Professional Culinary Arts Level 3: “The Hungry Games”

By Danielle Marullo
International Culinary Center Student
Professional Culinary Arts

Levels 1 and 2 of the Professional Culinary Arts program were the fundamentals; the preparatory levels that teach you all the proper techniques and terminology you need to survive in a professional kitchen. Then there was level 3…the boot camp. I remember being one of the “newbies” back in May, listening to all the level 3 students chattering in the locker room about their stressful day in the kitchen. I would come back to the locker room after level 2 with maybe a small splatter or two of food on my jacket and apron with my hair still in tact and my makeup from my day job still lying perfectly on my cheeks and lashes. With the level 3 students it was different. They looked as if they got caught in a Vitmamix Blender on high speed, I knew this level was no piece of cake…in fact it was more of Pot de Crème (a dish you make in level 3 and one of my worst dishes).

Unfortunately for me, I missed the first day of level 3 due to a work event, which made me even more nervous to walk into that second floor kitchen. I stroll into the kitchen on day two to find it is unlike any of the other classrooms. It is smaller, hotter than a bowl of Consommé straight out the pot, and the tension in the air is so thick you can julienne it. Strategically placed above the doorway is a very large, digital clock that shows the time in beaming, red, LED lights. Let the “Hungry Games” begin.

1Level 3 is titled “Discipline: Skills Consistency and Refinement.” We focus on time management and properly executing multiple dishes simultaneously while keeping our eyes on the clock. In the beginning, you are split into groups of four, and each group is divided into stations resembling a restaurant kitchen. One person is assigned to Garde Manger (soups and salads), one person is Poissonier (fish), one Saucier (meats and sauces) and finally one person is Patissier (pastry). As a group you must present each of these dishes at a designated time, and tardiness is not tolerated. While you are cooking your dish you must be able to assist your team members to ensure everything is perfect and presented on time. After all, you are a team so even if your partners dish turns out poor, it is a reflection of you and your ability to multi-task and work as a team.

As a team you are also expected to create an “Amuse Bouche” which is a one-bite appetizer that gets the taste buds going at the start of a meal. This is one of my favorite things to execute because it is my time to get creative! We are given a few mystery ingredients to use in this one-bite-delight and must use at least three of them along with anything else we can find in the classroom. This tiny appetizer can tell the chef a lot about your abilities, your creativity and finally your presentation skills. For example, one day the secret ingredients were: goat cheese, baguette, smoked salmon and tomatoes. I knew most people would make a crostini once they saw the bread, so went outside the box! I made a New York style bagel in one bite. I mixed the goat cheese with capers and formed it into a log and froze it. I then took the baguette, toasted it, and made breadcrumbs out of it. Once the cheese was solidified in the freezer, I cut it in 1/3-inch-thick medallions, breaded them in flour, egg and the breadcrumbs and then fried them in Canola Oil. Once they we’re crispy and golden brown we topped them with smoked salmon and finely diced tomato and shallot with a hint of lemon juice. When the chef put it in his mouth his response was,“WOW this tastes like a really good bagel!” Great success!


A few weeks into the level you begin to work in pairs and are expected to execute two dishes simultaneously, while being timed of course. You will also have mock midterms throughout the level to prepare you for the real midterm, which is where the fun begins. The midterm = two difficult dishes, two hours, and me myself and I. This practical exam is a true test of your abilities and your nerves. You better hope you paid attention throughout the entire level because midterm day is when you find out what you will be cooking. The chef-instructor chooses two different pairings out of the 16 dishes we have executed in level 3, one Garde Manger dish with one Saucier dish, or one Poissonier with and one Patissier dish. We have five minutes to quickly jot down a few notes about those dishes, such as the ingredients and measurements, and then it’s showtime. We have roughly two hours and 15 minutes to create four portions of both dishes, plate them perfectly and then present them on a serving tray to a panel of judges. Who are the judges you ask? Well they are recent graduates of the program, so you know they may have their neckerchiefs in a bunch…no mercy. Did I mention that while you are cooking there is a Chef walking around with a notepad watching your every move? The Chef will be making sure that all students are following proper sanitation rules, keeping their stations neat and tidy, as well as observing our knife skills and time management skills.


Here are a few key things to remember when in level 3 to ensure you are successful.

