ICE (Institute of Culinary Education)

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Mixed Fruit Tart

I love to cook.  It is my therapy.  I do it in a room the size of most people’s walk-in closets with one child on my hip and the other tugging on my shirt.  This environment doesn’t always inspire creativity or give me any real pleasure (“ready for another bean and cheese quesadilla for dinner, girls?”), so I love that there is honest-to-goodness school in the City that opens it doors to us commoners and teaches us how to cook.  There are a lot of classes offered at the Institute for Culinary Education – some seem more intense than others.  Personally, I am not looking for anything laid-back – I want something that an actual ICE student might attend.  I want someone to tell me when I’ve done something wrong.  I want to feel like i have really learned something.  I want to cry (well, no I don’t want to cry, but I want to think about crying).  Several years ago I took ICE’s Fine Cooking Skills Level 1 and had the best time.  This year, as a birthday gift, I took Level 2.  It was even better than I remembered.  The instructor, Chef Loren, was not interested in coddling us.  After whipping some cream by hand, my arm aching, I asked if it was the right consistency.  He looked down, furrowed his brow, and said “class, what do soft peaks look like?  They should look like……(searching for someone else’s work)….this.  This (pointing to mine),  is a hard peak.  Sometimes you can save it by adding more heavy cream, but this (gesturing to my over-whipped cream disdainfully) is beyond repair.”

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Filleting Sea Bass

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For $600 you get a total 25 hours of instruction over five days, food and wine included.  I took my classes on consecutive Saturdays, which gave me time away from my kids without having to pay a babysitter.  For the first hour you sit and read through recipes while the chef instructor answers any questions you have or more fully explains things.  Then, for three hours, you team up with a few others and cook like crazy.  It is chaos.  It is intense.  It is like Top Chef (well, no, because our food doesn’t taste that good but you get the idea).  Then, for the last hour, you sit and enjoy your food with a glass of wine or two (and sometimes with mojitos if you are lucky enough to get Chef Loren as an instructor).  For five Saturdays I returned home slightly buzzed and totally inspired.

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Breaded cutlets stuffed with goat cheese; salade grande ferme

Where it is and Why I’ll miss it: 23rd between 5th and 6th; Cooking classes from the real deal.

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