips Cakes

Originally from California, Tam realized at an early age that she had a great passion for both art and baking. With her desire to bring both of these passions together, she found her ultimate passion in patisserie. Sugarlips Cakes was started in September 2012, when Tam moved to The Netherlands, for love, and started the company with her (now) husband, Luc.

Current job: Owner and Cake Artist at Sugarlips Cakes (Utrecht, the Netherlands)

Hometown: Newport Beach, California

Course of study: Classic Pastry Arts

Graduation year: 2011

One food/beverage you can’t live without: Shockingly, not a dessert, though it comes in a very close second. But I cannot live without red meat!

Describe your culinary POV in three words: Less is more.

Best meal of all time: FG Restaurant (Rotterdam, NL), 2 Michelin Stars. The dessert was so inspiring that I ended up ordering a second dessert just to taste more of their creative combinations. I asked them to go as crazy as possible and surprise me, and in the end it included vanilla ice cream with caramelized macadamia nuts, blue label olive oil, and liver. It was absolutely delicious and so inventive!

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What were you doing before you attended International Culinary Center?

I was actually studying studio arts at the University of California, Irvine. It wasn’t really what I wanted to do in life, but I did it to make my parents happy and to have a back-up. I always knew I wanted to do something more towards a creative path, and pushed myself to graduate a year early so I could immediately enroll in ICC.

How did you choose your specialty?

Though I loved everything that I learned in my time at ICC, when we got to the cake curriculum, I knew I was at home. I absolutely loved making and decorating cakes, and once Ron Ben-Israel came to teach our class, I was sure this was what I wanted to do with my life. I have always loved details and small handwork, and this was where I could incorporate that into what I love.

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Why did you choose International Culinary Center?

I did a lot of research on different culinary schools and ICC kept coming up as the best and most well rounded. I really knew I didn’t want to spend a lot of time in school anymore, and the fact that ICC had an intensive course, sounded perfect to me. The caliber of chefs also greatly appealed to me, as everyone seemed to come from a very experienced background. The last big draw was that it was located right in the heart of New York City!

How did you enjoy attending school in New York City? Did you find the energy of the city and its culinary scene enhanced your experience?

New York is truly the best place to learn about food. There are so many influences and you can literally find anything you want in the city. The energy gives you a certain drive which makes you feel like you want to do even more and perform even better and my time in NY got even better with the experience of all the chefs at school and their tips on where to find the best pastries and restaurants. I really think that is you can survive this industry in New York, you should be able to blossom anywhere else.

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Did you have goals upon graduation?

I always knew that I wanted to own my own cake shop. I didn’t know how it would be possible or when/where, but I did know I needed more experience first. I interned at Sugar Flower Cake Shop in New York and then further went on to work in California at It’s All About the Cake. When my long distance relationship with my then boyfriend (now husband) took me all the way to The Netherlands, I decided it was time to go for it!

How did International Culinary Center contribute to achieving those goals?

The knowledge I gained about pastries made me very well rounded and the training I received taught me to work in an organized and quick way. I now own my own cake shop in the Netherlands with my husband, and after being open for only two years we were awarded with the Dutch Wedding Award for Best Wedding Cake Specialist in the Netherlands! Now, in our third year we have gathered a great team around us and will be creating 200 wedding cakes this year. We also have very big plans for the upcoming year, but can’t quite disclose that information yet!

Find Sugarlips Cakes online:

Website // Instagram // Facebook

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Play with you food: Spiced Creamsicle Macarons

By Nick Wuest,
ICC Pastry Arts student

(read more about Nick)
Follow Nick on Instagram

To quote “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, “WOO!”

Flair_
Photo via business2community.com

Not long after my last post I did a trail at Marc Forgione’s American Cut that immediately turned into a job. I did my first two shifts as a pastry cook last week and could not be happier. It’s still a bit insane to me to compare my current situation with where I was a year ago as I weighed the decision to leave a great job for this career. So to the ICC and chefs that have taught me so much and prepared me so well I say thank you, thank you, thank you.

Despite the extra shot of crazy I just injected into my life I couldn’t stay off the blog for too long. This is a simple recipe and I know it uses techniques I’ve already demonstrated, for that I apologize. Just think of it as a warm-up for the coming weeks.

