Friday, April 30, 2010

I'd Like a Sam'ich, Please

We were very excited when we got wind of alum Tyler Kord's new project that opened up in the Ace Hotel this spring. Anticipation was undeniable. Living about two blocks away, I played stalker and wandered by from time to time to see if the brown paper was off the windows...yet. So, it was with great enthusiasm that our team of two trucked up from SoHo to the hotel on 29th street shortly after the sandwich shop's opening to check out the menu at No. 7 Sub and get some face time with chef/co-owner Tyler Kord (who also is the creative force behind No. 7 in Brooklyn).

Want to make your own imitation lobster sandwich? Take careful notes and watch Tyler in action as he constructs just one of his delicious menu offerings.

Warning: Watching this video may cause sandwich eating wish-fulfillment dreams until you make your way to No. 7 Sub to try one for yourself.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bring Out the Glasses and Pop the Cork

It's always nice to receive attention for hard work. And so we were ecstatic to find out that The FCI was awarded the 2010 International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Award of Excellence in the Vocational Cooking School of the Year category at the IACP Gala Awards ceremony held on April 22.

The school also received a 2010 IACP Cookbook Award for The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts. The school's latest cookbook offers time-tested instruction and inspiration to bakers of every skill level based on its world-renowned curriculum developed under the direction of the school’s Dean of Pastry Arts, Jacques Torres.

The IACP Awards of Excellence are presented annually to honor members whose outstanding achievements and unending pursuit of excellence embody the highest standards of the association.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

More Tech 'n' Stuff

Nils Norén, vice president of culinary and pastry, and Dave Arnold, director of culinary technology, make a pecan bourbon sour on Ozersky.TV.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Harold McGee

By Liesel Davis

As the editor of The Hot Plate, I consider part of my job here at the school as that of school reporter. And I love that this gives me the opportunity to check in on many of the interesting demos, classes, and extracurricular activities going on at the school, as well as the cool stuff many of our chef-instructors, staff, and alumni are up to. In always looking for the next story, our department of Culinary Technology comes in as a heavy-weight in the arena of interesting things going on.

From left: Nils Norén, Dave Arnold, and Harold McGee

I'm not scientifically minded. Not by a long stretch. My sense of the physical universe has always been counterintuitive and my ability to grasp anything technological takes a good deal of forced concentration. But culinary technology, that is a completely different matter. It's the exploration-rush (Who wouldn't want to taste and compare an excessive amount of citrus?) and the possibility of finding new frontiers that to me is so compelling. Most of the classes are taught by Dave Arnold, director of culinary technology , and Nils Norén, vice president of culinary and pastry arts. But a few times a year, the school is lucky to host Harold McGee as a guest instructor. And April 22nd marks the start of his next class.

To the initiated food lover/culinary scientist, the name Harold McGee is legendary and a copy of his book On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen will always be somewhere handy for referencing, looking much better for wear—drips, scribbles, thumb-crunched pages. For the uninitiated, well, it's time for an introduction, because what McGee brings to cooking is guaranteed to change your own approach and views on cooking. (You'll also want to look for his monthly column in the New York Times.)

Harold McGee

First off, the prep for this class is extensive and time consuming, not merely because the material covered is never static but also because many of the products used are very specific (unlike the lemons and granulated sugar the stockroom always has on hand) both in sourcing and in preparation. Dave Arnold, gave me a whirlwind of an answer on all the things they were doing to get ready, including tracking down the lye he needed to pick up from a certain shop in Chinatown (only known source).

But the effort really pays off; this class is dense with information. So, for those of you looking to have a knowledge thrill and expand your culinary understanding, this class fits the bill with guarantee. But you must come curious. If you do, you will be greatly rewarded, because the more you ask, the more you feed exactly what this class is all about: testing, trying, and figuring things out. You will walk away with a whole new edge to your cooking skills.

•Read about McGee's fall 2009 class here.

Click here to sign up for the April class.

• If you are interested in learning more about cooking technology, check out Nils Norén and Dave Arnold's tech 'n' stuff blog: Cooking Issues or head to the forum to talk with like minds.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Student profile: Cooking by the Book

Kim Beeman, 31
Hometown: Boise, Idaho
Current city: Jackson Heights, Queens

This January, after thinking about it for a long, long time, I started culinary school at The FCI. I have been the librarian here for almost four years; I love both cooking and cookbooks. Although I have a modest background in pastry (including stints with a chocolatier, at a bakery, and at a couple of restaurants), I wanted to do something more serious and structured. My pastry experience was hodgepodge. I felt I needed a firmer foundation in basic techniques.

