Imagine a multi-course meal prepared by someone learning to cook. Now banish any thoughts of oddly paired ingredients, underdone or oven burnt. At the Recipe for Success 2018, the kitchen chefs were in training or were graduates of the International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute, and the menu was composed by master chef and ICASI founder Loretta Paganini.
For this year’s ICASI scholarship benefit, seared Tuna Carpaccio started with the crunch of English cucumber. The wild mushroom bisque blended shiitake, cremini and oyster mushrooms into a velvety second course, followed by a salad of Fuji apple and frisee, the sharpness of the curly endive cut by candied walnuts and Stilton cheese. Handmade pici pasta with basil-walnut pesto, pomegranate sorbet, and Pinot Grigio-braised Veal Ossobuco, all followed in gastronomic succession. And then came the Bittersweet Chocolate Truffle torte.
Cleveland’s reputation as an Iron Chef city has been established, and so has the need for skilled culinary personnel in the Northeast Ohio restaurant scene. The culinary institute in Chesterland helps sate that need. Currently, 40 students are enrolled in either the six-month certificate segment costing $10,000, or the two-year diploma program, which runs about $23,000, and includes supplies, books and everything but the shoes.
“For many students this is a second career,” said Stephanie Paganini, pastry chef instructor and director of student services for the culinary institute founded by her mother. “We have business people, others who have worked in restaurants for years or changed careers, or are retirees.”
“We started the scholarship fund because there were so many students who wanted to come to the school but didn’t have the funds,” said Mara Amedia, ICASI Scholarship board president. The first scholarship fundraiser held in 2009 attracted 30 benefactors to Sapore, ICASI’s public restaurant. Since then, the culinary institute has awarded $110,000 in full and partial scholarships to 31 budding chefs.
This year’s dinner drew 204 gastronomes to the formal dining tables set in and around the main training kitchens, and exceeded the institute’s goal of raising more funds for ICASI scholarships than any previous event. Word is out – These folks can COOK! STORY AND PHOTOGRAPHS BY PEGGY TURBETT