By Carly DeFilippo

In the realm of culinary careers, food styling has historically gotten a bit of a bad rap. From mashed potatoes standing in for ice cream to marbles boosting the hearty look of a soup, it’s a profession that was once better known for trickery than honest beauty. Thankfully, recent trends in food media are pointing toward the less polished look. Among the media outlets popularizing this more natural approach to food styling? The celebrated source for all things cooking, Food52.

Spaghetti with eggplant and brussels sprouts, styled by ICE students.

Spaghetti with eggplant and brussels sprouts, styled by ICE students.

A student practices photographing fresh produce; first attempts at still life food styling.

A student practices photographing fresh produce; first attempts at still life food styling.

Yet, however more appealing it may be, this approach to styling isn’t without its challenges. Narrowing your primary tools to good lighting, beautiful props and high quality ingredients makes a talented food stylist’s skill — and speed — even more valuable. That’s why ICE asked Food52 creative director (and ICE Culinary Arts alum!) Kristen Miglore and freelance food stylist Kristy Mucci to share their top food styling tips in our recreational course Food Styling with Food52. Starting with the premise that every dish must be both beautiful and edible, here’s how the pros style food:

  • Start with great ingredients. This is the time to splurge at the greenmarket. Find the most beautiful products you can, as they’re the base on which you’ll build a beautiful plate.
  • Think about how food will change over time. Whether you’re tossing a salad or icing a cake, think about how your ingredients will transform over the course of the cooking process — and how quickly they’ll wilt, melt or dry up while waiting for their close-up.
  • Go easy on the salt. If you’re looking for a golden-brown crust on your steak, salt is your friend. But if you’re sautéing vegetables, wait to season them until after the shot, as the salt will break down their structure as they cook.
  • Give it a spritz. Recapture that freshly cooked look with a few well-placed drops of olive oil or a light spray of water.
  • The two-part freeze. For objects that melt easily (like ice cream), scoop them into the shape you want, and then put them back in the freezer on a sheet pan. That way, each painstakingly crafted quenelle or spherical scoop will have the longest shelf-life possible. (Added tip: When working under hot artificial lights, professional stylists often sift pellets of dried ice over easily melted objects.)
  • Don’t be afraid of the mess. Gently place your base components on a plate, then reposition any stray bits and add extra ingredients for texture or color. If you try to individually plate every strand of pasta or salad leaf, your plate will never look natural.
  • Clean without chemicals. Don’t use Windex on perfectly edible plates of food. Clean streaks or fingerprints with cotton balls or q-tips dipped in a solution of white vinegar (or vodka) and water.
A student plates lentils in the "brown foods" challenge.

A student plates lentils in the “brown foods” challenge.

Kristen and Kristy also shared a few of their theories on what makes (and how to consistently achieve) a great shot:

  • Focus on the food. If your content is all about cooking (or eating, for that matter), then make the food your focus. Don’t be afraid to keep the styling simple or zoom in for a close-up.
  • Shoot raw ingredients and finished dishes separately. As Kristen and Kristy aptly pointed out, there’s a common trend where food stylists use raw ingredients to decorate a shot of a finished dish. Instead, they suggest preparing two separate photographs: a beautiful “before” shot of the raw ingredients and a plated “after” shot to demonstrate the end goal.
  • Explore the negative space. Have you ever eaten something so delicious that you forgot to grab a photo? That’s the idea here. Sometimes crumbs, a leftover streak of sauce or a rumpled napkin tells as much of a story as a perfect-looking plate.
  • Go through the motions. If there are utensils in your shot, think about where you would most naturally place them. (Additional pro tip: Struggling to prop up your fork at a certain angle? Little balls of wax are a perfect non-toxic tool.)
  • Get a safety shot. Does that roasted chicken look pretty good in the pan? Are your pancakes stacked up perfectly pre-syrup? Take the good shot while you have it, and then consider plating your chicken or attempting to get that coveted syrup-pouring shot. If those efforts fail, at least you have that first shot in the bag.
  • Give yourself more than one option. Always have an extra plate, bowl or utensil or two on hand. Sometimes it takes a few tries to create the perfect shot.
  • Keep your eyes open. Sometimes the best photos aren’t the ones you plan. The more time you spend styling and shooting food, the more you’ll begin to notice the visually stunning moments that are a natural part of the process of cooking.

For more information about food styling and media classes at ICE, click here.  

Kristen and Kristy pose with some of their food styling students.

Kristen and Kristy pose with food styling students during a recreational course at ICE

ICE students and graduates benefit from a full range of career services. Whether their goal is to cook in a Michelin-starred restaurant, to launch a food startup or to work in the hospitality industry, our Career Services Division provides so many ways to help students and grads to obtain their dream careers: from job fairs and in-house workshops to career development seminars and one-on-one career coaching sessions. Here’s an in-depth look at our Career Services Division.

