student

Announcing New Mystery Basket Challenge For Professional Culinary Arts Students

The culinary industry is fast-paced and constantly growing, which is why our Professional Culinary Arts curriculum continues to evolve, preparing students for today’s kitchens and culinary scene. Whether it’s harnessing the wave of culinary technology—with lessons on sous-vide, low-temperature cooking, hydrocolloids and more—or connecting your culinary techniques to the beginning of the food chain—embracing sustainability and seasonality through our Farm-to-Table extension, students learn the techniques that today’s chefs need to know.

That is why we were so excited to launch a new addition to Level 4 of our Professional Culinary Arts program earlier this year—The Mystery Basket Challenge! On the final day of their 400 hours at ICC, and prior to going on their externships, students are given 4 secret ingredients and are tasked with creating an original dish from scratch. In only 2 hours, they’ll be asked to conceptualize, plan, cook, plate and present their dish to a panel of judges. The challenge allows student’s to flex their creative muscles and combine the culinary and plating techniques learned with the skills they’ve developed for consistency in flavor, timing and presentation.

Leland Clark, Vice President of Student Affairs, remarked that the “Mystery Basket Challenge was designed as a culmination of students’ four levels of progressively complex cooking, and as an exhilarating final activity before they begin their professional externships. We are always excited to see the amazing creativity and skill on display in each group!” With a few classes now having completed the Mystery Basket Challenge, we’ve seen great use of the secret ingredients in imaginative applications like a savory brittle, scallion and kale pancakes and even a pork pho with handmade noodles!

Plus, with a very generous donation from Crooked Brook and the Mohawk Valley Trading Company, 1st and 2nd place winners walk away with prizes—like a beautifully crafted apron or a giant jar of organic maple syrup—after the challenge. Crooked Brook has designed and manufactured chef coats and aprons for the world’s most distinguished and discerning chefs since 1989. The Mohawk Valley Trading Company offers the highest quality organic, unprocessed natural products they can produce such as maple syrup, maple sugarraw honey and beeswax candles.

Below, check out some of the images from our recent Mystery Basket Challenges and get inspired for your future challenge in Level 4 of the Professional Culinary Arts program!

cookie games winners

Cookie Games Winners: Where Are They Now?

This year, Hester Farabee, a Professional Pastry Arts student, took home the gold at ICC’s Seventh Annual Cookie Games. At the competition this August, three winners from previous Cookie Games stopped by their alma matter to cheer on this year’s competitors and taste their cookie creations! We caught up with them—and one alum, who now lives in Singapore—to see what they’ve been up to since bringing home Cookie Games glory.

2014

Vianna Sinnan
Vianna Sinnan | Professional Pastry Arts ’15

Winning Recipe: Coconut Daun Pandan of Malaysia

coconut daun pandan

What are you currently up to?

I am living in New York and working pastry at Buddakan.

Have you ever made your winning cookie recipe again? And if so, in what capacity?

I have made my cookie many times since the competition! Part of my holiday gifting tradition has come to include a box or bag of the cookies for family and friends. 

What is your fondest memory about your experience participating in the Cookies Games?

My fondest memory of the competition was hearing my name called out as the fan favorite. I couldn’t believe it, especially since I was still in Level One of the Professional Pastry Arts program and had seen how talented the other contestants were over the course of the two days. 

2015

savita bhat
Savita Bhat | Professional Pastry Arts ’16

Winning Recipe: Chocolate Cardamom Buttons of India

chocolate cardamom buttons

What are you currently up to?

Currently, I work in New York City at Simon & The Whale on the pastry team! Our Head Baker and Pastry Chef is also an ICC grad, Zoë Kanan.

Have you ever made your winning cookie recipe again? And if so, in what capacity?

I’ve definitely made my cookie recipe again. Actually the same year I did the cookie games, I entered my recipe a the WNYC Holiday Cookie round up and it was selected as one of the featured recipes by Melissa Clark! I try to make it around the holidays every year—it’s a pretty good Christmas cookie.

What is your fondest memory about your experience participating in the Cookies Games?

