Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Chocolate Creations

FCI Pastry Alum and Staff Contributor: Sabena Singh

Raspberry squares…..cherry cordials…truffes au chocolat… yum!

Reading about these confections is heavenly and seeing them in movies like “Chocolat” is tantalizing. But how about having a one week class and producing these delicious bonbons and eating them all by yourself? Difficile? Pas du tout! Sounds like a lot of fun!

Yes, starting this month, the pastry department is holding one week classes in chocolate. Dressed in chef’s whites you will be taught in the school’s brand new kitchen on the fourth floor.

So what can one learn in a week? First a background on the history, the manufacturing and sensory evaluation of chocolate, which in this case is nothing short of interesting. Then you will learn how to temper chocolate, build a box and pile it high with an assortment of chocolates with delectable fillings. Unusual fillings like honey-saffron, dulce de leche, tea and orange flower water or the more traditional like bourbon-pecan, champagne ganache or caramel ganache. In fact once you learn the basics, improvise! Concoct your own flavors! Above all, have fun!

This week the first mini-chocolate creations session ended. Check out what two participants had to say about our very first class!

Naoko Tanese said “….it was a very informative and useful hands-on course, providing an experience of total immersion in working with chocolate…”

Amy Bindler (staff member) said “…the curriculum was great….the best part is that all of the skills are skills that the students discussed using in the future, especially one of the students who will be opening her own chocolate shop…”

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bon Voyage – Alumni Visit the Farms of France!

FCI Culinary Alum and Staff Contributor: Erik Murnighan

Hear about The French Culinary Institute's special travel program offered to Alumni in Southwest France!

Alumni are given the chance to join long-time resident of Southwest France, cook, and writer Kate Hill for a one-week advanced program at The French Kitchen, her 18th-Century farmhouse and cooking school in Gascony. Alumni Erik has just returned and shares his experience:

The trip was fantastic. From the Chapolard’s pig farm to Patricia’s duck farm, the Sabadini’s Blond Aquataine cattle to Guy’s incredible armangac, we saw the origin of the incredible meals we prepared and ultimately consumed.
The Gascon countryside is beautiful and Kate was a fantastic tour guide. We ate everything, including kilo upon kilo of fois gras, magret of duck, saucisson, sauciseche, crepinettes, roast suckling pig, pates, terrines, horse – yes horse, veal, and some of the best produce I have ever eaten. The wine was fantastic and we always made sure to start off our evenings with some local aperitfs, including Floc which is a Gascon specialty. The weather was beautiful and we really learned a lot about the connection between the land and the meal – that has a lot more cultural significance in Gascony than it does in the US and it was wonderful not only to learn about it but to participate in it. The alumni who attended had a great time and they were a pleasure to spend a week with. The people we met were incredible – I was really taken by how proud they were of their respective craft and how they wanted to share that pride with us and tell us why it was so important to do things the old fashioned way.

They invited us into their world and provided wonderful memories.


PS- I have included some photos of farmers we met along the way... Also you can read more about our day to day adventures on Kate Hill's blog.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Upcoming FCI Alumni Demo

Culinary '02 Alumni Contributor: Chef Keith DiLauro

Please Join me for a dinner and demonstration where I will be sharing culinary secrets I learned during my travels to Tuscany.

During the event, guests will sample a four-course dinner including fine Italian wines, plus espresso, and cordials with dessert.

For reservations and more information, please
click here or call 212.725.8764.

Also visit Keith's website at: to see what he has been up to since he graduated The FCI!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Sweet Life

Staff Contributor: Kate Brown

Ever wonder how you get to be a pastry chef? A lot of dedication and hard work! Former magazine editor turned pastry student, Emily Carrus shares her experiences, successes, and trials in class and around the school. She began documenting her pastry adventures from orientation and she’s now just past the halfway mark. It’s a great way to see the day in the life of an FCI pastry student and always fun to see photos of her pastry masterpieces. From “a face full of flour” to the “tempering beast,” you never know what’s next. Sometimes Emily is “inspired, wired, tired,” but most of the time she sees the sweet side of things and has “reasons to celebrate.”