Thursday, December 13, 2007

FCI Alum Mitch Prensky Opens Supper Restaurant

Chef Mitch Prensky, a graduate of The FCI has opened Supper Restaurant in the heart of Philadelphia. Supper offers upscale modern American cuisine served in a relaxed and beautiful setting. For more information click here

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

FCI Alum Josh Eden’s Recipe Featured In New York Magazine

Chef of Shorty.32 and FCI Alum, Josh Eden’s recipe of Pan Roasted Chicken is featured in New York Magazine. In conjunction with the article, their website is also hosting a video which shows Eden demonstrating how someone at home can make his roasted chicken and chilled green-bean salad. To watch the video, click here.

FCI Alum Wylie Dufresne Proves That Cooking Is In Fact Chemistry

FCI Alumni Wylie Dufresne is fusing the worlds of science and cooking in order to create new recipes for his Lower East Side restaurant, WD-50 while still staying true to French cooking. By using such ingredients as hydrocolloid gums and Xantham, Dufresne has created recipes for butter that does not melt in the oven, deep-fried hollandaise sauce, and flexible foie gras. “ To read more, click here

Thursday, December 06, 2007

FCI Alum Chris Chen Opens The Dessert Truck

Jerome Chang, a graduate of the pastry program at The French Culinary Institute wanted to find a way to offer luxurious desserts at affordable prices. The Dessert Truck which can be found parked in the Village just outside of NYU’s Weinstein Residence Hall was a unique way to offer quality desserts at reasonable prices. Says Chang, “It’s the same type of dessert you would get at fine restaurants, without the long wait, the pressure and expense. We want to show people that they can have good food on a more regular basis without going to a restaurant.” To read more, click here

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

FCI Alum wins The 2007 Pacojet Recipe Contest!

Executive Pastry Chef and FCI alumni Michael Zebrowsky ’98 was named the winner of The 2007 Pacojet Recipe Contest for his recipe, “Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Oregon Huckleberry Compote, and Carmelized Popcorn.” The contest sponsored by Starchefs.com and Pacojet, was held at the International Chefs Congress in New York City. Zebrowski is currently the Executive Pastry Chef of the Westin Governor Morris Hotel in Morristown, New Jersey. To read more, click here

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

GQ Names David Chang Chef of the Year

FCI's alumni, David Chang (Classic Culinary Arts '01) was named GQ's Chef of the Year in the annual Men of the Year issue. For more click here

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The FCI Culinary Textbook available now!

The FCI, one of the world’s leading culinary schools, presents for the first time The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine, a single sumptuous volume featuring more than 250 classic recipes and basic cooking techniques as taught by some of The FCI’s most renowned deans including master chefs Jacques Pépin, Alain Sailhac, André Soltner, and Jacques Torres.

The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine represents the finest work of the culinary talents who wrote the curriculum that has taught some of today’s greatest chefs to cook. From the basic principles of the professional French kitchen to preserving food, working with vegetables, poultry, shellfish, or meats, or dealing with pastry doughs, creams, braisings or marinades, The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine is a master course in cooking. Complete with insider tips and invaluable advice from The FCI, this will be an indispensable addition to the library of serious home cooks everywhere.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Help Cook for a Cause at The FCI

This season, learning to cook a delicious Holiday Dinner will benefit families beyond your holiday table. The French Culinary Institute’s very own chef-instructors will teach you and your friends the techniques and tricks to cook a delicious, successful 3-course dinner or a sumptuous dessert course. Following the lesson, you will sit back and enjoy a professionally prepared gourmet holiday dinner paired with carefully chosen wines. Click here for more information.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Future of Food

Dave Arnold, The FCI’s director of culinary technology, is featured in the latest issue of Popular Science Magazine.

The magazine says “When the world's best chefs want something that defies the laws of physics, they come to one man: Dave Arnold, the DIY guru of high-tech cooking”. Click here to read more.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

All things sweet!

On Sunday, October 7th, PastryScoop.com had their annual Fall Conference here at The French Culinary Institute. They gathered a dozen of the city's finest talents to host workshops on a variety of topics including fanciful wedding cakes, American classics, and cutting edge culinary technology.


Over 200 people listened, learned, and tasted their way around what’s happening on the pastry scene today.
Workshops included:

Artisanal Bread Baking - Cristobal Julio Guarchaj, Grandaisy Bakery

Dolci Italiano - Kir Rodriguez, The French Culinary Institute
Vegan, Wheat-free, Gluten-free, and More – Shimme, Whole Foods Market & Jorge Pineda, Candle Café

Silicone Molds for Cake Decorating – Ron Ben-Israel, Ron Ben-Israel Cakes
The Beauty of Brioche – Nancy Olson, Gramercy Tavern

Building with Gingerbread – Angel Elon & Wendy Israel, Baking By Design
Desserts with Japanese Flavors – Magdalena Wong, Kyotofu

