Jacques Pepin a the Demo

Essential Tips from Chef Jacques Pépin

July is #FCIFlashback month where we are celebrating our founding as The French Culinary Institute with exciting programming and demos that embrace our FCI legacy—after all, the International Culinary Center® is still The French Culinary InstituteTM.

On July 11th, ICC was fortunate enough to have Chef Jacques Pépin, Dean of Special Programs, visit us for his classic La Technique demonstration. Chef Pépin’s technique, skill, and knowledge are unparalleled. His impressive display of knife skills is incredible to watch and learn from, and he has been an extraordinary resource at the International Culinary Center since 1988. Chef shared some of his vast knowledge with our audience during his demonstration.

Here are some essential tips to mastering your knife skills & more straight from the source:

Have a good knife.

As you use your knife continually, it will dull. Sharpening it on a stone will make the knife last longer. To do so:

  • Saturate your stone with water or mineral oil, depending on what is recommended for your particular stone.
  • Use steel to realign the teeth of your knife.
  • Always keep the knife at the correct angle on the steel that you are sharpening the knife with, or the teeth may break.
And if you need to realign your knife blade on steel:
  • Cover the entire blade back and forth on the steel
  • Apply pressure
  • Keep your angle constant, or else you will destroy the teeth of the knife
Glue your hand to the knife you are working with.

This controls the knife, allows for an even distribution of cuts and prevents accidents.

The sharper your knife, the less you cry when cutting an onion.

Did you know that onions make us teary because a reaction in the onion releases a chemical called lachrymatory factor? A sharp knife causes less damage to the cell walls of an onion where irritants are unleashed, causing tears to form. The sharper the knife, the fewer irritants that will be released.

When using a vegetable peeler, use it flat on the cutting board.

If you wrap your hand around the peeler, instead of pinching the peeler at the top, you will be too far away from the cutting board and it will make it much more difficult.

Vinegar and salt cleans copper.

Ever wonder how Chef Pépin keeps his copper pots and pans so clean on TV? Well it’s not all in the magic of TV! He recommends using a combination of salt and vinegar to clean the grime and tarnish off of copper. It works because the acid in the vinegar strips the oxidized patina from the copper and the salt acts as a mild abrasive to remove any caked on grime.

And lastly, one of the most important pieces of advice that Chef Pépin shared with ICC students is to see the food through the chef you are learning from. He advises aspiring professionals to take pride in what the chef wants you to learn. After working with different chefs over the course of many years, you’ll have a wealth of knowledge to create your own style.

Carnegie Hall Commencement Ceremony 2017

ICC Annual Commencement Ceremony 2017

On Sunday, April 23, the International Culinary Center®  celebrated graduates throughout the past year at our annual commencement ceremony, held at Carnegie Hall in New York City.  Jacques Pépin, our Dean of Special Programs, offered the keynote address with wise words for graduates on how to stay humble and work hard throughout their culinary careers.

In addition to the hundreds of Culinary Arts, Pastry Arts, Cake Techniques, Bread Baking and Sommelier graduates, the school also recognized this year’s selected Oustanding Alumni winners. Chef Julian Medina, the chef/owner of Toloache, Tacuba, Coppelia, Yerba Buena and La Chula received the award for Excellence in Culinary Arts. Susanna Yoon, head chocolatier and founder of Stick With Me Sweets received this year’s Excellence in Pastry Arts award. Rhonda Crosson, the head baker for MeyersUSA received the award for Excellence in Bread. Hugh Mangum, a graduate of ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program (2001) received the award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship as the chef/owner of Mighty Quinn’s – having multiple locations of the New York style BBQ establishment across the globe. Last but certainly not least, ICC celebrated Jhonel Faelnar as this year’s Outstanding Sommelier. As the Sommelier for The NoMad Hotel, Jhonel is the only ICC graduate to receive the distinction of being an Advanced Sommelier and is currently studying for the Master Sommelier exam.

We wish nothing but continuous success to all graduates and alumni and look forward to seeing you “Love What You Do” throughout your careers.

