With experience in the kitchens of Jean-Georges, Heston Blumenthal and Floyd Cardoz, ICE alum Jody Eddy has rubbed shoulders with some of the world’s top chefs. So it’s no surprise that her first book, Come In, We’re Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World’s Best Restaurants, secured Jody’s reputation as a respected storyteller among chefs. Since then, Jody’s career has taken off and she’s busier than ever. Read on for an inside look at the dynamic life of one of the industry’s most ambitious writers.
What have you been up to since graduating? I worked as a cook at Floyd Cardoz’s restaurant Tabla before assuming the position of Executive Editor at Art Culinaire for three years. From there, I published Come In, We’re Closed. Then, last September, my first cookbook, North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland, was published by Ten Speed Press.
On the heels of North, I’m launching a line of artisanal food products from Iceland and am working on several other cookbook projects. I also freelance for such publications as The Wall Street Journal and Food & Wine, and I do occasional recipe development for major food corporations. In the summers, I sometimes lead culinary tours of Iceland and teach cooking classes at various culinary schools around the US, and I organize the Chef’s Garden Roots Conference (the next one will take place in September 2015). I’ve learned over the years that one of the most important things you can do as a freelancer is to keep yourself busy!
After only four months, I can’t believe I’m already halfway through the Culinary Management program at ICE. Yet, when I think about the ground we’ve covered—choosing a location, menu design, concept development, marketing, purchasing, management and finance—it seems much longer. With each passing class, my understanding of how a restaurant business operates on both a micro and macro level increases, and I know it will only continue to do so in our remaining three months.
One of the most valuable aspects of the program thus far has been the incredible guest lecturers. To be honest, we’ve had so many speakers from such a wide range of professional backgrounds that I’ve almost lost count! Their lectures have provided the opportunity to network with some of the top players in the industry—in fact, one of my after-class conversations with a recent speaker actually resulted in a job offer in hospitality consulting!
While every speaker has brought something new to the table, there are three in particular who made a lasting impression. Below, I’ll share a bit of their backgrounds, as well as their advice on how to make it in the restaurant industry.
ICE graduates Eric McIntyre and Scott Fagan are among a number of alumni couples who enrolled together with the hopes of owning their own business. Today, they’ve transformed a successful catering company—Tip of the Tongue—into a café storefront in their Brooklyn neighborhood of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. We recently caught up with Eric to gain some perspective on their first year of business.
What were you and Scott doing before you enrolled at ICE? Prior to ICE, I was working as legal recruiter for the contract and permanent placement of attorneys, paralegals and legal secretaries. Scott was working as a health and food writer, developing stories and production for DiscoveryHealth.com, as well as recipes for The South Beach Diet and The Zone Diet. Prior to that, he was the producer of “Ask Doctor Weil,” a health website produced through Time Warner.
What have you been up to since graduating? ICE also helped me get my first job—at Eleven Madison Park. I met Nicole Kaplan (then the executive pastry chef) at an ICE career fair. I worked at there from May 2002 – December 2005. During that time, Scott had been doing freelance catering work and then started his own catering business. In August 2005, things started to pick up and he leased a commercial kitchen. I left Eleven Madison to begin working with him in January 2006. For years, while we were working on catering for events, we talked about opening a brick-and-mortar bakery/cafe. After looking at many spaces in many neighborhoods (mostly in Brooklyn), we decided to open a shop in the neighborhood where we live, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, in May 2013.
Which accomplishments make you the most proud? I’m happy to still be in business. As many of us know in the food industry, margins are tight and managing costs is a challenge. We’re happy to still be doing what we love.
As a chef who interacts with a wide range of cooks—students, professionals, amateurs, food writers and product developers—I’m frequently asked about trends. I find the question interesting, but also very difficult to answer. The speed at which we now communicate allows ideas to disseminate faster than ever, which means trends have a tendency to flash and fizzle at an increasing rate.
Moreover, the staying power and influence of trends is compromised by the fact that the food world consists of so many diverse and specialized communities. What takes hold in one area (pastry in fine dining restaurants, for example) may not penetrate very far into another (retail pastry shops and bakeries). Yet for those trends that do grab hold, they typically manifest in one of three areas: ingredients, techniques and presentation.
With more than 11,000 graduates in the industry, ICE’s alumni network is a hotbed of food and hospitality talent. In turn, it’s no surprise that many of our graduates have found success working together in the field. In the case of Cristian Quiroz and Ilse Herrera, sous chefs at Txikito, La Vara and El Quinto Pino—restaurateurs Alex Raij and Eder Montero’s trifecta of celebrated NYC restaurants—they may have met on the job, but they get along just like classmates.
What are your proudest accomplishments?
