Genevieve Yam Kopman

My Favorite Books: An Interview with Alumna Genevieve Yam Kopman

“If I can’t read it or eat it, I’m not interested”

Meet Genevieve Yam Kopman. Culinary Arts ‘17 Graduate. Pastry Chef de Partie at Per Se.

Yam and Pepin

A culinary book helped to change Genevieve Yam Kopman’s life—so it’s not surprising that she logged some significant time in the library while she was studying at ICC. “I love books, especially culinary ones,” she says now. ”If I wasn’t here, I was at [the bookstore] Kitchen Arts and Letters.”

Before culinary school, she was working as a data associate in Toronto, at a startup called Zomato. But she found working with Excel all day “soul-sucking.” That’s when the former restaurant stagiaire started reading Dan Barber’s The Third Plate—and figured out what she really wanted to do with her life. “Someone referred to food as my ‘side hustle’” she says now. “I didn’t want it to be a side hustle, I wanted it to be my career.” In November 2016, Yam enrolled in ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program + Farm-to-Table extension, hoping that her newest life dream—working at Blue Hill at Stone Barns with Chef Dan Barber—would work out.

And it did: after her externship at Blue Hill at Stone Barns was complete, she was hired at the restaurant full time! Though her training at ICC was in culinary, she ended up transitioning to pastry, both because of her interest in it and because the pastry department was short-staffed. She learned a lot of pastry techniques during the whirlwind two years she spent at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and “loved every minute of it.” In February, she moved on to become a pastry chef de partie at Per Se.

Unsurprisingly, she admits that her style of cooking and the way she uses ingredients has a strong farm-to-table slant, influenced by the time she spent working for Chef Dan Barber. “It’s definitely seasonal and very much plant and ingredient driven. I like to keep things simple. As for desserts, I really enjoy desserts with fruit. I love sweets but don’t like desserts that are too sweet. Desserts and baked goods should never just taste like sugar—they should always have a flavor of their own.”

This spring, we challenged Genevieve to come up with the five books that influenced her most during culinary school—and which she felt would be most useful to ICC students pursuing their passion in the kitchen. Here are her top choices:

1. The Third Plate by Dan Barber

the third plateThis book really changed the way I thought about food, cooking, and agriculture. It’s insightful and makes you think critically about the way food is grown/raised, prepared, and served. It made me feel hopeful about the future of food. I can’t even begin to sum it up in a few sentences! After I read it, I wanted to share it with everyone I knew. 

2. On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee

on food and cookingThis book continues to answer so many of my questions. How can we make something delicious if we don’t know anything about our ingredients? It looks at the history of milk, eggs, meat, fruits, vegetables, spices, grains, nuts, bread, sauces, sugars, alcohol, and food additives, and discusses nutrition and the principles of cooking. Along the same vein, I highly recommend Kitchen Mysteries by Hervé This…

3. The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Elix Katz

the art of fermentationI am endlessly fascinated by fermentation and preservation. Some people find fermentation very intimidating but Katz breaks it down really well and you will want to ferment everything when you’re through with it.

4. Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison

vegetable literacyKnow your vegetables! Vegetable Literacy is so helpful for identifying different plant species and families. 

5. The Art of French Pastry by Jacquy Pfeiffer

the art of french pastryI didn’t go to school for pastry, so this book was very helpful and instructive for traditional French pastry techniques. A lot of what I know was learned on the job, but most of it also came from taking the time to learn when I wasn’t at work. It’s very straightforward and the recipes are great— I think it’s one of the best pastry books out there.

There are so many other books I’d like to include (including The Last Course [by Claudia Fleming]) but I think these are… very essential, the ones that have really influenced the way I think about food.

Library Notes: The Cookie Books – May 2017 [New York]

It’s almost time for the Cookie Games, the annual competition where Pastry and Culinary Students compete for celebrity judge votes and an audience favorite. The rules are simple, choose an inspirational country of origin and bake four dozen cookies, but sometimes the inspiration is not so simple. That’s why here in the ICC Library we have a great selection of cookie books to help you develop your recipe. Stop by and take a look!

