Day 1: Flavor, History, Region, and RecipeChef Seamus Mullen of Tertulia – New York, NY
Pork may be known as the “other white meat” in the United States, but when it comes to Ibérico Secreto—top hog of all the Spanish pig cuts—it’s best left pink and rare to show off its natural nutty flavor. Between bites of the pork (which were just pan-seared and sliced thinly), Chef Seamus Mullen of Tertulia extolled the virtues of the acorn-fed pigs, which come from just one of four dehesa groves in Spain. Ibérico Secreto is known for being a clandestine cut of pork among Spanish butchers, who are known for keeping the prized cut to themselves, but Mullen and crew were more than generous passing out the well-marbled pig. Cooked in hoji blanca (a lightly floral Spanish olive oil), Mullen’s Ibérico fillets had a deep, lingering flavor that married well with the accompanying Sherry vinaigrette-dressed relish, smoked arbequina olive oil, and espelette-dusted potatoes, but Mullen teased attendees with dreams of Ibérico carpaccio and charred Ibérico roasts. Tertulia is known for its tapas, but enough third and fourth helpings of the pork skewers were passed around the packed room to make for a rich breakfast. Chef Hooni Kim of Danji – New York, NY
“When we have guests, we serve beef.” 2012 ICC Presenter Hooni Kim began his hands-on workshop with this quote, from his mother and grandmother. And it’s apt. Because mothers and grandmothers are the de facto gatekeepers of Korean culinary tradition. And for generations, they’ve kept beef sacred. Kim followed suit with his presentation, which—like his trailblazing restaurant Danji—freshens Korean classics with subtle (read: reverent) updates. Kim presented two traditional Korean beef preparations: Yook-Hwe, or beef tartare, and bulgogi, which is the second most popular Korean dish after kimchi and “definitely something you would serve to guests.”
As with traditional recipes, Kim’s tartare and bulgogi were built with the sacred triad at the root of all Korean flavor—soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil (“everything else is derivative of that”)—lightened and diversified with shallots, mirin, ground roasted sesame seeds, and pear purée. Kim used pear in place of sugar to bring out a roundness (almost a fruitiness) from the richly marbled Australian wagyu tenderloin in the tartare. The bulgogi was intensely flavored and meltingly tender thanks to a 24-hour bath in the aforementioned Korean flavor base. Grandmothers and mothers all over Korea would be proud of the dishes, while mouths in New York City continue to water. Kim has plans to open Hanjan this November, a restaurant styled after the Korean Joo Mak, a wayfarer’s watering hole, where drinks are paired with dishes and the traditional caste system is put aside in favor of temporary, transcendent camaraderie. Niki Russ Federman and Joshua Russ Tupper of Russ & Daughters – New York, NY
With restaurants like Eleven Madison Park creating an ode to Russ & Daughters and wd-50 creating molecular riffs on bagels and lox, the city’s palate and chefs are primed for re-embracing the tradition of appetizing. Born from Jewish dietary laws and Eastern European immigrants, appetizing stores began selling dairy and fish items as counterpoints to New York City’s meat-peddling delis. And Russ & Daughters has upheld its tradition of appetizing for more than a 100 years, including the art of hand-slicing salmon—“thin enough so you can read the Times through it,” said Fourth Generation Co-owner Joshua Russ Tupper. For Sunday’s demo, Russ Tupper was largely out of commission with an injured hand. “I’m example of what not to do,” he said. His cousin and fellow Co-owner Niki Russ Federman demonstrated to the group how exactly (safely) to slice Graspe Nova, of which they often slice and sell more than 1,500 pounds per week. At that volume and with standard 30 percent waste, veteran, skilled slicing is necessary. Although it’s counterintuitive for chefs, Russ Federman recommended slicing away from the body and using a thin, flexible knife. (They buy ham-carving knives and grind them down.) Thin slices are also the best vehicles for the nuanced flavor of the Russ & Daughters-selected salmon that they get from all over the world. On hand for breakfast sampling at ICC was delicate Atlantic Graspe Nova and Ōra King Salmon that’s smoked with native New Zealand Nuka wood after its skinned and cleaned, resulting in an intense smoky flavor. But even with the best product and most precise slicing (which attendees attempted but didn’t quite master), waste happens. And that “scrap” in turn seasons New York City chefs’ salmon tartare, soups, and salads at a bargain $5 per pound.Chef Anthony Masters of Fatty ‘Cue – New York, NY