I am almost a third of the way through the professional culinary program now. My knife skills (not to mention my knife-sharpening skills) are much improved, I can quarter a chicken with my eyes closed (well, not quite, but almost!), and I have developed a real appreciation of brown veal stock. I am looking forward to the next few months, when I will have a chance to put these new skills to the test.

When I started the program, one of my biggest concerns was the schedule. I work in the library Monday through Friday during the day, so I enrolled in the Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday evening class. That means some long days—Tuesdays and Thursdays I am at the school from 8 a.m. to 10:45 p.m.—but it has gone smoothly, more smoothly than I anticipated in fact. I find that being in the library and being in the classroom are so different that I don’t get tired, at least not while I’m still cooking! Back in January, my October graduation date seemed impossibly far away. But now that I’m further into the program, it seems like it’s approaching far too quickly.

After I graduate, I will still be working in the library. I love the cookbooks—and students and chefs—I work with too much to do anything else! Being a student, though, has helped me to understand the school in a whole new way. I have a much greater appreciation of what hard work the students are doing. I also know what days they make soufflés and steaks and all of my other favorite dishes—all the better for planning “impromptu” visits to the classrooms!

If you visit the school, I hope you will get a chance to drop by the library. We have a fantastic collection of cookbooks, and I am happy to talk about them or about my experiences as a student. Although I had some concerns when I first started—about balancing work and school, about giving up my Saturday nights, about making it all work—I couldn’t be happier. I feel so lucky to be here, and so excited about all that is yet to come!

As librarian extraordinaire Kim Beeman makes sure The FCI library is stocked with the latest and most interesting of what is being published about food and drink. She is currently enrolled in the Classic Culinary Arts program at The FCI. Her desert-island cookbook (for the moment, anyhow!) would be The Lutèce Cookbook, although she has a huge weekness for the extremely kooky Bull Cook series by George Leonard Herter.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Wong in The House

Lee Anne Wong has done many great things in her time as a chef. After leaving her path headed toward a fashion career, Lee Anne did an about-face and enrolled at The FCI. (Fashion and food. We get it.) From there, Lee Anne worked in the events department at The International Culinary Center (home of The FCI), first as the assistant chef and then as the executive chef of event operations, and she made a run at the Top Chef title in season 1, which eventually lead her into the role of culinary producer for the show.

Lee Anne has since left Top Chef and The FCI but keeps herself constantly busy with numerous projects and traveling. And although she is no longer working full-time at the school, we are lucky enough to have her back from time to time as a guest chef-instructor and for demos. Lee Anne recently teamed up with House Foods to do a tofu demonstration at the school. Lee Anne used a variety of Japanese ingredients along with tofu, which she applied to her versions of three classic dishes from three very different cuinsines: Middle Eastern, Japanese, and Italian. Each sample was as delicious as the last, although I may have a personal soft spot for the falafel. Lee Anne managed to use tofu with perfect elegance in all her recipes, showing off its unique qualities and value in the kitchen.


House Tofu Edamame Falafel with Tofu Meyer Lemon Tahini
Chef Lee Anne Wong for House Foods America
serves 6 to 8
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
2 cups frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 block House Foods Super Firm Tofu, pressed,
drained, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon soy sauce
black pepper, freshly ground
vegetable oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
4 cups baby arugula
1 cup medium asparagus, thinly sliced on the bias
Pickled Shallots (recipe follows)
Tofu-Meyer Lemon Tahni (recipe follows)
toasted sesame seeds (for garnish)
1. Place the garlic, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds in a food processor. Blend on high speed until the spices and garlic are finely ground. Add the tofu, edamame, onion, parsley, cilantro, flour, and soy sauce. Season and process until the mixture forms a rough paste.
2. Add oil to a deep wide pot to come several inches up the sides; heat to 375°F. Roll the mixture into 2-inch balls. Fry in small batches until golden brown and crispy, 3 to 4 minutes. Place on paper towels to drain. Lightly season with salt. Reserve.
3. Whisk vinegar, oil, and honey in a bowl. Season; reserve. Toss asparagus and arugula in a bowl; drizzle dressing over greens. Season lightly; reserve.
4. To serve, plate 3 to 4 falafel on each plate. Spoon tofu tahini sauce over top. Top with arugula and pickled shallots. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Pickled Shallots
1 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 dried red chile, crushed
1 star anise
pinch of salt
1 cup shallots, thinly sliced and separated into rings
Bring the vinegar, sugar, spices, salt, and 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat. Place the shallots in a deep bowl set over another bowl filled with ice. Pour the hot brine over the shallots. Submerge shallots, gently stirring with a spoon. Place a paper towel over the shallots to keep them completely under the liquid. Cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap. Reserve in refrigerator until ready to use.

