Like many Culinary Arts students, alum Anthony Jackson turned to ICE in pursuit of a new, creative career. Combining his prior public relations experience with his newfound kitchen skills, he quickly found a position as the social media manager & communications associate at Chef Michael White’s celebrated Altamarea Group. Read on to learn how Anthony found a culinary career full of more variety and excitement than he ever expected.
What was your education or career prior to enrolling at ICE?
After graduating from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism in 2009, I moved to New York and worked in corporate public relations for three years. I was miserable—I didn’t feel creatively challenged or passionate about the work I was doing at the time. I’ve always felt like you do your best work when it’s something you believe in.
Food was always one of my interests, but I wasn’t exactly sure where in the industry I wanted to go. I thought food media would be a great fit for me because of my journalism background, so I began looking into what kinds of jobs were available. Several required formal culinary training, so I enrolled at ICE to earn that additional level of credibility.
Why did you specifically choose ICE for your culinary program?
ICE was the perfect combination of everything I was looking for in a culinary school. It’s a credible institution that has produced some of the industry’s leading innovators and authorities. It also offered flexible scheduling. I enrolled in the part-time program, which allowed me to keep my job during the day while working toward my diploma at night.
When did you transition away from PR to work full time in the food industry?
Around the time I enrolled at ICE I started working for the Altamarea Group, spearheading all of their social media efforts while supporting their brands and communications team through public relations and photography. I was able to complete my hands-on ICE externship within our company, working two weeks in the kitchens of each of our Manhattan restaurants: Marea, Ai Fiori, Osteria Morini, Nicoletta, Costata, The Butterfly and Ristorante Morini.
Since we have both fine dining and casual concepts within our group, it gave me a unique perspective to work at each property and use that experience to communicate what we do to our social media audience. Moreover, I was able to get to know many of the talented chefs within our company, several of whom are fellow ICE grads!
How has having a culinary diploma furthered your career?
I feel so fortunate to have found a job that I love that combines so many of my different interests. I believe in our company and am so proud of the quality of food and the level of hospitality we provide. Having a culinary diploma has helped me gain a better understanding of the care we put into our product and how to better articulate that to our audience.
What are your proudest professional accomplishments?
Chef White released a cookbook called Classico e Moderno in November of 2013, and I conducted the majority of the recipe testing for the book. I was in my second month of culinary school at the time, and I was blown away that he would ask me to do it. It was a challenging experience, unlike anything I’d ever done, but incredibly rewarding at the same time. I learned so much about Italian cuisine. I’m so grateful he trusted me with the project, and I’m incredibly proud of how it turned out.
Briefly describe a day in your current working life.
One of the great things about my job is that no two days look the same, so I’m never bored. I photograph new menu items, accompany Chef White to media appearances, travel around the NYC area to promote our participation in various industry events, and work on strategic marketing campaigns and collaborative social media promotions. It’s all a nice balance.
What might people be surprised to learn about your job?
I’m responsible for keeping the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for 18 restaurants active and engaging all on my own!
Where would you like to see yourself in the future?
I might like to have a restaurant of my own one day, but anything of that magnitude is several years down the road. Right now I’m just focused on finding new ways to promote the various dining experiences guests can enjoy at the Altamarea Group.
Ready to boost your food media skill set? Get started with a diploma in Culinary Arts.