Thursday, February 23, 2012

L’Ecole taken over by Pop-Up Restaurant Appetite

By: Alexa Magarian

Appetite successfully executed their special four-course menu on Sunday, February 12, bringing the Pop-Up Restaurant Challenge at The International Culinary Center to a close. When I arrived at L’Ecole, I had the pleasure of watching the students work before I was seated. The team was very composed and focused. The energy in the kitchen was surprisingly calm, the students working with rhythm in the brigade. Chef-instructors were there for support but the students were the ones who ultimately ran the show.

The menu reflected new American cuisine and incorporated less commonly served meats but without being intimidating for diners.

We started with the rabbit and sage meatball in a syrah demi-glace followed by the crispy duck breast which was the winning challenge dish during the competition.

The main course, the spice-rubbed boar chop, was generously portioned and prepared perfectly for someone never having experienced this type of meat. It was accompanied by faro risotto—so delicious.

I don’t want to sound too biased, as I am a pastry student, but the dessert was perhaps my favorite course. I cannot stop thinking about it! The chevre mousse was light and refreshing and what I loved most was that it wasn’t too sweet. It was the perfect final touch to a very memorable meal!

Congrats and thank you to Nhavan Nghe, Jay Medford, Ekaskak Phongmekin, Melanie Brockaway-Rosenberger, Kelly Nuti, and Alexis Alejandro.

Alexa Magarian is a student in the Classic Pastry Arts program. Originally from Boston, she hopes to combine her background in public relations and writing with her love for cooking and baking. Her greatest joy in life is spending time with her family around the kitchen table, eating dinner together. When she is not tempering chocolate and creating desserts in class, she enjoys traveling for inspiration, and meeting people who are just as passionate about food as she is.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Recent graduate Rose Weiss wins first ever Bocuse d'or USA commis competition

By: Jenny Lee-Adrian

Rose Weiss breaking down a chicken
[Photographs: Jenny Lee-Adrian]

Rose Weiss moved in a deliberate manner, not wasting any motion, cutting exactly where she needed to. She carefully broke down whole chickens into breasts and thighs.

Weiss, who graduated from The French Culinary Institute last week, won the Bocuse d'Or USA Foundation's First Ever Commis Competition on Saturday, January 28th. She beat out Samuel Benson, a sous chef at Cafe Boulud, who won second place. Tristan Aitchison, a sous chef at Providence in Los Angeles, CA, earned third place. Sonny Longboy Acosta, Jr., cook III at Alan Wong's in Honolulu, HI, was the fourth contestant.

The Bocuse d'Or USA Foundation held the Commis Competition to encourage young chefs to preserve the traditions of classic cuisine, a primary mission of the nonprofit organization. The contest was also organized to identify the next rising culinary star. Each of the four competitors prepared their interpretation of legendary chef Paul Bocuse's Poulet Au Vinaigre. To view Weiss’ winning dish, click here.

The Commis Competition was the opening act of the Bocuse d'Or USA finals weekend. Richard Rosendale, the executive chef at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs in West Virginia, won the USA finals on Sunday and will represent the United States in the Bocuse d'Or World Competition in Lyon, France in 2013.

Rose Weiss, thrilled to be the winner
Rose Weiss, middle, reacts to being named winner of the First Ever Bocuse d'Or USA Commis Competition on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. Brooke Maynard, right, a 2011 Culinary Institute of America graduate, was Weiss' assistant during the competition. Samuel Benson, left, a sous chef at Cafe Boulud, won second place.

Weiss was just happy she and her commis (assistant) Brooke Maynard completed her dish.

Soon after Weiss was announced the winner, Weiss said, "I won two hours ago. When we were done with our plates, I couldn't have asked for anything better. I hardly had any regrets. I said, 'Brooke, we rocked it.'"

Weiss said she entered the competition after being nominated by International Culinary Center Executive Vice President and Dean Emeritus Alain Sailhac. Weiss, 25, had worked as a line cook for several years since she was a teen. She is now an extern learning about butchery and charcuterie at Gramercy Tavern in New York City.

Chef Hervé Malivert, chef coordinator for the International Culinary Center, was Weiss' coach. Weiss also received much-needed advice from her mentors at Gramercy Tavern.

"It's like I told her," Malivert said. "The winning part is if you have the goal to send your dishes out the way you want, then that's your goal."

The chefs
From left to right: Jerome Bocuse, Les Chefs de France, Epcot, Florida; vice president Bocuse d'Or USA Foundation; Thomas Keller, The French Laundry, Yountville, CA, president of the Bocuse d'Or USA Foundation and Daniel Boulud, Daniel, New York, NY, chairman of the Bocuse d'Or USA Foundation.

Weiss’ prize is a three-month paid apprenticeship at a three-starred Michelin restaurant of her choice in France.

“I guess I have a trip to plan,” she said.

Competitors of the Bocuse d'Or USA Commis Competition
From left to right: Third-place winner Tristan Aitchison, sous chef, Providence, Los Angeles, CA; Aitchison's commis (assistant) Nick Ahrens, 2010 Culinary Institute of America graduate; Sonny Longboy Acosta, Jr., Cook III, Alan Wong's, Honolulu, HI with commis Laura Bartholomew, 2011 CIA graduate; First-place winner Rose Weiss with commis Brooke Maynard; Second-place winner Samuel Benson, sous chef at Cafe Boulud, New York City, commis Chad Kiteveles, a 2011 CIA graduate.

Jenny Lee-Adrian, a 2011 graduate of The French Culinary Institute, works as a line cook at The Mark Restaurant by Jean-Georges. She has written for and She has a blog called Hummingbird Appetite.