ICC Professional Culinary Arts Student Takes Home Silver at Umami Cooking Competition
Suk Son Weisman proudly represented ICC among the all-women chef winners at the second annual United States of Umami Cooking Competition.
On November 8, culinary students from around the country gathered in Charleston, South Carolina to compete in the United States of Umami Cooking Competition, presented by Ajinomoto. Developed to strengthen the conversation around umami and monosodium glutamate, or MSG, the competition aims to educate culinary students on the science of umami while debunking the rumors and myths surrounding the ingredient.
This year, the competition challenged semi-finalists from America’s top culinary schools to create two original dishes highlighting umami, including one centered around a plant-based diet, and the other celebrating ethnically-inspired or regional cuisines. ICC was honored to be selected as one of the seven culinary schools, including Johnson & Wales University and the Culinary Institute of Charleston, to participate in the competition.
Through an internal selection process led by ICC’s Director of Culinary Arts & Technology, Chef Hervé Malivert, Professional Culinary Arts student Suk Son Weisman was selected from a group of applicants to represent ICC in the competition. (Suk was selected for the competition while a student at ICC, but has recently graduated from the program).
Judged on technique and taste, these culinary students went head-to-head in an exciting all day competition. After months of preparation refining her umami-rich recipes and one-on-one practice with ICC’s resident culinary competition coach, Chef Hervé, Suk Son Weisman took home the silver medal for the competition! We couldn’t be more proud to share Suk’s journey with all of you, and the recipes behind her innovative dishes.
SUK'S JOURNEY TO COMPETITION
Suk Son Weisman was born in South Korea and raised on her family’s farm. Her childhood was filled with learning about the different ingredients that grew on their farm like rice, shrimp, salt and garlic. Then, she would learn how to use those ingredients to cook in the kitchen with her mom, a chef herself! Though she had a strong desire to follow in her mom’s footsteps of becoming a chef, she spent 7 years working at Samsung to support her family. When she realized there was something missing in her life, she quit her job and moved to Hong Kong to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a Chef. In Hong Kong, she worked at fellow ICC alumna, Judy Joo’s restaurant JinJuu, and Alvin Leung’s Bib n Hops for several years. After a dinner with Chef Judy Joo herself, she felt inspired to enroll at the International Culinary Center in New York City to pursue her culinary education and create a strong foundation in other cuisines & techniques. After completing level 4 of the Professional Culinary Arts program, she embarked on one of the most prestigious externships in the country — learning in the kitchens of Eleven Madison Park.
To create her dishes for the competition, Suk reminisced on her childhood and eating seasonal ingredients throughout the year. When her mom would cook meals for her family, it was always well-balanced and nutritious. Overall, her dishes were inspired by her mom’s cooking, as well as the movement towards healthy alternatives to red meat. Her Autumn Umami Shrimp Steak with Radish Purée, for example, was developed to present a dish naturally rich in umami flavor, but offered an alternative to meat.
In preparation for the competition, Suk trained one-on-one for months with our Director of Culinary Arts & Technology, Chef Hervé Malivert. Chef Hervé has coached many ICC students in competition to success including: Rose Weiss, winner of the 2011 Bocuse d’Or Commis Competition; Christopher Ravanello, Northeast Regional winner of the 2012 S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition; Colfax Selby, Northeast Regional winner of the 2015 S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition; Mimi Chen, winner of the 2016 Ment’or Commis competition; Nick Lee, winner of the 2018 United States of Umami Cooking Competition. Through working with Chef Hervé, Suk was able to hone her mindset for competition—practice timing, organize her thought process and understand what it really takes to compete in a major challenge. For instance, when through their practice sessions, they both felt that something was missing from her umami dressing. After brainstorming, they added coffee to the dressing, which balanced the sauce through its bitterness.
When we asked Suk what it was like to be selected for the competition, she remarked that she was “…Very excited and honored to represent ICC. When I first started culinary school, I was very nervous because English is not my first language. Sometimes, it was hard for me to understand what was going on in class, so I worked extra hard to study cooking, but also English. My instructors in class, Chef Jeff, Scott, April, everyone was helping me both in and out of class to explain to me if I didn’t understand something. I feel very lucky that I met them!”
Check out Suk’s delicious recipes below and you’ll see why these dishes received such high praise!