“We make street food that’s just done up a bit.” And done up it is! In Fatty Crew’s barbeque workshop, Chef Anthony Masters of Fatty ‘Cue served an Herbed Lamb Shoulder, featuring the subtly gamey flavor of Australian lamb. And he added a touch of smoke and spice with some surprisingly simple ingredients. He first brined the lamb shoulder in a toasted mixture of salt, sugar, coriander, cilantro stems, black pepper, and Thai chilies. Masters then gave the spiced shoulder a rub down with a zesty, citrusy goat’s milk and spice-infused marinade (witha dash of coriander seeds for good measure). To impart Fatty 'Cue's signature smoke, the lamb tgoes from yogurt bath and into a rotating white oak gas smoker for six to eight hours at 165°F to 180°F degrees. Masters pulled and shredded his ready-made lamb for a “rustic, natural look” and gave it a light char on the stove for some crunch. This tender meat was paired for guests with a sweet and fluffy chickpea pita, a side of the cool, refreshing herbed yogurt, a smoky shot of Maker’s Mark 46, and a tart punch from a Maker’s Mark Julep—showing the crowd what rustic flavor-made-easy is all about.Chef Mathias Dahlgren of Restaurant Mathias Dahlgren – Stockholm, Sweden
Of the Moment: Cooking without Recipes workshop with Chef Mathias Dahlgen of Restaurant Mathias Dahlgren
“Swedish food sucks.” Or so a fellow Mission Chinese diner told Mathias Dahlgren and his team as they waited on line at the downtown restaurant. What’s funny (or funnier) is that this happened the night before his Sunday ICC presentation, wherein Dahlgren showcased just how sublime Swedish food can be. The presentation was about cooking with respect, and without recipes—which, Dahlgren noted, work, but also represent a moment frozen in time. “A recipe is what worked well, there and then,” he said. In lieu of exactitude (and the false sense of consistency) Dahlgren demonstrated another approach, built on the idiosyncrasies of product, the habits of craftsmanship, and the most vital component of his cooking style: a sense of contrast and proportion. Dahlgren demonstrated the universality of this principle with a global classic—vanilla ice cream and warm chocolate syrup—to highlight the contrasts of flavor (sweet versus bitter, if the chocolate is high quality) and temperature (cold versus hot). But, Dahlgren warned, skew the proportions, and the magic is gone. Dahlgren went on to demonstrate another facet central to his cooking: respect (veneration) for the product. “Every product is unique, and I will never be finished.” Case in point: cauliflower, which Dahlgren and his co-chef disassembled and cooked in various ways. From blanched greens to buttery purée and grated, roasted cauliflower florets, the final dish was a lesson in the most exquisite kind of common sense—what Dahlgren calls an openness to flavors, something he wants from his diners and himself.Chef Jason Bond of Bondir – Cambridge, MA
It’s one of the oldest cooking lessons—to build flavors gradually in order to layer them. But Chef Jason Bond of Bondir made the old new again by showing attendees how he makes his incredibly layered butternut squash soup, which he made by caramelizing ginger, rock sugar, and leeks in Chilean olive oil and then adding soy and roasted squash. “If you have a strong structure with a dish,” Bond said, “it is easy to build and layer flavors on top of it.” Bond started his soup by caramelizing some rock sugar and ginger until the aromatic was black, almost charred. “You need to do it to the point where you’re afraid you’ve burned it,” he said. Like falling down a bottomless pit and seeing the countless seismic layers, Bond’s soup is one of the top dishes we’ve tasted all year, with its delightful progression of bitter, sweet, and sour. Once known for his charcuterie and meat cookery, Bond did not have a single bit of protein in the session, but rather a cornucopia of vacuum-sealed vegetables. Once finished showing off his soup, Bond said he likes to “play with his vegetables”—poaching them in water or tea, burning them, sautéing them at different temperatures—to see what applications work best.
