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The International Culinary Center - Cooking School Review

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New York Culinary Experience 2014 Presented By New York Magazine And The International Culinary Center - Day 2
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The International Culinary Center (ICC) encompasses The French Culinary Institute, one of the city's best-regarded schools for professional chefs, and The Italian Culinary Academy. Its faculty includes Jacques Pépin, André Soltner, Jacques Torres and many other master chefs. Star alumni include Bobby Flay.

In November 2008, the ICC launched a recreational division, allowing cooking enthusiasts to get a taste of professional culinary school.

Plan Your Trip

Cooking skills required: Advanced-beginners to advanced.
Classes available: The ICC's Recreational Division offers approximately 20 classes. See current class listing here.
Class size: Under 30 students.
Class length: Some classes take place in a three-hour evening, other classes take place twice a week, over the course of a month, for a total of 35 hours of cooking time. ICC offers several multiple-day classes that take place over a weekend, or within one week, making them feasible for travelers.
Meals: A few courses included a meal, but the ICC's classes are far more about cooking technique (or gaining knowledge of wine, tea or coffee) than they are about eating.
Cost: Prices vary. Single-session courses are in the $125-$200 range, multiple-day courses range from $525 to $2,500.
Location: 462 Broadway, at Grand Street. New York, N.Y.
Phone: (888) 90-TASTE
Website: International Culinary Center - Recreational Division
Tip: Plan to arrive 45 minutes early for class to handle registration.

The Instructors

Many courses are taught by the same chef-instructors that teach in the professional division. (This means that they're used to working with students who are not absolute beginners.) Some specialty courses are taught by outside experts, for example, a course on tea tasting is led by the buyer for Harney & Sons, an international tea company.

The Facilities

Classes are taught in the same facilities used by the professional division, which prides itself on keeping class size small, so expect top-of-the-line equipment in a space that makes it easy to hear the instructor.

Bonus: since the recreational classes are often happening at the same time as the professional classes, you can peek into the pro classes during class breaks -- a thrill for any culinary enthusiast!

What You'll Learn

The ICC offers three types of recreational classes: culinary courses, beverage courses, and pastry and bread courses.

Culinary courses are geared around culinary technique (Knife Skills, Deboning and Filleting, for example) ethnic cuisine (Ramen and Gyoza), entertaining (The Ultimate Thanksgiving Dinner). Beverage courses are centered around wine (Wine Uncorked), or coffee and tea, and pastry and bread classes are seasonal in nature (Jewish Holiday Baking) and specialized (Classic Croissants).

Multiple-session classes can be challenging for travelers to attend, so it's not surprising that classes that are the most popular with travelers are either single-session classes, or classes that occur over consecutive or close-to-consecutive days.
Top choices:
  • La Dolce Vita: Italian Pastries, which covers cooking authentic cannoli, biscotti, and warm honey-and-ricotta dumplings.
  • The Secrets of Spices, which covers the ins-and-outs of spice use and blending, while cooking a three-course meal.
  • Wine Uncorked a three-hour seminar on wine-tasting and pairing food and wine. Read a review of Wine Uncorked here.
  • High Tech Cocktails, the class utilizes the latest in culinary and chemistry techniques to make drinks that include "flash pickled" ingredients, and how to use a "turbocharged electric rod" to flame a cocktail.
The ICC also offers classes designed for teenagers and their parents to take together, for instance, the single-session Handmade Pasta for Future Chefs, which includes three hours of cooking and followed by lunch.

Optional Add-Ons

The school's restaurant, L'Ecole, is where French Culinary Institute students receive hands-on training. It's a great place to enjoy a meal before or after class.
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