Chocolate Desserts from Daniel – Dominique Ansel, Daniel

Buttercream Piping Techniques – Victoria Love, The Water Club
Cutting-edge Dessert Technology – David Arnold & Nils Noren, The French Culinary Institute
American Classics Revisited – Jaime Sudberg, The Stanton Social
Cake Boutique, Eric Bedoucha, Financier Pâtosserie

Friday, October 05, 2007

Vitaly Paley featured in New York Times article

FCI Alumni and James Beard Award Winner, Vitaly Paley (Classic Culinary Arts '90) is featured in the New York Times' article on Portland's emerging culinary scene. The New York Times is quoted as saying, "This is a golden age of dining and drinking in a city that 15 years ago was about as cutting edge as a tomato in January. Every little neighborhood in this city of funky neighborhoods now seems to be exploding with restaurants, food shops and markets, all benefiting from a critical mass of passion, skill and experience, and all constructed according to the gospel of locally grown ingredients." Click here to read more.

Monday, October 01, 2007

FCI Alumni receives 3 stars from New York magazine

FCI Alumnus, Danny Mena (Classic Culinary Arts '05), received 3 stars from New York magazine for his restaurant, Hecho en Dumbo. New York Magazine says "Hecho en Dumbo is more than a menu of Mexican antojitos, or corn-masa-based snacks. It’s a nightly transformation, via food, drink, and music, into a slice of Mexico City, where the chef grew up before attending The FCI." To read more, click here.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Get cash for your cookies!

Got a great food idea?

Turning a simple idea into a money making business isn't as difficult as it might seem. The truth of the matter is there's a huge demand for high-quality niche food products. Just think of all of the new brands you see online and in gourmet shops each year. Who would have thought you could a build an empire on flavored marshmallows, doggie ice cream, or spicy peanut butter?

But in order to turn your idea into profits, you need a plan! You need advice from someone who knows what he's talking about! Enter Drew Koven, founder and CEO of Geoff & Drew's Incredible Cookies and the mastermind who put Jones Soda and Fresh Direct on the map. With his motto, "never confuse your hobby with what it takes to make a successful business," he'll get down to brass tacks and show you what it takes to succeed in the competitive world of food entrepreneurs. He'll cover everything from product development and launch to sustaining a profitable business over time.

Sign up today for PastryScoop.com's four hour seminar with Drew on October 13th here at The French Culinary Institute and learn what you need to know to get a leg up on the competition.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The FCI on Top Chef

The French Culinary Institute will be the featured location on the next episode of Top Chef, which will air on September 19th at 10pm (ET)(Bravo). Watch as the remaining contestants sweat it out in our brand-new Italian kitchen, and listen as Chefs André Soltner, Nils Norén, Jacques Torres, Alain Sailhac and Cesare Casella - along with our Founder and CEO Dorothy Hamilton -- provide colorful commentary.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The FCI's Fall Career Fair

The French Culinary Institute's Career Fair was held on Monday, September 10th, and was a success for students, alumni, and prospective employers. The Career Fair provides students and alumni the opportunity to network with employers, gather information, circulate resumes, discuss internship opportunities, and learn of potential job opportunities.

A list of some of the Employers that attended the event included:

  • Aquavit
  • Blue Hill
  • BR Guest
  • Craft
  • Del Posto
  • Group Alain Ducasse
  • Momofuku and Momofuku Ssam
  • Per Se








    • Two FCI Alumni win Bon Appetit Awards

      The Bon Appétit Awards are ten years old this year, which means that over the past decade they have paid tribute to more than 100 extraordinary men and women all who have made an indelible mark on the way we eat, drink, cook, read, and entertain. And among this year's winners two FCI alumni who are shaking up the restaurant industry:

      Chef of the Year
      David Chang, Classic Culinary Arts 2001
      "David Chang is transforming the way America eats out. The 30-year-old chef with impeccable credentials (Café Boulud and Craft in New York City) has energized a new generation of diners - a group that yawns at white tablecloths but expects top-notch meals..." For more about David's award please click here.

      Chef of Merit: Setting the Standard
      Dan Barber, Classic Culinary Arts 1994
      "Being a good chef isn't only about preparing a good plate of food", says NY Chef Dan Barber. "It's also about making connections between the impact those foods have on health, the environment, and the community..." For more about Dan's award please click here.

      Tuesday, September 04, 2007

      Lunch & Learn at The Italian Culinary Academy on 9/6

      Come and discover the art of Italian cuisine during an intimate event on 9/6.

      Grab your passport, come to SoHo and get ready to go on the Experience of a lifetime –
      The Italian Culinary Experience, at The Italian Culinary Academy.

      Join us for an Italian lunch to:

      • Learn about our programs
      • Speak with our chefs
      • Taste fantastic Italian recipes and see a class in action!

      If Italian food is your passion, the Italian Culinary Academy has a program to match your level of Interest. Live and learn in New York and Italy with our Italian Culinary Experience program or simply raise your culinary skills with one of our classes for passionate amateurs.