    -Remain Calm! Panicking does you no good. You need to be functioning and productive every minute, so nerves will not help you.
    -Be confident in your abilities! At this stage in the game you know a lot more than you think.
    -Ask questions at the start of the class before you start cooking
    -Communicate with your partner to ensure you are managing your time correctly and don’t end up with duplicates of the same item.
    -Have trust in your partner. If your partner is less skilled than you are be sure to be patient and give helpful/encouraging tips along the way. The worst thing you can do is bring the morale of the team down ultimately causing your partner to lose focus.
    -Take notes when the chef is giving you pointers on the dishes at the start of the class.
    -Make sure the plates are hot if the dish you are making is served hot. You will lose points for this!
    -Always have a side towel in hand. You will be moving extremely fast and due to the warm temperatures in the room you will sometimes feel out of focus. If you do not have a towel in hand chances are you will eventually burn yourself by grabbing a hot pot or pan. Yes, I am speaking from experience.
    -Wear gloves when plating! No one wants to eat cooked food you touched with your bare hands.
    -Mis en Place- Make sure you grab everything you need at the start of the class including ingredients, pots, pans and bowls so you do not have to run all over the classroom.

Learn more about Danielle’s class: Professional Culinary Arts
For recipes and videos by Danielle, go to

From Investment Banking to Pastry Arts

2014 Professional Pastry Arts student on changing careers.

By Mark Franczyk
International Culinary Center Student
Professional Pastry Arts

I took a seat in one of the conference room chairs facing a display case of ocean themed sugar sculptures. How quickly would those fish melt in actual water, I wondered idly as the admissions representative closed the door and started to make her way across the room.

It was time for me to make my move.

“So let me ask you a crazy question,” I blurted.

The admissions representative, sifting through her folder of brochures, paused expectantly. Obviously my attempt at a natural transition in the conversation had failed. In fact, it must have been so unnatural that she looked genuinely scared by what I might be about to ask. After all, who was I but some random stranger who had stumbled in off the streets of SoHo asking to speak with Admissions? Some story about being a former Investment Banker… interested in the Professional Pastry Arts program. It certainly wasn’t a first, so why would anyone have been suspicious. Although crazy people can be articulate and clean cut too.

But what I was about to ask had been the true reason for visiting the International Culinary Center that afternoon. That’s not to say I hadn’t enjoyed the one-on-one tour of the kitchens, the lesson-by-lesson walkthrough of the syllabus and the presentation of the students’ chocolate projects. They were are critical pieces in convincing me that not only was I ready to enroll in Culinary School, but I had decided on ICC.


She still stood there… waiting… blinking… perhaps calculating if it would be better to scream for help or to make a dive for the door.

“I know you have a new class starting on the 15th,” I began. “I assume it’s closed at this point?” My voice lifted awkwardly with the question, my attempt to convey my true meaning – was there space for me?

“I suppose it’s possible to enroll right up until the start date,” she said with what could only be described as giddy relief. “Given the application process, students typically enroll at least a month before. We need to cover…”

“But you’re saying it’s possible? If everything can be processed in time, you’re saying it’s possible.”

“Up until that morning… yes, it’s possible.”

So I had until the 15th. It was the 13th.

But this had not been some spur-of-the-moment decision. It was the foregone conclusion to hours upon hours of internal debate and months of covert diligence into various culinary schools and programs.

An hour later, arms full of sundry forms related to the application process, I stepped out onto the SoHo sidewalk at 462 Broadway. Facebook status update: “I think I just enrolled in Culinary School.”

When I emerged from the subway just minutes later there were 83 “Likes”. One comment appeared repeatedly: “About time!”


Six months earlier I had done something that still feels more like the plot from a mediocre feel-good-movie and not a scene from my life.

After 10 years of grinding it out in Finance, I had finally ended my career as an Investment Banker. It had taken me five attempts to officially quit (some people insist the number is higher). With each attempt, I had received convincing counter-proposals promising changes to my job designed to make “sticking it out” more palatable. They were well-intentioned proposals from (mostly) sincerely motivated people. But after a decade of 100-hour workweeks, few seemed to understand the extent to which my motivations had changed.

