By Grace Reynolds, Culinary Management Student

As a general rule of thumb, the anticipation of a new experience comes with a heavy dose of expectations. Be it your first trip to a foreign country, a new job or a first date, it’s easy to construct a romanticized notion of “what could be” before even setting foot in the airport, office or restaurant. But how often does reality actually meet our expectations?

Restaurant Consulting Empire State

Personally, I try not to get too excited about new opportunities. My optimistic daydreams have resulted in disappointment on many occasions, some worse than others. So in the days leading up to September 29th (my first day in ICE’s Culinary Management program), I made every effort to keep my expectations in check. Even as ICE alums raved to me about their experience in the program—how it helped them reach their professional goals, changed the way they think, gave them the tools to succeed in the restaurant industry—I tried to stay pragmatic. If this program was really the professional game-changer they suggested, it would still have to prove itself to me first.

Before I continue any further, I should probably tell you a bit about myself, as you’ll be hearing from me frequently over the course of the next seven months. I’ve always wanted to work in the food world. From the time I could spell “reservation,” I’ve been fascinated with restaurants—whether it was eating in them, researching their history or brainstorming new business concepts. But, despite this obvious passion for the food industry, I’ve never wanted to be a chef. So as I entered adulthood, I dismissed my restaurant obsession as an expensive hobby and decided I would become an anthropologist, psychologist or some other sort of “-ologist.”

Restaurant Kitchen-8

It wasn’t until three years ago that I realized a future in food didn’t have to mean a career in the kitchen. I was a senior in college, researching graduate school opportunities, when I stumbled across the NYU Food Studies program. It was love at first Google search: I applied, got in and packed my bags for New York City. But a year into the program, it became clear to me that academia and business acumen are two entirely different beasts. In order to break into the food industry and put the knowledge I was gaining to use, I needed to learn about the business side of food. But how?

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A year later, I’m six classes into the ICE Culinary Management curriculum and I can say with complete confidence that enrolling in this program is the best professional decision I’ve made to date. We’ve already covered topics like entrepreneurial opportunities in food, finding a good location for your business, menu development, food cost percentages and promising food trends—and it’s only been two weeks! The amount of food world talent we’ll be exposed to—lectures by representatives from the highly regarded Union Square Hospitality Group, visits to Michelin-starred restaurants like Daniel, discussions with food startup geniuses like the founder of Chipotle—is mind-boggling. Add to this the caliber and experience of our instructors—restaurateurs Steve Zagor, Andy Pforzheimer and Vin McCann, as well as sommelier Richard Vayda—and the knowledge my classmates and I are sure to gain is staggering.

So was I right to dampen my excitement about the ICE Culinary Management program? In retrospect, no! It has certainly made the rush I feel now all the more intense. Plus, it’s just the beginning, right? There’s still plenty of time to let my imagination run wild, knowing that this program will continue to surpass my expectations and surprise me in the process.

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I’m not entirely sure what the next seven months will bring (A new job? An entrepreneurial opportunity? A business plan for my own restaurant?), but big changes are afoot—I can feel it. As we’ve already learned from the industry experts we’ve met, the path to success is more than a simple ascent—there’s sure to be hard work and some disappointment along the way. But like any aspiring entrepreneur, I’m ready to learn from these challenges, and the skills I learn in the Culinary Management program are sure to help me navigate every step of my professional journey.

Call 888-995-2433 to schedule a personal tour of ICE and learn more about our Culinary Management program.

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