      Thursday, September 6th, 2007
      Noon - 2pm
      The Italian Culinary Academy
      RSVP to:
      concierge@frenchculinary.com

      Wednesday, August 29, 2007

      PastryScoop.com's Fall Conference

      Summer's not quite over yet but PastryScoop.com is gearing up for fall with their Fall 2007 Conference that is! They brought together some of the city's finest pastry chefs and bakers to host a dozen workshops on a variety of topics. Whether you're a seasoned chef or a budding baker, they have something just for you. Join them on Sunday, October 7th at The FCI for what is sure to be one of the sweetest days of the year. For event details, including workshop descriptions, chef bios, and to register online, click here

      FCI Alumni's restaurant receives 2 stars from The New York Times

      FCI graduates, Andrew Feinberg (Classic Culinary Arts '96) and Francine Stephens (Restaurant Management '03) received 2 stars from The New York Times' Frank Bruni for their restaruant Franny's in Brooklyn. To read the review, visit The New York Times

      Tuesday, July 31, 2007

      Disney/Pixar Ratatouille Cook and Win Sweepstakes

      It wasn't easy for Ratatouille to make his way into into a real professional kitchen, but for one lucky kid, the opportunity's only a few clicks away! Enter the Ratatouille Cook and Win Sweepstakes for a chance to win four days and three nights in New York City, foodie capital of the nation. The grand prize includes an exclusive tour of The French Culinary Institute, one of the nation's premier culinary schools, and a private two-hour cooking class with one of their chefs. The winning family of four will also receive welcome gifts, a deluxe set of kitchen tools and gadgets, a keepsake scrapbook filled with photos and recipes, and dinner at a New York City restaurant helmed by an FCI alumni. The contest is open until 11:59pm on August 31st, 2007, so enter today. The winner will be chosen on October 1st.

      Wednesday, July 25, 2007

      The FCI on TV this week

      Be sure to tune in to the CW11 Morning News on Thursday July 26th from 6 - 9am. The Morning News will be broadcasting LIVE from the fourth floor Italian kitchen. At various times throughout the 3-hour period, FCI Alum and Season 1 Top Chef contestant, Chef Lee Anne Wong will be preparing talking about The FCI's programs as well as demonstrate recipes from the movie No Reservations, where she was a culinary consultant.

      Thursday, July 19, 2007

      The Harold McGee Lecture Series

      Did you ever wonder about the difference between "food science" and "culinary technology"? Or is molecular gastronomy just a fad? Follow one student's play-by-play of acclaimed author and food scientist, Harold McGee's 3-day lecture series at The FCI.. Get an inside look here

      Wednesday, July 18, 2007

      Paté and popcorn and pastries—oh my!

      NASFT (that’s the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade) held their 53rd Summer Fancy Food Show at the Javits Center in NYC last week and what a show it was. It seemed every square inch of the place was abuzz with antipasti and olive oil, cheese and chocolate, salsas and sauces and seemingly every type of food and beverage you could imagine. Woe to the poor soul who ate right before entering the exhibit hall, where some [how many??] specialty food purveyors from every corner of the globe were there, strutting and sampling the mouthwatering fruits of their labors. For the first time, there was a dedicated area for natural and organic foods. There was also an enhanced product awards competition, and all the usual educational workshops. Did you attend? We’d love to hear what you did at Fancy Food and what you fancied the most?

      Psst….want all the news on our ‘Date Night’?

      ‘Date Night’ at The French Culinary Institute—which auctioned off dates with 15 of today’s hottest chefs—was a singular success. Between the auction and raffle tickets, the June 11th fundraiser netted $45,000 for Friends of The FCI. a non-profit that provides scholarships to The FCI's career students.

      In case you missed it, that scrumptious blog Snack has spared no detail in its robust recap of the evening—from that first foray down the runway by Jacques Torres, to Lee Anne Wong’s last minute menage à trois, to how many clams one lucky person shelled out for sushi with Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

      Is there a career-seeker in the house?

      Attending an Open House at The French Culinary Institute is like a shot of CPR for your career. So get out of the heat and learn how you can get onto a delicious new track in a matter of months (or even weeks!) at an the next Open House on Tuesday, July 24th, from 6:30-8:30 pm. You can learn everything you ever wanted to know about the FCI’s culinary, pastry and bread career programs, meet reps from the school and schedule a tour. The FCI’s own Chef Tina Casaceli, Director of Pastry Arts & Bread Baking, and David Arnold, Directory of Culinary Technology, will show you a Classical vs. Techinical pastry technique demonstration. RSVP to openhouse@frenchculinary.com

      Monday, July 16, 2007

      Daniel’s Dominique Ansel and Anthos’ Bill Corbett top list of Golden Scoop Award Winners

      In the it’s-never-too-late-for-this-kind-of-news department, PastryScoop.com announced the winners of its 2007 Golden Scoop Awards last month in front of an enthusiastic audience of food journalists, culinary tastemakers and, of course, pastry professionals, at The French Culinary Institute in New York City.