Globally recognized firm name… oversized paycheck by almost anyone’s standards… the ability to say things at cocktail parties like, “My week? Oh, it was fine… I worked on the largest equity deal in U.S. history for the U.S. Treasury… yes, we raised $21 billion… or was it $22 billion? I forget exactly. But how are the kids?”

It had all started to leave me cold.

Yes, the work had been stimulating… at least at first. As a 21-year-old fresh out of college, a job in Investment Banking had met all of the requirements, which, at the time, had defined success. And over the course of that decade, I consistently worked with amazingly talented people. But motivations change. Definitions of success change. And any spark of true personal interest… that “thrill of the deal”… had long since faded.

One Monday, somewhere between my fourth and final attempt to quit, I had a bit of an epiphany while sorting through my morning email.

For every note on IPOs, merger deal alerts or upcoming due diligence sessions, I had at least one email that read something like “Next Thursday night… group of 5… out of towners… thinking Korean food, but no seafood… something on the East Side… thoughts?”

Or perhaps, “Just heard about this thing called a Cronut… thought of you… we must go!!!”

Maybe it was the constant state of sleep deprivation that had caused me to miss something so blatantly obvious, but if I was spending every free moment thinking about or talking about food, then why was I not working in food? Cooking… baking… food science… food writing… restaurant management… from where I sat, 28 floors above Park Avenue, they all sounded infinitely more attractive.

The truth was, the culinary world seemed so impossibly distant from Banking, and I didn’t see how I could move from point A to point B. When I finally quit (the fifth time), it became clear that many people had similar doubts.

“So you’re going to leave banking… but what will you do next? Cooking? I know you… in two weeks you are going to totally freak out and have no idea what to do with yourself. You know it. You just don’t want to say it! You can’t sit still. No matter what you do, you’re going to drive yourself crazy. You might as well start wearing socks on your hands, tissue boxes for shoes and start talking to plants. I’m sorry… I don’t want to sound harsh. I’m just thinking about you. And you know that nothing else will pay this well. Nothing. And I’m sure you’ve heard about chefs’ hours. I just hate the idea of you working so hard for so little money.”

My counter was simple.

“Do you like your job?”

“It’s pays wells, and…” they’d always begin.

“That’s not what I’m asking. I’m asking, do you like your job?”

They would just look at me in silence, unable to respond. I had made my point.

And yet, in my last few days with the firm, there were more and more people who emerged, eager to reveal to me their shared sentiments in whispered chats over coffee.

“I am so jealous. I have been thinking about leaving for years too.” They would lean in closer, as if the other Starbucks patrons were there to record our conversation and report back to big brother, latte cups fitted with hidden microphones. “I’m just not there yet. Good luck. You’ll do awesome. Augh, I’m so jealous. I need to get out of here too!”

My start at ICC could not have gone better. I awoke that first morning to a Facebook post by Jacques Pepin, one of the school’s deans.

“Today is Julia’s [Child] birthday. I think of her often, and miss her. Let’s all raise a glass to her today.”

Well, if starting culinary school on Julia Child’s birthday was not a good omen, I don’t know what is!

Over the course of the first few weeks, I would leave class around 11pm feeling physically exhausted, arms loaded to a full evening’s work of pastry, but more emotionally energized than I had in years. Doubts about having made the right decision… regrets for having left something stable for something totally unchartered… I was genuinely surprised how I felt neither.


Three weeks into the Pastry Arts Program, ICC held one of its regular career fairs: a veritable “Who’s Who” from the culinary world and an unparalleled opportunity to meet with top potential employers. Although I was still a culinary school neophyte, I was eager to try my luck at an internship while still in class – take on a little real world experience to round out my classroom hours.

Speaking with prospective employers meant updating a long dormant resume. The night before the career fair, I sat at my computer, staring down the document that chronicled my 10 years in Finance. It was a crowded page detailing a litany of deals and transactions. The font size had been reduced each year to accommodate what had become a meaningless and illegible mess.

And then I hit delete, reducing everything to a single bullet point somewhere near the bottom… Investment Banker, 2004-2014.

The page looked relieved with the potential of things to come.

To learn more about the class Mark is taking, fill out the form below and an Admission representative will contact you.


