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My heart is so heavy today, losing Marcella is like losing a beloved aunt, she taught me so much. She taught so many others too, through her books and classes. She was a beloved member of our ICC faculty, for over ten years, and we all mourn her passing deeply, she will always have a special place in our ICC family.  Our sympathies to her family- husband Victor, always by her side, a fixture during her classes, their son Giuliano, their daughter -in- law Lael and the grandchildren.

What she did best: teach

Prepping for class, on the left, one of her favorites Chef Susan Lifrieri-Lowry

I have two stories to share and both illustrate the kind of person she really was. Marcella gave me a recipe one Saturday over the phone, her version of fast food. I was in a rush to cook a light dinner, I’d just sent her some Swiss chard from my garden. She told me to get some chard, put some olive oil in a pan, saute a little garlic to a fragrant, golden hue and then add the softened chard (boiled for a few minutes in salt water) and salt and pepper. Here’s the brilliance: she also told me to open a can of Goya garbanzo beans, drain and add to the pan. Let warm and even crisp a little with the chard. It was delicious!

Marcella's lunch at L'Ecole, all of us in Marcella masks!

Many years ago: Dorothy, Victor Hazan, Marcella, Jacques Pepin

She also wrote me a poignant note when my mother passed away. She shared that her own mother had died at a very, very old age but still Marcella was stunned and bereft. She said, “Dorothy, even though I was in my seventies, I felt like an orphan.”

I think we are all culinary orphans today. Thank you so much for everything Marcella.

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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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Time for America to Go to Entrepreneurship School from the Gallup Blog and written by Executive Director of Gallup Education, Brandon Busteed, is incisive and right on target, and I wanted to share it with my readers.  The International Culinary Center is a home for entrepreneurs! Find out more about us here.

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“Working with The International Culinary Center, Dean Cesare Casella-il maestro di tutti, with his signature pocketful of rosemary-has put together an encyclopedic user’s-guide to the elements, techniques, and, most important, the mouthfeel and flavor of Italian cooking. In doing so, they have elevated the ordinary textbook to an art form. This spectacular vision of all that is Italian and delicious will take its place among the handful of most used books in my collection.”

-Mario Batali, chef, author, entrepreneur

“An exciting and comprehensive look at the Italian kitchen. This book 
makes me want to be a student again!“

-Anne Burrell, 
chef and TV personality

Congratulations to our Dean of Italian Studies, Cesare Casella and the Italian teaching staff on the publication of our new textbook, The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Italian Cuisine. It is a comprehensive resource for all Italian techniques as well as being quite beautiful.

I want to thank our writer, Stephanie Lyness for the lucid prose, Jessica Botta for her technical direction, and our “court photographer” Matthew Septimus for his inimitable and luscious photographs. Stewart, Tabori and Chang…thanks for another great book!

Learn more at The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Italian Cuisine. If you love to cook Italian, you cant live without it!

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