Asian Pear, Cucumber and Persimmon Salad
Served with Parmigiano-Reggiano Crisp and Coffee Pine Nut Emulsion
Yields 4 servings
- 3 Asian pears
- 1 cucumber
- 3 persimmons
- 12 shiitake mushrooms
- 1 bulb garlic
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups pine nuts
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups olive oil
- 2 tablespoons French Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons porcini powder
- 1 pound Parmigiano-Reggiano, aged 18 months
- 100 grams fresh brewed coffee
- 1 quart whole coffee beans
- 1/2 bunch fresh chevril
- 1/2 bunch fresh chives
- Salt & pepper to taste
For the Dressing:
- Combine the apple cider vinegar, toasted pine nuts, sugar, Dijon mustard, porcini powder and
parmesan in a blender.
- Blend on low speed until smooth.
- Add the coffee and slowly add the olive oil until well emulsified.
- Transfer to an ISI canister.
For the Salad:
- Wash pear, cucumber and persimmon.
- Peel and cube pear and cucumber
- De-seed and cube persimmon
For the Parmesan Crisp:
- Micro-plane the Parmigiano-Reggiano and mold inside a 5-inch ring.
- Add some porcini powder and place in a 350 °F oven until golden and crisp.
For the Dried Shiitake Mushrooms:
- Clean and slice shiitake mushrooms.
- Add garlic, oil, salt, pepper and roast in the oven at 350 °F.
- Season the salad mixture with salt, pepper, toasted pine-nuts, chive and olive oil.
- Arrange the Asian pear salad on the bottom of the bowl, add the Parmesan crisp and the emulsion.
- Finish with dry shiitake and chervil.
Autumn Shrimp Steak
Served with Radish and Bacon-Infused Mashed Potatoes over a Braised Radish and Dashi Reduction
Yields 4 Servings
- 2 daikon pieces
- 500 grams shrimp
- 200 grams leeks
- 300 grams sweet rice flour
- 50 grams all-purpose flour
- 44 grams corn starch
- 1 cup egg whites
- 1 bag katsuobushi
- 2 cups dry shredded nori
- 600 grams water
- 60 grams soy sauce
- 20 grams sugar
- 5 grams kombu
- 5 grams ginger juice
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 100 grams canola oil
- 200 grams bacon
- 400 grams potatoes
- 150 grams milk
- 50 grams butter
- 1 tablespoon dry oregano
- 2 lemons
Make the Sauce and Daikon Steak:
- In a pressure cooker combine the water, soy sauce, kombu, Katsuobushi, sugar and 6 slices of daikon cut 1 cm thick.
- Close the pressure cooker, bring to pressure and cook for 25 mins.
- Remove pressure, remove the daikon and strain the dashi.
- Add the ginger juice bring to a boil.
- Slurry the corn starch until proper consistency is achieved.
- Taste for flavor, add lemon juice if needed.
For the Shrimp Steak:
- Peel and mandoline lengthwise a thin slice of daikon.
- Chop shrimp and leek finely, season with salt and pepper, add corn starch.
- Spread shrimp filling on top of sliced radish, roll tightly to wrap, keep refrigerated.
- When shrimp steak is set, remove plastic wrap, dust with AP flour, and coat with sweet rice powder batter.
- Fry at 350 °F until slightly brown.
- Mix egg white with corn starch, coat and fry the steak again.
- Roll in Katsuobushi and fry again.
For the Purée:
- In oil, cook the diced bacon until crispy, strain it, sweat onion and radish in bacon fat, until brown.
- Add a few drops of water to deglaze, then add sugar, vinegar, pepper and oregano.
- Add back the bacon, add balsamic vinegar and mix well.
- Make mashed potatoes.
- Combine the mashed potatoes with the bacon mixture and mix well.
- On each daikon steak, arange radish purée and dust dry seaweed on top.
- Arrange at 10 o’clock on the plate.
- Add at 1 o’clock on the plate, a portion of shrimp steak and some dashi reduction in the center.
This blog post was originally published by the International Culinary Center (ICC), founded as The French Culinary Institute (FCI). In 2020, ICE and ICC came together on one strong and dynamic national platform at ICE's campuses in New York City and Los Angeles. Explore your culinary education where the legacy lives on.