Work Hard Cook Hard...

Article featured on the International Culinary Center website-

http://www.internationalculinarycenter.com/blog/work-hard-cook-hard/

By Danielle Marullo
ICC Student, Professional Culinary Arts

Greetings fellow foodies! My name is Danielle Marullo, and I am obsessed with good food and entertaining. I am a graduate of Penn State University’s School of Hospitality Management and am currently the Assistant General Manager of theTodd English Food Hall in the iconic Plaza Hotel. I ran my own baking business at the age of 13, appeared on Anderson Cooper Live! where I won the “Chopped Challenge” moderated by Food Network’s Ted Allen, and most recently I was the third place winner on Spike TV’s new culinary competition “Frankenfood.” In June, 2013 I started my very own website, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook page entitled “Got Room For More,” where I share my original recipes, food articles and instructional cooking videos. My dream in life is to be the next big television chef, like my idol Mr. Bobby Flay (an ICC alum), as well as become the best restaurateur I can be. Why am I writing for the International Culinary Center you ask? Well as of May 2014 I am now a student in the amazing Professional Culinary Arts night program!

You may be just like me, someone who works a very demanding full-time job, so you’re thinking how can I possibly go to culinary school and still keep my job so I can pay my bills. Trust me, if I can do it you can do it! I will admit, that the first month was not easy. I will always remember how I felt the first few days of class. I was stressed, anxious, hot, exhausted and a little bit out of focus. By the 4th week I had my routine down pat, and my body began to adjust to the long hours on my feet, the high temperature of the classroom, and the high-pressure environment. I like to compare this transition to learning knife skills: When you first get the knife in your hand it feels awkward and even a little heavy, your feet are clenching in your leather clogs from the tension, and the stress of the instructor hovering over you makes you feel like as if the blade will slip any moment and catch your finger. After a few weeks of practice your body begins to loosen up, your hands become one with the knife and the blade slides thorough the vegetables with ease. Each stroke of the knife starts feeling organic and effortless…not to mention your julienne carrots finally start looking like julienne carrots. That’s exactly how the transition from Restaurant Manager to Restaurant Manager PLUS Culinary Student felt. Here are some tips to ease your stress and to ultimately help you succeed at both:

- Get into a routine- Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I know I have to leave work at 5pm in order to get on the subway, and make it to the school with enough time to change and have a few minutes to get my “mis en place” together. It will take a few days of trial and error, but you will find the exact time you must leave work in order to get to ICC safe and sound…and not leave work so early that you anger your boss/coworkers. If you have the time before you begin the program, do a practice run of your commute so when the first day of class comes you will feel a little more comfortable.

- DON’T carry your knife bag and clothing with you everyday! The first two weeks I was carrying everything back and forth to school with me. I was hurting my back, knocking into people on the subway, getting sweaty from holding all the heavy bags and ultimately not in the right state of mind when I entered the school. Get a nice big pad lock and lock your knife bag and heavy kitchen shoes in the locker the school provides for you!

- Send out your laundry to be washed and folded for you. Yes, this costs some money and maybe this isn’t in everyone’s budget, but I truly feel during the 6 or 9 months you are in culinary school it is worth it! For someone with a tight schedule, you know doing laundry is just another arduous task you have to tack onto your work week, so eliminate it by sending your chef whites out to be cleaned for you once a week or on a need to basis to free up a few hours!

- Pay attention and take notes in class! For someone like me who has very limited time to study for the exams, it is crucial that you jot down information during lecture. The chefs usually put the information you will be tested on on the front board so be sure to take down these notes or even snap a picture on your phone to ensure you have it all down.
While you’re on the subway or commuting from work, take that time to read over the recipes for the class that day. This will help you to make mental notes about what you need gather on your station when you get to class and also move at a faster pace because you wont have to go back to your notes a tremendous amount of times to see which step comes next.

Get to know your classmates. There will be days when you have a hard day at work and cooking for 5 hours in a 90 degree kitchen is not exactly what you want to do that evening, but if you make some friends in class you will have that sense of support and love you need to keep yourself motivated and positive.

- Bring plastic Tupperware to class everyday! You will have many opportunities to bring the food you cook home with you, so make sure you are prepared! You can eat these leftovers on the days you don’t have class to free up some time in your schedule to catch up with friends and family. You can also show off your skills by giving your friends and family a taste of the amazing dishes you created in class. Trust me their reactions and praise are enough motivation to keep you going!

In conclusion, balancing work, school and your personal life is not a piece of cake (pun intended), but with the right preparation and attitude you can do it and succeed at it! I have been having the time of my life at ICC and feel the skills and techniques I am learning will get me exactly where I want to be! For recipes and instructional cooking videos check out my website at www.gotroomformore.com.

Sweetbreads Are Not Sweet Nor Bread...

