Notes From the Pastry Lab: Inside the Mind of Michael Laiskonis

Notes From the Pastry Lab: Inside the Mind of Michael Laiskonis
From blog.ice.edu, by Institute of Culinary Education

 

By Michael Laiskonis—ICE Creative Director

 

Now that ICE has moved into a new home in Lower Manhattan, our long-anticipated Chocolate Lab and state-of-the-art pastry kitchens are nearly ready to begin classes. In turn, my day-to-day role at the school has remained as active and varied as ever. Yet between regular class visits with our professional Pastry and Baking Arts students and my own roster of courses for ICE’s School of Professional Development, I’ve still found time to continue research on various creative projects.

Michael Laiskonis Test Roasting Cocoa Bean Samples

Selecting ICE’s Single-Origin

With regard to the Chocolate Lab, the bean-to-bar equipment has arrived and is ready to be turned on, including a roaster, winnower, refiner and tempering machine. Meanwhile, my mind has been focused on raw materials. Over the past few months, I’ve begun collecting an array of single-origin samples from regions including the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Madagascar, Trinidad and Tanzania. Though one can begin to assess the qualities of a cocoa bean from visual cues (cut tests on a sample of beans can reveal certain aspects of the fermentation process) the true potential of the bean is realized with sample roasts and careful tasting of the nibs. I won’t give away the results just yet, but I believe I’ve decided on which bean we’ll be using for our very first batch of chocolate!

 

Read on for more of Chef Michael's recent research & development projects.