ICE Students Create Flavor-Packed Plant-Based Meal
Plant-based foods are everything but unsubstantial and plain.
I knew plant-based cooking could taste good, but I had never tasted rice paper "bacon" that hit like this.
As a new member of the ICE staff, I was invited to attend the fine-dining four-course meal put on by our Plant-Based Culinary Arts students in their final in-class module of the curriculum. Every Plant-Based Culinary Arts cohort eventually participates in this assignment, but each individual class chooses their own theme for the meal, which is typically entirely vegan.
As someone who has experimented with varying diets, from gluten-free and dairy-free to full veganism, I was extremely interested in what ICE students could do with similar restrictions on their cooking.
Led by Chef-Instructors Missy Smith-Chapman and Carrie Smith, the plant-based kitchen was turned into a high-end dining experience named “QHGC,” an acronym of the first initial of each of our four student hosts' names. They kicked things off with miso and caramel popcorn, escabeche and a refreshing, non-alcoholic lychee margarita.
Attention to detail is central to all lessons at ICE — presentation and ambience included. Flower centerpieces, smooth jazz and the most exquisite lemon water were among the many details that elevated the whole experience.
A key part of this lesson is the emphasis on collaboration between the students to create dishes with stand-out flavors that will also add to the cohesiveness of the menu as a whole. This specific menu’s through-line went beyond the broad classification of “vegan,” with inspiration from classic Latin American cuisine.
After the appetizers, we were presented with a fresh ceviche dish made with hearts of palm, avocado and jicama followed by an elote soup with miso and lime, served with savory rice paper "bacon." It was also at this point when my empty margarita glass was replaced by a delightful pomegranate fizz drink.
Next was the main course: a tower of flavor in the form of a scallion pancake-wrapped jackfruit and black bean enchilada. It was substantial, to say the least.
For dessert, we were served a homemade horchata ice cream atop a nest of phyllo dough and Japanese sweet potato pureé, which was followed by a warm matcha tea and matcha cookie. Call our palettes pampered.
Days like today are reminders of the students' dedication to their craft. To share food with others is more than just serving delicious-tasting food — it’s about creating a community.