by Emily Bell, Caroline Hatchett, Emily Jacobs, Nicholas Rummell, Katherine Sacks, and Rachel Willard
Day 2: Technique, Presentation, and ProductChef Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene – Atlanta, GA
“There is no border between Georgia and Spain when we talk about ham,” began Chef Linton Hopkins, a recent and reverent convert to the church of ham worship (with unofficial bible Mastering the Art of Slicing Spanish Ham). Alongside Cortador Lidia Sanchez, Hopkins demonstrated his passion with dry-cured Fermin Ibérico hams. Ibérico, Hopkins realized, isn’t just a product, but a culture, complete with a guild of cortadors, like Ms. Sanchez, who develop a personal style even within the precision of perfect slicing. And eating cured ham is itself a celebration, one American chefs should aspire to honor. Hopkins not only keeps ham at his Atlanta restaurants—“every restaurant should have one”—he founded the Fellowship of Country Ham Slicers. As Sanchez cut the leg using slow, gently rocking strokes with a long, sharp knife (and guiding around bone with the shorter boning knife), Hopkins cut into the Ibérico shoulder, exposing only one section at a time. He cut smaller slices that were perfectly thin—not too delicate, with enough meat to create a delicate chew within the melting fat—and paired the meat with a dark, dry 2003 Matarromera Crianza. If that wasn’t enough to convince the chef audience to buy their first ham, Hopkins noted the built-in theater, hospitality, and even marketability of the cured ham tradition, not to mention the “world of flavors” with fats and variously textured muscles within the same (glorious) product.Chef Matt Lightner of Atera – New York, NY
Sous vide novices and experts both walked away with something after Day 2’s workshop with Matt Lightner. He went through the benefits of wrapping bone-in proteins with aluminum foil before vacuum-sealing (to prevent bone punctures), controlling the salt content before sous vide via brining, and the dangers posed by air-exposed sous vide bags during the long cooking process (“it usually happens at night when you’re not at the restaurant”). But the coolest technique was “sous vide searing,” which Lightner explained is essentially dropping vacuum-sealed protein in an 85˚C PolyScience immersion circulator water bath for a minute to seal in the flavors. Lightner merged his high-tech machinery with foraged product to create an amazing Australian lamb neck dish. The fat and meat in the lamb neck, once cooked sous vide, melted together to form almost a pâté-like consistency, and the wheatgrass emulsion (made using coddled eggs), wheat berries, nasturtium, dried cedar salt, and sorrel added grassy and acidic notes that really brightened the dish.Chef Chris Nugent of Goosefoot – Chicago, IL
”We are adding dimensions here—I look at it as art,” said Chef Chris Nugent of Chicago's Goosefoot, as he plated three dishes for his Monday morning Art of Presentation workshop. Nugent displayed his crisp, delicate food and plating style for attendees by building upon different layers of clean flavors, starting with a roasted Hudson Valley Duck with ginger infused-lentils. Nugent crisped the duck skin while plating the parsnip purée on Steelite plateware, forming ”lips like a little kiss.” He then meticulously arranged Parisian balls of apple, apple-ginger gel, radish, Fresh Origins micro bull's blood greens, and marigolds atop the purée. The flavors were intensified by a dramatic finish of madras curry-Spanish chili compound butter and a dash of micro radish greens. Nugent's final dish was a passionfruit mousse, incorporating coconut, lime, passionfruit, basil, and white chocolate to create a tart yet airy and herbal flavor with a surprisingly smooth finish from the chocolate. He then dotted the plate with a lime gel and carefully sprinkled basil buds and tangerine lace micro greens for an elegant flair proving that gentle, small looks can pack big and bold flavor.