      The winners were Dominique Ansel, Executive Pastry Chef of Daniel in NYC (Best Dessert Menu, Spring Menu), Bill Corbett, Executive Pastry Chef at Anthos in NYC (Most Innovative Dessert, Sesame in Sesame), Megan Romano, Executive Pastry Chef at Aureole in Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino (Best Dessert Revival, Early Summer Grape Float with Pistachio Baklava), Shane Tracey, Owner/Chocolatier at KeKau Chocolatier in Eugene, Oregon (Best Confection, 65% Sur del Lago L’Olivier and Kelli Bernard), and Kelli Bernard, Owner/Baker of Amai Tea & Bake House in NYC (Best Bakery Recipe, Green Tea Sweet).

      The festivities were kicked off with a dessert-centric panel discussion on Classic Versus Avant-Garde with The FCI’s Dave Arnold and pastry chefs Gina DePalma (Babbo), Will Goldfarb (Room 4 Dessert), and Alex Stupak, (wd~50), and hosted by Food Arts founding editor and publisher Michael Batterberry.

      Of course, no award ceremony is complete without a musical number by a seven-foot pastry chef/drag queen—and the Golden Scoops were no exception, with self-proclaimed “Queen of the Dessert” Chocolatina (aka Martin Howard, executive pastry chef at Brasserie 8) doing the honors.

      While the awards are only three years old (they were founded in 2004 with the support of The FCI and Food Arts), it’s obvious that they’ve earned their street cred—judging by those who entered, those in attendance, and by the 24-carat coverage they received in New York Magazine. Check it out here.

      Friday, July 13, 2007

      FCI Alumni help out in New Orleans

      Culinary Alumni and Staff Contributor: Erik Murnighan

      CulinaryCorps Trip
      June 1-8, 2007

      I recently completed arguably the most interesting journey I ever embarked upon. I spent the first week of June in New Orleans, as a volunteer for
      CulinaryCorps, a non-profit organization, founded by FCI alumna Christine Carroll, committed to rebuilding New Orleans and its food culture, through cooking and community-related volunteer work.

      Although I had spoken with Christine numerous times about the organization, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I signed up for CulinaryCorp’s second of many week-long trips to The Big Easy. It turns out that no matter how well I may have prepared myself, I was in for a surprise. This wound up being one of, if not the most, challenging, emotional, exhausting but most rewarding experiences I have ever had (family experiences aside, of course).

      Our group of 14 culinary professionals arrived Friday afternoon and headed to our residence for the week – The House of Studies, which is one of Xavier University’s many under-populated dorms (Xavier’s student population was drastically reduced
      after Hurricane Katrina and they have been donating dorm space to volunteer groups from around the country ever since). For most of us, dorm life was long since forgotten. The check-in process gave us our first glimpse of the “X” that we would become very familiar with throughout our trip, the image of which will remain forever embossed on my brain.

      The “X” I refer to is spray painted on every house and every building in any area affected by the storm (nobody in Louisiana refers to Katrina or Hurricane Katrina – it’s just “the storm”). The top of the X indicates the date that the home or building was inspected by relief workers; the left indicated the origin of the relief crew (there were crews from many states, Canada and others); the right indicated any hazards within the building (toxic flood water [TFW], loose wiring, etc.); the bottom counted the number of dead bodies found inside, human or animal. We were shocked by the first X we saw and the explanation received. It quickly became commonplace – we would see X’s all week – many, but definitely not all, with zeros on the bottom.

      Once checked-in and unpacked, we gathered in the dorm’s common room and got to know each other a little. The mood was upbeat and cheerful. We were joined by Ashley Graham, the key New Orleans representative for Share our Strength. Ashley become involved in the relief effort almost immediately following the storm and after roughly 20 trips in the first year thereafter relocated from DC to New Orleans. Ashley was about to open our eyes to the real reason why we had made this journey. We loaded into our rental vans and headed out for the lower ninth ward, one of the most significantly impacted areas in the city.

      Along the way, we made a quick pit stop at Dookie Chase, Leah Chase’s famous ninth ward restaurant that has served an endless list of celebrities, athletes and politicians since she took over in the early fifties. Mrs. Chase was a few weeks from reopening her restaurant and she had plenty of stories for us. Stories about the storm, about segregation, about “regulars” like Ed Bradley, about beating the odds, and most importantly about the city she loved and its people. She’s a role model if I’ve ever met one and an inspiration to female, African American, and all other chefs alike.

      I couldn’t help but notice the spray paint on the side of the housing complex across the street from Dookie Chase that said “dog food drop here.” With no stores or restaurants open, the people and pets of much of New Orleans were (and in some areas still are) reliant on the support of relief workers and fellow Americans. Nowhere was that more apparent than deep in the lower ninth ward, just over the river, ever so close to the levees.

      Our “tour” through these neighborhoods was shocking. It seemed that for every home that was still standing (albeit barely) there were 20 vacant lots. Vacant because the houses that once inhabited them had been swept away and/or permanently abandoned and recently demolished. Many of the neighborhood streets remain impassable and the two schools we saw were without windows, teachers or students. There was little
      glimmer of hope in these neighborhoods – arguably 10 for-sale signs for every home that had any indication of rebuilding. That indication was most often in the form of spray paint on the house to the affect of “DO NOT DEMOLISH – WILL REBUILD”.