Eggs Benedict with Champagne Truffle Hollandaise and Sweet Tomato Jam

By Deniece Vella
2013 International Culinary Center Graduate
Professional Culinary Arts

At L’Ecole, brunch is never taken lightly. When I attended the International Culinary Center (then The French Culinary Institute), I visited the restaurant quite often on the weekends to enjoy their famous brunch. As a typical eggs benedict guru, I always made sure to order the classic version that impressed me every time. As a student, I learned how to make the perfect poached egg and the perfect hollandaise sauce. These skills have stuck with me since leaving culinary school, but it’s been incredible to see how much more I’ve learned about this classic dish.

As a lover of prosciutto and truffle, I craved incorporating those flavors into the dish. In this version, I use premium truffle butter, truffle salt, prosciutto di Parma, and sweet tomato jam to amp up eggs benedict like you’ve never seen. Enjoy!


Eggs Benedict with Champagne Truffle Hollandaise and Sweet Tomato Jam

Ciabatta Toast:
1 loaf Ciabatta bread, sliced
Olive oil, for drizzling
Pinch truffle salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Tomato Jam:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
5 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
¼ teaspoon herbs de provence
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons sugar
½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Poached Eggs:
8 eggs
2 teaspoons truffle butter

Champagne Truffle Hollandaise:
5 egg yolks
¼ cup champagne, reduced to 2 tablespoons
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
Pinch truffle salt

4 slices prosciutto di Parma
Sunflower sprouts

1. For the Ciabatta toast, preheat the oven to 425F. Lay the bread slices on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with truffle salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 10 minutes. Set aside.
2. For the tomato jam, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the shallots, garlic, herbs de Provence, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Gently sweat the shallots over low heat until softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Next, add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, sugar, balsamic vinegar, and red wine vinegar. Season again with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Allow the tomatoes to cook down over medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes stirring occasionally. The jam is done when there is very little liquid remaining in the pan and the jam has thickened. Set aside.
4. To make the hollandaise sauce, combine the egg yolks, reduced champagne, and truffle salt together. Whip this mixture for 5 minutes. The mixture should become very pale and fluffy. Gently heat over a double boiler while continuing to whip vigorously. When you can see the whisk’s tracks in the bottom of the bowl, the egg yolks have thickened enough and are ready for butter. Off the heat, very slowly whisk in the butter. Season with additional salt if necessary. Set aside.
5. To poach the eggs, bring a pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, line a small ramekin with plastic wrap. In the bottom of the lined ramekin, drop ¼ teaspoon of truffle butter. Crack an egg into the ramekin as well. Using butchers twine, wrap the plastic wrap into a pouch at the top so you have a small egg pouch. Make sure to remove as much air from the pouch as possible. Repeat with the remaining eggs and truffle butter.
6. Drop the pouches into boiling water and cook for three minutes. Remove the eggs from the water and allow them to cool for two minutes before removing the plastic wrap. Set aside.
7. To serve, spread tomato jam onto two slices of Ciabatta toast. Lay them crosswise on top of each other in the dish. Top the bread with 1 slice of prosciutto and 2 poached eggs. Drizzle with hollandaise sauce. Garnish with sunflower sprouts.

For more recipes by Deniece, visit:


A recipe request by one of our Facebook fans after a photo was posted of our wonderful Pastry Chef-Instructor Kathy Sadler making this recipe on Kugelhopf Day!



Recipe by International Culinary Center
Used in Professional Pastry Arts and Art of International Bread Baking programs.
Yield: 1 kugelhopf

For the Sponge
150 g all-purpose flour
30 g yeast
150 mL warm milk

For the Dough
140 g butter
140 g powdered sugar
1 t salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1 T vanilla sugar
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
250 g bread flour
Pinch of nutmeg
50 g warm milk
150 g raisins, plumped in water and drained
15 to 20 whole blanched almonds
Powdered sugar, for finishing

For the Sponge
1. Prepare sponge with the all-purpose flour, yeast, and the 150 mL of milk. Set aside and allow the sponge to double.
2. Prepare the dough: Cream together the butter, powdered sugar, salt, lemon zest, and vanilla sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, and allow each to fully incorporate before adding the next.
4. Add the sponge to the creamed butter mixture.
5. Add the bread flour, nutmeg, and 50 g of milk to the mixture.
6. Mix/knead to develop gluten, scraping the sides of the bowl often.
7. Add the raisins and mix just to combine.
8. First proof: Place in oiled bowl, cover, and proof 30 to 40 minutes or until doubled in size.
9. Prepare the mold: Put almonds in the bottom of a buttered kugelhopf mold.
10. Turn dough when proofed, and place in prepared mold. Final proof and allow the dough to ferment in the mold. The dough should rise to ½ inch below the top edge of the mold.
12. Egg wash.
13. Bake the kugelhopf at 350°F (176°C) for 35 to 40 minutes, or until dark brown.
14. Unmold immediately after baking onto a cooling rack to prevent it from becoming soggy.

