Through our Culinary Management program, ICE offers a one-of-a-kind year-round series of lectures called Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs, during which a wide range of successful culinary business leaders and luminaries share their expertise with students and guests. For the first session of 2011, Sheldon “Shelly” Fireman of Fireman Hospitality Group came to speak to the students yesterday. As the founder and CEO of the Fireman Hospitality Group, Fireman has created and operated some of New Yor’s most acclaimed restaurants, including Trattoria Dell’Arte, two Brooklyn Diners USA, Café Fiorello, Redeye Grill, Shelly’s New York and Bond 45 in Times Square.
Fireman got into the restaurant industry after reading about the business at the public library. In the early ’60s, he created, built and ran the famous Hip Bagel on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village. He said, “I jumped in being ignorant. I had read about food costs and inventory at the public library and I was brought up with a sense of hospitality — I knew just enough to be successful.” Since then, he has learned a lot more about service and hospitality and his restaurants’ dishes have earned accolades such as “Best Pizza in New York,” (Café Fiorello), “Best Cheeseburger,” (Brooklyn Diner USA), and “Best Chicken Soup,” (Brooklyn Diner USA).
The students in the audience asked a variety of questions including how Fireman got his ideas and what his most spectacular failure was. Fireman said, “There are only bumps, no spectacular failures. As long as I can get up in the morning, things will be okay. In my life, I never worried about failure. I always just thought that even if every girl in New York hated me, I’d go to New Jersey.”