Italian Experience: Externship Assignments

By Lauren Fuschillo, ICC Italian Culinary Arts student.
(Read Part 5 here)

Yesterday was a long, long day. It was great but very long. We had an excellent demonstration from Chef Gaetano Trovato from Arnolfo restaurant in Siena. The dishes were amazing and the chef had a great philosophy on cooking and cuisine, but let me tell you why it was a long day!

Yesterday we were all awaiting big news. Do you know that feeling when you’re about to hear important information? Or that feeling when your heart is beating a fafillion (that’s a made up number but think “huge”) times a minute and your stomach feels like it’s on a roller coaster? Imagine feeling like that ALL.DAY.LONG.

We were waiting for our stage assignments to be announced.

The demonstration came to a conclusion at 5PM. So, for an hour I paced back and forth through the courtyard, along with my classmates who were chain smoking, nervously biting their nails and, naturally, drinking espresso which didn’t help our anxiousness. I even called my mom!

Maybe it’s silly we were so nervous but it’s a pretty big deal. We were waiting to find out where we’ll be moving in two weeks, who we’ll work under for 2-5 months and at what restaurant. That’s kind of a big deal because it’s a major life change – especially because we’ll be parting ways and going out on our own, out of the classroom.

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Not only was I nervous to find out where I was being assigned but I was a little sad to be leaving my friends. The day before, I was sitting with my classmates on our way to the American Chef’s Rally at the Expo. I looked over at Schaffer bopping his head to his music; Viscaino talking with Michael; Andrea was all snuggled up under a blanket, and Jason and I were chatting about how crazy it is that we’re going to be leaving in just two weeks.

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I’m going to miss Andrea saying it’s too cold and having to turn down the AC even though I’m sweating profusely. I’m going to miss my cigarette breaks with Marianne, where we talk about everything under the sun. I hate being touched, but believe it or not, I’m going to miss Benito giving me a hug and a kiss every morning. I will really miss that! I’m going to miss Giuseppe. I’ve gotten so used to spending almost 24 hours a day with him for the last few months. I’m going to miss my chats with Michael. I’m going to miss everything about Sara: her humor, her smile, her voice, even her complaints, but most of all – her good heart. I’m going to miss my rocks…Jason, my older brother and my little brother, Mikey.

I’m going to miss all these people along with the friends I’ve made upon reaching ALMA. Thank you Rachelle, Karny, Ian, Kai, my darlings Chaitanya and Andres, my little sister; Caroline, Vlad, Tatiana, Ceren, Nacho, Dianaa, Monica, Adriana and all of our amazing teachers, especially Michele Crippa! I’m going to miss all of you and I am so grateful for our time together. You’ve taught me so much and you’re all so inspiring. Thank you. I adore you.

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However, goodbyes must happen because we have greater things in store for us. Our future starts now and we’re about to embark on the last part of this educational journey… our stages. Even though we’ll all be separated, we will all share this special bond forever.

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Finally, at 6PM I saw Chef Giovanni Ciresa making his way over to the auditorium. We all ran back inside and found our seats. We were sweating (not Andrea), we were breathing heavily but we were excited! It felt like we were in high school and waiting to find out our SAT scores all over again.

They announced each assignment one by one, accompanying the announcement with a photo and map of where each student will be.

externship_assignment

We went in alphabetical order, so I was fifth to hear the news. My stomach was rumbling and my hands were shaking, and then it all stopped. “Lauren Fuschillo will be going to Cagliari, Sardegna to work with Chef Stefano Deidda at Dal Corsaro Restaurant.” AHHHHHHHHHHHH! I wanted to jump up and scream. This is the location I wanted to be in and the restaurant I was hoping I’d work in. I am not just relieved, I am elated.

A huge thank you to Chef Giovanni Cerasa, Chef Bruno Ruffini, Chef Guido Magnaguagno and all of the teachers and administrators at both ALMA and ICC for my stage assignment. I couldn’t be more grateful and I am so excited for the next leg of this amazing journey!

Lauren

Play with your food: Linzer Cones

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

A moment in the thought process of an ice cream obsessed pastry cook:

“This (insert any food) is delicious! I must freeze it.”

At this current point in my life I basically think in frozen food. There’s something about the creation process I just can’t enough of. I love the challenges inherent in transferring flavors between mediums while adding new textural and temperature dynamics to a dish.

As soon as we finished the Linzer Tart in class and I got to try it, my first reaction was (as stated above) “I must freeze this!” So in honor of National Ice Cream Day (confession – I don’t know when this was but it’s been all over my Instagram since Friday) let’s get started.

I got to do a little demo with this project since two friends donated the berries used in the sherbet and loaned me some extra hands. The best thing about being so good at this is you can just pay your friends with food. Thanks again for the berries and the help, you two!

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Special Equipment

  • Stand mixer w/ paddle attachment
  • Food processor
  • Fine mesh strainer (chinois)
  • Drum strainer (tamis)
  • Ice cream maker
  • Cornet molds

RASPBERRY SHERBET

~1000g or just shy of 2qts when frozen

I recently visited Jaques Torres’ chocolate factory in Brooklyn and while there had some of the very best raspberry sorbet I’ve ever had in my life. I knew from that first bite that any frozen raspberry thing I make moving forward would be held to that standard. I believe I have done it justice.

  • 560g raspberries
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 275g superfine sugar (run granulated through a food processor for ~30s)
  • 20g-25g agave nectar (to taste)
  • 200g milk
  • 60g heavy cream

Bring the berries, citrus juice, and sugar to a boil and cook until very soft.

Sherbet Berries

Puree in the food processor until very smooth. Pulse in agave and dairy to blend.
Taste and adjust sweetness as desired with more sugar and/or agave (remember sweetness diminishes during freezing).

Strain through fine mesh strainer into an ice bath to cool down.

Sherbet Straining

Once cool, process in an ice cream maker until soft serve, then freeze until ready to use.

LINZER CONES

800g or 12 cones

This is the exact recipe used in class and it took my mad science approach to assembling the cones like a champ. It’s best if the dough is not too cold since you’ll need it pretty malleable to roll.

  • 6 hard boiled egg yolks
  • 300g pastry (or cake) flour
  • 50g hazelnut flour
  • 2t cinnamon
  • 1/8t ground cloves
  • 3/4t salt
  • 280g butter, room temperature cubes
  • 50g powdered sugar, sifted
  • 15g rum

Pass the yolks through the tamis to form a very fine crumble.