For the Finish
Lightly dust with powdered sugar.

Special Instructions
• To save time, cream the butter and sugar while the sponge is rising.
• Once the sponge and bread flour have been added, it will take several minutes to build up the gluten.
• The dough will remain very loose but gluten structure should be apparent.
• Add the raisins last to avoid breaking them apart and discoloring the dough.
• Be careful unmolding the bread; it will be very fragile while hot.

Learn more: Professional Pastry Arts
Art of International Bread Baking

Professional Pastry Arts: The Final Exam

By Julie Couture
International Culinary Center
2014 Graduate, Professional Pastry Arts

After six months of learning recipes and techniques, in addition to partaking in various tastings of coffee, tea, cheese and wine in the Professional Pastry Arts program, the final exam was upon us. To be honest, I was excited about it. As a career changer, I’d already been out in the real world; it can be overrated. I was excited because this was an opportunity to apply what I had learned in the program. It was go time.

In the pastry arts program, four and a half days are devoted to the final exam. By noon on the fifth day, our items are to be displayed for judging by local, esteemed pastry chefs. Day one was devoted to our written exam and to the construction of our showpiece. The showpiece served two purposes. The first was to display our desserts. We were each required to make a petit fours, chocolate, viennoiserie and a seasonal tart. The second was to showcase a theme, which was the International Culinary Center’s 30th anniversary. Our showpieces could be constructed from pastillage, chocolate, poured sugar, pulled sugar, and other sugar mediums we had learned in the program. Due to the humidity, the majority of us opted to use pastillage to avoid any issues with warping or collapsing showpieces.


Our Chef-Instructor, Chef Tom Jones, told us on Day 1 there is always friction. I thought he was referring to tiffs in the classroom due to heightened stress. Instead, he meant circumstances beyond our control would pop up and we would need to deal with them. He was right… Friction visited us on day two when I realized the oranges for my orange truffles were playing hide and seek. It was chocolate day, and consequently, we referred to Day 2 as “The Day Chocolate Hates Us.” Although our classroom was well air-conditioned, some of us had difficulty tempering chocolate. The longer it took to temper chocolate, the more time it took away from doing other tasks.

The rest of the week was devoted to creating the other food items – the tarts, petits fours and viennoiserie. Friction popped in at times and threw things off a bit, requiring some of us to remake certain recipes and revise our showpieces. Through it all, we plowed forward. As recipes came together, we slowly felt more confident about our progress. We learned how to work around the inevitable friction and not get overwhelmed by it. Overall, we laughed instead of cried, and managed to deliver our products when the clock struck 12:00 pm on Friday.

In the midst of Finals Week, I couldn’t help but think back to my first month in school. While working on my croquembouche in Level 1, I burned myself four times on the caramel. Burns are an occupational hazard, but they, coupled with my disappointment at the finished product, left me feeling frustrated. I expressed my doubts about my abilities to Chef Christopher Ciresi, my Level 1 chef-Instructor. He didn’t buy it. Chef Christopher simply said the pastry arts program is a learning process. Even though I was frustrated that day, he said I was on track and I would improve.

Chef was right. During the week of finals, I noticed my progress. I’m not an expert pastry chef, but I feel faster, more organized and better able to multi-task. My work is nowhere near the level of my chef-instructors, but due to their instruction and feedback, I hope I will eventually get there.


At noon on judgment day, two revered pastry chefs evaluated our work anonymously, focusing on flavors, techniques, and aesthetics. We all received constructive comments regarding what went well and what could be improved. Their feedback, along with six months of intensive training at ICC, can only help prepare us for our future careers as pastry chefs.