House Tofu Meyer lemon Tahini
1 block House Foods Soft Tofu
1 cup roasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup soy milk
1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice, strained
2 Meyer lemons, zested
1 teaspoon sesame oil
black pepper, freshly ground
Place all ingredients except salt and pepper in a blender and process until smooth. Season. Add water if tahini is too thick. Place in airtight container. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The sauce can be served warm or cold.


House Tofu Chawanmushi with Salmon and Marinated Tofu
Chef Lee Anne Wong for House Foods America
1 block House Foods Medium-Firm Tofu, drained
3 large eggs
2 cups Dashi (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sake
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 8-ounce skinless, boneless salmon fillet, cut into 1-ounce cubes
Marinated Tofu (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
8 green onion, white parts only, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch honshemeji mushrooms, trimmed and cut into pieces
black pepper, freshly ground
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cups romaine hearts, leafy parts trimmed, julienned crosswise
4 ounces salmon roe
4 leaves shiso, cut into chiffonade
1. Place tofu, eggs, dashi, soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar, and salt in a blender. Blend on high speed until smooth.
2. Divide mixture evenly among 8 Japanese tea bowls or large coffee cups. Gently place the salmon cubes and marinated tofu evently into each bowl, submerging in the custard. Cover each bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place cups into a steamer. Steam until custard has set (15 to 20 minutes).
3. Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan until smoking. Reduce the heat to medium and add the oils to the pan. Add onion and toss to coat. Cook 1 minute. Add mushrooms; season. Cook, stirring often, until lightly colored, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to high. Deglaze pan with soy sauce and cook 30 seconds more, allowing moisture to evaporate. Add butter and as soon as it has melted, stir in the romaine hearts. Cook, stirring often, 15 seconds. Remove from the heat; season.
4. To serve, remove the chawanmushi from the steamer. Remove the plastic wrap. Place a large spoonful of the vegetables on top of each custard. Garnish each with a heaping tablespoon of salmon roe and a pinch of shiso.

Dashi Broth
1 3-inch square dried Kombu (kelp)
1/2 cup shaved bonito flakes
1. Wipe the kombu gently with a damp paper towel. Bring kombu and 3 cups water (preferably purified) to a boil in small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and let steep 10 minutes.
2. Remove the kombu from the broth and discard the kombu. Bring the broth to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the bonito flakes. Remove from the heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain through fine mesh strainer lined with a coffee filter. Discard solids. Place broth in an airtight container. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Marinated Tofu
1/4 block House Foods Firm Tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sake
3 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1. Palce the tofu in a resealable plastic freezer bag. Close and shake to bring the tofu into a single layer. Place in freezer. Let chill for 2 hours.
2. Remove the tofu from the freezer. Thaw. Remove fromt he bag and gently press the tofu between paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible. Change paper towels as needed. Reserve.
3. Whisk soy sauce, sake, mirin, sugar, and rice vinegar in a bowl large enough to fit the tofu until the sugar has dissolved. Add the tofu and cover with a fresh paper towel to keep the tofu submerged. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to overnight before using.


House Tofu-Honey
Panna Cotta with Blood Oranges and Pistachios

Chef Lee Anne Wong for House Foods America
serves 8
Nonstick cooking spray
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup soy milk, room temperature
1 block House Foods Soft Tofu
1/2 cup honey
pinch of salt
Blood Orange Gastrique (recipe follows)
2 blood oranges, cut into sûpremes and extra juice reserved for gastriqueCandied Pistachios (recipe follows)
Fresh mint and tarragon, cut into fine chiffonade (for garnish)
Lightly coat 8 4 oz. ramekins with cooking spray and reserve.
2. Whisk gelatin and sugar in a bowl; reserve. Place soy milk in another small bowl. Gradually add the sugar mixture, whisking, in a slow, steady stream. Let stand 5 minutes.
3. Place tofu, honey, and salt in a blender; blend on high until smooth. Add gelatin mixture; blend until homogenous. Place in a saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Do not let mixture boil. Whisk once more and remove from the heat. Pour into prepared ramekins. Place on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until set (at least 2 hours).
4. To serve, carefully run a knife along the inside edge of each ramekin and invert panna cottas onto serving plates. Drizzle a few spoonfuls of gastrique over each panna cotta; top with a few orange pieces and some candied pistachios. Garnish with herbs.