Linzer Yolks

Sift the flours, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the yolks and the rum.
Add the DRY ingredients in several additions to just combine. Form the dough into a square, wrap it in plastic and chill it for at least 60 min.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Spray the cornets with nonstick and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Roll the dough about 16”x16” and about ¼” thick. Cut approximately ½” strips. Lightly brush a strip with egg wash and wrap it (egg side in) around a cornet, brush the outside with egg wash, place the cone seam side down (where the strip ends at the top) on the pan. Roll the rest the same way.

Cone Shaping

Bake the cones for about 30 min, rolling them every 10 min to ensure even browning. Remove and cool them on the pan and the molds fully before removing.

Cone Baked 3linzer_cones_baked

 

CANDIED ALMONDS

I challenge you to eat less than half before assembling the cones.

  • 100g sliced almonds
  • 75g simple syrup

Crush the almonds slightly and toss them with the simple syrup. Spread them out evenly on a parchment-lined pan.

Candied_Almonds1Candied_Almonds2

Toast the almonds at 350F until golden brown. Cool completely.

 

ASSEMBLY

Seeing as how you navigated to this website and read all the way down here I feel I can safely assume that you know how to assemble an ice cream cone. However, let me say that I found it much easier to use a piping bag with a plain #805 Ateco tip to fill the cones. It keeps any sherbet from ending up on the sides and you know it’s all about looks. (Please refrain from licking your screen – it’s gross)

Finished Cone 1Finished Cone 2

That’s a wrap on the Linzer Cone. I hope you enjoyed reading. Now get out of here, go to a farmers’ market for some raspberries while they’re in season, and make that sherbet! Seriously, beat it. But before you go:

Stay hungry.

Nick

See also:

Italian Experience: EXPO Milan 2015

By Lauren Fuschillo, ICC Italian Culinary Arts student.
(Read Part 4 here)

Last week I had the utmost pleasure of visiting the EXPO in Milan. Can you believe it? The one time I just so happen to be living in Milan, they’re having the World’s Fair? I may have lost love in NYC, hurt my leg in Indonesia and had my belongings stolen from me in Apulia, but damn, I’ve still got good luck!

EXPO 2015 is the current Universal Exposition, and as I mentioned, is being hosted by Milan, Italy. The opening took place on May 1st, 2015 at 10:00 am and the expo will close on October 31st, 2015. Fun fact – this is the second time Milan has hosted the exposition, the first being the Milan International in 1906.

This time around there are 145 countries participating and the theme is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. It is a grand celebration of slow food, local agriculture and healthy eating sustained by energy saving methods.

Some say that Expo 2015 has been one of the most controversial World’s fairs ever staged in Europe for a number of reasons, some being the ballooned expenditures for the pavilions and transportation. However, I am a tourist; a proud traveling American and I’m here to see the pavilions for fun. I find this to be a fabulous way Italy is using eco-tourism to improve their struggling economy, provide jobs and use this event to their advantage.

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In the morning all of the students meet and hop into the van. I’ve got a comfy seat to myself and pastry in hand, thanks to my bud Mikey (you probably see him on my Instagram on the reg, he’s one of my best friends and pretty soon going to be one of the most amazing chefs around!) We chat, we nap, we jam out and we get ourselves psyched to see one of our favorite teachers, Michele Crippa, and visit the Expo!

We arrive and set our sights on the first pavilion, Japan. It is one of the most talked about pavilions, as it is so grand and absolutely beautiful. The interior took us on a food tour that started in a techy rice paddy and demonstrated how rice is grown. Then we saw what different ingredients are used for and in what dishes they are used, the production, the recipes things are found in and then what the finished product looks like. Okay, they did NOT stop there. Japan went above and beyond and demonstrated what a future restaurant in their country will be like. It was surreal and a part of me doesn’t want to give too much away because it was just that amazing. (yes, you’ve gotta go see it!) But what the heck, peep some photos below. You’re welcome!

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We visited Japan as a class and afterwards we split up to see a few things on our own before meeting home, well, I like to think of it as home. After all, it is the American Pavilion.

My first stop: Indonesia! I had the most incredible of experiences in Indonesia. I could smell the different spices of Bali, the incredible scents coming from the burning incense and I got to enjoy some Indonesian street food, Nasi Goreng. Mmm, I was a very happy camper!

indonesia

Next stop: America! As soon as I walked up the stairs of the American Pavilion I was personally greeted by a lovely woman. I put out my hand to shake hers and she went in for a hug. She was kind and very welcoming. Her name is Dorothy Cann Hamilton. Dorothy, a true “foodie”, was ready to show us what she and her team had created and more importantly, what the U.S. brought to the world with regard to the future of food. She led us to a balcony off to the side of the pavilion and then I looked up in amazement. It was what Dorothy described as a vertical farm. Above us were giant oscillating boards several stories tall that house soil for plants to grow and there were actual plants in those huge planters: everything from kale and chard to all sorts of herbs. It was quite impressive. It only got more interesting as Dorothy explained how this could become the future. These sections could be removed from the partition and be placed on a truck with plants intact and still planted in the soil, so they are fresher longer during transportation.

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Then we made our way to these informative video displays which demonstrated the different aspects of food, like farming industry and nutrition, which delivered an impactful message of the current status and a look towards the future. Afterwards we where whisked downstairs to the main event, which were a clever series of seven short video clips that describe the American food culture’s past, present and future.

Once that was over, we took a short climb up the escalators to the rooftop deck and enjoyed a toast and got to chat with Dorothy, who shared some of her wisdom with the group. Not because I am American or a student of ICC, but I truly believe that the U.S. Pavilion was the best thought out and executed, it maintained the main focus on the Expo theme while at the same time having fun. What a wonderful pavilion and what an honor it was to have Dorothy as our guide!

Directly following our visit, I grabbed a lobster roll and some pulled pork with Marianne, Sara, Andrea and Michael (a few of my ICC besties) and we talked about some of the pavilions we were looking forward to seeing. With all of this excitement building up, I couldn’t help but jump from my seat and go on to the next “country”! I would then visit 10 more pavilions!

I had a map that I used as my guide. I circled all the pavilions I wanted to see and crossed each one as I visited them. I was a girl on a mission.

map

Kuwait was enchanting. The sand drew me in and I was greeted with the beautiful perfumes, spices and traditional garb. Absolutely beautiful and I must say they spent quite the pretty penny on this pavilion because much like Japan, it was extravagant.