Special Equipment

  • Stand mixer with whisk
  • Instant read or candy thermometer
  • Silicone baking mat or parchment paper
  • Chinois (fine mesh strainer)

Vanilla Macaron Cookies (589g)

  • 150g almond flour
  • 150g confectioners sugar (10x or sifted)
  • 120g egg whites, divided 80g/40g
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 167g sugar

Combine the almond flour and confectioners sugar in a food processor and pulse until fine. Transfer to a large bowl.

Wet the sugar in a small saucepan until it resembles wet sand. Heat to a boil, once boiling begin whipping 80g of egg whites with the tartar and salt. When the sugar hits 240F and the eggs are foamy stream the syrup into the bowl. Continue to whip at medium-high to stiff peaks. In the meantime combine 40g of egg whites with the dry mixture to form a thick and slightly sandy paste.

macaron_Paste

Fold a small amount of meringue into the paste to lighten it then gently fold the rest in. Continue to fold the batter until it falls in a slow “stubborn” (by this I mean at times it won’t fall) ribbon from the spatula and develops a glossy surface when not disturbed.

Pipe rounds in the desired size on a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Bang the pan on the counter to even out the rounds. Place them in a drafty area and let them sit until a filmy crust develops. Preheat the oven to 325F.

macaron_Piped

Bake the macarons for 10-14 minutes until barely golden around the bottom edge. Cool them in the pan completely.

Spiced Orange Ganache

  • 85g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 35g semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 55g unsalted butter, small cubes
  • 125g heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp orange zest
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp Cointreau

Combine the chocolates and butter in a heatproof bowl.

Bring the cream, zest, and spices to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and steep for 10 minutes. Return to a boil and strain through a chinois over the chocolate, let it sit for 5 minutes. Add the Cointreau.

Gently stir with a small rubber spatula from the center until the mixture begins to emulsify then continue to stir until it is completely combined. Cool the mixture at room temperature until firm (like pudding).

macaron_Ganache

Assembly

Make a macaron sandwich, taste said sandwich. If it tastes good, keep it up. If it doesn’t, use more or less ganache. Got it? Good.

macaron_Done

I have a mental thing I’ve picked up since starting school. It’s weird, but pastry chefs are weird. I’m weird. If you can’t see that by now then you aren’t very observant. Each day before beginning my work I repeat in my head one of my favorite movie lines, “Gentlemen, what are your intentions?”, said by Tom Hanks in Apollo 13. If I can’t answer it with a clear idea then I know I need to rethink my day until I can.

At this moment it is my intention to continue to write as often as possible while working. Service is hard. Long hours, hot kitchen, no chairs. I do get to eat the ice cream though, so I still feel like I’m coming out ahead. I have no idea what this will do to the content of this blog since I’m basically losing a night of production for weekend projects.

As much as I had to learn how to do this (fairly) well back in June I find myself having to learn it all over again. I’m excited to find the balance and to also relate things I learn as a professional. I hope you stick around.

Stay hungry,

Nick

Library Notes // Food Writing

By Sara Medlicott,
ICC Librarian

“It will be about eating and about what to eat and about people who eat. And I shall do gymnastics by trying to fall between the three fires or by straddling them all,” so said M.F.K. Fisher about her first book, Serve It Forth. The same could be said about almost all food writing, it takes a particular talent to do those literary gymnastics. In honor of our Food Writing class with ICC Dean of Food Journalism and Media Studies Alan Richman, this month’s Library Notes is dedicated to some of the great food writing housed in the ICC Library.

Fisher

The best pieces of food writing will cover not only the actual food but place it in a cultural context. It’s important to remember that food writing is not a genre but a topic and can include cookbooks, memoirs, journalism and sometimes even fiction. The term “food writing” only came into use in the mid-nineties and is still not included in the Oxford English Dictionary. With that vague and broad definition, where is the food reader to start?

For a thorough overview, the library has the Best Food Writing volumes dating back to 2001. Editor Holly Hughes scours magazines, books and websites to find outstanding essays on a broad range of styles and topics each year. Covering a wide range of topics from Home Cooking to Extreme Eating, each book provides a great overview of the year in food. This book is great for a commute read too, the selections are bite sized.

