By Jenny McCoy—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts
In the beginning of their careers, many culinary school graduates focus on opportunities in restaurants, bakeries, hotels or catering kitchens. At first, that narrow focus makes sense, because being a great chef requires spending time in professional kitchens. But the modern food industry has become a diverse, multi-faceted field. When one pursues a career in the culinary arts—and makes an effort to broaden their experiences beyond the kitchen—they may find that their career will include many satisfying twists and turns outside restaurant walls.
There are a million and one ways food professionals can apply their skills and passion. If at some point you become inspired by some other sector of the industry, it’s perfectly fine to switch gears—it will only make you a better and more well-rounded chef. (Or, if you’re like me and want to simultaneously dip a spoon in every pot, that’s okay too.) Cooking and baking are like learning a new language—if you completely immerse yourself in the food industry and commit to living the experience in full, you will always find satisfying work and sustainable success.
Read more to learn how Jenny translated her experience in professional pastry kitchens into opportunities in food media, product development and more.
By Carly DeFilippo—Student, School of Culinary Arts
When I first stepped into the kitchens at ICE seven months ago, it never felt like this day would come. But somewhere between knife skills 101 and our market basket challenge, I began to discover my “culinary voice” and a professional direction for my creative future in food. Graduating from culinary school felt different from any prior graduations I’ve experienced—perfecting a hands-on skill is entirely different than writing papers, crafting persuasive arguments or memorizing facts and dates. Sure, culinary training involves a bit of typical academic work; but it’s ultimately about honing your instincts and hands-on skills, about becoming that guy or girl someone can count on when the going gets rough.
It was also exciting to consider my classmates’ futures. Technically, we will not have officially “graduated” until we fulfill a 210 hour externship in the field. I, for one, will be spending the next few months as a recipe-testing assistant for a cookbook, while others have secured externships on the line at such restaurants as Blenheim and Aldea, or even paid positions writing for Delish.com! In no time, we’ll all be full-blown food professionals, using the contacts from our externships—and the networks of our classmates and the ICE alumni network—to pursue our personal dream jobs.
Interview by Chef Kathryn Gordon—Co-Chair, Center for Advanced Pastry Studies (CAPS)
Just like many of our professional Pastry & Baking Arts students, cake designer Stevi Auble didn’t always dream of constructing trendsetting cakes. Yet this career changer’s shift from interior design to edible design has cemented her as an icon in the field of custom luxury cakes.
Formerly, you were an interior designer. What inspired you to shift your focus to cakes?
It was something that evolved a few years ago. I started making cupcakes for my youngest daughter’s preschool and the director really started to push me to sell them because they were so well received. Eventually that word of mouth turned into inquiries from all over, and it put me in a position where I had to decide whether or not I wanted to create a legitimate business. Ultimately, I decided go to forgo the interior design industry and become my own boss. Initially, the concept for Hey There, Cupcake! was a small designer cupcake company, but soon that transitioned into full-sized cakes (including wedding cakes). My design background plays a huge part in my cake decorating style, translating basic design principles into the construction of each cake. In particular, I have always loved textiles and prints; an influence you can see in the majority of my cakes.
Can you tell me more about the “Wafer Paper Flowers” class you’ll be teaching on Feb 9-10 at ICE?
I will be teaching the students how to create three different kinds of wafer paper flowers—my favorite technique. I love the visual lightness that wafer paper offers. For me, it’s the perfect balance of a lovely visual effect in edible form. We’ll also cover a fun paint technique to enhance their overall design.
Read on to register for Stevi’s class and to learn more about her tips for a successful career in cake design.
Three years of research. Hundreds of hours in the kitchen. 65 groundbreaking recipes. Introducing Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson: Recipes for Innovation from IBM and the Institute of Culinary Education.
This week, ICE was thrilled to host the first official press preview of recipes from the official Cognitive Cooking cookbook. Journalists from the fields of both food and technology gathered in our demonstration kitchen for a tasting menu infused with contemporary techniques, unexpected pairings and flavors from across the globe.
Featuring recipes from the cookbook developed by ICE Chefs James Briscione and Michael Laiskonis, as well as mixologist Anthony Caporale, the tasting menu was expressly designed to challenge our everyday expectations of creativity in cooking. Have you ever imagined pairing prunes with cornichons? Adding chicken or veal stock to a cocktail? Combining the regional flavors of Cuba with the culinary traditions of Southern France? Our chefs have conquered all of these hurdles—and more—and were delighted to share the surprising, delicious results with our esteemed guests.
If you’re a career student at ICE and haven’t heard the word “trail” yet, you will soon enough! Just like how “86,” “mise en place” and “hot behind!” are all part of the unique and universal kitchen lingo, the concept of the trail is also a defining aspect of the restaurant world.
Imagine going for a job interview that lasts 8-12 hours, where your potential employer poses questions while you casually peel carrots and de-stem thyme. You get a firsthand view of what life on the job would be like…by actually doing the job. In short, it’s unlike any other type of interview.
All ICE students trail as part of their externship selection process but it doesn’t end there. Restaurant professionals continue to trail throughout their careers, from their first job as garde manger to years later, when they’re vying for a Head Chef position.
Read on for trailing tips that can help you land your dream job.
