Library Notes: The ABCs of the DVDs
By Rose Kernochan
ICC Library Assistant
ICC’s students come to the library asking for specialized cookbooks about molecular gastronomy, working with sugar and plating desserts. They search the bookshelves and often, they find what they need. But what they don’t know is that they have only reached our library’s top layer. Aside from the 5,000 or so volumes on the open shelves, there are rare, half-hidden reference volumes, tucked into a secluded nook–and then one last well-kept secret: the ICC’s stellar culinary DVD collection.
It’s good to study, say, Ewald Notter’s The Art of The Confectioner if you want to learn to work with sugar. But you can also watch Notter working with sugar on DVD. Likewise, you can read Dean Jacques Torres’ Dessert Circus, if you need to know about plating desserts—or you can watch him plating bombolini or almond kataifi, and talking about “plate presentation”, courtesy of one of the ICC’s large collection of DVDs by the deans (favorites like Jacques Pepin, Andre Soltner and Cesare Casella are also heavily represented).
Many of the library’s (literally) heavyweight molecular gastronomy cookbooks—such as A Day at El Bulli — are in the Reference Section, and can’t be checked out. But hidden in the DVD drawers, there are cool documentaries about Ferran Adria (like Anthony Bourdain’s “Decoding Ferran Adria”, or Gereon Wetzel’s “Cooking in Progress”), and the interactive CDs (with recipes!) which accompany a few of those expensive El Bulli reference books. Like everything else in those drawers, they can be checked out for a two-day period.
The DVDs aren’t limited to specialized topics, or even just Culinary or Pastry Arts. The ICC’s 6-disc “Basic Techniques” DVD can help provide backup for a student’s first steps in cooking school—just as the 6-disc Fundamentals of Wine (or Andrea Robinson’s Intensive Wine Class) can help teach wine basics to an early-career somm student. Knife-sharpening videos remind cooks how to keep their precise tools in the best possible shape—and there are even DVDs with tips for hand-sharpening Japanese knives.
If you’re a fan of a particular chef—Eric Ripert, David Chang, Anita Lo—there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find an “unplugged” interview or an unusual ICC demo starring your favorite culinary idol. You’ll be able to watch Bobby Flay tackling ceviche, or Chang doing Japanese dashi, or Ripert focusing on “scallops and foie gras with black truffle sauce”. What makes the ICC collection unique are the many in-house classes or guest chef demos—but standards like “Mind of a Chef” or Julia Child’s “The French Chef” are included also.
Last of all, there’s entertainment, designed to whet your appetite for that new food- or wine-world career. Comedy features like “Chef” , “Sideways” and the Japanese ramen classic “Tampopo” sit in the drawers next to more educational documentaries like “Mondovino” and the lyrical “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”.
To access the DVDs, just ask a librarian for help—or just search the library catalogue on your own, from the ICC website. If you’re on the computer, use keywords for whatever specialized area you’re looking for: say, “dashi”, “varietal” or “cake decoration”. If you want to go manual, you can also flip through the three ring notebook marked “DVD Catalog” which is on the librarian’s desk near checkout.
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.