      Our “tour” ended with some rib-sticking poboys and beer at Jazzy PoBoys, a local favorite in the lower ninth, struggling to maintain enough business to stay alive. Poboys of roast beef debris, sausage, oysters and shrimp reminded us that our mission was to be engaged in the rebuilding and fortification of New Orleans’ vital food culture. And so our work began, bright and early Saturday morning.

      Our first project was to cook brunch for roughly sixty residents at Holy Angels Convent, in the upper ninth ward. Holy Angels had recently started hosting a farmer’s market on their property every Saturday and our coinciding brunch would promote awareness and bring in some customers. The kitchen and seating area had been damaged by the storm and had not been used since. Although none of the kitchen appliances were operational, we were armed with butane burners, electric skillets, and coolers. Brunch was a smashing success – we served 125 residents, stretching the food to make it seem like we expected that many all along. The farmers had more customers than ever and Holy Angels has decided that this should become a monthly event, executed by different groups. The setup at Holy Angels was make-shift, at best, but nothing would compare to where we would spend Sunday and Monday: The Goin’ Home Café in the lower ninth.

      The Goin’ Home Café was a community center run by Emergency Communities that provides three meals a day, laundry, internet, and children’s programs to locals and volunteers – all free of charge. The EC volunteers were delighted by our arrival as it meant two things for them: a couple days off (which were the first for many of the volunteers who had been there for months), and the promise of really good food. I whole-heartedly salute the EC volunteers for their efforts and dedication, but I was shocked to see the conditions in which they operated. The kitchen and dish pit were built outdoors (as was the only “shower”) and had plywood roofs and walls. Refrigeration and dry storage consisted of two separate semi trailers. The refrigerator/freezer trailer was broken for most our two-day stay and clearly had many issues prior to our arrival. Under ordinary conditions, our task would have been simple – cook breakfast lunch and dinner for roughly 300 people at each meal. We accomplished our task, but spent more time cleaning than cooking and threw away far more food than what we cooked and served.

      We served hundreds of people at each meal – and served them well. They loved the food and didn’t want to see us “chefs” leave. But this is not the memory I have of this place. I remember many things before I remember the meals: the rotten chicken we threw away from the broken freezer (roughly 2000 lbs. of it), the dish pit that consumed me, the swarms of flies – the overall disaster that was this food service operation. The volunteers are not chefs – they are saints, in every way, but they are not chefs. They do not have food sanitation certifications or culinary school degrees. They do what they can with the donations they receive (huge donations that quickly perish when the refrigeration fails), but they too are in need of help. The Goin’ Home Café was a perfect example of why food rescue programs often fail, even though Emergency Communities is typically seen as a success.

      My deepest memory of this entire trip was represented most by a single element during our two days at Goin’ Home Café: the people. Although very few have returned, those that have are incredible people – strong and determined. I think about Darrin, a local resident who helps out at Goin’ Home Café (he volunteered there when it was a community center before the storm) and is currently rebuilding a house for a friend. He lives in a FEMA trailer with his uncle and hopes to rebuild his own apartment. Darrin took us for a tour of his neighborhood. He showed us the house he was rebuilding and the second floor apartment where he used to live. The water line was up to the top of the steps to the second floor – for four days he looked out his window and watched bodies and other debris float by until he was rescued by a boat. Darrin didn’t ask for help; he wasn’t looking for sympathy. He had a job to do and was kind enough to take time away from it to show us around and tell us his story. We looked, listened, and will never forget. As Chef Frank Brigtsen told us later in the trip, "More than government support, more than money, we need Americans to see us and meet us and hear our story."

      We left the Goin’ Home Café Monday night with three full days ahead of us. None could compare to what we had just accomplished, but there was still rewarding work to be done. We spent Tuesday first at the Crescent City Farmers Market (the biggest and most populated farmers market in the city) before offering our services at to the New Orleans branch of Edible Schoolyard (originally created by Alice Waters in Berkeley, CA).

      Wednesday was our “day off” so off to Mississippi we went to check out an oyster packing facility (apparently one of, if not the largest in the US). Oysters were being imported from other states, due to the devastating impact the storm had on the Mississippi oyster industry. After a brief tour of the packing facility, we boarded an oyster boat operated by the Mississippi Department of Marine Services, responsible for post-Katrina oyster recovery. The prognosis is good, as many new oysters have started to develop on the millions of empty shells spread upon the bottom of the ocean by the recovery group, but it will be many years before the level of growth even compares to what it was prior to the storm.