Click here to learn more about ICE’s career training programs. 

By Danielle Page

Pursuing an education in culinary arts opens a ton of doors for potential career opportunities — far beyond the traditional roles confined to a kitchen. A few decades ago, working in food media meant only a handful of paths to consider: authoring cookbooks or editing food magazines, with not many other options in between. But thanks to social media and the age of the internet, culinary expertise can be translated into a wide array of viable career options — as demonstrated by these ICE graduates who have gone on to do just that.

From styling food for avant-garde startups to founding a media company dedicated to culinary video production, these ICE graduates are making big strides. Here’s what they had to say about leveraging culinary training to land a job in the media world.

Eden Grinshpan

Photo courtesy of edeneats.com

1. Eden Grinshpan, Food TV Personality

Having been the host of two cooking shows on a major TV network, Eden Grinshpan is proof that networking will get you pretty much anywhere. “Through ICE, I was introduced to many people in the field that have helped me along the way with my career,” Grinshpan says. “Since leaving ICE I have worked on ‘Eden Eats,’ a show that I created with my business partner Samantha Schutz, and ‘Log On And Eat with Eden.’ I had such a great time in the program [at ICE]. I met so many people from all walks of life that were just as passionate as I was about food and the culinary industry. The school gave me a great platform to learn about the service industry and also allowed me to network and meet great people in the industry. Since graduating from ICE, I have been able to pursue my dream of food television and I am very grateful to the Cooking Channel for taking me under their wing and believing in me and my shows.”

Julie with husband and co-founder Dan (credit: Lindsay Morris)

2. Julie Resnick: Founder of feedfeed

What happens when a former digital marketer turned ICE graduate has an excess of produce from her CSA [Community Supported Agriculture] to prepare? She takes to social media for inspiration — and ends up building a following of over one million in the process. “I began by posting pictures of my own food and then asked people to share what they were making by also tagging their food with #feedfeed,” says Resnick. “That started to develop a community of people who were cooking the way I was. I would do a search for sweet potatoes and find some really cool sweet potato dishes, and I would follow those people and engage with them and comment on their posts. Then I would say, “Hey, by the way, don’t forget to add #feedfeed to what you’re cooking and that way we can all share with each other.” It was my need that was driving it. It took off from there.” Of course, curating a hit Instagram account isn’t going to happen overnight. But if you’re looking to start cultivating a following, Resnick does have a few words of advice to share. “First, I would say that it’s important to be active on social,” she says. “Don’t just spend time composing a beautiful, well-lit shot, posting it and then logging out of Instagram or whatever social media platform you’re using. Spend the time looking at what people you follow are posting, like the content and comment on the content. I think there’s also this perception that you shouldn’t be following too many people — I disagree with that. If there are people out there who are putting out nice content that you’re interested in, follow them, engage with them and get to know the people behind these accounts. Read what these people are writing, don’t just look at the pictures. It’s about relationship building.”

ICE alumni Jamie Tiampo of SeeFood Media3. Jamie Tiampo, President and Founder of SeeFood Media

Jamie Tiampo is the founder of a company that fills a niche in which it has no real competitor: a “one-stop shop” featuring seven kitchen sets, a rooftop for outdoor cooking segments, separate prep kitchens for food stylists, an in-house prop shop and a team of seasoned professionals who have produced several hundred food-centric video and photo shoots. “I started with the fundamental question of how to make food look better,” says Tiampo. “From there, it was a matter of engineering the systems and facilities from the ground up to support that mission. If there was one thing I learned from living through the first dot-com bubble, it was that nothing is sacred. SeeFood Media started in an era of big TV cooking shows with custom sets in gigantic studios. Yet we’ve witnessed—and benefitted from—an evolution where food brands have realized they can also leverage digital video, and hire us to script, produce and edit extremely high quality videos which speak directly to their consumers,” Jamie explains. “What drives our business is bandwidth. Today, people can watch a video on their phone while they walk down the sidewalk. For brands, that means video content can reach an audience anytime, anywhere.”

 

Kim O'Donnel - Food Writer - Interview4. Kim O’Donnel, Cookbook Author and Food Journalist

“I worked as a reporter for about five years before exploring a culinary career,” says O’Donnel. “Once I realized I wanted to work in food, I pursued a job under James Beard Award winner Ann Cashion in Washington, D.C. It was in the days of pre-internet communication, so I typed her a note (on an electric typewriter) asking about openings at Cashion’s Eat Place for rookies, like myself, who wanted to learn. Ann came to be one of my mentors, and what I learned on the job in just five months really set me up for culinary school.” Since attending ICE, O’Donnel has become one of the country’s most respected food writers, celebrated by the M.F.K. Fisher Award for Excellence in Culinary Writing and serving on the James Beard Foundation’s Journalism Awards Committee. “My newly released cookbook, PNW Veg: 100 Vegetable Recipes Inspired by the Local Bounty of the Pacific Northwest is my third over the past seven years,” says O’Donnel. “I’ve made a name for myself as an omnivore writing vegetarian cookbooks, inspiring folks like myself to make more room for plants. But there’s other news as well: I’m the chef-in-residence at a Seattle branch of the YMCA, overseeing programming for its new Healthy Living Kitchen. I’m rolling out Meatless Monday demos, and the branch will be a CSA pick-up spot this summer. Additionally, I’m going to Houston in July as a returning volunteer chef with Culinary Corps — my first trip with CC was to New Orleans in 2007.”