Moving on, I didn’t waste time. We were told that the United Arab Emirates was a must see, and I am usually never the one to follow directions, but this was a directive I knew mustn’t be ignored. I walked around this great giant and stood in the makeshift sand dunes and waited in line for 30 minutes. I felt like I was in the actual desert and feared my sweat would soon be staining my clothes. Sexy, right? After the introduction to UAE I walked into the theatre and sat through what seemed like a full blown production. The film told a beautiful story about a young girl in search of water in the desert and then fast forwarding to the future and proving how much we waste water nowadays. Now I felt bad about complaining that my wait felt like a wait in the desert. Awesome A++ pavilion!

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Then I dropped by Belgium, The Netherlands and Thailand. Thailand was breathtaking and full of life. It brought back so many memories for me, especially having green curry chicken and mango with sticky rice! I saw Hungary and watched a musical performance that touched my heart but as the day went on, so did my yearn to snack and I popped over to China for some goodies. On my way out I ran into my friends Mikey and Ian, and we decided to visit Argentina. We went in without any idea of what it would be like and what might unfold before our eyes..or ears. The drums were going and then the beats started flowing.

argentina

There was lots of clapping and a big crowd that kept inching closer and closer to a stage. Yes! The colors were vibrant, the beats-exciting and the dance moves were electrifying and hot, probably as hot as the desert-like-weather that day. They banged on pots and pans; the men spun the women around before dipping them and then pulling them in all close and sexy. There was music coming from bright yellow painted garbage cans and cool blue barrels. These people were playing and dancing their hearts away and I knew I wasn’t the only one in the crowd that wanted to jump on that stage and join them. Downright fantastic pavilion. Mikey, Ian and I definitely won’t be forgetting that any time soon. Thanks Argentina!

A little stop to check out India’s digs, to buy some new incense and get a henna tattoo. Eeek, that tattoo wasn’t drying fast enough and I had to book it to meet my pal (and ICC student), Benito, for some tacos and margs’ at Mexico’s pavilion before we got back to the bus. All of our friends had visited Mexico that day and were ranting and raving about not only the food, but about how cool it was.

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But it was all ‘cool’: grand, majestic, amazing, wondrous, eye opening, and much, much more. What an experience! Thank you, International Culinary Center and ALMA, for sending us to EXPO Milan 2015!

Play with your food: A Quicker Cronut

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

There’s no arguing that Dominique Ansel’s Cronut is a wonderful creation, but man do you need to work for it. Dominique’s At Home Cronut recipe in his debut cookbook takes three days to make and if you live in New York you need to line up down Spring St around or before 6:00 AM to get one. Personally I don’t have the time nor want to do that much to get my hands on one.

The name’s Wuest. I make cronuts for the American workingman, because that’s what I am, and that’s who I care about.

Cronut quick recipe

The past week we’ve been covering Viennoiserie and fermented dough in pastry class and originally I was planning to do a post on the three types of croissant pastries that will appear on my upcoming test. But five entries in now when have you ever seen me pick the easy route? Instead I decided to kill a few birds with one stone. I could get in some practice laminating dough, show up one of my heroes, and do it all start to finish in only a few hours.

This is again all possible through the use of baker’s math and what I’ve learned so far here in the Pastry Arts program. The At Home Cronut uses 2% yeast and multiple 2 hour plus fermentation periods along with 2 overnights in the refrigerator. The formula I used contains 5% yeast, one ~60 minute fermentation period, a ~60 minute final proof, and the addition of a small amount of acid to control the higher amount of yeast.

The end result is a super refreshing treat perfect for a summer day. The pastry is very light with subtle notes of orange. The jam is smooth, sweet, and tart. The Chantilly is good enough to risk attempting to subsist on forever.

Special Equipment

  • Stand mixer with paddle and hook attachments
  • Cooling racks
  • 3 ½” and 1” round cutters
  • Ateco 803/804 star tip
  • Ateco 802/803 plain tip
  • Piping bags

ORANGE CRONUT (4x 3 1/2 “ cronuts)

When working with laminated dough there are a few terms to know:
Beurre pommade is butter that has been conditioned (worked) by hand until it is creamy, solid, cool, and not unlike Vaseline (or pomade).
The détrempe is the dough after it is mixed, the beurrage is the butter block, and the pâton is the sealed package of the beurrage and the détrempe.
The tourage the process of folding the dough to laminate layers.

DRY:

  • 260g bread flour (100%)
  • 31g sugar (12%)
  • 14g instant dry yeast (5%)
  • 55g beurre pommade (21%)
  • 10g orange zest (4%)

WET:

  • 117g water (45%)
  • 8g heavy cream (3%)
  • 13g egg white (5%)
  • 10g fresh orange juice (4%)

3g salt (1%)
125g butter, cold for beurrage (48%)

Paddle all DRY until sandy. Add all WET and mix to just form dough. Gather dough by hand leaving no dry mixture in the bottom of the bowl. Add the salt and knead with hook 3-5 min until smooth and sticky.

Shape into a round and place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, proof at 75-80 degrees about 90 min until doubled in size.

Flatten and roll the ball into an 8”x8” square. Place in the freezer for about 15 minutes until firm but still tender enough to roll. During the last 5 minutes form the beurrage by hammering 125g butter between two sheets of parchment into a 7”x7” square. At this point the beurrage and the détrempe should have a similar texture. Roll the détrempe into a square large enough to fold over the beurrage (should be about 10” square). Enclose the beurrage in the détrempe to form the pâton.

Paton Forming

Roll the pâton vertically into a long rectangle about 3/8” thick. Fold 1/3 down, the other 2/3 up to meet, then fold the whole pâton in half like a book.

*If the dough is still cooperative enough to roll (cool and malleable) then repeat the tourage – if it’s not ready then place it in the freezer for about 10 min before the second tourage. After the second turn roll the dough ½” thick and chill 20 min.

*If you’d like you can freeze the prepared pâton and defrost it when you’re ready to use. Otherwise chill it for 20 min while preparing the jam.

Paton Shaped

CHERRY JAM FILLING

  • 300g cherry purée
  • 76g sugar, divided 38g/38g
  • 6g apple pectin powder
  • 4g lemon juice

Mix 38g sugar with the pectin in a bowl. Bring the puree and 38g of sugar to a boil. Whisk some hot liquid into the pectin and sugar to dissolve. Return to the heat, add the lemon juice, and boil about 3 min, whisking constantly, until thickened. Pour into a plastic lined pan and cool.

COOK & ASSEMBLE

Vegetable oil for frying
Stabilized Bourbon Chantilly, find recipe below
4 whole cherries with stems, washed

Cut out four 3 ½” rounds from the dough with 1” holes, cut as many 1” holes from the remaining dough as you can, placing everything on a parchment lined pan. Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with nonstick and gently lay it on top of the cut cronuts. Proof at 75-80 degrees for about 90 min or until tripled in size.