Article featured on the International Culinary Center's website

http://www.internationalculinarycenter.com/blog/sweetbreads-sweet-bread/

By Danielle Marullo
International Culinary Center Student
Professional Culinary Arts

Lucky for me, I have passed level 1 of the Professional Culinary Arts program and have begun Level 2, where we begin to utilize all the basic techniques and skills we have obtained to create more advanced and unique dishes. At the start of this level you make some familiar proteins such as chicken and veal, but then as each class progresses the meats seem to get more and more unfamiliar, or obscure for some. It is wild to see my Chef-Instructor standing at the front of the room with a loin of deer meat several feet long, or a massive cow bone and knuckle that look as if they came from the Prehistoric era…I am talking serious Jurassic Park looking things. In the beginning all the proteins seem so different and some are very intimidating, but as you progress, you start to appreciate any cut of meat. Each week you grow more and more comfortable with handling and preparing even the strangest meats without making a face of disgust or fear. I think that is one of the most important skills you obtain in culinary school that you cannot really learn anywhere else. I have eaten venison and quail and rabbit many times before in my travels, but culinary school has given me confidence that I can prepare just about anything you throw my way.


One of the classes I will never ever forget was the Organ Meat day. Growing up in an Italian household I was used to eating Tripe which is cow stomach, but that was the extent of my organ meat consumption besides chicken liver pates and foie gras. When flipping through the textbook before class, I saw that tongue was on the menu and I suddenly got a little nauseous, but I knew I had to brave up.

The class began and the first recipe written on the board was Ris de Veau, which in the US we call sweetbreads. As an avid Food Network watcher, I have seen Sweetbreads prepared and enjoyed by many celebrity chefs and judges on food competition shows, but I never truly knew what they were and what they tasted like. After doing some research it seems as if no one really knows where the name sweetbreads came from, but I guess any name is better than fried pancreas, ay? There it was in front of me on my cutting board, it didn’t look like bread, nor did it smell sweet. In fact, it looked like a human brain and had very little odor. I came to find that sweetbreads are actually the pancreas or thymus gland of an animal, in this case a veal. They are somewhat of a delicacy because as the animal grows up their “sweetbreads” disappear.

To prepare the sweetbreads, we first peeled off the excess membrane covering the flesh that looked almost like little pieces of plastic wrap. We then sliced it on a bias into 1/2 inch thick slices making sure to trim off any visible blood particles. Next, we “paner a l’anglais,” which is a three step breading technique we had utilized several times before. We dipped the sweetbread pieces into flour, then seasoned beaten egg and breadcrumbs and then pan fried them until they were golden brown and crispy on the edges. We served the sweetbreads with silky, rich, goat cheese polenta and an equally as rich brown butter caper sauce. Now it was time for the taste test. My partner and I prepped ourselves as if we were about to take a shot of tequila. We looked at each other fiercely in the eyes, grabbed a piece of sweetbread with our bare hands and quickly popped them into our mouths. I first felt my teeth sink into the fantastic crunchy breading which was flavorful and perfectly seasoned. Then, my teeth bore the tender sweetbread inside the breading, and to my surprise it was undeniably delicious! My tongue instantly began to salivate from the creamy, rich texture of the organ, I was a happy girl! The flavor reminded me of my grandma’s famous breaded chicken cutlets, but had a much more tender, soft consistency. Sweetbreads are a great way to wean yourself into the organ meat family because of its mild flavor. I am pretty sure you could feed them to a child and they wouldn’t flinch one bit.


After the Sweetbreads we moved on to Calf’s Liver with onions and a beautiful demi-glace and then finally the dreaded tongue. The tongue looked, well, like a tongue…a human tongue. And of course being the very curious student that I am, I asked my chef if the human tongue was similar and his response was, “Do you think I know what a human tongue tastes like?” I set myself up for that one, that’s for sure. The order in which the lessons are taught and the order we make the dishes seems is very strategic. Going from chicken to live lobster to beef to venison and then to rabbit actually made the transition into organ meats much easier. The organ meats are obviously some of the most intimidating and “gross” for us Americans, but after breaking down a rabbit and a sweetbread, the tongue and kidneys felt less obscure and more appetizing.


We boiled the tongue in water and aromatics for several hours until it was tender and brownish gray in color. We then peeled off the outer membrane and the “tastebuds” off the cooked tongues and thinly sliced them like any normal cut of meat. We stacked the meat on top of a creamy fingerling potato salad and drizzled the plate with a delicate but acidic vinaigrette which cut through the richness of the tongue beautifully. When I put the first piece of tongue on my tongue (well that’s funny to say), I found that it tasted like a really tender, juicy piece of lamb shank or chop.

In conclusion, I now have a whole new outlook on organ meats, but let’s see how I feel in level 4 when I make head cheese…if you don’t know what head cheese is, well let’s save that for another day.



I Was Not Chopped!

Anderson Cooper hosted a mini-Chopped challenge on today’s Anderson Live, moderated by none other than James Beard Broadcast and Journalism Awards MC Ted Allen. And ... I won!