We are continuing our chat with Chef Avram Wiseman, CKCA Dean of Student Affairs / Head Culinary Instructor.
Obviously, you have a love of cooking. When did it begin?
It started at a very young age. When I was 5 I would watch my aunt make carrot pies in the busy kitchen of her farm. The kitchen had a fireplace. Believe it or not, the smell of pan-fried smoked kippers and potatoes got me out of bed and running to stone floored kitchen.
Where did you get your culinary training?
I was trained in restaurant management at NYC Tech part of City University of NY School of Hospitality. I also did some training abroad.
When did you realize that teaching was the path you wanted to follow?
About 10 years ago I was Executive Chef for Kay Caterers in New York – and realized that I enjoyed training others. I actually answered a NY Times classified ad to be a part time instructor. and that’s how it began. I realized that I have a “natural” affinity for teaching. I still do some private kosher catering.
Of course all of your students are "stars", but have you discovered a super-star chef?
Potential ones - I am always trying to help people make a serious living and help them to realize the dreams of their potential.
Chef Avram shared a recent encounter with a former student who came to the CCKA 2 ½ years ago, speaking only Hebrew, and living in his mother’s apartment. Upon seeing him recently, the student hugged him and shared that he now holds a job and has his own apartment. Chef Avram is gratified that he taught him a trade –and that the man now makes a living.
What are some of your culinary specialties?
I prefer culinary inspired simplicity-sustainable, healthy recipes such as fresh cut fish, local organic vegetables. I have enjoyed having my own organic garden at home and living on the water in Long Island.
Do you have memories of some special family heirloom recipes??
Yes, from my mother, Russian grandmother and great grandmother -– such as potato veronikas, and particularly sour cherry veronikas, boiled with powdered sugar; Borscht, stuffed cabbage, chopped liver, kasha varniskes. But now, I only eat this way at Yom tov.
Can you share something about yourself that few people know?
I enjoy hobbies such as fishing, gardening, bicycling, carpentry and building. I am a “ Renaissance” man!
What is your favorite kitchen tool? The mandolin – It is most practical and useful. I also like the immersion blender and the meat grinder. In addition to using the grinder for meat, I sometimes use it for vegetables headed for a consommé or sauce; or for a mirepoix.