Chef Bart Bell of Crescent Pie & Sausage Company – New Orleans, LA
Chef Nathanial Zimet of Boucherie – New Orleans, LA
Note to the fire marshal: if you smelled smoke in the Park Avenue Armory on Monday, that wasn’t a fire. Really. It was a full-blown sausage smoker hard at work. Manning the impressive Southern Pride smoker and Hobart grinder, New Orleans Chefs Bart Bell and Nathanial Zimet whipped up their famous Louisiana alligator sausage and intense, spicy pork tasso (think jerky meets Cajun dark roux). While Zimet uses a makeshift smoker back home (crafted from an old fridge) and has used convection ovens on occasion to smoke his meats, he said there’s no substitute for the precision of a real smoker. In between grinding, cooking test pieces, and cutting up a several-yard ring of smoked sausage, Bell and Zimet reiterated the importance of keeping all sausage product and even grinding pieces as cold as possible to prevent what Zimet calls “the schmear”. Their other lessons to the well-fed savory workshop were a little racier: when piping, keep sausages firm in your hand; don’t twist your links (nobody likes the end piece); and keep the skin casings tight. The sausage boys were pure N’leans, advising amateur charcutiers to “keep it simple stupid” and rely on the lessons and flavors of their sausage forebears.Chef Sean Brock of Husk – Charleston, SC
Want to know the difference between dent corn and flint corn? Just pull up Sean Brock’s jacket sleeve to see his permanent sleeve, complete with tattooed corn illustrations (among other colorful ingredient odes). Lowcountry ingredients—or crops, as Brock thinks of them—were the focus of his Monday morning workshop. “When I think about cuisine,” said Brock, “I think about planting.” Appropriate for a chef who doubles (triples?) as a heritage seed cultivator and guide to the Southern pantry. For his workshop, Brock took attendees on a tour of Lowcountry cuisine with a focus on rice—specifically Carolina Gold rice that had been barrel-aged for three years with bay laurel. At one time, Charleston, South Carolina, was the world’s largest rice producer, and Carolina gold rice was aged and shipped as far as China. Today Anson Mills and other food warriors have revived that tradition on a much smaller scale, helping to rescue heirloom rice and other plants that were once part of a 17-year crop rotation meant to keep soil healthy and ultimately support rice production. Brock also shared the glories of Red May wheat crackers—the original wheat thin—Sea Island red peas, CVap cooked peanuts, Brewster oats, faro piccolo, benne seeds, olives, and those sacred Southern staples, okra and Carolina gourd grits. He simply cooked each ingredient to let their flavors shine. The grits tasted deeply of sweet corn; the beans were rich and nutty, and the rice floral. While attendees feasted on the Carolina cornucopia, cracking boiled peanuts and sucking out the juices, Brock peppered in historic details—Brewster oats were used to jack up horses three days before a race; and Thomas Jefferson brought 500 olive trees from Europe with a dream of planting olives in the South.
by Emily Bell, Jessica Dukes, Caroline Hatchett, Blayre Miller, Nicholas Rummell, Katherine Sacks, and Rachel Willard
Day 3: Going GlobalChef Masaharu Morimoto of Morimoto – New York, NY
“My only rule is no rules,” said Chef Masuharu Morimoto, who kicked off Day 3 of ICC with his Sushi Essentials demonstration. The first rule he broke was his own. “Never put mirin in sushi rice.” “Never mix wasabi and soy sauce.” “Eat sushi fish to tongue.” These were some of firm suggestions Morimoto set forth, as he and his team demonstrated sushi preparation from cooking rice to the crowning touch of wasabi. Starting with rice, Morimoto polished brown grains, transforming their color and texture but maintaining the flavor and healthy germ.
Morimoto then gave practical tips on selecting fish and exactly which cut and side of the fish is best for different sushi preparations. Most of his fish are stored in a refrigerator at 32°F, with the exception of fatty fish. Tuna, in particular, get a deep freeze at -90°, which can preserve fish for years, Morimoto said. Morimoto and his Head Sushi Chef Robby Cook also took attendees through various seafood sushi preparations, blanching shrimp and giant clams before peeling back their skin and shells, and curing horse mackerel and barracuda to season and draw moisture (and fishy flavor) from the meat. A busy team of cooks then prepared sushi for all 50 attendees so they could taste test the difference between sushi with the correct amount of wasabi layered between rice and fish (fatty fish calls for more of a kick) and sushi with a mound of wasabi on top—the former delivering more nuanced heat and the latter a wallop that muted the fish flavor. Attendees dove into the white fish and Ōra King Salmon sushi, smacking their lips, snapping photos, and holding onto the lessons of a master.