Final Proof cronutFinal Proof cronut recipeFinal Proof quick cronutCronut Proof

Heat about 2 ½ – 3” of oil to 350 degrees. Fry the cronuts for about 90 seconds per side until deep golden brown. Fry the holes for about 60 seconds, stirring them around to ensure mostly even browning. Drain cooked cronuts on paper towels then place on a rack and cool completely. You’ll know you’ve done a good job when the layers are so defined you can peel them one by one.

Cronut1Cronut2

Once the cronuts are cooled use the star tip to drill 4 holes in the top. Fit a piping bag with the plain tip and fill it with the cooled jam. Fill each hole with jam gently so as not to break through any outer layer. Clean any jam that leaks back out the top.

Cronut HolesJam Filled Cronut

STABILIZED BOURBON CHANTILLY

Place a bowl in the freezer early on so it’s ready for this final stage.

  • 230g heavy cream, very cold
  • 35g powdered sugar
  • 13g bourbon
  • 4g powdered gelatin – bloomed in 15g cold water

Microwave the bloomed gelatin for 10 seconds, set the liquid aside. Whisk the heavy cream, sugar, and bourbon to stiff peaks. Add the warm liquid gelatin and very quickly whisk to incorporate.

Fit a piping bag with the star tip and fill it with the Chantilly. Pipe a decorative design on top of each cronut, covering the filling holes. Top each completed cronut with a cherry.

quick Cronut recipe

The assembled cronuts can be covered or boxed and chilled until ready to serve. They are very refreshing if served cooled like that or you can bring them to room temperature.

Before you serve them I recommend using a serrated knife to carefully cut one in half. Laminated dough is equally as fun as it is terrifying because a cross section will immediately inform you of how well you did. For a first run of a new formula I am floored by the results here. With a little fine-tuning I expect to be able to count every single layer in no time.

Feuilletage cronutCronut Feuilletage

I can’t begin to tell you how pleased I am with this project. I love everything about laminated dough. The importance of proper technique and attention to detail required always make it a fun a challenge and great practice.

I know I say it each week but I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I did creating. It’s been an incredible experience to push myself creatively everyday both at school and at home. Each new thing I learn, big and small, is another thing I need to master and won’t be satisfied until I do. I tell you all to stay hungry at the end of every post. Well I’m starving. Starving for more ways to top myself each week. I have to admit, this one will be the toughest to beat yet.

Stay hungry.

Nick
Blog // Instagram

Farm-to-Table class visits the Union Square Greenmarket

By Sara Medlicott,
ICC Librarian, Farm-to-Table Coordinator

In addition to my library duties, I am the coordinator of our Farm-to-Table program. It’s a personal passion of mine, so taking on this role here at ICC has been a real pleasure.

In case you aren’t familiar, the Farm-to-Table add on includes field trips and a week of training and education at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in addition to our standard culinary curriculum. Our current group of students recently went on one of my favorite field trips, to the Union Square Greenmarket.

Farm-to-table class field trip

I’ve been to the Greenmarket plenty of times, but never experienced it quite like this. We partner with GrowNYC, a sustainability education non-profit, for a tour that adds many layers to the market experience. Our tour guide, Kira Cohen-Milo, was incredibly knowledgeable about the history of the market and perhaps most importantly, she knew all the right questions to ask to get the farmers talking. GrowNYC operates all the Greenmarkets in the city – no small feat considering there are over 50 located in all five boroughs. The Union Square Greenmarket is the flagship and has been operating since 1976! Some of the farmers we met have been selling there from the very beginning.

Farm-to-table Farmers market class

One of those long time farms is Berkshire Berries. We were able to speak with David Graves for quite awhile, who began driving down to the Greenmarket from his farm in Becket Massachusetts in 1978. On offer, he had honeys, jams and jellies. We learned about the changes in bee populations over the years and were able to sample one of his most unique offerings – the dandelion jelly. I guess he didn’t mind opening a fresh jar for our group because he knew it would be a hit and several of us bought jars to take home.

Union Square Greenmarket honey

We also got to meet Stewart Borowsky, who grows wheatgrass and micro greens in Brooklyn. He was busy the whole time we were at his stand, with a wide range of customers. Some bought plants to take home while others just wanted a quick wheatgrass shot. We got to sample sunflower micro greens which were lovely. Stewart has a lot of experience working with chefs so he was able to tell our group a little about how many professional kitchens operate in relation to market vendors.

Wheatgrass Union Square Greenmarketgreenmarket_greens

Kira taught us about the Black Dirt region of New York. The black dirt region is flat flood plain that was once the bottom of a giant shallow lake formed as the ice-age glaciers melted 12,000 years ago. The flat plain is speckled with “islands” – isolated hills rising above the valley floor that once were, in fact, islands. The black dirt itself is a rich, airy soil full of nutrients – perfect for farming. We stopped by S & SO Produce farm, which boasted a whopping 5 tables piled high with vibrant root vegetables. Staff there told us that the nutrient rich soil improves all produce in different ways, lettuce is spicier and beets are sweeter.

Sunflower greens Union Square Market

As a parting gift, Kira passed out really cool local food wheels to the whole group. You can spin it to the current month and see what is in season within 150 miles of New York City. It’s just another of the many amazing things GrowNYC does. Beyond Greenmarkets and education, GrowNYC also build and support community garden and organize recycling events.

GrowNYC Food Wheel

Would you like to read more about Greenmarkets? Not sure what to do with your Greenmarket produce? Here are a few recommended resources available in the International Culinary Center Library:

  • The New Greenmarket Cookbook by Gabrielle Langholtz is sponsored by GrowNYC and tells the whole origin story of the markets with profiles of farmers and seasonally sorted recipes from a wide range of New York chefs and food writers including Ruth Reichel and ICC alums Jennifer King and Dan Barber. It also includes great suggestions for those who are new to the market shopping experience.
  • The Greenmarket Cookbook by Joel Patraker & Joan Schwartz profiles the Union Square Greenmarket. It includes tips and tricks for shopping at the market along with seasonal recipes.
  • Earth to Table by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann tells the story of their experience sourcing local ingredients and partnering with farmers and how that evolved until ultimately they were planting and harvesting their own crops. The book also contains profiles of chefs such as Heston Blumenthal and Thomas Keller explaining their relationship to farmers.

