This week, the National Student Leadership Conference held their first ever Culinary Arts & Careers conference at ICE. For over 20 years, the National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) has invited a select group of outstanding high school students to participate in its fast-paced, high-level and interactive summer sessions. NSLC provides students with the opportunity to experience life on a college campus; develop essential leadership skills; and explore a future career through exciting simulations, exclusive site visits and interactive meetings with renowned leaders in their chosen field.

Students came from all over the country to work with ICE’s Chef Instructors and learn the ins and outs of the culinary industry in America’s culinary capital — NYC. The students worked closely with ICE Chef Instructor Chris Gesualdi to develop their skills in the kitchen. Learning how to roast chickens, prepare vegetables and a plethora of other techniques. The students had just one week to learn the fundamentals of life in the kitchen.

The students also received ICE President Rick Smilow’s Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food. They had an intimate session with him to hear about his experience in the culinary world and get his advice on starting a career in the food industry. His advice to the students was to always be open to new experiences as they set out on their careers.

ICE Director of Culinary Management Steve Zagor also sat down with the students to guide them through the business of owning and operating a restaurant. He shared his own experience with the students, as well as tips and strategies for restaurateurs looking to start new business.

Armed with this new knowledge, the students designed their own restaurants, creating plans and menus for their own hypothetical restaurants. On Tuesday, the students all sat down to present their restaurants and their planned menu. The students served up a variety of paninis, salmon, apple pie, cupcakes, grilled mango and much, much more. The feedback was that all the dishes were amazing. Chef Chris complimented all the students on their drive and focus, noting he was impressed with their passion at this early point in their careers. A second group of students will be back next week, and we can’t wait to see what ideas they come up with!

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