Culinary Stars, Lucky Students, Master Recipes

Jacques Pepin's Ballotine of Chicken Jacques Pepin teaches Ballotine of Chicken at the New York Culinary Experience - and I was there!

The annual weekend called The New York Culinary Experience is a fundraiser for the school's scholarship fund and is co-sponsored by New York Magazine. See Up Close and Personal with Renowned Chefs.

You can get a feel for the class by watching the slide show below. For step-by-step instructions see Iconic Chef Jacques Pepin Demonstrates Ballotine. You can also see the true Cassoulet from Gascony, taught by Ariane Daguin.

Dorothy Cann Hamilton founded The French Culinary Institute in 1984. I got the chance to chat with her upon her induction into the James Beard Society's Who's Who list. (See the full interview in my Gourmet Food column: James Beard Inductee: Dorothy Cann Hamilton - Who's Who Honoree - On Wanderlust, Recessions and a Perfect Peach.

This is just the second year and it sold out completely. I talked with "students" who were clothing designers, prostodontists, landscape architects, programmers, bartenders, retirees. It's hard not to be gobsmacked walking the halls and seeing the culinary stars. The most amazing part of being there is that the staff are all so open, friendly, accessible. They are obviously friendly and respectful of each other, too. It's a beautiful atmosphere and the whole weekend carried an extra charge with eager students (and equally eager press) in attendance.

In 2006 Nils Norén Formerly of Aquavit joined the school as VP of Culinary and Pastry Arts bringing his considerable industry experience to the school’s curriculum. Also in 2006, The Italian Culinary Academy launches at The International Culinary Experience with renowned Italian chef Cesare Casella as its Dean. The first program to launch is the Italian Culinary Experience program, the first-of-its-kind that combines hands-on study in cuisine, language and culture at The Italian Culinary Academy in SoHo and ALMA, The International School of Italian Cuisine at  in Colorno, Italy, followed by an optional nine-week stage at a top-rated restaurant in Italy.

Nils Noren Dave Arnold Cocktail anyone?

True Tuscan at work (also the name of his cookbook)


Feeling for pin bones


Holding the tail end with his left hand he gently pulled the knife across the side in a back and forth sawing motion.


Making ribbons of cucumber.

Chopping chives. Voila! Gravlax, Salmon Tartar - very easy to make and great luxury for entertaining. The bread was spread with a radish butter, stacked and cut into these seasoned slices for serving the salmon.

All very easy to do ahead.

This NYCE weekend was heady stuff. Everyone I spoke with was having a blast, excited by what they were learning and thrilled with who they were learning it from. It's really a unique weekend. What a great gift for a special birthday or anniversary or say Christmas?