      Our final working day was Thursday and we spent it back in New Orleans at Café Reconcile. Café Reconcile teaches at-risk teens cooking and front-of-house skills in a working restaurant environment. The restaurant is incredibly popular for the local lunch crowd and the students run the show – in the kitchen and in the dining room. We were to execute a very busy lunch service from start to finish, including all prep, with help from the students. The small handful of students gave 14 culinary professionals a lesson in real down-home cooking. Then, after a busy lunch rush and plenty of scrambling on our part, it was our turn to teach them. The topics of the day were job searching skills and a tasting and discussion of gourmet ingredients that the students were not likely to be familiar with. Caviar, truffles, fois gras, and different salts seemed about as foreign to these students as their lives were to anyone in our group. We may not have been well received by all of the students, but I think we connected with some, and that was worth our efforts.

      Throughout the trip we also managed to eat some wonderful meals and snacks at the following places: the aforementioned Jazzy PoBoys, Bayona, Café du Monde, crawfish boils with Poppy Tooker at The House on Bayou Road and a late night one at Maple Leaf Tavern, Cochon, a special dinner and demo by Chef Frank Brigtsen at Savvy Gourmet, Kimball’s Fresh Seafood (in Mississippi), Creole Creamery, Crescent City Farmers Market, the Hobnobber, and the test kitchen at Emeril’s Homebase. Our farewell dinner was at La Provence in Lacombe, Louisiana – just across the largest bridge over a body of water (Lake Pontchartrain) in the world (24 miles). La Provence has a small working farm (a la Blue Hill at Stone Barns) and wonderful history. We finished the night watching some live music (Lynn Drury – available on iTunes) at a tiny bar called the Apple Barrel on Frenchman Street, just outside The French Quarter. Two things brought me to New Orleans many times before this trip: the food and the music. They are still alive and hoping you will come down for a sample…

      For more information on how you can help, contact
      Erik Murnighan or visit www.culinarycorps.org.

      Monday, May 21, 2007

      Bid On A Date With A Celebrity Chef!

      “DATE NIGHT” - NEW YORK’S FIRST-EVER LIVE CHEF AUCTION!

      You can’t buy love, but on June 11, 2007, you can buy a date with a famous chef. Friends of The French Culinary Institute, a non-profit organization that raises money for culinary scholarships, will auction off exclusive dates with some of New York City’s hottest celebrity chefs and food personalities. Nearly 200 guests will gather to witness the first-ever event and to bid on an evening with legends like Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jean-Georges pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini, Momofuku chef/owner and FCI alum David Chang, The FCI’s Alain Sailhac, André Soltner, Jacques Torres, Cesare Casella and many more. The money raised at the event will go directly to culinary scholarships and will help dozens of future chefs afford an invaluable education at The French Culinary Institute.


      Some of the one-time-only dates on the auction block:

      Train with Wylie Dufresne of wd~50 in his kitchen, then join him for dinner at his favorite late-night hang-out, Momofuku Ssäm Bar.

      Have dinner with Jean-Georges Vongerichten at his favorite New York City sushi restaurant.

      Learn to master your favorite dessert with Melissa Murphy, owner of Sweet Melissa Patisserie, and appear on an episode of her podcast “Simply Baked with Sweet Melissa.” Then join Melissa for lunch at the patisserie.

      Get a private, behind-the-scenes tour of Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Haven followed by a hands-on chocolate class.

      Among the other chefs participating in “Date Night” are Lee Anne Wong of Bravo’s Top Chef; Jean Francois Bruel of Daniel; Aaron Sanchez of Centrico and Paladar; Julian Alonzo of Brasserie 8½ and Dan Barber of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

      “Date Night” will take place Monday, June 11, 2007, at Cipriani 23rd Street, 200 Fifth Avenue. Cocktails and bites will be served from 7 to 11 p.m. The auction will begin around 7:30pm.

      Tickets are $250 and can be purchased by calling (646) 254-7521 or via
      friends@frenchculinary.com.

      Don’t miss it!


      Also, check out some other blogs discussing our event!
      Epicurious.com
      TheFoodSection.com

      Friday, April 20, 2007

      The Next Best Thing to being a Chef

      Culinary Techniques Student Contributor: Leland Scruby

      Midway through Culinary Techniques, I’ve already learned an enormous amount about how to get things done smartly in the kitchen. I went into the class thinking I could cook reasonably well—I cook at home every night, and I’ve always done a good job at making a spontaneous meal out of what’s around—but the class has opened my eyes to dozens of new ways of handling food.

      Culinary Techniques starts with sanitation, organization, and knife work. I thought that the organization and sanitation portions would be of little interest to the home cook, but I was wrong. Learning to wash, peel, trim, and organize vegetables and meat properly makes cooking in a small, New York City kitchen easier, neater, and safer. I knew I needed help with my knife work—is there any non-professional who is truly confident in his cutting abilities? And while I won’t be doing much taillage or tournage at home, the hours we’ve spent on them in class have taught me the right way to hold and move a knife safely. There’s no sense in owning fancy knives if you can’t really use them.