Play with your food: Brown Sugar Caramel-Cinnamon Ice Cream Sandwiches

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

In my ever-growing collection of notebooks there is a small one that contains random, vague ideas that I constantly tell myself I’ll expand upon one day. In that book there is a line that reads “ct-crunch bars.” The dream came about through the process of rejuvenating the WWE Superstar Bar and an undying love for all things Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

What turned that little scribble into a reality is a little thing called “baker’s math.” Last week we covered it in class and it wasn’t juts a light bulb moment, it was a lightning bolt to the brain. Thanks to the pastry arts program there’s no “credit where it’s due” section this time around. This whole recipe came from an understanding of ingredient function and the use of baker’s percentage to develop exactly what I needed to turn “ct-crunch bars” into this:

Notebook

BROWN SUGAR CARAMEL ICE CREAM

This particular formula comes in two stages. Stage one is the custard, which will become the ice cream. Stage two is the brown sugar caramel, which will be cooked and cooled around the time the ice cream is processed, then mixed in.

  • 490g whole milk
  • 460g heavy cream
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, split
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 200g sugar, divided 150g and 50g
  • 150g egg yolks
  • pinch of salt

Bring milk, cream, cinnamon, and vanilla to boil. Remove from heat, cover and steep 15 min.
Remove cinnamon and vanilla bean, return to heat, add 150g sugar, bring to just below boil. Whisk yolks and 50g sugar in bowl to thicken. Temper eggs with hot cream, return to heat. Cook mixture, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat a wooden spoon. Strain well into an ice bath, stir in salt. Cool custard then chill until ready to freeze up to 2 days.

brown_sugar_caramel_ice_cream_sandwiches

CINNAMON SHORTBREAD COOKIES

This recipe, along with many future ones will be written a little differently than you may be used to. To understand it you’ll need to know how baker’s percentage works. The short of it is this: baker’s percentage is the ratio of ingredients to the total weight of flour in a recipe (the flour being 100%).

Knowing how ingredients function in a recipe allows you to bend the percentages to your needs. For example I know that since this cookie is meant to be frozen it has to be very soft and chewy. I also know that sugar inhibits gluten development and tenderizes. So I used some low protein flour and extra sugar to create a cookie that when baked has a texture closer to cookie dough that melts in your mouth and doesn’t crisp up in the freezer.

  • 376g AP flour
  • 161g cake flour (add these two weights together for 100%)
  • 360g butter, room-temp cubes (67%)
  • 226g sugar (42%)
  • 5g salt (1%)
  • 12g ground cinnamon (2%)
  • 12g vanilla paste (2%)

Sift the flours, salt, and cinnamon together, set aside.
Cream butter and sugar very light and fluffy, mix in vanilla paste to just combine.
Add flour mixture in 3 batches, just combining each addition, until the dough comes together. Do the last stage of mixing (mostly combined with some dry sand in the bottom of the bowl) by hand. Shape the dough into a rectangle, wrap well and chill about 30 min.

Heat oven to 350F. Roll dough between two pieces of parchment to about ½” thick rectangle, transfer to sheet pan, remove top sheet, brush lightly with egg wash. Bake about 20 minutes until edges are lightly brown. The cookie sheet will be very tender as it cools so handle it gently. Cool in pan on rack completely.

Handle the cookie sheet very gently from here on. Once the sheet has cooled, trim the edges and cut the sheet into equal halves that will fit in a casserole. And don’t you dare throw away those scraps!

brown_sugar_ice_cream_sandwich

BROWN SUGAR CARAMEL SAUCE & ASSEMBLY

The cookie sheets are cut and the custard is ready to process. It’s time to assemble the bulk sheet and freeze it.

  • 100g light brown sugar
  • 60g heavy cream
  • 60g milk

Combine the sugar and enough water until it resembles wet sand in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and cook about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the cream and milk, swirl in the pan to mix.

(You’ll want to stir it, and if you notice the note on that page above that says ‘DON’T STIR EVER.’ I knew this and like an impatient child stirred it. Stirring facilitates crystallization resulting is a grainy sauce that dries to a matte finish. In this case it doesn’t matter but in the future just don’t do it.)

Cook the sauce until it is very thick, cool in an ice bath.

As the caramel cools process the ice cream in an ice cream maker. Line the casserole with parchment, leaving overhangs (to remove the frozen block) and place one cookie sheet inside.

Once the ice cream hits soft serve slowly add the caramel sauce to just swirl it in (if it incorporates it’s no big deal). Pour the ice cream into the casserole over the cookie sheet, smooth it out, and place the other sheet on top. Cover and freeze overnight.

Remove the block, trim the edges, cut out desired shapes, serve or hoard them all for yourself (both are acceptable).

Caramel_Cinnamon_Ice_Cream_Sandwiches

This project was a lot of fun. I got into pastry arts for the scientific approach bakers take to creating new recipes (some bakers even prefer the term formula). I’ve developed recipes before but until learning about baker’s math this week the process was more akin to throwing darts at numbers on a board until things worked. To see a better system work so well right away is very encouraging as I grow as a cook.

As for the ice cream sandwiches I hope you enjoy them. I know I enjoyed creating them. They aren’t too tough to make and provide great practice with mise en place and a good workflow as you transition from step to step. Oh yeah, and they are awesome! The cookies are super tender and bring out the little bit of spice in the ice cream, which is very sweet and refreshing. Both the cookie and ice cream melt in your mouth as they warm making for a very pleasant experience.

I hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend (the two USDA Prime NY strips grilling as I finish up here lock in an A+ for my holiday) as well as the post. As always, thanks for reading and stay hungry.

Nick
Blog // Instagram

Italian Experience: A day in the life

By Lauren Fuschillo, ICC Italian Culinary Arts student.
(Read Part 3 here)

5:00AM – Alarm goes off, hit snooze and pretend its the weekend and like I’ve got all the time in the world.

5:15AM – Hit snooze again.

5:30AM – 3rd alarm and I remember that nope, it’s not the weekend. Stretch and grab a banana as I begin to get dressed.

5:43AM – Laces tied and earbuds in; I go for a light jog around the farm by my Colorno apartment. The sun is rising and its absolutely gorgeous. It’s going to be a great day.

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6:33AM – Time to get dressed and ready for class. Throw a few stride spot wipes into my bag because, more often than not, I wind up with sauce splatters on my white chef jacket. Take a quick shower and opt out of post-shower moisturizer because I’ll probably sweat like hell in the kitchen all day.

7:02AM – I’M EARLY! Sit outside for a quick cigarette and espresso as I think about the day’s schedule. It’s going to be busy and interesting. I know, the cigarette is unhealthy, especially after that jog, but I’m really cutting back!