Jiselle Basile5. Jiselle Basile, Chef and Food Stylist, Extra Crispy

Traditionally, food stylists are utilized in the commercial or magazine world. But thanks to the wide world of startups, there’s a need for food stylists beyond the fold — like at Extra Crispy, a website dedicated entirely to breakfast. “There’s not a typical day, which keeps it interesting,” says Basile. “At Extra Crispy, there’s a startup mentality — within a major company — but it’s still a startup. Most of us take on a lot of different roles so no two days are similar. Usually I’m either researching recipes at my desk, or I can be at a video shoot with a chef, or testing and styling in the kitchen. Tomorrow, I’m going to be making Scotch eggs with an ostrich egg on Facebook Live. I have to pick up ostrich eggs at Union Square Market at 8:00 a.m., so I’ll start here whenever I get back.” As far as the current food media landscape goes, Basile says there’s a major shift happening. “The whole foodie culture thing is having an impact,” she says. “People are either talking about things more than ever or social media is having an impact and brought to life how much people talk about it. People are more aware of their food. I’ve seen restaurants focusing more on where their food is coming from and I guess it’s in part because people are so concerned about the surrounding issues. It’s interesting how owners and chefs now look at how social media affects their restaurants. Nowadays a lot of people, before they set foot in your restaurant, will see if you have an Instagram and check out what your food looks like, which has a huge impact on whether someone will eat in your restaurant.”

Ed Behr - Natalie Stultz - Interview

Photo Credit: Natalie Stultz

6. Ed Behr, Founder and Publisher of The Art of Eating

Ed Behr had quite the journey to where he is now — heading up the respected quarterly journal, The Art of Eating, which he created. “I was working as a carpenter and builder, which I did for about a dozen years,” he says. “I decided I wanted to open a restaurant, and to do that I felt I had to go to cooking school, not because I wanted to cook in the restaurant, but because I knew I didn’t know enough to recognize and hire a good chef. In the end, I never opened a restaurant. Since 1986, I’ve been writing about food and wine as the editor and publisher of The Art of Eating.” Behr earned one of the food industry’s most prestigious honors: an induction into the James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America” in 2015. But he’s more than humble about the work he’s doing. “Like so many other people, I spend most of my time looking at a computer screen,” he says. “I try—but rarely succeed—to devote the morning to my own writing. My days are a mix of editing, writing and emailing (writers, editors, photographers, illustrators and people who can help with research). Actual interviews, in which I might quote someone, I normally do over the phone or in person. Now and then I look up something in an ink-on-paper book, as most of what I want to know is still not anywhere online. I also spend a fair amount of time on the nuts and bolts of publishing.”

Sara Deseran7. Sara Deseran, Director of Marketing and Branding for Tacolicious

“After some 20 years of working as a food writer, I’m now the marketing and branding director for Tacolicious, a restaurant group my husband Joe Hargrave and I own,” says Deseran. “We have five restaurants in the Bay Area, plus a cantina called Bar San Pancho and a tequila bar called Mosto. We started as a little market stand at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in 2009. As someone who’s written cookbooks, done food styling, food writing and even worked in restaurants in the kitchen way back in the day (and pretty much sucked at my job as a prep cook), this job allows me to kind of do it all. Barring straight operations, I do a lot of everything. It’s also given me a lot of humility in regards to how unbelievably hard it is to run restaurants! Every day there are about 10 fires to put out. I’d tell students to immerse themselves in different elements of the food industry, but veer towards your strengths rather than your dreamy ideas of being that big name chef. Not everyone is cut out to work in a kitchen (like me, for instance). It took me catering, cooking, serving, writing, styling, hard work, plus an element of luck to get where I am now. Figuring out what you’re truly good at is empowering. There are a million ways to get into food.”

Think a career in food media is right for you? Click here to learn about ICE’s career programs and get started today.

By Andrea Strong

She’s been an accountant, a model, a caterer, a chef, a reality TV competitor and most recently a cookbook author, a restaurateur and a co-host of ABC’s Emmy award-winning, popular lifestyle series “The Chew.” She is Carla Hall, the fan favorite competitor on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and “Top Chef: All Stars.” Classically trained in France, but true to her Nashville roots, Carla is a culinary Wonder Woman who’s worked nearly every nook of this business with enthusiasm and a healthy dose of hootie hoo!