      I’ve learned numerous important lessons in the last six weeks that have improved my cooking at home. For one, I’ve learned about temperature: of the food before and after it’s cooked, of the pan before the food goes in it, of the inside of meat. A thorough understanding of temperature keeps food from sticking, cold butter from melting, eggs from scrambling, and sauces from breaking. For another, we’ve learned about liquid: when to use water, when to use stock, when to deglaze and why, and when and how to flambé. We’ve also received extensive instruction on different cooking utensils, and on how the shape and size of a pan make a huge difference in the way food cooks in it.

      We spent an eye-opening evening on eggs, and another on potatoes. My favorite lesson so far, though, has been on tart crusts. What could be better than a flaky, all-butter crust? I’m turning out onion tarts every week at home now, making the crust right on my kitchen counter, with a fork and a scraper, as we learned to do in class. The sweet crust for a dessert tart is even easier, and an apple tart with Greenmarket apples and hand-whipped cream makes a stunning end to a home-cooked meal.

      Culinary Techniques has lived up to its name. In almost every class, the chef-instructor stops the work at some point to remind us that we’re learning a particular technique that can be applied in other preparations. When we made blanquette de veau, for example, Chef Tom described how the same technique could be used with other meats. He has taught us classic methods of cooking vegetables, from sautéing and glazing to boiling and roasting, and we’ve learned to make them work for any vegetable.

      The running theme of the class, and possibly the heart of French cooking, is that every ingredient is important, and each element of a dish must be considered separately. When I cook a dish at home with different vegetables in it, I usually throw them in the same pan over the course of cooking, overcooking some and undercooking others. In class, we are learning to cook and season everything separately before reheating and assembling at the end. The result is fully realized dishes with married but distinct flavors, such as in the navarin printanier d’agneau, a beautiful stew of lamb and spring vegetables that we learned on Monday night. Being able to taste everything that you’ve worked to prepare is worth dirtying a few extra dishes.

      In the final nine lessons, we’ll learn dishes as varied as consommé, pot-au-feu, fish mousseline, and chocolate soufflé. I look forward to using the techniques we’ve already learned, and to adding new ones to my expanding repertoire.

      Friday, February 23, 2007

      Wine Enthusiast Magazine To Host “Toast of the Town” at Lincoln Center


      On Monday, April 23, Wine Enthusiast Magazine will host its “Toast of the Town” wine and food tasting event at the New York State Theatre at Lincoln Center. This event, an annual highlight of the New York City epicurean scene for the past seven years, is a wine and food lover’s delight. It will showcase over 60 wine and spirit companies, pouring a selection of over 500 of their premium products. Accompanying these will be signature dishes from 30 of New York’s top restaurants.

      The event begins with a VIP tasting from 5:00 to 7:00 PM, tickets priced at $185. This exclusive session offers a much smaller audience a special selection of super premium Reserve and Estate wines. The larger Grand Tasting takes place from 7:00 to 10:00 PM, with tickets at $95. Also included in this event is a Silent Auction, with donations from the participating wineries and restaurants, to benefit Second Harvest. For both tastings, space is limited; tickets are sold first-come, first-served. For information or to purchase tickets:
      www.wineenthusiast.com/TOT07 or call 800-847-5949.

      There is a 10% discount for members of The French Culinary Institute.

      Wednesday, February 21, 2007

      My day with Chef Tyler Florence...

      Classic Culinary Arts Student Contributor: Cynthia Magpayo

      7:30am pick up from The FCI. My classmate, Steve, and I are picked up in a black Mercedes by Tyler Florence's Culinary Director, Anthony Hoy Fong. 33ish Chinese, New Zealand-born, moved to NYC 18 months ago and has been working with Tyler for 8 months. He is a FCI grad and says he got the job by doing just as we are - volunteering. He did great, Tyler kept asking him to help out and eventually offered him a full-time position. Yup, that's the plan!

      The ride up to the venue is about an hour and a half, which turns into two hours when our driver gets lost, but no matter, as it gives me more time to pick Anthony's brain. He works very closely with Tyler, arranging logistics whenever food is involved as well as prepping and cooking when need be. He also gets to travel around with Tyler - cooking events, speaking events, Food Network filmings, etc. Basically Tyler's "go-to" guy.

      Arrive at Citigroup's estate and we're introduced to all the staff as "Tyler's chefs". Nice. We feel like celebrities as we walk around, heads peering over to get a look at us. A tour of the grounds (gorgeous country club) and the kitchen (one for prep, the other for service, HUGE). Anthony tells us we're being spoiled for our first gig. He explains that most of the time he's in a tiny kitchen where he's expected to plate for a hundred and cut vegetables on a cardboard box.

      They give us a room to change into our chef's whites and we head to the prep kitchen. We meet the Citigroup chefs who will be helping us out - four 50ish men, one of which worked Tuesday's UN General Assembly dinner with President Bush (seared foie gras and filet mignon). We're told that tonight's guests include Citigroup's top worldwide customers, Citigroup's CEOs, and guest speaker Al Gore. Wow.