7:15AM – Walk to school and pass that farm again, then a little old church and a small brooke that runs through town and alongside the castle, my school.

7:33AM – Hit the lockers and suit up! Time to meet my classmates in the courtyard for our morning espresso. (Italian coffee – you are a beautiful thing)

7:55AM – I grab a cutting board, a few trays and some bowls before I lay out my chefs knife, maybe a pairing knife and a spoon and fork. Yes, a spoon and fork. Man, I love the simple tools they use in Italy!

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8:00AM – Here we go. Chef Bruno Ruffini, a really cool dude and an amazing chef and teacher, calls us up for the demo’s for today’s recipes. I check out the chef’s mise en place and get excited. I see a ricer and potatoes. The freshly cracked eggs join in on the potato fun. Then the flour is mixed in… And then Chef Bruno casually yet elegantly throws flour on a great wooden board.….’YESSSSS! WE’RE MAKING PASTA AND GNOCCHI’ shouts my inner voice. I love making any kind of pasta, and so, I’m happy as a clam…or in today’s case, a little ball of gnocchi.

9:31AM – We’ve finished watching today’s demos and now it’s time to start the fun. My boyfriend and I divvy up the list of ingredients we’ve got to get in order to set up our mise en place. (Oops, I forgot to mention. Yes! I’ve got a boyfriend in class! We met at ICC after he mentioned he’s fluent in Italian and I asked for extra help. The rest is history and yes, he looks great in a chef jacket.)

9:56AM – We’re elbows deep in flour and rolling out the dough for macaroni alla chitarra. Chitarra means guitar and it’s a particular pasta cutter that we use by rolling out dough to cut strands of pasta… and it’s a great arm workout. We work some magic in the pan and create a beautiful sauce that we add our new fresh pasta.

10:04AM – We present our dishes to Chef to receive a critique. Sometimes they’re good and sometimes they’re bad if they’re under/over seasoned or poorly made. For this dish we hear words of praise – “Bellissimo, Brava Lauren! Perfecto Giuseppe!” I high five my boyfriend and now we’re on our way back to our station to tackle more pasta.

italian_cuisine_school

11:55PM – With 3 great dishes down, we start assembling the dough for the gnocchi and by this hour I’ve got flour all over my blue apron. But so what if I get a disapproving look or two?! I’m having a blast! How many people get to say they’re making fresh pasta in their school that is an old castle…in Italy…with their boyfriend? I don’t have that answer but I can tell you that I am psyched and very lucky to be one of them. We roll the dough onto little gnocchi boards forming those adorable little ridges and then we start our emulsions. I plop those babies in the boiling salted water for a quick swim and then we add them to dance in our pans with butter and sage.

12:30PM – Another presentation with Chef. My emulsion was a little over seasoned but the shape was perfect, still tasted delicious and the emulsion DID NOT break. A broken emulsion is like a sin at culinary school and I’m so glad that I aced that again.

italian_school_gnocchi

12:37PM – My classmates and I scrub down our stations to the point that they sparkle like diamonds!

1:05PM – Even though they’re serving risotto milanese and an amazing duck in the school restaurant, I opt out of lunch since I scarfed down all of my gnocchi as if it was my last meal. My friend Marianne and I decide to grab coffee and maybe a pastry or two in the school’s courtyard. We sit in the garden, laugh at any of our flubs from the morning and chat about where she went the weekend before.

2:00PM – Wine class. Each bottle is opened by a student, as there is a specific way to present, open and pour wine for the paying customer. We learn about the region it originates from, the producer, vineyard and the grape itself. It’s quite interesting. Then we swirl, smell, taste and either drink or spit. I have a low tolerance for alcohol, so I take turns between the two. Matteo Pessina is our teacher and this man knows EVERYTHING about wine. We learn how to read the bottles properly and in the correct order. Something I would have never known how to do properly had I not been in this class.

3:05PM – After running around the kitchen all morning and tasting wines, we’re growing a little tired and Matteo allows an espresso break.

3:20 – 4:00PM – We continue to open, read labels, review the region and grapes, swirl, smell and taste.

4:03PM – History of Italian Cuisine with Michele Crippa commences. In this class we learn about the 9 different culinary regions in Italy. Yes, there are way more regions than 9 but that’s how many culinary regions we will study. So, for the next two hours we learn about Apulia (Puglia) which is a region that I’m visiting one weekend and very much interested in for my stage. That being said, I’m on the edge of my seat as he talks about the different produce, fresh shellfish and culinary history of this beautiful region. Shocker: its on the water and is full of white sandy beaches.

5:56PM – The lesson is over and just about everyone raises their hand to ask for travel suggestions in this region, my hand being one of them. Alberobello, Oristano, Vieste Lecce, Ostuni, Monopoli are a few places Michele mentions. All equally rich in beauty, culture, delicious food and history. Well, now I have a jam packed itinerary for my weekend in Apulia!

culinary_center_nyc_california_italy

6:25PM – Most of my friends hang up their whites, I stuff mine in my bag because, again, it’s full of splatters and it can’t be reused tomorrow. That’s alright, I don’t mind doing laundry. A few of my friends and I, some of the original crew from ICC, decide to do taco night. Some of the boys go to the pub to relax from the day and some of us run to the COOP (local supermarket) to pick up a few fixings for our Mexican-themed family dinner.

7:17PM – It’s time to either nap, go to the gym, call our families back home, clean our apartments or in my case, work on a blog post. I sit on the balcony and look out to the community pool. ‘Damn!’ I think. It just closed. Oh well, one less distraction. I throw in a load of laundry and then have some time alone. I type my heart away for you and sip on my favorite drink, succo di arancia rossa.

8:59PM – Marianne and I are seasoning the chicken, sautéing some peppers and doing a bunch of prep work. Mikey is on guacamole and frying up the fish. Andrea is working on caramelized onions, a vinaigrette for salad and we’re all setting the table. Upstairs, Giuseppe, Jason and Michael are making salsa, beef for the tacos, and fresh tortillas. It smells delicious and the music is blasting. Looks like we’ve all got the same ‘happy place’.

culinary_school_italy

10:30PM – Mangiamo! Naturally, there are way more dishes than we planned and enough to feed double the amount of people. We toast, we laugh, we pass plate after plate, share stories and assemble taco after taco; we feast.

11:34PM – Clean up time. Rather than throw everything in the dish washer we each take a job and make the place sparkle just like our stations in our kitchen classroom.