Best of food writing

If you are looking for a critic’s perspective, Dean Alan Richman’s book Fork It Over covers the ins and outs of working as a “professional eater.” The essays contained span the entire globe and are divided up into courses and palate cleansers. This is a must read for anyone in the Food Writing Class, or anyone who is considering taking it in the future.

Alan Richman Food Writing Class ICC

Many of my favorite selections in this category are memoirs. A good food memoir marks major events in the life of the author with tastes or meals. Many include recipes for the reader to attempt. While our library has food memoirs written by people from all walks of life, the two I’m highlighting here are both focused on professional kitchens.

Our alum Lauren Shockey decided to apprentice around the world after completing her education at International Culinary Center. She started at wd~50 in New York City, from there she traveled to Vietnam, Israel and France. In Four Kitchens, Lauren divulges the secrets of working in upscale restaurants around the word as well as her interpretation of the recipes she cooked at each one.

Food Writing resources

Another perspective on the professional kitchen is the memoir by ICC Dean Jacques Pépin, The Apprentice. This book has been a “staff pick” multiple times from many different ICC employees because it offers a glimpse into what the industry used to be like and tells his unique story in a very approachable way. The Apprentice also includes recipes.

Whether you like short essays or a long narrative, if you love food writing, we have something for you in the ICC Library. These and many more are all available for circulation. Stop by and pick something up for a little inspiration.

Be sure to follow the library on Twitter @intlcullibrary where you will see updates when everything new arrives!

Play with your food: Ode To (Late) Summer

By Nick Wuest,
ICC Pastry Arts student
(read more about Nick)

Did you miss me? To say I’ve been busy would be an understatement.

Two weeks ago I did this:

Pirate Ship Chocolate Showpiece

Then a few days later I did this:

James Beard Foundation International Culinary CenterJames Beard House Dinner

And a few days after that I did this:

World Wrestling Entertainment cake

I’m more than halfway through my pastry program at ICC and find myself pushing even harder to find a ceiling I’m beginning to think does not exist. Projects have gotten very ambitious and thus more time-consuming. So whether you missed me or not, I missed you and writing for this blog.

With Labor Day coming up along with the one-year anniversary of my Frozen S’mores I decided to reinvent them as a plated dessert. It’s early apple season, and Union Square is packed with beautiful apples just hours off the tree.

Union Square Market Apples

Combining those, some bourbon, and the S’more, I think of this plate as a farewell to summer on the last BBQ holiday of the season and a welcome to the dawning fall. And in the spirit of summer we get to blow stuff up one more time.

Special Equipment:

  • Stand mixer with whisk and paddle
  • Ice cream maker
  • Food processor
  • Cedar sheets, soaked for 20m before use
  • Propane torch

The recipes for the graham crumble and the ice cream can be found in the original Frozen S’more post so I won’t waste space retyping it here.

BOUCHON BROWNIE

This formula is from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery. I simply scaled it up 25% and baked it in a different mold than the “bouchon” created by the bakery.

  • 178g unsalted butter, divided 100g/78g
  • 63g all-purpose flour
  • 63g Dutch unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8t salt
  • 95g whole egg
  • 203g sugar
  • 1/2tsp vanilla paste
  • 141g semi-sweet chocolate chips

Sift the flour and cocoa powder, set aside.

Melt 100g butter, place the rest in a heat proof bowl. Pour the hot butter into the bowl and allow it all to mostly melt with a few small pieces remaining.

In the stand mixer whisk egg, sugar, and vanilla to combine well. Alternate adding the butter and dry ingredients until all are fully combined, scarping the bowl as needed to ensure proper mixing. Fold in the chocolate chips. Cover the batter and let it rest for 90 min in a cool spot (don’t chill it). At this point the batter can be chilled for up to 2 days but must be brought back to room temperature before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Lightly grease the molds/pans with melted butter and pipe the batter in. Bake the brownies 20-30 min until a tester comes out clean (test more than one spot in case you touch a melted chip). Cool the brownies for 10 min in the mold, then unmold and cool completely on a rack.

Keep the brownies wrapped airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days.