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The final exam didn’t kill us…but it did make us stronger. Our diplomas are proof of that.

Learn more about Julie’s class: Professional Pastry Arts

No Whey! You can make cheese!?

By Danielle Marullo
International Culinary Center Student
Professional Culinary Arts

Cheese making began sometime around the domestication of milk-producing animals, roughly around 10,000 years ago. Can you stomach this one? Researchers believe that cheese was made by accident! Before plastic tupperware, take out containers and milk jugs, people had to get pretty creative when storing liquids, so they would actually store milk inside animal stomachs. As we all know, the stomach is a very acidic place, considering it has the ability to break down our solid foods with ease. Along with acid, there is an enzyme called Rennin (also called Rennet) that is often used in cheese making, that is found right in the lining of the stomach. This enzyme caused the milk to virtually “spoil,” separating the curds and whey leaving our lucky ancient friends with a cheese product. Although this is just a theory, it seems like a justifiable claim to me! At the end of the day, cheese is one of the most prized foods on the planet and I personally could not live without it.


Now that I am done with my history lesson, lets move on to my science lesson.
The three ways to create cheese out of milk are as follows:

– You can sour the milk in a process called Acid Coagulation
– You can coagulate the milk and create the cheese “curds” with the lovely enzyme we discussed earlier, Rennet.
– A combination of 1 & 2!

There are a whopping 900 varieties of cheeses available to us worldwide, and therefore the coagulation process is just the beginning. After the initial cheese product is created, the cheese can be pressed, cut, heated or even allowed to ripen or mold for extra flavor and texture.

3 very important words used in cheese making that you must know are as follows:

– Casein- The main protein found in milk that give cheese its delicious flavor and form the curds.
– Curds- Are what you get when the milk coagulates with an acid (lemon juice, vinegar), Rennet or just on its own when it is kept at a warm temperature and it spoils.
– Whey- After the cheese curds form, the watery liquid that is left behind is the whey.

Now onto our cooking lesson! At the International Culinary Center we designate a whole class to cheese making. Cheese is found in just about all cuisines, making it a crucial skill to obtain when training to be a chef. Due to time constraints and labor, most restaurants do not produce their own cheese, but as a chef it is important to understand the flavors, textures and origins of different kinds of cheeses. During our cheese lecture we tasted roughly 15 varieties of cheese ranging from sheep’s milk to goat, both hard and soft. We made both homemade Mozzarella and Ricotta cheese which we then utilized in an incredible homemade Ravioli recipe on Pasta Day! Ricotta is a very versatile cheese that can be eaten by itself, in savory dishes and even in sweet desserts like Cheesecake and Cassata Cake! Below is a recipe for simple Ricotta, that will leave your friends and family saying “No Whey! You can make cheese!?”


– 2 Kg Milk
– 3 g Citric Acid (You can usually buy it at the regular grocery store)
– 3 g Salt

– Place the milk, acid and salt in a small saucepan and heat until the mixture reaches about 195F. Be sure to store often to keep the milk from burning!
– Once the curds start to form turn off the hear and let the mixture sit about 10 minutes without stirring it.
Place a piece of cheesecloth in a fine chinois (strainer) and place the strainer over a pot or bowl.
Pour the Ricotta mixture into the cheesecloth lined strainer and allow the mixture the strain for a few minutes. Tie a knot at the top of the cheesecloth and hang it over a shallow pan for an hour or longer. Once a lot of the liquid has been removed, you are ready to eat! You can add some more salt or some fresh herbs for flavor, especially if you are using the ricotta in a pasta dish!

Learn more about Danielle’s course here: Professional Culinary Arts
For more recipes and instructional cooking videos, head to Danielle’s website,, or her YouTube Channel

Labor Day Recipe: Bar-Brew-Q Steak

A recipe by Danielle Marullo of Got Room for More
International Culinary Center Student
Professional Culinary Arts

