Friday, October 22, 2010

All Good Things Must End Some Day

Graduation is, like so many big occasions, a time of endings and beginnings. There is the anticipation of life beyond school, the excitement of taking out newly learned and honed skills into the world, and there is often also the gleaming vision of going out to win fame and fortune, or at the very least make a substantial impact on the world. But these feelings of greatness are also usually accompanied (if only in the slightest twinge) with a feeling of loss for what will be left behind. Most often we miss the people we encountered, but we can also miss something significant that a certain experience gave to us: the enjoyment of trying something new, the continual and immediate pressure to strive and perfect, comradery, or the escape from the life one has into something new.

Judge's Plate (clockwise from top right): Charlotte royal; pain au chocolat; lemon cookie; passion fruit bonbon

We have several graduations each year at the school. They are always attended with enthusiasm as students celebrate with friends and family their accomplishments. For the pastry students, the final project includes the making of four desserts: a cake or pie; a Viennoiserie; a petit four; and something chocolate, such as a bonbon or chocolate dipped confection. Students also are required to make a stand on which to display their final creations. As is standard for all FCI projects, there is a theme. And students may use pastillage (sugar-based dough that dries hard when left out); poured, pulled, or blown sugar; and/or chocolate to make their stand. The final projects are some of my favorite items to see on display, as they demonstrates the culmination of all the student has done during the past six (day program) or nine months (evening program). The student, too, gets to see how far they have come, thinking back to the first time they made croissants or tempered chocolate.

Here are some recent photos of what students have done. The first group is from a day class. Their theme was places. The second group is from an evening class. Their theme was space. Click on photos to view details.


Clockwise from right: New York City (Columbus Circle); New Jersey (New Jersey Turnpike); Guatemala

Clockwise from top right: New York City (Seagram Building); New Jersey (Jersey Shore); Chicago; Dominican Republic


Monday, October 18, 2010

The Food King: Ferran Adria

Ferran Adrià (above, left) and Colman Andrews (above, right) visited The FCI last week for a series of events hosted by the school.

The afternoon began with a book signing of Colman Andrew’s recently published Ferran: The Inside Story of El Bulli and the Man Who Reinvented Food in the library, where students lined up to have copies of the book signed by both the author and the books subject.

The book is the first published biography on Adrià and his groundbreaking work at El Bulli, making the event even more momentous. Students were excited to meet the famed chef, shake his hand, and have their picture taken with him and Andrews.

After the book signing, Adrià, with Andrews serving as interpreter, talked on tape with school founder Dorothy Cann Hamiliton about his career and the restaurant industry past, present, and future. The day finished with a Q&A in the International Culinary Theater lead by Andrews, which allowed Adrià to share his philosophies on food, cooking, and life with an eager audience of top-talent chefs, food media, and industry professionals. Attendees were able to ask the famous chef their own questions at this rare up-close appearance. The chef even talked about his decision to close El Bulli as a restaurant and what patrons and fans can look forward to once it reopens in 2014 as a foundation for exploration and learning. Adrià also talked about the value in sharing ideas and recipes and his proudest accomplishment of doing what makes him the most happy and living life to the fullest. —Liesel Davis

Below is a brief excerpt from his conversations with Dorothy Cann Hamilton.

Read more:
Dorothy Cann Hamiliton writes about her experience on her blog Love What You Do.

Eater posts about the Q&A event.

And a student talks about meeting Ferran for the first time.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Taking back October

Wandering about the streets this past Saturday, I was greatly dismayed to find holiday ornaments, wrapping paper, and bows, slipping into retail stores. It's only October 9th, take this back to the storeroom, I wanted to yell. People make jokes about holiday retail getting earlier each year, and this year I think retailers may have leaped forward another four weeks. We have two more holidays ahead of us before it's time for holly and mistletoe and menorahs. But, I am happy to report that my concerns with holiday overtake were alleviated when I walked the halls of the school this afternoon and found some fantastic sugar and pastillage projects on display. Thanks pastry students for your homage to all things ghoul, scream, and orange-and-black-crepe-paper related. I am saving my mulled apple cider in a Frosty mug and turkey leg for another month. —Liesel Davis

Friday, October 08, 2010

The Bees-Knees

Another pastry class took on their first wedding cakes as they prepare to graduate. This time, the theme was a 1920s wedding. Black, white, and red were the colors. No cheaters needed to see that everyone's cakes turned out more than copacetic.