      Prep work consists of stuffing game hen, then four hours of peeling and splitting beets. Yeah, that was the low part of the day. And I used to like beets...We wrap up the prep work and move from the prep kitchen to the service kitchen which is adjacent to the dining room. In addition to the four Citigroup chefs and ourselves, there are four other workers ready to help out. We unpack and set up for service. I'm engrossed in inspecting celery leaves when Tyler Florence walks into the kitchen. Jeans, a blue stripped button down shirt, a dark blue blazer. He speaks with the Citigroup people, checks out the venue, chats with Anthony, checks out the food. Then he puts on his chef's whites and jumps right into the mix.

      My first assignment, given by Tyler himself, was to roast the walnuts, season and rough chop them. I dump them on a sheet pan and throw them in the oven, checking every so often. When I think they're done, I take one out and hand it to Tyler. He says they're perfect and I pull them out. The whole time I'm calling him "Chef Tyler" or "Chef" as is usual in a kitchen, but by the end of the night, everyone was just calling him "Tyler" and he didn't seem to mind. I start rough chopping and ask Tyler how fine he wants it. He comes around, motions for my knife and starts chopping. As he's showing me the consistency he wants, he tells me a story when he worked in a kitchen and had "to hand chop 10 pounds of nuts". He says he asked the chef if he could use the food processor, and explained that you can't really get the right chunks of nuts using a machine. He hands me my knife back and I get to work. The whole time we're working there are two cameramen following Tyler around the kitchen, snapping pictures - they even took one of Tyler chatting with me about the walnuts! Oh, and of course from time to time I take out my own camera and snap a pic of Tyler working.

      My second assignment - polenta. As I'm working on the nuts, I'm sharing the table with Tyler as he makes polenta. We're discussing the difference between raw and instant polenta mix (he used instant) and he's whisking a big stock pot of polenta. When he's finished, he hands me a spoonful to taste. Nice. He pulls it off the heat and tells me that when I'm done with the nuts to arrange the polenta for service in three hotel pans and cover them with buttered parchment paper. Look at me, I'm Tyler's "go-to" gal! My third assignment - the assembly line. I finish with the polenta and the kitchen kicks into high gear. Dinner service is minutes away and everything needs to be done and ready to go. Tyler calls out my name and tells me he wants me organize the assembly line. Working with the kitchen staff, I make sure the tables are clean and set up properly, ensure hot plates are hot, cold plates are cold and that we have more than enough for service. I even catch that the salad plates were in the warmer and had to be moved quickly to the cooler. 8:30 hits and we're into dinner service.

      My first time on the assembly line. We're arranged in two lines down both sides of a long table. The food is in the center in the order it needs to be plated. Plate and pass it down. All goes pretty smoothly and Tyler's at the end of the table making last minute touches and garnishes. He finishes off every single plate before it goes out the door. First I'm on apples, then beets (yuck!), then hen and sauce. In the middle of the hen service, Tyler calls me from the end of the table and tells me to start working on the strawberry sandwiches for dessert.My final assignment - strawberry sandwiches. I jump off the line and check on the grill - it's filthy. I fail at trying to clean it up myself and call for one of the dishwashers to help me out. Thankfully, they all like me, probably because I was the only girl in the whole kitchen. It takes awhile for it to get cleaned up and I can see Tyler eyeing me from the assembly line as the hens go out the door. I start setting up the butter and sheet pans with some hesitation and Tyler calls over to me "Cynthia, you better get started on those or else dessert service is going to start and we won't have any sandwiches." I freak out a little - but internally - and jump on the task. I'm working this grill like crazy, pushing out 20 sandwiches every five minutes. By the time dessert service is up I'm on my last batch of 20 and by the end I make 100 sandwiches - all by myself! Red bull has nothing on natural adrenaline. Tyler would come over once in a while and check on my progress. I let him know things are under control and he says, "Well, that's why I put my top chef on it!" Ha! The desserts go out and dinner service is over. Tyler makes some finishing remarks to the guests in the dining room and invites the kitchen staff out to be recognized. He introduces Steve and myself as The FCI student volunteers. Cameras flash, everything is a blur and we head back into the kitchen.

      Of course I make sure to get a picture with Tyler and I have him sign the recipe list we were given. He promises us a great letter of recommendation and a copy of his newest cookbook.The end of the night, we pack up and head out of the kitchen. Tyler, Anthony, Steve and myself walk back to the prep kitchen to gather our things - replaying the evening and chatting and laughing like old friends. We wait in the parking lot together for our cars and discuss random things. Tyler has a bit of a cold and he tells us how hard it is trying to get well while working and on the road. He even visited a doctor that specialize in voice therapy to try and fix his throat. Steve and I talked about The FCI and how we're on stations now. I explain that I'm doing skate wing next class and Tyler says, "Oh yea, they have those bones that stick out." Hehe. The cars come and Tyler and Anthony jump into the first one. Tyler gives me a peck on the cheek and thanks me and Steve many times over for helping him out. He says he always has events he needs help with and will keep us in mind. Goodbyes and thanks to Anthony as well and I yell out to make sure he keeps in touch. Steve and I jump into the second car and talk the whole way back about our day working side by side with Tyler Florence. Hopefully, the first of many...