There is something about local businesses that I just adore. I love the passion the owners have for their products, I love the way the employees strive to produce consistent, quality products for their consumers, and finally, I just love the sense of hominess and togetherness they bring to a community. Recently, a coffee company by the name of Brewklyn Grind began following me on Twitter. The adorable and clever name grasped my attention right away, so I just had to explore this business further. Craig from Brewklyn Grind was kind enough to send me two bags of their deliciously unique coffee blends titled, Guatemala Antigua Los Volcanes and Ethiopia Sidamo Oroma Cooperative. After tasting both beans, not only was I impressed by their extremely unique flavors, I was inspired to utilize them in a recipe. The Guatemala Antigua beans do not just taste like coffee, they taste like a beautiful blend of all the different spices you would find at a Moroccan spice market. I often add coffee to my chocolate desserts to enhance the flavor, but the spiciness and earthiness of these beans are a match made in heaven for meat. I created a delicious spice rub by simply using my nose. I smelled as many spices as I could find in my cabinet, until I found a blend that worked organically with the scent of the coffee beans. The final product was unlike anything I had ever created, in the best way possible. The coffee beans have such a smoky flavor from the roasting process that when they come together with the paprika and cayenne, the meat actually tastes like it has been smoked for several hours…amazing! The Coffee Honey BBQ Sauce brings some extra moisture to the dish, and really brings out the flavors of the spice rub even more. If you do not eat red meat, you can put this rub and BBQ sauce on pork loin, pork ribs, or even chicken wings! I promise you, you will be licking your fingers! Be sure to follow Brewklyn Grind on twitter @Brewklyngrind and check out their website at

Got Room For More recipes? Follow Danielle on Twitter and Instagram @gotroomformore

Recipe Feeds About 4-5 People

Coffee Spice Rub-

1.5 lbs Sirloin Steak (or flank steak)
½ Cup of Roasted Coffee Beans- My favorite type to use is Brewklyn Grind’s Guatemala Antigua Roast
1 Tablespoon Paprika
½ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
½ Teaspoon Onion Powder
½ Teaspoon Mustard Powder
1 Teaspoon Black Ground Pepper
1 ½ Teaspoons Kosher or Sea Salt
½ Teaspoon Whole Coriander Seeds
½ Teaspoon Dried Oregano
2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar

Coffee Honey BBQ Sauce-

3 Shallots Minced
1 ½ Tablespoons Olive Oil
¾ Cup Water
¼ Cup of the Dry Rub (see above)
1 Teaspoon Minced Garlic
1 Teaspoon Siracha (Optional for a little extra heat)
2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
½ Cup Ketchup
4 Teaspoons Worchestire
1 Tablespoon plus 1 Teaspoon Honey

Coffee Spice Rubbed Steak (Bar-Brew-Q Steak)-

-Place all spice rub ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the coffee beans are finely ground, and the spices are fully incorporated.
-Measure out ¼ Cup of the spice rub and set it aside in a bowl.
-Massage the remaining contents of the spice rub all over the steak (both sides). You want to make sure it is fully covered for maximum flavor!
-Cover the steak with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for a few hours, or even overnight (I let mine marinate in the rub for about 4 hours). This will let the flavors soak into the meat.
-Heat up a grill pan or outdoor grill on medium heat.
Brush a small amount of the BBQ sauce (recipe below) onto both sides of the steak.
-Grill the steak on both sides to your preferred temperature. I prefer it medium rare-medium.
-Let the steak rest for 10 minutes so it retains its juices.
-Slice the Steak into thin slices.
-Serve with the Coffee Honey BBQ Sauce. I served mine with grilled veggies, garlic bread, and roasted potatoes.

Coffee Honey BBQ Sauce-

-In a medium saucepan place the Olive Oil and Shallot on medium/low heat. Cook the shallots until they start to get translucent and soft and have a wonderful aroma.
-Pour the water in and stir.
-Pour in all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.
-Let the mixture simmer and reduce down until it is a thick BBQ Sauce-like consistency. Make sure you are stirring occasionally so the sauce doesn’t burn.
-When the mixture thickens remove it from the stove and strain it so there are no chunks of onion or large coffee grounds in it. You want it to be completely smooth throughout.
-Allow to cool in the refrigerator.

Learn more about Danielle’s course here: Professional Culinary Arts
For more recipes and instructional cooking videos, head to Danielle’s website,, or her YouTube Channel

Chez Franc: An East Meets West Kind of Story

By Jacquetta Lannan
International Culinary Center Alumnus
Professional Culinary Arts 2012
Fund Chez Franc’s Weiner Room!