Naples natives Chef Roberto Caporuscio and his mentor-teacher Chef Antonio Starita gave workshop attendees a hands-on lesson on a regional favorite known as the Montanara Pizza. This fried dough pie has been around Naples for over a century (originating in family kitchens, as leftover tomato sauce was coupled with dough and eventually used as speedy street food). But it wasn’t until a few years ago that the third generation Pizzaiolo Starita brought his Montanara to the states. Starita and Caporuscio filled the crowd with samples of their puffy pies and calzones popped fresh from the 400°F frying oil and topped with a secret signature tangy tomato ragu, Parmigiano-Reggiano, hunks of Smoked Mozzarella, and basil. The pizza then took a quick one and a half minute spin in Jade's Beech Stone Hearth Oven–a key step for melting the cheese and drying out some of the oil so the pizza isn't greasy. Caporuscio also explained the importance of using good, pure flour and having a keen intuition about the balance in levels of natural humidity and yeast for the dough when it sets. One must remember, “this is a live food,” said Caporuscio. “It changes constantly. The pizza maker makes the difference.” The technique in handling the dough is just as important. Caporuscio’s mandates: hand-stretch the dough (never roll with a rolling pin) and carefully work from the center outward, never touching the edges so that the dough preserves some oxygen and rises golden brown and fluffy. “Touching dough is like touching your wife; if you touch too hard, she won’t cook for you!”Chef Marilú Madueño Martínez of Huaca Pucllana – Lima, Peru
Fresh off cooking for the special Peru dinner at Raymi the night before (with fellow Peruvian and ICC Presenter Chef Virgilio Martinez), Marilú Madueño Martínez was brimming with pride for her country’s product. As audience members snacked on cancha salada (toasted, dried Peruvian chulpe corn), Madueño prepared three Peruvian dishes. First up was causa, a Peruvian staple built on a ubiquitous national pantry item, the potato. Peruvian yellow potato is the typical starting point; home cooks mash the tuber and layer it with tuna or chicken salad. Madueño topped her brilliant yellow version with ceviche and served it amuse bouche style). Next up was leche de tigre. “It's all the flavors of ceviche, but in a sauce,” Martínez explained as she blended and strained fish trimmings soaked in lime juice, ají amarillo chilies, ginger, celery, cilantro, and lots of lemon juice. This “tiger’s milk” was poured over lusciously tender fresh scallops, which Madueño had sliced and layered in a rosy Peruvian scallop shell, making for a bite that was sweet and brightly sour, with heat and a delicate hint of ocean salinity. Finishing the feast of flavor was a dish that’s popular at her restaurant Huaca Pucllana. “People love eating it, and I love making it,” she said of a sea bass that’s crusted in red quinoa. Quinoa is a Peruvian staple (and super protein) that’s gained worldwide popularity. Unlike other quinoas, the red variety keeps its color, making for a brilliant crust for the sea bass, which Madueño rested on top of a soft pile of puréed yucca and finished with a reduction of chicha morada—the national Peruvian purple corn cooler, which attendees eagerly sipped as Madueño shared the bounty.Chef Alexandre Gauthier of La Grenouillère – Madelaine-sous-Montreuil, France
Up was down. Pasta was potato. Soufflés were made to look like mozzarella. And simple ingredients were transformed into beguiling dishes by French wunderkind Alexandre Gauthier. Gauthier, who has already made a name for himself as one of France's most promising young chefs, brought his innovative take on French origins cuisine (i.e., taking French classics and turning them completely, sometimes via centrifuge, on their heads). Gauthier began with his soufflé, which was made using egg whites and ended up looking like a ball of pre-rennet mozzarella or ricotta with tiny shrimp nestled inside. Next came bundles of haricots verts, which were blanched, wrapped in twine with fresh herbs in the middle, and then roasted with butter to intensify the herbs and, as Gauthier said, “ give each ingredient a different color, and each color a different taste.” The result was an incredibly fragrant, rich scent that had attendees nodding in hungry approval. Gauthier then brought out his cold-smoked garlic, which smelled like umami, if the fifth flavor has a scent. Gauthier’s next trick was to use a Japanese mandoline (which he said helped “unroll vegetables”) to create linguini-type potato strips, which he poached in butter flavored with a sliver of the smoked garlic skin. He served the faux pasta with an almond paste barely flavored with squid ink (which imparted a soupçon of bitterness). Gauthier must have read up on fellow ICC presenters Sean Brock and Linton Hopkins, because for dessert his dish used corn milk, dried corn petals, and whole corn. “Corn is everywhere in the States,” he chuckled. “[In France] we use it mainly for animals.” Gauthier’s dessert was eaten quickly enough to make the comparison a bit too apt.Chef Missy Robbins of A Voce Columbus – New York, NY
You know you're at a quintessential ICC workshop when you find yourself dreaming of dropping everything to do a stage in a basement kitchen making pasta by hand. Missy Robbins is not Italian ("But I think I am.") and neither is Hillary Sterling ("But she thinks she is."), yet these "two nice Jewish girls from Brooklyn and Connecticut" want nothing more than to make pasta all day long. At A Voce Columbus, which seats 400 guests on a Saturday night, there is a team of five cooks who do just that. The two female chefs demonstrated handmade agnolotti, ravioli, and chitarra, and then played around with an Arcobaleno pasta extruder to show off a few varieties with tricky shapes that are "too asinine to make by hand" for time and labor considerations. Robbins said she dreams of having a 10-seat restaurant someday, but until then, going through 50 kilos of pasta a day at her restaurant means that, sometimes, an extruder can step in to make fanciful pasta shapes a reality for her patrons.Chef Michael Reidt of Area 31 – Miami, FL
Chef Patricia Yeo, formerly of Om Restaurant & Lounge – Boston, MA
“It smells like anticipation,” said Chef Michael Reidt of a sexy, simmering pot of Prince Edward Island mussels and wine. In the hands-on portion of his workshop with Chef Patricia Yeo, Reidt led attendees through one of his favorite mussel ceviches built from PEI mussels, lemon and lime juices, smoked Florida mango, smoky Peruvian ají amarillo paste, onions, fresno chilies, and cilantro—topped off with a briny splash of mussel liquor. “This dish is the best of Prince Edward Island and the best of Florida,” said Reidt. Next Yeo and an assistant demonstrated how to kill live lobsters by twisting off their tails and claws. Yeo then poached the meat in vanilla-scented lobster oil, which she usually saves to make amped-up aïoli. The duo emphasized throughout the workshop the importance of intensifying flavor by using every last inch of shell and drop of liquor. Reidt further drove home the concept with his Lobster, Cauliflower, Mussels, and Coconut. He puréed the cauliflower with mussel liquor, seared and then poached the lobster in coconut butter to enhance its sweetness, and smoked the mussels instead of using chefs’ best friend: bacon. Yeo and Reidt also said presentation is paramount when serving lobster—customers view it as a special-occasion protein and pay a premium to enjoy it. For whimsical “fluff” touches, Yeo dips lobster bodies in tempura batter and deep fries them for plating. Reidt always leaves on the tail and adds height to plates with lobster antennae. Taste, though, is paramount. Here are Reidt’s tips for simple, delicious (and safe) lobster:
- To poach, bring water to a boil, drop in lobster, and cook on a low simmer (never a boil).
- In general, cook tails for four minutes and claws for five to six.
- When butter poaching with sous vide, don’t leave the lobster in the bath for more than half hour or it will get tough.
- Lobster brains have toxins that can make certain people severely ill, so dispose of the brains before using the heads in soups and stocks.
by Emily Bell, Jessica Dukes, Caroline Hatchett, Nicholas Rummell, and Rachel Willard