Blood Orange Gastrique
peel of 1/2 blood orange, peeled into 1-inch strips with a vegetable peeler
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup fresh blood orange juice
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
1/4 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1. Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the orange strips; cook 15 minutes. Strain. Repeat the process two more times, boiling a fresh pot of water each time. Run the strips under cold water, pat dry with paper towels, and cut into thin julienne crosswise to create 1/2-inch long strands. Reserve.
2. Place all the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cook liquid until it has reduced by 70 percent and has a syruplike consistency. Remove from the heat. Stir in the zest. Place in a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and reserve until ready to use.

Candied Pistachios
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon honey
pinch of salt
1 cup pistachio nuts
1/4 cup Demerara sugar
1. Heat an oven to 350°F.
2. Whisk granulated sugar, honey, 1 tablespoon water, and salt in a small bowl until smooth. Add pistachios and Demerara sugar and stir to coat nuts.
3. Spread out onto a parchment paper–lined baking sheet in a single layer and bake until nuts are golden brown (8 to 10 minutes). Remove from the oven. Cool completely then break the nuts into small pieces. Place in an airtight container. Cover and reserve at room temperature until ready to use.


92nd Street Y

Dorothy Cann Hamilton, founder and CEO of The FCI, sat down with chefs Tom Colicchio (Craft, Colicchio & Sons, and chef host Top Chef), Dan Barber (Blue Hill NYC & Stone Barns), and Jacques Torres (Jacques Torres Chocolates and dean of The FCI Pastry Program) to discuss her new book, Love What You Do, and what it takes to be a chef at the 92nd Street Y in February. In this clip from the event, Dan Barber talks about what he looks for when hiring new cooks at his restaurant and the dedication it takes to be a chef.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The FCI on Food2

We are excited to announce that, starting today, three current FCI students will be blogging weekly about their experiences in culinary/pastry school in Food2's new column: Food 2 School. This is one class, you'll want to follow!

About Food 2:

Food2 scours the planet as well as local fast food drive-ins for the tastiest, seductive, most shocking and satisfying bites in the world of food and drink.

Along with an outspoken, eclectic slate of food bloggers, Food2 mixes up cocktails, beer & wine, foodie challenges, recipes, how to’s, food porn and pop culture with a bunch of other elements we aren’t at liberty to discuss. To get your fix, just click through to

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Student Profile: Kitchen Patrol

Tom Ryan, 36, East Islip, Long Island

Tom Ryan has been a policeman in New york City for more than 15 years. And he loves it. At 18, he started out his college career in architecture. Deciding he wanted to give back to the community while he studied, Tom volunteered at his local fire department. He'd grown up cooking, learning dishes from his Irish-French-German heritage from his mother and grandmother, but it was at the fire department that he really learned to cook. Preparing large meals for the other firemen on duty and for community events became one of his favorite parts of the job. But Tom didn't head straight off to culinary school from there. What he knew was that he enjoyed helping the community more than studying about buildings and drafting. So, he switched his career path, earned his badge and donned the policeman blues, eventually making detective.

Tom was a 9/11 responder and like many others has been affected by his work at Ground Zero. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma eventually put him on desk duty and the track to early retirement. Still young and with a family to support, Tom had some decisions to make.

He made a short list of what he enjoyed doing and what skills he could use towards a new career. The winners: gardening and cooking. He'd always wanted to do more with cooking and now was his chance.

Tom started the classic culinary night program in the fall of 2009. He commutes into the city from his job in Queens two evenings a night and gives up his Saturday evenings with his family to study. What does he think of his new life? "I thought I was a decent cook coming into the program, but one night at the school really put me in my place. I have learned so much. If I was to quite the program today, I would walk out knowing so much more than I did when I started in September."

Tom Ryan flanked by two classmates at a student buffet.

It's not without sacrifice. Tom's three girls (ages 7 years old, 4 years old, and 5 months) and wife don't see him as much as they did before, and he doesn't have time to go out with friends. But taking the evening course has been well worth it in Tom's opinion. And, most importantly, he has been able to keep working while training. And what he has learned is already paying off at home, too. His older girls love to be his sous chefs in the family kitchen, and Tom and his wife make a point of inviting different friends and family over for Sunday dinner, where Tom impresses them with his newly garnered cooking techniques, every week. Making fresh pasta and cheese and smoking meats are three of his favorite things to do. He has a new smoker in his backyard with a stash of woods—hickory, mesquite, and applewood.

With graduation just around the corner, Tom is thinking about the future. What's next? "We start looking for property for a bed and breakfast in New England in June," Tom exclaims. And he is looking forward to cooking more and more for his family along with using his FCI training to make meals for his guests. With a bed and breakfast in the works, Tom is well on his way to cooking up something great.