Midnight – It’s 6PM in New York and I speak to my family, tell them about the day I just had, how I miss them so much and hear about what’s going on in their lives at home. Even though I am having the time of my life learning about the thing I love most, I miss them and I hope they visit soon. I tear up a bit and then my brother says something funny, allowing me to end our conversation with a great big smile.

12:29AM – We have Italian Language class with Zoe at 8AM and it’s about time I get to sleep. I wash my face and brush my teeth, iron a freshly cleaned chef jacket; and then lay there more exhausted than I’ve ever been in my life but probably the happiest I’ve ever felt.

Play with your food: 4th of July Popsicles

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

Summer is awesome. America is awesome. Popsicles are awesome. Everything is awesome!

For real, who doesn’t love popsicles? When offered they may tell you “oh no, I don’t like grape” (it’s awful) or “eh, I don’t like cherry” (door’s over there) but “I don’t like popsicles?” I’ve never heard it.

They’re perfect on a summer day and easy. So easy I couldn’t resist making them difficult. And what better way to do that than to feature an ingredient that doesn’t freeze? Cocktails, like popsicles, don’t leave a lot of room for ingredients – you only have a small amount of space to create a story of flavors. A well-crafted cocktail is the product of much experimentation and a deep understanding of how different flavors interact.

So you make a list. Break it down into liquor type, sweeteners, and additives. I like the visual guide of drawing a line from left to right to form a drink/pop. You don’t have to do it this way but with so many possibilities an outline helps.

Popsicle cocktail Outline

Here’s how this particular entry is going to work: there isn’t really any actual cooking involved with making most cocktails or popsicles. Each flavor will list the ingredients and a description of how those flavors come together. Each one uses a good amount of simple syrup as its base and primary sweetener. Freezing diminishes sweetness so what may taste unbearably sweet as a liquid will become much more balanced when frozen. Strong, assertive liqueurs work best since there is only a small amount in each batch.

Finally, the most important and finite ingredient for making any sort of frozen dessert is time. You simply can’t have enough of it. You have to freeze the liquid in the molds, then remove them and allow them to set in their packaging, then let them set again before serving. There are methods and equipment to do all of this much faster (industrial freezers, liquid nitrogen, etc), resulting in a much more consistent product, but those are not all that accessible for home cooking. So for my purposes and yours I’ll keep it old school and do it the hard way.

As far as credit where it’s due, a great deal of my knowledge and appreciation for mixing drinks comes from Death & Co. The bar and the book are master classes in building a drink from its ingredients to its name.

Special Equipment

  • Citrus Juicer –I use the KitchenAid attachment
  • Popsicle Molds – I like the Norpro 3oz molds
  • Time – hope you’ve got a lot of it
  • Simple Syrup – bring 1:1 sugar and water to boil (don’t stir) to dissolve sugar, cool

Margarita cocktail popsicle

“RICKY SPANISH”

This is more or less a classic margarita with an extra boost of citrus from some fresh squeezed orange juice. It was one of the easier recipes to develop since tequila is so assertive and retains so much flavor after mixing and freezing that I didn’t need to worry much over the mix being too alcoholic to freeze solid. The name is homage to Roger the Alien (from American Dad) and one of his more nefarious alter egos.

Yield – about 500mL

  • 177mL simple syrup
  • 118mL water
  • 118mL lime juice
  • 59mL fresh orange juice
  • 22mL tequila blanco
  • 1 ½ tsp agave nectar

Stir all to combine. Fill molds and freeze overnight.

Coconut Peach liqueur popsicle

“JECHT SHOT”

The Jecht Shot is one of the first drinks my friends and I came up with years ago using what ingredients we had on hand that day. In this embarrassing case those ingredients were Peach Snapple and coconut rum, and its name comes from a video game! That’s a hella lame drink so I gave it the 2.0 treatment. White tea is less bitter when frozen so I like it more than black. Massenez is a brand of brilliantly crafted liqueurs that retain nearly their entire flavor when frozen and are so strong a tiny bit will do the job.

Yield – about 562mL

  • 296mL white tea
  • 177mL simple syrup
  • 30mL Massenez Crème de Peche (peach liqueur)
  • 60mL lemon juice
  • 15mL coconut rum

Stir all to combine. Fill molds and freeze overnight.

Gin Basil Popsicle

“GIN LIZZY”

When a friend (the “Liz” in “Gin Lizzy”) asked me to create a gin drink she’d like I was lost for a little while because I hated gin. That is until I learned how to use it. In this case less is definitely more. Lots of herbal notes from the gin, boosted just a tiny bit by some basil syrup, and balanced out by lots of lemon and simple syrup make for a pretty interesting popsicle.

Yield – about 500mL

  • 177mL simple syrup
  • 118mL water
  • 118mL lemon juice
  • 59mL basil syrup (simple syrup cooked with fresh – washed – basil leaves)
  • 22mL gin

Stir all to combine. Fill molds and freeze overnight.

Wine Mint Blackberry Popsicle

“GYPSY DANGER”

Gypsy is the product of two years of work. Since I only make a new batch of flavors once a year for the 4th of July I try to create a popsicle using wine and it seems the third time is a charm. If it’s not an issue of imbalanced flavor the popsicle doesn’t freeze or the mixture separates. It’s always something and as of now I don’t know enough about the chemistry of wine to approach the problems the way I would a broken cake. This time it worked and I’m certainly not going to fight it.

The result is an interesting journey of flavors starting off very sweet and finishing with a dry and refreshing hint of mint. As for the name, it came from a focus group (a bunch of friends destroying a batch of pops and their cocktail inspiration). It’s from Pacific Rim, a great movie in its own right, but we picked it mostly because it sounded cool. Given the verbiage you can probably tell this is my favorite result this year. I mean check out how cool it looks! It’s even brighter and more marbled in person.

Yield – about 500mL

  • 133mL simple syrup
  • 133mL mint syrup (simple syrup boiled with mint leaves)
  • 177mL water
  • 44mL dry white wine
  • 22mL Massenez Crème de Mure (blackberry liqueur)
  • dash of vanilla extract

Stir all to combine. Fill molds and freeze overnight.

I give you the 4th of July Class of 2015 Popsicles. As I’m writing this I have twenty pops in my freezer at home to finish for a party that’s one day away and twenty more in a freezer at the ICC to hand out to my class.

I really hope you enjoyed reading this. This annual project and the excitement of everyone getting to try the results mean the world to me given the time and work that go into it. Make them for yourself and please, please play with the recipes. Make your list of components and build your own. It’s as easy (or difficult) as you make it.

Stay hungry.