My fondest memory about my experience participating in the Cookie Games was definitely brainstorming and baking with my pastry school friends who were also participating. It was pretty chaotic, but so fun and such a great moment to look back on!

2017

clara lim
Clara Lim | Professional Culinary Arts ’17

Winning Recipe: Browned Butter Masala Chai Cookies

browned butter masala chai

What are you currently up to?

I’m currently living in Singapore! I am the Co-Head Chef at an artisan café and bakery called Baker & Cook at Core Collective Dempsey.

Have you ever made your winning cookie recipe again? And if so, in what capacity?

I made the cookies again on one of my last days at my externship at Park Avenue! 

What is your fondest memory about your experience participating in the Cookies Games?

Fondest memory is probably working with my partner, Maddie! So great to get together with her again and work on a project like this because by that time we had been out on our externships. It was nice spending time with her again within the walls of ICC. 

2018

rebecca ng
Rebecca Ng | Professional Culinary Arts ’18 and Professional Pastry Arts ’19

Winning Recipe: Umami Cookie

umami cookie

What are you currently up to?

I am currently traveling and visiting family in Hong Kong. I am not working right now, but I continue to bake for family and friends.

Have you ever made your winning cookie recipe again? And if so, in what capacity?

I frequently make my cookie for family and friends!

What is your fondest memory about your experience participating in the Cookies Games?

My fondest memory of the cookie games was working in the prep kitchen and hearing Chef Anna Bolz commentary.

group shot

MEXICAN CHOCOLATE MASA COOKIE TAKES HOME THE GOLD AT ICC’S 2019 COOKIE GAMES!

The 7th Annual Cookies Games was, yet again, a huge success! Throughout the week, students prepped their original cookie recipes and demonstrated the extraordinary creativity of ICC’s Professional Culinary and Pastry Arts students. A total of 19 applications from current students were submitted for the chance to compete this month. An in-house selection committee narrowed it down to 10 finalists who produced a wide variety of interesting flavors and textures inspired by countries around the world. This year, the selection committee chose recipes that included never-before-seen (in The Cookie Games!) ingredients like parsley, porcini mushrooms, rosewater, Stilton blue cheese and masa harina.

all of the cookiesFrom the use of turmeric in the Spiced Golden Coco Cookie inspired by India, to the bold blue-cheese in the Stilton Cherry Walnut Shortbread, students combined their technique-based education with their travels, heritage and memories to create unique submissions for the games. Check out the full list of finalist creations below!

“The Cookies Games is an exciting opportunity for the next generation of chefs to flex their creative muscles. The 7th annual games this year brought a broad range of ingredients and pairings. I applaud all the professional ICC students for their innovation and determination in this tough competition.” —Jansen Chan, Director of Pastry Operations and Creator of The Cookie Games

chocolate masa cookie

This year’s first place winner, Professional Pastry Arts student Hester Farabee, took home the Grand Prize—KENWOOD Kitchen Machine Stand Mixer, Valrhona Alpaco 66% Dark Chocolate and $30 Gift Card + book from the MoMA Design Store—for her Mexican-inspired Mexican Chocolate Masa Cookie. Craving more of her delicious, sandwich cookies? You can make Hester’s cookies at home, click here for full recipe.

Congratulations are also in order for Pastry student, Lily Hu, who came in second place with her Crazy Rich Asians’ Shortbread inspired by her Chinese heritage. In her delicious recreation of a Millionaire’s Shortbread, she incorporated Chinese Five-spice powder, which commonly includes cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechwan peppercorns. Lily took home a De’Longhi Countertop Oven and $20 Gift Card + book from the MoMA Design Store.

Third place went to the USA-inspired Barbecue Cookie created by Professional Pastry Arts student, Dressler Parsons. Dressler explained that her inspiration for the cookie came from her dad’s love of creating smokey-barbecue in their backyard. He was even there in the jam-packed audience cheering her on! Dressler received a BRAUN Hand Mixer and $10 Gift Card + book from the MoMA Design Store.