Chef Dan Sung (Culinary ’01) is from California: I grew up in the Midwest. He attended International Culinary Center’s Professional Culinary Arts program in New York and worked in California. I went to college in New England but attend ICC in Campbell, California. Dan is an artist; I am a lawyer. In so many ways, Dan and I are opposites, and that’s what makes us work.

While a student at ICC in California, I interned at the Village Pub, a Michelin starred restaurant in Woodside, California. It was at the Village Pub that I met Dan. Dan was working as Sous Chef there. I was impressed with his command of the kitchen and his great relationship with the chefs working the line. What impressed me the most was his ability to make the most delicious food.


As the intern, I mostly chopped and blanched vegetables. One day I graduated to chopping fruit and while I was slicing peaches I struck up a chat with Dan. Earlier I had learned that Dan had been working at the Village Pub for nearly 10 years- in the restaurant world this seemed like many lifetimes. So I asked what he was going to do with the rest of his life. Dan’s response was, “I don’t know, I just want to make hot dogs.”

What I learned later was that Dan truly has turned the hot dog into a beautiful work of art. Not only does he make the most amazing hot dogs and sausages from scratch, but tops the francs, with amazing seasonal ingredients using techniques found at the finest restaurants.


After my internship was over, I asked Dan if he’d like to be partners in a hot dog venture. I know he was nervous at first- and rightly so! But soon we found that opposites attract! We make the best team because we bring such different ideas and experience to the table.

Early this month we launched the Chez Franc Food Truck serving fine hot dogs in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties in California. In November, we’ll be opening our own brick and mortar restaurant in Palo Alto! The restaurant is currently under construction, but should be finished in a month or so.


In the meantime, we are raising money through Kickstarter to help fund some of the hot dog and sausage making equipment in our restaurant. CLICK to check it out and support these opposites!

It’s Tasting Time! Tea, Coffee, Cheese, Wine

By Julie Couture
Professional Pastry Arts
2014 Graduate

The Professional Pastry Arts program curriculum focuses on French baking techniques, tempering chocolate, making ice cream, creating showpieces and learning plating designs. But for four afternoons, the focus shifts to tasting tea, coffee, cheese and wine.

It may not sound like it fits with the curriculum, but it does. Knowing what these food items taste like allows us to explain them to others and pair them with the proper foods.


We started off with tea, tasting white, green, and black and infusion teas. When the chef-instructors asked what the first tea tasted like, we noticed it tasted like grass. Actually, all of the teas smelled and tasted like grass. As the tea leaf is a plant, it makes sense. The chefs asked us to go beyond the smell of grass. When we did, we noted hints of orange and apricot and sometimes spices. Focusing on the full flavor of the tea allowed us to fully understand how to pair it with desserts.

Coffee was next. I’m not a big coffee drinker; actually, I’m probably one of four people in the world who doesn’t drink coffee at all. But, I was ready for the assignment. We tasted them without cream, sugar, milk or other additions. Black coffee is quite interesting, and I tip my hat to those who enjoy drinking it that way. The different types of coffee varied from each other in subtle ways that were not easy to detect. Consequently, I found it more difficult to determine dessert pairings for each type.


Our third tasting was cheese. There were nine glorious cheeses to taste. Aside from one that tasted like mold – because it was supposed to – they were all outstanding. The different textures and flavors were more pronounced with the cheeses compared to our previous tastings. Some had hints of grass due the cows’ diets; others tasted like the material used to wrap the cheese. They also varied in texture which influences the dessert pairings.

The piece de resistance was wine tasting on day four. Vanessa Vigneault, the sommelier from International Culinary Center’s Intensive Sommelier Training program was very knowledgeable. She educated us regarding how grapes are grown, how wine is made, and the fungus – yes fungus – named Botrytis that contributes to the sweeter flavor of some wines. Each wine had its own unique smell, taste and color. Hence, each could be paired with different foods. I deemed port a winner as it goes well with chocolate.


We still have much to learn about each of these food items. Two hours smelling and tasting tea, coffee, cheese and wine did not make us connoisseurs. For example, it takes years before someone can be a master sommelier. The tastings did provide a good building block in our careers. With time, practice, and more tastings, we will learn to understand the nuances of tea, coffee, cheese and wine, and with which desserts they should be paired.