BROWN BUTTER-BOURBON APPLES

  • 3 apples, firm for cooking, peeled, ½” thick rings with the core removed
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 40g sugar
  • 25g bourbon

Heat the butter in a pan (preferably over an open flame). Add the apples in an even layer and cook, turning once for about 4 min until the butter starts to brown. Add the sugar to each side and cook for another 2 min. Remove the pan from the heat, add the bourbon all at once. Tip the pan over the flame to ignite the steam and flambé the apples until the flames recede. (If you don’t have access to an open flame use a long lighter to ignite the bourbon).

Remove the apples from the pan to another plate and use as soon as possible.

ASSEMBLY

Wrap the brownie in a cedar sheet, and while holding it with a pair of tongs hit it with the torch to warm it slightly and impart some smoke flavor. Unwrap the brownie and place it on the plate. Fill the trench with crumble. Arrange a warm apple slice next to it and spoon a quenelle of ice cream on top of the apple slice.

Smore plated dessert

I have to say it’s good to be back. Those two weeks away from writing felt like an eternity. Thanks for reading.

Stay hungry.

Nick

Food as art (and architecture): Top 10 pastry feats by Jansen Chan

ICC’s Director of Pastry Arts Jansen Chan engineers a marshmallow ski lift, hangs 4,000 cream puffs upside down and makes cookies strut down a fashion runway. He loves a good challenge.

Originally from Northern California, Jansen Chan began his career as an architect, but quickly found himself unfulfilled by the slow pace with which construction projects took shape. Heeding a lifelong love of baking, he moved to Paris and earned a pâtisserie diploma, then mastered the craft of baking and pastry, progressively getting jobs in more and more prestigious San Francisco, Las Vegas and New York City restaurants. His desserts have been featured in high-profile media including Food Network, Food & Wine and Art Culinaire. He joined The International Culinary Center as Director of Pastry Arts in 2012.

Find out where the ambitious and passionate pastry architect finds his inspiration and channels his creativity:

Was there anything that you thought you wanted to do before you found yourself in pastry?

JC: Architecture will always be my first love. It was apparent that I had a drive for both pastry and design in my youth. In my free time as a kid, I grew up playing LEGO, while watching Saturday morning cooking shows on PBS. The two concepts probably fused because I really have found myself doing the same thing as an adult.

I chose architecture as my first profession mostly because it was a feasible career path, and I really enjoyed the creativity in design. Being an architect taught me discipline in processes and critical thinking for artistic challenges. But luckily, my passion for baking and pastry only grew deeper and I found myself dedicating all my energy to it. Going to culinary school and working in diverse kitchens cemented my life in pastry.

How do you come up with ideas?

JC: Ideas are a mix of inspiration and natural conditions. Inspiration comes from all walks of life: a museum piece, a design on a fabric, or even a mention of a word – and creates a chain-reaction of possibilities in my head. This is tempered by the parameters of reality, which isn’t necessarily bad. By understanding the medium (chocolate, sugar, etc.) and the physical conditions and limitations, I can create a dialogue with the idea to develop something unique. Generally, I find ideas that challenge me most attractive because a little bit of fear is a good thing.

What is your most memorable project?

JC: Every big project creates memories. The season finale of Food Network’s Halloween Wars, Season One, had the added pressure of being on TV and the marathon effort of filming two weeks of challenges; those were outside conditions and not actually part of the project.

A more recent memorable project was probably the Upside-down Croquembouche for the L’Occitane store. The concept was to do a modern spin on a French classic. The Croquembouche, which is a pyramid of cream puffs held together by caramel, is a classic French celebration cake. I wanted to create a life-size (six feet!) version, that hung upside down and lit up from within.

The project required precise engineering (a light foam core infrastructure that held lights), 4,000 cream puffs, hot caramel, hundreds of sugar paste leaves and a pastillage base (er, rather crown) – all to be held by two high-strength clear wires. The scariest part was that the entire showpiece was put together in a traditional conical form, only to be flipped upside-down onsite and latched on to a ceiling hook. Surprisingly, the flip was quick and painless – due much to good planning and helpful chef and student assistants.

How have your desserts evolved over the years, and who or what had the most influence on you?

JC: When I first started cooking and learning about baking and pastries, I was obsessed with the individual components of the plate. I wanted to learn each technique and each recipe, whether it be a decoration or a baked product.

Turns out, the harder part was the composition of the plate. I took time for me to understand that creating a dynamic and visually interesting dessert is where the true challenge lies. Mastering techniques is a requirement, no doubt, but the most irresistable dishes are the ones that go beyond that and take a diner for an experience.

