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I wanted to share with my readers this link from authored by Jan Aman , whom I met through FCI alum Savinien Caracostea. I thought everyone should hear about the marvelous, momentous (and well deserved) surprise dinner thrown for another FCI/ICC alum Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 and Alder. This extraordinary dinner was one for the ages and will be referred to and talked about for years to come!

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I am proud to share with you that The International Culinary Center and the James Beard Foundation along with the American Chamber of Commerce in Italy have been selected as presenters for the U.S.A. Pavilion at the Expo Milano 2015. The ICC will play a pivotal role and I  have been greatly honored to be appointed as the President of the U.S.A. Pavilion.  The theme of the EXPO is “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”. Our program, aptly named “American Food 2.0″ will work to represent to the world five core values of American cuisine that the ICC and the James Beard Foundation represent….deliciousness, responsibility, innovation, diversity and entrepreneurism.   Below are a few renderings fo the Pavilion and also of our team at press conference in Milan.

Pavilion Front View James Biber Architects

Pavilion Rear View James Biber Architects

Pavilion Aerial View James Biber Architects

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Dorothy w/Daniel Humm

Last Monday was a stellar September day. Not only was the sky peacock blue and the air tinged with perfect fall crispness but I was spending the day with many of the top chefs in the world at the idyllic Stone Barns Center in Pocantico Hills, NY. Joan Roca, Michel Gras, Daniel Humm, Ferran Adria and so many other super stars joined Dan Barber, Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Blue Hill NYC to do a deep dive on seeds and genetic engineering. What? Did you say genetic engineering? Are these chefs into GMOs? Actually not.

Stone Barns Center

From top left clockwise: Ferran Adria, Joan Roca, Adam Kaye, Floyd Cardoz

L to R: Michel Gras, Dan Barber, Dorothy, Francois Payard, Daniel Humm

What they heard from world glass genetic breeders and discussed among themselves from 10 am to 7:30 pm is the concept of chefs working with genetic breeders to create exquisite fruits, vegetables and grains. Actually that is something that nature itself has been doing for the past 10,000 years. Think a nectarine, which is a cross between a peach and a plum. How is that different from GMOs? GMOs are genetic transfers between two species that would not cross pollinate in nature. Think fish gene inserted into a tomato.

Ferran Adria

Acorn Squash

So, what did we learn? That genes are place sensitive. Have you ever brought home seeds from a vacation, planted them and found them not to be as delicious as your lingering memory?  There is a reason for that. Great seed growers plant hundreds of seeds and then watch for the one or two plants that are vibrant survivors in their field tests. Your soil may not have the same characteristics as the test fields and hence, the attributes of the seed might not perform as well in your backyard in Brooklyn. You might start thinking about saving the seeds from the best tasting tomato in your veggie garden and become a geneticist yourself. I think a lot of the chefs left thinking they were on to expanding their horizons in that direction.

Menu courtesy of Stone Barns Center

After yesterday it seems so obvious that chefs in their never ending quest for the most delicious meal, will now have to go beyond the farm and into the labs of these seed breeders. It is there that they can select, test, harvest, select, test, harvest, select… and here we thought farm to table would be the ultimate trend. Now we have conception to compost! I never saw so many chefs, so excited. We ate a dinner of the aforementioned conceptions: see Gaston Acurio’s squash, which has just a number not a name. I’d also like to mention that we at The International Culinary Center were so honored that our Farm to Table students were asked to help out in the kitchen with these iconic chefs. A new challenge in the top ranks of the culinary universe!

ICC Students

You heard it here first, look for the names of seed breeders on your next menu!

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Judging olive oil

Last month in conjunction with The Olive Oil Times and Fairway Markets, The New York International Olive Oil Competition was held at The International Culinary Center. Over 800 oils worldwide were submitted. The judges came from Chile, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Spain,Turkey, Tunisia and the United States, with the ultimate olive oil maestro, Italy’s Dr. Gino Celletti, Chairman of the Monocultivar Olive Oil Council, presiding. Some astounding statistics were:

  1. Over 50% of the oils were tainted and thus disqualified.
  2. Over 25%  were not virgin olive oil!
  3. The US is now the third largest consumer of olive oil in the world, after Italy and Spain.

Some other points and details regarding the competition:

653 samples from around the world, 75 from the Southern Hemisphere

261 medals conferred- 16 Best of Class, 146 Gold, 99 Silver

Our panel had to eliminate 379 defective oils which in majority had muddy sediment and were rancid.

You can find the winners here. They are truly artisan and worth it. And I am proud to say that 33 American olive oils won medals.  You can find them at Fairway (if available).