Ilse Herrera: The critical acclaim in the press has been very gratifying in the five years that I have worked for Alex and her husband, Eder. I have also cooked at the James Beard House on two different occasions with Alex and have had the chance to cook my own Mexican dinner at Txikito for one of their “txokos” (a dinner series inspired by Basque private gastronomical societies), mainly focusing on food from the states of Michoacán and Sonora. Cristian Quiroz: I’m very happy with the job I’ve done in Alex and Eder’s restaurants. In addition to helping achieve two stars in the New York Times at both La Vara and El Quinto Pino, the whole experience of starting two new restaurants from scratch is personally very gratifying and entertaining.
#CulinaryVoice Scholarship Challenge ICE’s search for America’s next generation of culinary leaders
If you dream day and night about a future in food and hospitality, now is your chance to make those dreams a reality. ICE is awarding $140,000 in scholarships to our four career programs in Culinary Arts, Pastry & Baking Arts, Culinary Management and Hospitality Management.
To enter the scholarship challenge, upload an original one-minute video to demonstrating your passion for food, service or entrepreneurial flair to ICE.edu/culinaryvoice! The top 50 finalists will be determined by public vote, and the eight winners will be chosen by a panel of ICE experts. The deadline to enter is March 28th.
Most chefs are content to have just one prestigious job on their resume. But from Jenny McCoy’s first days in the industry, she’s racked up nothing but all-star experiences, from the celebrated Blackbird and Charlie Trotter’s in her hometown Chicago, to Emeril’s New Orleans dynasty and Tom Colicchio’s NYC Craft empire—all before the age of 32.
Today, Jenny’s focus may have shifted from running multiple professional kitchens to leading hands-on classes for aspiring chefs at ICE, but she’s just as busy as ever—creating an exclusive line of baking mixes for Crate & Barrel, judging Rewrapped on the Food Network and working on a follow-up to her acclaimed cookbook Desserts for Every Season.
Endlessly curious, spontaneous and independent, she has grabbed hold of every opportunity that comes her way and inspires her students to do the same. “Early on in my career, someone wisely told me to spend all my money eating out, all my vacations staging, to buy tons of cookbooks and really immerse myself in the food world,” Jenny reflects, “It really has shaped my career—it made me do better.”
Hi! My name is Madison and I’m a current student at ICE. Read my story below and follow my posts on the ICE blog to learn why I’m passionate about a future in hospitality and what it’s like to study at ICE.
I vividly remember June 21, 2013— my first day as an employee at Subway. I began working there just days before I graduated from the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan, with a college acceptance letter in hand. Juggling this job with school wasn’t easy at first. Months went by where I worked five to seven days a week. But over time, the experience taught me something about myself: I took pride in serving as the shift manager, in taking on the responsibility of opening and closing the store. Eager to explore these newfound professional interests, I began to search online for a school that would boost my knowledge of management and service. Nothing caught my eye…until I came across ICE.
Hi! My name is Lizzie Powell. I’m a public relations professional turned ICE Culinary Arts and Culinary Management student from Atlanta, Georgia. As I make this major shift in my career path, many people have asked why I chose to “take the leap” and go to culinary school. The answer is simple: for me, going to culinary school seems like the best way to gain both valuable skills and feel more confident in my decision to change professional direction. While I’m not sure if my future will lie in catering, a restaurant or food media, I know one thing will stay constant throughout my time at ICE: my passion for food and a desire to learn new things. Over the next seven months or so, I’ll be diving into various cooking methods, international cuisines and even baking techniques. So join me as I share my experiences with you on ICE’s blog.
On my first day of the Culinary Arts program, my mind was racing:What would my instructor be like? Would my classmates be more experienced than me? How would I memorize all of the culinary terminology? And, worst of all: would I cut myself?
Lo and behold, I’m two weeks into class and all these worries have faded into the background. Aside from feeling like I’m on Chopped every time I present my julienned carrots, paysanne potatoes or small diced tomatoes to Chef Ted for review, I’ve learned that culinary training isn’t nearly as intimidating as I expected.
In the beginning of their careers, many culinary school graduates focus on opportunities in restaurants, bakeries, hotels or catering kitchens. At first, that narrow focus makes sense, because being a great chef requires spending time in professional kitchens. But the modern food industry has become a diverse, multi-faceted field. When one pursues a career in the culinary arts—and makes an effort to broaden their experiences beyond the kitchen—they may find that their career will include many satisfying twists and turns outside restaurant walls.
There are a million and one ways food professionals can apply their skills and passion. If at some point you become inspired by some other sector of the industry, it’s perfectly fine to switch gears—it will only make you a better and more well-rounded chef. (Or, if you’re like me and want to simultaneously dip a spoon in every pot, that’s okay too.) Cooking and baking are like learning a new language—if you completely immerse yourself in the food industry and commit to living the experience in full, you will always find satisfying work and sustainable success.
Read more to learn how Jenny translated her experience in professional pastry kitchens into opportunities in food media, product development and more.