Yesterday was our first class at the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC. It was so. Much. Fun. First we started off with knife skills, like how to cut onions, carrots, etc. at this point I’ve taken a couple of knife skills classes, but this one was definitely my favorite. The instruction was so thorough and comprehensive, and throughout the entire three hour class one of the chefs would be nearby watching your techniques, giving you advice, and helping to keep you from cutting yourself. If you did dice something that was supposed to be julienned, or anything like that, it was no big deal. They’d say it’s okay and you’d move on to the next thing. After our knife skills we made our own fresh tagliatelle pasta, bolognaise, and biscotti. It was pretty fun running the pasta through the machine and then gently rolling it to cut it into strips. I had never had fresh pasta before, and it turned out amazingly. It was so tasty and so much different then the store-bought dried version. All around a good class.
We then had a lecture with Steve Zagor, who is the Director of Management Programs at ICE as well as a Clinical Associate Professor in NYU’s school of food, nutrition, and public health. He’s been in the business over 25 years and has managed several restaurants. His presentation was “Restaurant Business- a strategy.” He gave us great restaurant advice for our restaurant simulation and for real life, and he really gave me more confidence in one of my dream ideas. He told us that only about 50% of restaurants fail within the first two years, unlike what everyone else says who thinks restaurant ownership is a bad idea. He really made it seem plausible, and I liked that. It all really helped the idea grow on me.
That evening we had a leadership series class on the Personality Matrix. We all took quizzes and found our personality types out of four basic types. They consisted of the koala: a people oriented introvert who aims to please. The owl: an analytical introvert who can be percieved as boring but is among the wisest. The peacock: the extroverted, social party animal of the bunch who can be easily distracted. Then me, the lion: a task-oriented extrovert who is a natural leader but also controlling. It was all pretty interesting to learn about, and I think my results were pretty accurate.
Today we started with a course on time and stress management, which actually made me kind of stressed, and then we went to the Queens County Farm Museum. The farm was 47 acres and really pretty. It caters to many New York restaurants’ supply needs and is open for tours to the public. Besides vegetables and fruits they had goats, alpacas, sheep, cows, pigs, and honeybees. We took a hay ride while we were there and they took us inside a home on the farm that was built in the 1700’s where they showed us a few colonial cooking techniques. It was a pretty neat little set up with an awesome gift shop where I bought a t-shirt, some maple syrup from upsate New York, some honey from their farm, a honey stick, and a botanical type rose lip balm. It was all very cute and interesting.
Then we went back to ICE for our next class on fish. We made a red snapper cooked in a parchment pouch with white wine and julienned vegetables as well as a lime beurre blanc sauce, cornmeal crusted fried flounder with salsa, tilapia over spinach and feta with a tomato coulis, and toasted sesame seed coated halibut with a tangy glaze. It was all very good, but the snapper and halibut were my favorite. We also made a jicama and julienned vegetable salad, and fresh-made lemon curd tartlets. All super delicious. Tomorrow we have a class on some of the classics, and free time at Times Square!