Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sweet Success

What a blast! A small bite of the Big Apple is just not enough.

From day one to day 21 nothing has gone to waste. I was literally all over New York armed with my metropass and my handy Iphone that stored directions to places worth visiting. And my being from the Westin Beijing Chaoyang seemed to allow things to be in the right places. I was always introduced as the Chef from Beijing as if it was a magic word.

There are too many things to mention so I will break them into parts.

My highlight today is obviously my overwhelming experience meeting legendary people and people who have just started to stir the culinary industry's whirling waters.

Among the biggest things I have done was volunteering in Johnny Iuzzini's book launching (read more about Johnny at http://johnnyiuzzini.com) His book is interesting (and inspiring, too, so read the preface) and I had the chance to trail in his kitchen. I had the opportunity to do a little molecular gastronomy work which, by the way, is one of the highlights of his interesting dessert tasting menus at Jean George's Restaurant right inside the Trump Hotel. His sous chef, John, was very accommodating and he showed me as much as he could during my short stint in Johnny's kitchen. I am very thankful to Johnny for allowing me to have a peek in his kitchen. He is a pastry genius and fanatic...that's all I can say about him.

The final hour getting ready for the after-party party

During the book launching, I was able to meet and talk to a few notable people in the industry who I have always admired when I was still in High School. Think about how these people have influenced in my decision to become a pastry chef. Chef Jacque Torres appeared a little aloof in the beginning. My school mates at the French Culinary Institute wouldn't even dare to talk to him. But I took all the guts to welcome him in the station where I was preparing Johnny's Chocolate Soup (it was a hit!!!). I told him how much I and my mother adored him when I was still in school. He turned out to be very pleasant. His chocolate factory (where the event was held) was enormous and so many sweets were lying around (check out www.mrchocolate.com). But what I found really fascinating was Chef Torres' unpresuming attitude. He was mopping his shop at the closing of the event!

The other person that I always admired was Ron Ben Israel of http://www.weddingcakes.com. His cakes are really topnotch and the decorations are very life-like . That is his speciality. He is a funny and talkative guy. He also teaches at the French Culinary Institute.

Alain Sailhac, the guy who brought Le Cygne to four-star standards, is also a senior faculty of the French Culinary Institute - Executive Vice President and Senior Dean of Studies. He is an ultra fine man. I always enjoyed my conversations with him as he pops in the restaurant and our classes.

There are still more to talk about but, like I said, I would like to break them up into parts as there is so much room for that.

Below are some photos of my classes at the FCI.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well Greetings Chef Nouel!

I am glad to see that you made it to the "Big Apple" and Culinary Institute. I am certain your experiences in New York were termendous and knowlegable!

Looks like you also were very fortunate, a class with a lot of beautiful women chefs as well? Ummmm...are you married now? :)

Best of luck Chef Nouel in your new challenges!