Fall 2010 presenting students from the Tues./Thurs./Sat. evening program:
Janelle Cataquiz
Katharine Choi
Luciana Davidzon
Liesel Davis
Tara Glick
Lorena Gonzalez
Brittani Key
Mary London
Molly Marzalek-Kelly
Sejal Mehta
Aoi Natsume
Irene Ng
Suheil Paneto
Jennifer Rivers-Flasko
Jaclyn Sanders

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


For those of you who don't know, NYCE (or "nice" as it is called around the office) is an annual event put on by The International Culinary Center and New York magazine known as the New York Culinary Experience. For two days every fall, the school opens it's doors to interested amateur cooks and foodies, who come to enjoy a rotation of classes put on by top chefs in the city. Want to learn how to cook duck à la Anita Lo (Annisa, Rickshaw Dumpling Bar), or Manhattan chowder Ben Pollinger–style (Oceana), or bread with the flair of Mark Fiorentino (Daniel, Café Bouloud, and DB Bistro Moderne)? Then this is the event for you. In small, hands-on classes, students learn a raft of techniques and have fun cooking in the kitchen-classrooms from the best in the biz.

In the following video, courtesy of New York, Corton chef Paul Liebrandt shows how to blowtorch finely sliced raw scallops in his class on "Seasonal Autumn Dishes." Want to see more of what went on? Scroll through our photo gallery below the video.

Photo gallery:

Outside L'Ecole at The International Culinary Center

Missy Robbins (A Voce) and guest get their hands dirty!

Mark Fiorentino shows guests how to make their own pizza dough.


Michael Lomonaco (Porter House New York) plates up.

Gina DePalma (Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca) helps a guest with her tart dough.

Zakary Pelaccio (Fatty Crab and Fatty 'Cue) and guest work on getting the spice blend just right.

Dave Arnold (director of culinary technology) and Nils Noren
(vice president of culinary and pastry arts) doing some of their high-tech magic.

The Alains: Alain Ducasse (Adour, Benoit, and miX) and Alain Sailhac (executive vice president and dean emeritus at The FCI)

Ben Hershberger (Bouchon Bakery, Per Se) shows of his pretzels.

Craig Hobson (Le Cirque) and guests smile for the camera at the end of class.

Maury Rubin (City Bakery) and Gillian Duffy (culinary editor, New York) lead the first Q & A session during Sunday's lunch.

Marion Nestle (professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at NYU)
and Dorothy Cann Hamilton (founder of The FCI) follow with another lunchtime Q & A session.

Todd English (Olives) teaches dishes for a delicious Thanksgiving feast.

And Jacques Torres (dean of pastry arts at The FCI, Jacques Torres Chocolates)
shows guests how to make Halloween-inspired chocolate treats.

Andrew Carmellini (Locanda Verde) with Cesare Casella
(dean of The Italian Culinary Academy, Salumeria Rosi)

Laurent Tourondel (BLT) guides guests in making seasonal dishes.

Guest speakers Eric and Bruce Bromberg (Blue Ribbon Bakery) shake hands with Bill Telepan (Telepan).

The Bromberg Brothers with Peter Hoffman (Savoy, Back Forty)

Marcus Samuelsson (Red Rooster Harlem) and guest show off the results from their afternoon in the kitchen.

Morimoto (Morimoto) and David Bouley (Bouley, Upstairs, Secession, Bouley Bakery)