Sunday, April 12, 2009

New York Food Chronicles: PART II

The French Culinary Institute

In the West, The French Culinary Institute (FCI) has one of the most esteemed faculties today in culinary education. People like Jacques Torres, Andre Soltner and other top chefs oversee the institution ensuring students graduate equipped with the latest information and skills.

I have noticed that most of their graduates right away launch their careers with great success either as entrepreneurs or promising personalities in and out of the kitchen.

I had a very fantastic opportunity in meeting very wonderful people whilst taking my courses at the FCI.

I was able to find home almost immediately in the FCI. I didn’t feel like I was a total stranger. Jock Grundy, Pastry Associate Director, had extended all possible courtesies and he didn’t fall short with providing a wowing experience for me. I truly appreciate his efforts.

Alain Sailhac, Executive Vice President and Dean Emeritus, was very welcoming and pleasant. He affirmed my convictions in my craft. I felt honoured to be recognized for my contribution to this industry however small it may be.

Phil Guthenson, who provides links between students and employers, arranged for many extra-curricular activities including trailing in 4-star restaurants and meeting with notable people like Jacques Torres, Johnny Iuzzini and Dominique of Daniel’s.

Located along Broadway area, the school has plenty room for culinary enthusiasts and purists. They also hold special events in their small theatre.

For more information, you may check their site at

Artisan Breads & Chocolate Classes

I took two classes in the FCI: Artisan Breads and Chocolate Bonbons & More.

Chef Tom Jones taught the chocolate class. And no, he is not the singer.

There were twelve of us in the class and I was the only gentleman. Although I have already worked with chocolates in the whole of my career, it’s great to take part in a class wherein this time I am the student. You can’t keep giving out if you don’t put something back in. That’s my principle.

I was a little bored during the first few classes because I have already covered most of the topics. The most exciting part was production time. I love getting my hands dirty.

Chef Karen handled the Artisan Breads class and it was a very amazing one. Karen’s teaching was straightforward and the results were fantastic! I never looked at breads the same way again. She made me appreciate better the art and science of it. Moreover, I never enjoyed making breads this much than in her class.

I love breads and since high school I have been kneading dough. Anyhow, there are still some bits and pieces that seem lacking. I have worked with many veteran bakers but the FCI bread class was just tad different.

Thanks Chef Karen and Chef Tom!

Institute of Culinary Education & Kathryn Gordon

I had the pleasure of visiting the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) through Kathryn Gordon.

She’s a very pleasant and amiable chef who takes her time in sharing information and assisting passionate chefs like me.

ICE has been around for a long long time and you can feel its rich history reverberating in their property.

Kathryn Gordon keeps juggling with her busy schedule and shuttling from one state to another organizing for example the World Pastry Championship in Arizona. She also handles the Moulin Bregeon culinary expedition in Saumur, France, which I failed to join this year. That’s how I actually got to know about Kathryn.

I hope I could visit ICE again and probably be a guest chef in one of their classes.

JB Prince, Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma and Dean & Deluca

My NYC trip was replete with visits to famous culinary shops.

My first stop was at the Sur La Table in SOHO. I discovered the place by accident.

I was too early for class so I wandered along the streets of Broadway until I chanced upon this decent-sized shop near Balthazar’s Bakery. I found so many gizmos and a bevy of tools and equipment. This is a shop for serious baking and cooking enthusiasts. They have a very attractive line of crockery, dinnerware, bakeware and cookware. This is where I found my Aunt Ging’s wooden placemat and coaster.

Dean & Deluca was my second stop and it was more for those who want to have a quick bite of something good and maybe pick some stuffs along the way to take home. I mean serious and gourmet stuffs – essential oils, high-quality coffee beans and chocolates, cheeses, cooking ware and what have you. I stop by at this shop when I need to snack on something.

In the Time-Warner building in the West side of Manhattan is the Williams-Sonoma store. There, I ught my microplane grater and palette knife. They have more choices of heavy-duty baking equipment, too. Also sold are ingredients for the culinary aficionados. I love the “sunny” and copper-toned interior of the shop.

My final stop was at JB Prince. This is serious stuff! I spent a lot of money in that shop from garnishing tools to moulds. I took home a catalogue. I found this really fancy and cute mini plates, glasses and cups perfect for making verrines and serving in cocktails. They also sell books. I would highly recommend this shop to enthusiasts and professionals alike.

New York provided an over-the-top experience and it felt like a second home. I loved the fast-paced life and the vast challenges it offers. It is a melting pot! People are going gaga over creative feats. I would definitely go back in the near future.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Greetings Chef Nouel!

Thanks for sharing your culinary experiences in the "Big Apple"!

I am certain you left with a wealth of new information and inspiration.

Yes indeed Nouel, Manhattan is a great and vast city I have visited on numerous occassions. Great city, however; I would not wish to live there.

If you make it back to the U.S., your next trip should be at Greystone Culinary University, San Francisco and Napa Valley regions.

If and when you do, please stop by and visit me in Park City, Utah.

Best regards,