By Carly DeFilippo
Moving from savory to sweet, Chef Chad Pagano demonstrated the difference between making dessert at home and for a crowd. Inviting Martin Rucker and Herb Taylor to whip up a batch of chocolate mousse, he added gelatin and simple syrup to the standard recipe, and explained the persuasive power of pastry in a restaurant’s marketing plan.
To finish up the long day of learning, we treated our NFL guests to a duo of cooking demos with Chefs James Briscione and Chad Pagano. James recruited Babatunde Oshinowo and Adalius Thomas to help him revive his southern roots, preparing a seasonal succotash dish.
For the day’s final lecture session, our entire Culinary Management faculty came together for a passion-filled panel and Q&A session. The core message was this: “Don’t be comfortably mediocre.” Define the mission statement of your business and invest time in recruiting staff who live and breath those core values. “Think about the team you were on that most motivated you. Those qualities are the same that will make a positive work environment in the service industry.”
Shaking things up, resident ICE mixologist, Anthony Caporale, shared the secrets behind “shrinkage”—in particular, bar theft. A veteran bartender, Caporale has witnessed every scam in the trade, from over-pouring to padding the tip jar. When it comes to hiring staff, he warned, “What I want in a bartender is someone who can count. If he/she can’t count, than that person isn’t a bartender, but a drink mixer.” To ensure the message hit home, Caporale recruited players to run a simple bar scam.
After lunch, Hospitality Consultant John Moser presented an overview of the hotel industry. The NFL players were shocked to learn that, due to the labor set-up in hotels, pricey room service creates very little or no revenue. They also gained perspective on roles that are often under-appreciated, such as that of maid service, which Moser called one of the most difficult jobs in America.
During a delicious lunch, prepared by ICE Chef Instructors (and football fans) James Briscione and Chad Pagano, our NFL students were treated to a keynote speech by CEO of Rosa Mexicano, Howard Greenstone. A veteran of the restaurant industry and former college athlete, Greenstone shared his successes and failures on and off the field. Of his many resonant points, two stood out in particular. First, don’t micro-manage your staff. Referencing Chef Ted’s earlier demo, Greenstone, stated, “You shouldn’t be in the kitchen chopping up steaks unless you’re the chef.” He also reminded players that, while it’s great to love the business, ultimately those who are successful are in it to make money as well.
In the morning session, the players learned about the four major products of any restaurant business—food, service, design/environment, and “sizzle”—and considered the different types of business opportunities available in the culinary and hospitality industry. They then dove into the details of financing a restaurant and elements of a successful business plan.
Switching things up, the players headed to our demo kitchen, where they learned about the economics of food waste with Chef Instructor Ted Siegel. To demonstrate his point, Chef Ted broke down a boneless beef loin, one of the most expensive cuts of meat.
This morning, we welcomed 21 current and past NFL players and their wives to ICE for a one day Hospitality and Culinary Management Workshop. From attendees already working in the culinary industry—one retired player owns his own wine label, while another works as a chef—to current players getting a head start on a future career, the group represented a diverse range of interests and passions. Introductions revealed the extracurricular talents of the group, from photography to writing to music, with enough brass players to form a formidable horn section.
ICE Dean of Culinary Management, Stephen Zagor, kicked things off with a quick restaurant quiz. Players were surprised to learn that it isn’t a “love of food” that launches most culinary management careers – rather, it’s the fact that working in the food industry “looks like fun”. Undercapitalization is the biggest pitfall for new restaurants, whereas guests rate cleanliness as the most important aspect of a food business. As for the fabled statement that “90% of restaurants fail in their first year”, Zagor revealed that, in fact, 50% of restaurants survive their first two years of business.