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It’s that NYCE time of year again. This past weekend, May 4th and 5th, we once again hosted with New York Magazine the Fifth Annual New York Culinary Experience. This is a one of kind food fest where you get to do hands on classes with the world’s master chefs. More than half of our attendees are repeat students. And more than 80% come from hundreds if not thousands of miles away. This year we had attendees that flew in from Hawaii and the Philippines!

Jacques Torres & Ron Ben-Israel

David Bouley

Cesare Casella, Andre Soltner & Alain Sailhac, Jean Georges Vongerichten

Michael Lomonaco, Marc Forgione


Dan Barber, Daniel Rose

A very good time was had by all. You can’t believe the camaraderie and spirit. Some very formidable attendees went from their gastronomic adventure here to Bouley restaurant Saturday night for a meal of a decade. Good fun was had by all…as these pictures can attest. Hope we see you next year. And book early, we had a waiting list this year!

April Bloomfield, Matthew Lightner

Michael Psilakis

Christina Tosi

Seamus Mullen

Michael Anthony, Marc Murphy, Paul Liebrandt

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Carnegie Hall, April 28, 2013

The International Culinary Center held its graduation ceremony at Carnegie Hall for the very first time on April 28th, 2013. We were honored to have Thomas Keller as our commencement speaker, and sharing the stage and hall with our graduates were our 2012 Outstanding Alumni, and our Deans, faculty, staff, family and friends. It was a day to remember. Truly amazing and inspiring. I’d like to share with you my welcome speech along with some photos of a graduation we won’t soon forget.

Well, graduates, I am as excited as you are today.  Wow, on the stage at Carnegie Hall.  How did we all get here?  I did some serious reflecting on this momentous occasion and I realize that it hasn’t just been our own achievements that got us here.

I am the granddaughter of a lobster fisherman from Nova Scotia and a shepherdess from Slovakia. A second-generation American.  It took those earlier generations to get me to this iconic stage in New York City. I had loving and inspirational parents. I was embraced and supported by my siblings.  And look around me on this stage and see the incredible team of The International Culinary Center. I have had the great fortune of working with the most gifted, talented and accomplished professionals. They have nurtured thousands of alumnae who have made our reputation soar. It is all of them who got me here today.  I stand on their shoulders and thank them from the bottom of my heart. Likewise I am so proud of all of you today.

Most of you have sacrificed, worked hard and most importantly believed in yourself to be here today.  That already is a key to success.  At commencement we are suppose to give advice.  Well, if I can give you a word of advice it is ….never to stop learning and never give up your dreams.  Life is fraught with challenges and setbacks but if you focus, if you believe in yourself and take that step forward even if it is just one step at a time, you can go the distance. You have chosen a noble profession.  To feed and nourish the world is essential.  Our food and wine world is filled with challenge, inspiration, hard work and camaraderie.

Some of our graduates with Dorothy

I recently graduated myself from the OPM program at Harvard Business School and was chosen to give the speech that day. My classmates were from all over the world.  While there, I thought to myself how  serious the cultural clashes are in the world today. But in the halls of education we have an oasis.   We have a sacred place where people come to learn, understand, trust and grow.   In our food community the baseline of trust and understanding is even greater.  I have never seen two chefs from two very diverse cultures be anything but be intrigued by each other.  They look forward to cooking and sharing a meal together.  They toast and share a glass and almost always have true appreciation for each other’s work and culture. Call me naïve, but I do think our lives as chefs and hospitality professionals place us in a unique position.  We are nurturers by trade,  but by feeding the body, we touch the soul… and in our own quiet way are enablers of peace and understanding. We hold a position of trust.   In your busy lives, please don’t forget that.

We are thrilled to hold our ceremony with our Deans, Faculty and Staff.  With your beautiful family and friends. You, like I, owe our success and the fulfillment of our dreams to them.   Remember to hug them and thank them.

In closing I have to tell you that I am a Yankee fan.  And I think for the first time, there is a quote from the famed Yankee catcher, Yogi Berra that actually applies just to us.  He said,” If you ever see a fork in the road, take it!”  I hope you have many, many forks in your road. Thank you.

L: Thomas Keller, R: Dorothy, Dean Jacques Pepin, Thomas Keller, Dean Cesare Casella

Culinary VP Candy Argondizza and Deans Jose Andres, Alan Richman, Alain Sailhac, Jacques Torres, Jacques Pepin, Emily Luchetti, Cesare Casella, Andre Soltner backstage

Some of our wonderful faculty backstage at Carnegie Hall

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