Learn From the Culinary Masters of Technique – ICC

The International Culinary Center’s dedication to cultivating talent in its students begins with the passion and commitment of its renowned faculty and staff. Among those on the ICC Team driving student success is a long list of esteemed culinary professionals serving as deans and master chefs.

Meet Deans Jacques Pépin and Jacques Torres

At the heart of ICC’s culinary instruction is a curriculum carefully designed by world-renowned deans and taught by a core of accomplished chefs hailing from all corners of the culinary world. Among the other famous names filling these roles as deans are Jacques Pépin and Jacques Torres.

Jacques Pépin: Dean of Special Programs

Jacques Pépin began his culinary career at the famous Le Pavilion restaurant when he came to New York by way of Paris, France, where he had received his training at Plaza Athénée under Lucien Diat. In the years before joining the ICC staff in 1988, Pépin served as the personal chef to French head of state, Charles de Gaulle, and earned a master’s degree in French literature at Columbia, all while honing his own culinary technique.

Pépin’s culinary prowess and charm have also made him a superstar of culinary television. He launched his series The Complete Pépin in 1997 and went on to receive a daytime Emmy award for Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, a series he hosted alongside Julia Child. He has since been a guest judge on Top Chef and has aired several other of his own cooking series.

A living legend among culinary professionals and foodies, Pépin has received countless accolades, including the Chevalier de L’Ordre du Mérite Agricole, Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, several James Beard Foundation awards — including the Lifetime Achievement Award — and an induction into the foundation’s Cookbook Hall of Fame.

Known for his humorous and vibrant demonstrations, Pépin not only assisted in creating the curriculum for ICC students, but has long supported the culinary school’s focus on helping students find success by building technique from the ground up as the firm foundation of any cuisine.

“Before you can express your talent, you have to learn basic technique. You have to become first a craftsman.” – Jacques Pépin

Over the years, Pépin has released dozens of cookbooks, with his newest, Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul in the Kitchen, released this year and accompanied by a television series, Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul, airing nationwide this fall.

With decades of unparalleled culinary experience, Pépin’s zest for cooking is as unyielding and as deeply personal as ever. In a recent piece he wrote featured in the New York Times, “Jacques Pépin’s Food Memories,” Pépin conjures a philosophy of food that is magical, familial and sentimental:

“For most people, the dishes that matter are the dishes that have been cooked with love. …Those dishes remain much more embedded in our taste memory than the recipes and dishes of great restaurants, even for a professional cook like me.”

Jacques Torres: Dean of Pastry Arts

Master pastry chef Jacques Torres  started his journey into the pastry world at age 15 as an apprentice. In addition to being named Pastry Chef of the Year by both the James Beard Foundation and Chefs of America, Torres is the youngest title winner of the esteemed Meilleur Ouvier de France. After joining the ICC faculty in 1993, Torres helped design the curriculum for ICC’s Pastry Arts program, becoming the dean of the program in 1996.

ICC Dean of Pastry Arts Jacques Torres

He starred in the Food Network series Chocolate with Jacques Torres, and he has been featured on countless other television programs, including as a judge on Cake Boss: Next Great Baker.

Beyond his role at the culinary school, Torres has earned a name for himself — he is often referred to as “Mr. Chocolate,” a name he shares with the website for his well-loved chocolatier that operates many locations throughout New York City as well as a state-of-the-art factory.

Featured in countless articles by publications including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, the French-native was recently dubbed “Brooklyn’s Wonka” by Newsday. In the article, Torres explains his philosophy on dessert and on life: “You have to play big if you want to make it big,” he said.

Torres often shares his expertise with ICC students during hands-on demonstrations, evidence of which can be seen on his Instagram, and he remains an important part of passing on his real-world expertise to ICC culinary students.

“Making chocolate is a way of life, not a profession.” – Jacques Torres

Learning Technique Helps Gives You Confidence

Fundamentals are the cornerstone of the ICC experience. By learning classical techniques from our chef-instructors and some of the greatest culinary minds in the world, students gain the foundational skills needed to begin a journey to any place on the culinary map.

“We just concentrate on the cooking itself. That’s why we can do in six months what other people take two years to do.” – Jacques Pépin