Celebrity judge Dorie Greenspan knows cookies, she just released the James Beard Award-winning Dorie’s Cookies last year! This book covers classics like chocolate chip and macrons, but she also developed unique recipes such as Moroccan semolina cookies and chocolate olive cookies. With such a wide and unusual variety of cookies, it is no wonder the book is award-winning. Beyond the great recipes, Dorie covers solid tips and techniques of cookie making that will help the newbie and improve seasoned bakers.

The Gourmet Cookie Book is like a primer on the history of the United States through cookies. The book compiled the best recipe from the magazine each year from 1941 through 2009. You can see how tastes, skills, and techniques changed over time and the influences of different events throughout history.  For instance, cinnamon sugar crisps of 1944 were selected because they could be sent in parcels to troops. By the 1970’s the food processor was introduced and cookie recipes such as Kourambiedes or Greek Butter Cookies proliferated.

With a foreword from Dean Jacque Torres, you know Milk & Cookies is going to cover plenty of chocolate, and you know it’s going to be a great book. Tina Casaceli does indeed include recipes for double chocolate chip mint cookies and coconut macaroons (dipped in chocolate) but she also features cookies with baked chow mein and honey lavender shortbread. The book is divided by base dough, be it vanilla, oatmeal or peanut butter. Each chapter then offers multiple variations on that base, perfect if you need guidance on how to tweak a recipe you already have to make it, even more, competition worthy!

If you are curious which cookies are favored in the kitchens of your favorite restaurants, check out One Sweet Cookie from Tracey Zaber.  Chefs from such celebrated restaurants as Eleven Madison Park, Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Le Bernadain all contribute recipes. Even our very own deans, Alain Sailhac, Andre Soltner and Jacques Torres submitted their picks for the favorite cookie. So, what do they choose? Well, you will just have to come and borrow the book to find out.

Library Notes: Women’s History Month [March 2017]

Written by Sara Quiroz
ICC Librarian

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting several female authors from our collection.

Women Chefs of New York by Nadia Armugam profiles some of the biggest chefs in the city, including alums Jean Adamson and Christina Tosi. Each profile includes a personal history of the chef, info about where they are cooking now and several of their favorite recipes. Try out some diverse and tasty dishes from your favorite female fronted kitchens such as rabbit stroganoff, smoked duck soba and peaches and cream cookies. The recipes included are as unique as the stories of the women behind them.

photosbyarielle-20Cooking without Borders by Anita Lo “Food, like language, is constantly evolving. It is a living entity that grows and changes at each individual stove-top, at the hands of cooks across the globe,” so says Anita Lo in the introduction to this beautiful cookbook. To call her style fusion cuisine is an oversimplification because, as she says, all cuisine is fusion. Every style of cooking is influenced by others as cuisine truly knows no borders.  Check out her beautifully designed book for recipes like foie gras soup dumplings, braised pork cheeks in caramel and crisp warm sesame mocha.  Anita will also be speaking on our upcoming Food for Thought panel.

Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen by Dana Cowin
Longtime editor of Food & Wine, it was a shameful secret that Dana Cowin could not cook. She decided to up her game and learn from the pros – including ICC Deans Jacques Pepin, Jose Andres and Cesare Casella as well as alumni David Chang , Dan Barber and Zak Pelaccio. The book is fun and approachable for the new cook but seasoned foodies will love it for the insider secrets of their favorite chefs. Did you know Chef Cesare Casella freezes his cooked beans in their liquid? Mario Batali cuts up overcooked pasta, breads and fries it. These and many more tips and tricks from great chefs in addition to approachable yet unique recipes (hello Jerk Lamb!) are all included in Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen. Dana will be moderating our upcoming food for thought panel.

Four Kitchens by Lauren Shockey Have you ever dreamed of living around the world? Alum Lauren Shockey did just that. After completing her culinary education she went to work in kitchens in New York, Hanoi, Tel Aviv and Paris. Interspersed with her grand adventure are recipes inspired by each city. An ode to life on the line, Lauren shows that no matter how different we may be, there is always common ground in the kitchen.

Girl Hunter by Georgia Pellegrini
Part memoir and part how to guide, Girl Hunter chronicles Georgia Pellegrini’s experience learning how to hunt and all the characters she met along the way. It also includes multiple recipes, from whiskey glazed turkey breast to squirrel dumplings. She also includes helpful charts of game meat characteristics and which substitutions will be successful in the recipes and useful equipment for the haute cuisine hunter.

photosbyarielle-21