All of my chefs that I have worked for have taught me something that has aided to being the chef I am today. The last pastry chef that I worked for, Sandro Micheli, gave me the discipline and confidence to be my own pastry chef.

Do you think creativity is a natural talent, or is it something anyone can learn?

JC: I think creativity is not learned, but rather cultivated from within. Everybody has some creative talent. It may come in different forms – some are less visual and more conceptual. Most adults don’t develop their creative side enough because they have less opportunities to exercise that part of them. People assume creativity is one thing, when in reality, it can be anything that you produce, construct, generate, foster, or imagine, and then share. One of our big goals for the ICC Pastry Arts program is to help students tap into their own creativity.

What are you currently working on?

JC: My latest scheme is to create a beautiful pastillage showpiece that also functions as a marble run. Rather than merely suggest movement in this artistic piece, an actual marble will run from top to bottom within the showpiece. This will make for an engaging and interactive showpiece that clearly demonstrates how engineering and sugar can come together.

Right now, my inspiration is to connect with the audience. I found it challenging in this time of technology to hold the attention of an average person. A simple way to do this is to have an approachable and relatable aspect that connects with the audience. Another project I’m fascinated by is deep-fried wedding cake… more to come!

[Update: see Jansen’s Sugar Marble Run on YouTube]

Sugar-Marble-Run_chan

10 inspiring, dynamic and creative pastry constructions by ICC Director of Pastry Arts Jansen Chan

Upside-down Croquembouche (L’Occitane Project 2014)

L'Occitane-Verbena-2014_chan

Chocolate Eiffel Tower (Food Network Challenge – Chocolate Landmarks 2008)

FWChallenge-Eiffel_chan

Gingerbread Street Scene (ICC Dec. 2013) w/ Moving Streetcar

Gingerbread Lighthouse 2010 (Oceana, Dec 2010)

lighthouse_chan

Gingerbread Ski Chalet 2014 (ICC Dec 2014)

Gingerbread House ICC

Cookie Couture (ICC Feb. 2015)

Adler Wedding Cake (Sept 2011)

adler-cake_chan
Photo by Tina Doshi/KSD Weddings

Chocolate Custard Brownie Dessert (Oceana, 2008-2012)

brownie_oceana
Photo by Paul Johnson/Oceana

Fruit and Vegetable Empire State Building (March 2014)

empire_chan

Gingerbread House (Food Network Halloween Wars, Episode One, Season One)

halloween_chan
Photo via Food Network

Grad Meets Grill

Photo via FoodNetwork.com

ICC alumna Angie Mar is the new “Chopped Grill Masters” grand champion!

She found her competitive voice during the tournament and let her food do the talking for her, cooking by relying on her gut despite at times hearing comments from the judges that would have discouraged less confident chefs. Certain basket ingredients almost threw her for a loop, like the rattlesnake in the appetizer round and the kokoretsi in the entree round, but she didn’t let that dictate the way things would turn out. Going into the dessert round alongside Stan, she was more determined than ever to show off her control of flavor in her final dish. And in the end she earned the title of Grand Champion, leaving with the $50,000 prize money and knowing that her plates got her to the finish line.

Read Angie’s interview on the FoodNetwork Blog.

More than 50 ICC alumni have competed on Chopped over the years

ICC graduates come well-prepared for the challenges presented by Food Network’s Chopped kitchen. Chopped is a cooking competition show where four chefs have seconds to plan and 30 minutes to cook an amazing course with the basket of mystery ingredients given to them moments before the clock starts ticking! Course by course, the chefs will be “chopped” from the competition. Chopped is a game of passion, expertise and skill — and in the end, only one chef will survive the Chopping Block.

Participating ICC graduates included Antonia Lofaso, Chris Nirschel, Kat Ploszaj, Andre Marrero, Elisabeth Weinberg, Helen Park, Hugh Mangum, Jason Khaytin, Palak Patel, Rachel Willen, Ruth Cimaroli, Vandy Vanderwarker, Kyle Bernstein, Zoe Feigenbaum, and many more.

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rachel
Photo via Food Fix Kitchen
palak
Photo via ChefPalakPatel.com