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French Culinary Institute

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FCI Slashes Tuition

The French Culinary Institute makes a small dent in night-school tuition.

By Alexandra Vallis

Learn All the Food Science You Can Hold, in Just Three Days

harold mcgee
The nation's most influential food scientist, Harold McGee, is going to be giving a three-day seminar at the French Culinary Institute from March 15 to 17, but we were at first a little hesitant about going. The last time we attended such a talk, by molecular gastronomist Hervé This, the great man’s pronouncements were so profound, and his insights into the nature of matter so complex, that we were stymied and had to be woken up by security guards long after everyone else departed. McGee, though, will be giving practical demonstrations for three days, including six ways of searing a steak, everything you wanted to know about eggs and emulsions, and, on day three, a futuristic tour of enzymes, hydrocolloids, and “equipment such as freeze dryer’s vacuum packaging, and rotary evaporators.” Who could resist such a curriculum? For three days and $1,200, you can be the chef of the future! Harold McGee Lecture Series [French Culinary Institute] Related: Molecular Gastronomy Made Complicated via PowerPoint

Cesare Casella the Latest Chef Onboard the UWS Bandwagon

The Upper West Side — flush with Dovetail's success; the boffo business at Kefi , Cesca , and Ouest ; and with Fatty Crab II on the way — seems to be — of all places — the hot restaurant neighborhood du jour. And the next chef heading northwest? Tuscan toque Cesare Casella, who has a lease on a 1000-square-foot space on West 73rd Street. The Maremma chef, who leads the Italian program at the French Culinary Institute, is also seeking to acquire an adjacent storefront. “If we can do that, we will have an Italian restaurant, but not a Tuscan cowboy one,” Casella says. “I have to represent all of Italy, the way I teach at FCI. If we stay with the small space, it will be Bean Bar or something like it.” Bean Bar is the Tuscan takeout bean operation Casella has wanted to open at Grand Central since last May. His new space won't be ready till fall or next winter at the earliest. Related: Cesare Casella Jumps to Launch Bean Bar in Grand Central

Dave Arnold's Alcoholic Pickle of the Future

NYT Magazine
The Times Magazine’s annual examination of “big ideas” brings news of some culinary innovations such as a food-processing technique that helps farmed fish taste more like wild fish (encouraging fast-food companies to make the switch to the former) and packaging that will allow us to tell whether supermarket meat is rotten, which is of no consequence to those in another article who practice “vegansexuality” by forgoing liaisons with carnivores. The most curious item, though, explores French Culinary Institute head Dave Arnold’s ingenious method of combining two of our favorite things — booze and pickles — by pickling cucumbers with a martini’s worth of gin and vermouth. Watch the video and you’ll see the dapper Arnold use a vacuum machine to turn the cucumber opaque while gin rushes into its air holes — easily the hottest thing in mixology since the “hard shake.” The Edible Cocktail Tell-Tale Food Wrapping Vegansexuality Fish-Flavored Fish [NYT]

Recent ‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner Stands By Her Chicken

Sara Mair
Sara Mair could not escape elimination on last night’s Top Chef when she began the episode by serving Sirio Maccioni of Le Cirque an undercooked potato-wrapped sea bass and concluded with poorly flavored and undercooked chicken for deans of the French Culinary Institute. Today she talks to us about reconciling with Howie and Hung’s lack of heart.

Pioneer Bar-B-Q Not Dead After All

Hell’s Kitchen: The last day to catch the Fancy Food Show at the Javits Center is tomorrow. [SpecialtyFood.com] Lower East Side: The East Side Company Bar’s Black Cherry Daiquiri makes for a spot-on summer libation. [Down by the Hipster] Red Hook: New owners plan to bring Pioneer Bar back, barbecue and all. [Eater] Soho: Learn about the science of cooking from author Harold McGee in a three-day, $1,200 course starting July 14 at the French Culinary Institute. [Food Section] Times Square: Celebrate Argentina’s independence from Spain tonight at Havana Central with a wine tasting hosted by Ellisa Cooper. [Grub Street] Upper East Side: The MTA will change its design for the Second Avenue subway line to avoid closing two Food Emporiums. [Gothamist] And 62nd Street has gained a casual Italian restaurant, Pane e Vino, and a 24-hour eatery called David’s. [New York Social Diary]

‘Top Chef’ Wannabes, Now Is Your Chance — to Get Baked With Padma Lakshmi

We know it might seem like we’ve gone Top Chef crazy these past few days, but so have many New Yorkers. We’re guessing some of you might even want to become contestants on the show. If so, fill out this application and hasten down to the French Culinary Institute on Sunday at noon with a résumé, photo, certificate of veracity, and the insatiable desire to be made a fool of on national TV. (We’ve only got that last thing; otherwise we’d go.) Who knows, if recent allegations are true, you might even get to smoke a joint with Padma Lakshmi. Be the Next Top Chef [Bravo] Padma Lakshmi Is a Literal Pothead [Best Week Ever] Earlier: Sam Talbot (Formerly) of ‘Top Chef’ Splurges at Nobu [Grub Street] Red Cat Owner Betting on Ilan to Win ‘Top Chef’ [Grub Street] ‘Top Chef’'s Marcel Doesn’t Love Joël Robuchon That Much [Daily Intel] So Hot She’s Flammable: Host Roasted by Top Chefs [NYM]