Yesterday we spoke with James Briscione, an instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) and the author of Just Married and Cooking, about what to buy and not buy off a wedding registry. Today, we shift gears slightly as he tells us about giving up the grind of restaurant life to teach others about the grind of restaurant life.
What are some of your favorite restaurants?
There are so many. One of my favorites is Gramercy Tavern. I just love it; the food is so good. And knowing Michael Anthony and what kind of a person he is makes it all the better. And Plein Sud — we love that place. We’ll go for Sunday-morning brunches, or if I’m out late, I’ll always end up at the bar for their flatbreads and pastas.
Do you and your wife get to entertain much?
We get to do our entertaining at ICE. That’s our chance to put on a dinner party and entertain. But we did have taco night here at the beach last night.
What do you teach at ICE?
We mix it up depending to the season. We always do a class called “The Couple’s First Dinner Party” that’s really their first shot at entertaining. We take you through dishes step by step. What people don’t realize is that you should do everything before guests arrive. We teach them how to do things ahead. When we do entertain at home, we’ll make half of it ahead and then leave some partially prepared and have our friends help out. We’ll do pizza and everyone can make their own. The key is you never want to be in the kitchen the whole time.
What is the hardest thing about working in restaurants?
I tell my students all the time that there are no consequences in school. And there are big ones in the restaurant. When you burn something in school, it’s OK, we learn and do it again. When something fails in a restaurant, though, there might not be time for that.
What ultimately made you leave restaurant life for teaching?
I was ready to have some time to live again. I love restaurant life and cooking and being part of a team, but [my wife and I] were just getting married and it’s nice to spend time with the family. And I’ve always enjoyed teaching.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 7, 2011