Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ramen Master Class with Chef Ivan Orkin


Me and Ivan
Last week we went to NYC to get some weekend R&R and some great food.  We attended NYCWFF for our second time, the highlight event was the the Ramen Masters Class with Chef Ivan Orkin.  I have always loved Ramen since I was a kid, but what I soon found out I had always eaten Ramen lite. We lived in Hawaii and we ate a noodle creation very similar by the name of Saimin.   But  at our class we were about to learn from a master how to make a real Ramen.
Ivan's Book
My Creation
 Ivan studied Japanese Literature at University of Colorado and moved to Tokyo after graduation.  Ivan had always had a fascination with food and all things Japanese specifically Ramen.  After several years he moved back to the states with his wife, unsatisfied with his career choices he decided to chase his passion for food and enrolled at the Culinary Institute in NYC.  During school and after graduation Ivan had the opportunity to work in great kitchens and learn from some of the best chefs the secrets of the trade. He realized that a line cook's life was for a younger man, one without a family so he chose to become a 8 to 5 Executive Chef for the corporate world.  Shortly later his world collapsed, his wife passed away leaving him as a widower and a father.  Ivan spent several years going back and forth to Japan to reunite his sons grandparents with their grandson, on one trip he met his current wife.  Ivan stayed in Japan became more fascinated with Ramen and defied all odds and opened his first Ramen Shop.  If you want to learn more about his fascinating story you will have to buy his book Ivan Ramen.  Ivan now has 2 Ramen shops in Tokyo and 1 in NYC

The Ramen Master
Our day began at Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) which is across the street from the World Trade Center.  The school is in a beautiful building overlooking the Hudson River. The building is new and spacious and definitely a great place to learn about the food world. After registering we went into a cooking class room and was greeted by Ivan and his team.  There were 15 people at our class which was perfect size, which provided us all an opportunity to get hands on experience to learn how to make Ramen Chef Ivan.

Dried Fish for the Dashi
Ramen is a complicated food, when done well it takes many hours of preparation and attention to the best ingredients.  There are several components, the noodle, the fat, the Sofrito, Katsuobushi Salt, Double Soup (Chicken Soup and Dashi), the protein, the sliced scallion and the egg.  The instruction started out with a video highlighting the process for finding and preparing all the ingredients.  Ivan then went through how we could prepare these ingredients at home and then allowed us to make our first Ramen creation with personal help from Chef.  I would like to say this is a simple task but it requires a visit to your local Japanese Grocery store to get all the proper ingredients.  But I have to say the end result was delicious, I came to the conclusion that other Ramen I had eaten did not pay attention to the details that Chef Ivan had.  I have started his book so when eating Ramen next I will be on even footing with the chef to ask them how they make their Ramen.  I believe that Ivan would say there is no wrong way to make Ramen unless it is in the Microwave.
Hudson River


In years to come we will avoid the larger convention type events at NYCWFF the smaller hands on classes are a great experience and you have a chance to learn something new.  You meet great people and you get one on one assistance from a great chef.