What a Professional Pastry Arts Student Learned at Gramercy Tavern
During the course of the Professional Pastry Arts program, students have the opportunity to participate in industry field trips to restaurants, bakeries and more where they meet working pastry chefs, ask questions and see the skills + techniques they’ve learned in action.
Chefs at participating patisseries walk students through the kitchen for a behind-the-scenes look at their operations—from ingredient preparation to plating and service. Attending one of these field trips not only provides great networking opportunities, but also allows students to experience professional kitchens first-hand. Some of our recent pastry field trips have included Oceana, Ron Ben-Israel Cakes, Dominique Ansel Kitchen, and ICC Dean Jacques Torres’ chocolate factory Jacques Torres Chocolate.
Recently, a group of Professional Pastry Arts students embarked on a journey to Gramercy Tavern to experience the iconic NYC restaurant with Pastry Chef, Miro Uskokovic. For 6 years, Chef Uskokovic has been at the pastry helm of the Michelin-starred kitchen and has been leading his 20 person team to success. Throughout the tour, Chef Uskokovic gave the insider’s scoop to the restaurant—like how on any given day they serve hundreds of desserts to guests with a sweet tooth, and make all of the varying 12-13 different breads that the restaurant serves.
Chef Uskokovic and Gramercy Tavern as a whole, famously, do not use refined sugars or corn syrup in any of the desserts or dishes created on the menu. Instead, they use ingredients like non-GMO and organic white, brown, powdered, coconut, and maple sugars. Seeing this first hand in the kitchens is an invaluable experience and something that is not soon forgotten.
So we sat down with current Professional Pastry Arts student, Kathleen Feeney, to find out what she and her classmates learned on their adventure to Gramercy Tavern. Below, read what she took away from the once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Kathleen is a current Professional Pastry Arts student and enjoys the challenge of learning so many new skills. She has found pastry school enriching and is excited to continue to learn so many techniques and recipes under the guidance of her chef instructors. In her free time, Kathleen loves to play many instruments, travel and enjoy her Irish culture through dance, art and lots of bread making.
DELIVERING FRESHNESS WITH ORGANIZATION
To deliver a fresh and flavorful menu, being highly organized is necessary. Each staff member has a clearly defined role, work station, and tools which includes ingredients and recipes. Gramercy Tavern has dedicated prep stations for each aspect of the menu including pasta making, butchery, chocolate making, pastry, breads and more.
A TEAM EFFORT
It takes many hands and a team effort to operate a great restaurant. Many kitchen staff work closely together to ensure successful plating in a timely manner. But outside the kitchen, key staff are responsible for delivering a stellar dining experience to customers. This includes an in-house floral arrangement team who create beautiful fresh displays throughout the restaurant, a marketing & events team and even a forager who goes to Maine in search of the freshest berries.
FLEXIBILITY WILL HELP YOU LEARN
The staff rotate in the kitchen so that they each learn different functions to ensure proper coverage—some members even do 2-3 stations a week! This keeps new ideas flowing freely and education at a high-level. The supervisor will always put together a production list for the day, so even if you’re new at the station, you know what needs to get done. The menu is also always being refreshed to include the best produce of that season, which carries through the message of flexibility in the kitchen.
Gramercy Tavern by the Numbers: 300 desserts a night, 200 full time staff, 17 pastry chefs, 25th Anniversary, 1 iconic biscuit!
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.