Before she even enrolled at ICE, Einav Gefen was already turning heads as the first-ever female chef at cutting edge seafood restaurant Mul Yam in her native Israel. But when Gefen and her husband moved to NYC, she knew she wanted to go back to school and rebuild a solid foundation of techniques. Since graduating, she has worked in the fine dining kitchen of Restaurant Daniel, led the kitchen at Danal in the East Village, and even returned to ICE as a Culinary Arts Chef Instructor. Yet her greatest accomplishment to date is changing the way Americans eat—and serving up a TED talk—as the Corporate Chef and Culinary Team Leader for Unilever Consumer Kitchens.
In addition to your TED talk (an inspiring lecture by an industry leader shown to millions of viewers worldwide), are there any professional accomplishments of which you are particularly proud?
First and foremost, it’s fun to see products I helped develop on supermarket shelves. In my current work with Knorr, I am now the face of the brand in a TV commercial and YouTube video recipes. I also recently visited the White House for a meeting with Chef Sam Kass! And yes, the professional accomplishment I am most proud of, is the TED talk that I presented in September 2014—a huge accomplishment for me and an opportunity to talk about my personal goals and contributions to the industry.
Where would you like to see yourself in the future?
In the future, I would like to continue making a difference. We live in a time of change and sometimes uncertainty. If I can, through my role—or any role—help people eat better, cook a little more (so they can own the kitchen again) and never go hungry, I will be the happiest person alive. There is so much more we can do to make this happen.
By Carly DeFilippo
In 2014, when Saveur ranked Brooklyn as their #1 food destination worldwide, guess which of the neighborhood restaurants became the “cover girl” for the borough’s inimitable flavors? That’s right—Emily. The brainchild of ICE Culinary Arts grad Matt Hyland and his wife Emily, this new Clinton Hill eatery has captured the creative minds and palates of the world’s most discerning pizza lovers. So we knew we had to talk to the man behind the pies and learn a little bit more about his path to becoming a professional pizzaiolo.
What were you doing before you enrolled at ICE? What motivated you to enroll at that time?
I had just finished my information science degree at Roger Williams University, and I was working as a part-time garde manger cook in a fine dining restaurant. I was commuting a long way everyday for this job and knew I wanted to be in the culinary world, but I hadn’t pulled the trigger on going to school. Through my research, I knew I wanted to be at ICE. One day, I was wearing my chef pants on the train, and the man who sat down across from me asked if I had gone to culinary school. I said no and he gave me his card. It turned out he was a recruiter for ICE. I really took that as a sign and enrolled just a few days later. I’m so glad I had that encounter!
Read on to discover how Matthew made his way to become one of Brooklyn’s best.
The Odeon. Balthazar. Per Se. Le Cirque. When it comes to life behind the scenes at New York City’s highest temples of gastronomy, Kate Edwards has seen and done it all. Today, she’s sharing nearly 30 years of restaurant experience—from serving celebrities to delivering expert industry advice as a restaurant consultant—with Culinary Management students at ICE.
Before Kate was recruited by Manhattan’s hottest restaurateurs for her impeccable sense of service and savvy staff training strategy, she was simply a college graduate seeking to start a career in music and theater. “In theater, you study a little bit of everything,” Kate explains, “which planted the seed of being a multitasker and defined the way my mind works.”
Her first job in the city was waitressing at The Odeon—the see-and-be-seen brasserie of 1980s New York—which opened her eyes to other possibilities in the industry and helped her land a job as hostess at Brian McNally’s Royalton Hotel. After a few months serving such regulars as Anna Wintour and Madonna, Kate had learned the ins and outs of how to seat a room, plan a menu and manage the wishes of high profile guests. Kate says, “Relationships with restaurant guests last. You’ll see them again and again over the course of your career. It’s something I’m incredibly fond of.” Soon enough, she was promoted to maitre d’—a mark on her resume that thenceforth served as a professional passport to roles at all the city’s best restaurants.
2015. That’s 15 years into the 21st century. Eleven years of Facebook. Nine years of Top Chef. And 40 years of award-winning education at ICE.
This year, with the launch of our brand new location at Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan, we’re taking culinary education to the next level. If you’ve been dreaming of launching a fulfilling, creative career in food and hospitality, there’s never been a better time.
We know that the choice of “what to do next?” is never easy, whether you’re a recent high school grad or 20 years into your current career. That’s why we’ve developed five key questions that will help you decide whether a future in food is right for you.
By Chad Pagano—Chef Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts and Host of Heritage Radio’s Wild Game Domain
When most people are just starting to think about the holiday season, my favorite holiday has already long past: October 1st, opening day of the New York State Archery whitetail deer season. I spent the evening prior checking and rechecking my gear, looking at my tree stand locations on Google earth, checking the weather and making sure my bow is perfectly tuned and sighted in.
As I drove towards the state parkway, I tempered thoughts of actually harvesting a deer on that first day. The early season on Long Island is notoriously rough on hunters. Warm weather, crowded woods and deer still stuck in their summer feeding patterns all make for an unlikely opening day kill. Regardless, I could not wait to just sit in my tree stand for a couple of hours and simply enjoy nature.
Read on for Chef Chad’s first deer sighting of the season and his delicious recipe for venison chili.