Finally, the audience vote for Fan Favorite went to none other than Professional Culinary Arts student, Hayley McLean’s Sticky Toffee Pudding Cookie, inspired by her travels through the United Kingdom. During her externship at Citi Group, Hayley learned how to create a proper sticky toffee pudding from her head chef who was originally from the UK!

chef michael anthonyWe’d like to thank all the student participants of the 2019 Cookie Games, as well as our expert judges who provided thoughtful critique and suggestions to our students. This year’s roster of judges included Bao Ong (Food & Drink Editor, Time Out New York), the team from Gramercy Tavern—Michael Anthony (Executive Chef) and Miro Uskokovic (Pastry Chef), Emma Bengtsson (Executive Chef, Aquavit) and Mike Chau of @foodbabyny. We’d also like to recognize the generosity of our sponsors who provided the prizes and gift bags for all competitors. A special thank you to Valrhona for providing all of the chocolate for the competition! Check out our full gallery of photos from this year’s games below!

2019 COMPETITORS:

BARBECUE COOKIE
USA | Dressler Parsons

CRAZY RICH ASIANS’ SHORTBREAD
China | Lily Hu

I.A.N.
Armenia | Mary White

MEXICAN CHOCOLATE MASA COOKIE
Mexico | Hester Farabee

MISO CITRUS SHORTBREAD
Japan | Jeremy Rick

PORCINI BLACK PEPPER SHORTBREAD
Italy | Samantha Daily

ROSEWATER SHORTBREAD SQUARES
USA | Regan E. Peschel

SPICED GOLDEN COCO COOKIE
India | Jennifer Fay

STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING COOKIE
Great Britain | Hayley McLean

STILTON CHERRY WALNUT SHORTBREAD
Great Britain | Iuliia Kiskie

SPONSORED BY:

Kenwood Logo
Braun Logo
Valrhona Chocolate Logo
delonghi
michel et augustin
milk bar
moma design store
products to use

Sour Cream Shortbread Recipe

Did you know that French butter is often considered best for baking because of its low water content, resulting in a better texture for baking? Beurremont butter, a traditional French butter, is one of the only butters made in the USA that is high in butterfat like it’s French counterpart. Beurremont is made without aging the cream or adding cultures to it, giving it a sweet flavor. It’s also low in moisture, resulting in a rich creamy profile that’s perfect for cooking and baking. So perfect, Team USA uses it as their official butter in the Bocuse d’Or Competition—notoriously the most challenging cooking competition in the world.

Great for decadent recipes, or when you need an extra hint of buttery flavor, it works especially well in our Director of Pastry Operations’, Chef Jansen Chan’s, Sour Cream Shortbread recipe! As he puts it, “Buerremont Butter is a great brand to incorporate in many types of recipes; it has a complex culture flavor balanced with a rich butterfat taste.”

Learn how you can make this quick recipe below, and many thanks to our Pastry Plus Gold Sponsor Beurremont Butter and Paris Gourmet for their support.

You Will Need...

  • 2 cup butter, unsalted
  • 3 1/3 cup flour, all-purpose
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 oz. sour cream
  • Additional sugar, as needed

Procedures

step 1

Cut butter into cubes and keep at room temperature until firm, but not soft.

step 2

mix ingredients

Place butter cubes, flour, sugar and salt into a mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment.

step 3

mixture
Mix at a low speed until mixture is very fine and crumbly, about 7-9 minutes. The dough should be able to hold together as crumbs when squeezed together. There should not be any visible butter chunks.

step 4

PRESS DOUGH
Press the dough into a parchment lined half-sheet tray.

step 5

refridgerate
Wrap the sheet tray of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 2-3 hours, or overnight.

step 6

spread sour cream
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Remove from refrigerator and spread sour cream evenly on top.

step 7

bake in oven
Bake for an hour, or until medium brown on top.

step 8

sprinkle sugar

Sprinkle the top generously with sugar while the shortbread is still warm.

STEP 9

cut into squares
With a serrated knife, and while the shortbread is still warm, cut into two-inch square pieces.

step 10

Enjoy!
Allow to cool and enjoy!