Nick
Blog // Instagram

Italian Experience: The Big Change

By Lauren Fuschillo, ICC Italian Culinary Arts student.
(Read Part 2 here)

Last Friday, June 19th, was a big day for me – as it marks the biggest turning point in my life.

Exactly one year ago I decided to stop existing – and to start living.

I decided to make a change. I chose to stop hesitating out of fear of failure and to just go for it, head on, whatever “it” may be. I chose to do things I was afraid of, step outside my comfort zone and dive right in – to life. I decided that no longer would I seek the approval, or even the reassurance of everyone else; that I would just trust myself and to go with my gut. I decided to make my life what I, Lauren, want it to be.

Italian culinary experience -- ICC

I did this after going through what was the hardest time in my life. I ended my engagement, was sick in the hospital for a bit, ended a lot of friendships, lost my job and found myself in an ugly depression. But then someone extended a helping hand and I experienced a random act of kindness. It made me realize my problems weren’t that bad. People had it much worse and I, too, should lend a helping had of my own; I should pay it forward and deliver random acts of kindness too. That day (the big day) I applied for two volunteer missions that would bring me to Abu Dhabi, South Africa, Thailand and Bali. I raised over 8K and planned the trip of a lifetime that would last a little over three months. Anyway, I was living. Finally living and being who I’m meant to be.

Italian Culinary School International Culinary Center

Before I left, which was October 14th, 2014, I started wondering what I’d come home to; what I would do next when I would return in 2015. I was sitting on my sisters bed, helping her unpack from a recent trip to California when she said “you’ve always wanted to go to culinary school. Right now you’re doing things you want to do. Why not go to culinary school and continue on this path of being determined to be your true self.” My little sister is so wise! I figured “why not continue to do things I truly want to do? I wake up to live the hell out of life and why not keep doing that?!” That’s when I applied to ICC’s Italian Culinary Arts Program.

Fast forward about 10 months and I’m still living by that mantra and experiencing so much.

Italian Culinary Experience

At ALMA, we’re applying and advancing the knowledge, techniques and culinary secrets we learned at ICC. We’re perfecting our rhythm in the kitchen and, no doubt, getting a truer sense of exactly how Italian cuisine is meant to be, how things originated, are meant to be served and how we’re supposed to enjoy them.

As I watch one of my best friends, who is also my classmate, Jason Lopez, plate and put the final touches on what is the most perfectly delicious risotto, I realize that he must have had that big day too. Like me, something drove him to decide to go to culinary school, travel to Italy to study Italian culinary arts and expand his food knowledge and palette…something that drove him to be this great.

I share this with you because it’s an honor to work alongside him as well as have his friendship. I share this with you because this experience wouldn’t be the same without his presence.

I feel so fortunate to be able to say that I feel that way about all 9 members of our little family from ICC. I share this with you because I’d love for you, the readers, to get to know these amazing people who are rockstar future chefs, and hear about some of their journeys too! I’ll be featuring one classmate a week and some of his or her culinary school and traveling experiences.

Until next time, ciao!

Italian Experience: A Labor of Love

By Lauren Fuschillo, ICC Italian Culinary Arts student.
(Read Part 1 here)

The sky was a bright blue and the sun was shining. My espresso-hot and my cigarette-lit. I sat there and, in my head, ran through what I imagined my first day to be like. It involved a lot of nerves, some sweat and plenty of note taking. But as I entered the castle (yes, it is an actual castle – read about that later in another post) I was whisked away into what is now my reality.

We reviewed all the routine procedures, met the faculty and chefs, were fitted for uniforms, etc. We toured the classrooms, demo rooms and kitchens – all beautiful and grand! In the middle of it all there’s an adorable little cafe serving up delicious espresso for the students and faculty all day long. Pinch me?

However, I was still nervous as I approached the classroom door where my classmates and I would become better acquainted with our new chef instructors as they did a demonstration.

Chef Magada and Chef Ruffini decided to change up the program. They felt that rather than do a demo, it was best we just keep it casual; have a little “chat” as Chef Ruffini put it.

We were asked to introduce ourselves and share the thing we were most excited to learn. I guess it was a trigger. The anxiety of any shortcomings, self doubt or flubs from New York started to rise in my chest like they did the night before while I read that manual. Any of the insecurities I had in the kitchen formed into a golf ball that was now stuck at the bottom of my throat. My turn was coming up and I’d have to introduce myself to the chefs and tell them what excites me most about furthering my education. Was it perfecting my knife skills; working on my satisfactory-at-best taillage? Maybe I should mention that from time to time I have trouble following recipes because I’d rather eyeball measurements? That golf ball wasn’t moving and I was two moments away from having to share what I needed to work on most.

ICC Italian course Alma

Then there was a moment of clarity. Screw it, I’m here to be a sponge! I should not have self doubt but only self confidence. I made it here thus far, and on my own accord.

I’m paraphrasing but it went something like this “I could say I want to focus on technique but that’s a lie. I want to learn it all. I want to soak up everything that you’re here to offer us.” That’s how I feel. Why focus on one area? Why limit myself? Why not perfect it all? At least that’s the plan.

ICC Italian program

Italian Cuisine is best described the way our chefs described it that day. It is a labor of love. It’s not about measuring grams or meticulously dicing a carrot. Sure, the technique is expected and should be there. However, the cuisine is about passion and it’s centered around the feelings that go behind every ingredient carefully chosen for every recipe that creates that perfect bite – every time.

It’s not about how fast you are or that you can just get through the recipe without missing some organized step… The Italian chefs didn’t really seem to view that as success. Success was crafting a beautiful emulsification with your fresh garganelli and accompanying it with a smile. It is about putting thought to action and appreciating each and everything you’re doing; paying attention to the little details that bring forth happiness. They said we should “have fun” and “love” as we’re working behind our creations, as it transfers into our dishes and THAT is success.

International Culinary Center Italian program

All I could think was “Oh my god, I am home.” I am not fast. Rather than use proper measurements – I use the “eyeball, taste and then add” approach. I should probably be more meticulous about technique and I should always follow what I learned for Serve Safe. But, heck, I’ve got passion. I already do this with love. That’s how I’ve always cooked.

In NY I would sometimes try to alter my cooking style and force myself to strictly follow the recipe. But that’s not me. Any time I did that my dish fell short and its taste was flat. It was when I was having fun, cooking from my heart… or when I was appreciating the ingredients for the dish I was preparing that it showcased my skill and talent at best.

So, yes. If that is how these chefs think, cook and expect us to cook then I am “home”. Finally, I can cook the way I enjoy to cook, with love.

But that’s all I can share for now because I still have to work on my satisfactory-at-best taillage.

Lauren