Andrea Strong spoke to Carla about changing careers, the need to feel frustration, the reasons she temporarily closed her Brooklyn restaurant Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen and why social media is a double-edged sword.

Andrea Strong: You started out as an accountant, then became a model and then ditched it all to become a caterer. Can you talk a bit about these decisions and how they played out?

Carla Hall: I think it’s important to say that from the beginning, I had parents and grandparents who said to me, “It’s your job to be happy, not to be rich.” So I was always looking for satisfaction. Having the support of my family made it that much easier to make the transitions I made.

Carla HallThat said, I really hated my job as an accountant. I was doing some modeling on the side, and I met some girls going to Paris, and I went. I had no interest in food at the time, but living in Paris changed that. I would go to these Sunday brunches with models and some ex-pats and that’s where my interest in food came from. Being at these communal meals, it felt like my grandma’s Sunday suppers. And it was just this feeling that I had missed so much. I became curious about what was happening in the kitchen and about the garden and how all that got to the table. I started cooking for the people I was staying with and buying cookbooks.

So it started out as a hobby? When did you have that moment where you knew it was going to be your career?

I was in Paris for a few years, then I was in London and then I went home to the States where I started a lunch delivery service, really as a fluke. I had done a baby shower for my sister and made all this food. A friend of mine could not make it to the shower, and I promised her that I’d bring her the leftovers. But then my brother-in-law ate them all! So I went home and re-made all the food and packed it all up in a picnic basket, which is all I really had to transport it, and brought it to my friend the next day at lunchtime. She worked at a doctor’s office and when I got there and opened up the basket, my friend said to her co-workers, this is my friend Carla and she has a lunch business. And I was kind of shocked. I was like what? And then I said “Sure, yeah, it’s the Lunch Basket!” I had to make up prices right then and there. Then they said great, can you do this for us every day because there’s no place to eat around here. And I did. I went door to door to barber shops, and other small local businesses and slowly built up to 14 clients. I found myself doing it for five years.

To think that if you had just called up your friend and said, sorry, my brother-in-law ate all the leftovers, so I won’t be bringing you lunch tomorrow, you may never have started your catering business!

Well, my word is my bond, and when I say something I keep a promise. When people see you on TV they don’t realize that you started somewhere. I worked like crazy every day, not one day off, for five years. I delivered food in a bassinet on the bus! Finally I bought an old mail truck to make my deliveries. I was working it.

When did you decide to go to culinary school?

After five years, I turned 30 and I felt I had the practical training from my own business but I wanted the theory and the classical training. I knew I needed culinary school for that. 

You’ve worn so many hats within the food industry — caterer, author, television personality. What made you want to open a restaurant?

I never wanted to open a restaurant, but my business partner thought it would be a great idea. I was telling him no for the longest time. Then he said come see this space, and when I saw it, I got this feeling of what I could do, which would be like a meat plus three, but with Nashville hot chicken. I had a vision then. I felt it. It was like a perfect storm: I saw a space and I got that feeling that I was meant to do it. I am all about the gut and my feeling, it doesn’t make it any easier, but at least I feel like I am on the right path. It’s incredibly hard to run a restaurant, and I know most don’t succeed but I did feel I was meant to do this.

You opened in June 2016 and you recently closed to “retool”? Why?  

You really don’t know how hard it is to open and run a restaurant until you do it. I have never been that tired in all my life, but there was also a great sense of satisfaction and happiness and that is what I always check into and make sure is there. The food and concept was fine but the staffing became a major issue. My general manager moved on and things started to fall apart. That is one of the most challenging parts of running a small business like a restaurant. One night we had this huge party and a few people called out, and it was me doing it all. I was bartender, I was server, I was doing dishes. I was like hold up, I am not meant to do all of this. And then more people were calling out. So I just shut it down. It was hard to close to retool but I felt like there were so many cracks behind the scenes and they were really starting to show. I felt it would be harder to build my reputation from mediocrity than shut it down. I didn’t care if they said my restaurant failed, I cared about my reputation and putting out a good product and to have people be excited about it. If you’re gonna eat my food, you’re gonna love it and have a great experience. We are working it out and I hope to reopen by July.

Carla Hall

I read that you used Kickstarter to open your restaurant. What was that experience like? Would you recommend it for other aspiring restaurateurs?

We raised about $262,000 on Kickstarter and it cost $1.1 million to build out and open the restaurant. I think Kickstarter was great to let the world know I was doing this project. It was a kind of hello, here we are! The challenge is that I did it to announce the intention of the restaurant, but it was still a year and a half before the project was ready and people didn’t understand why it was taking so long. I think that it’s hard for a “celebrity” to do it because even though you have the same financial restraints as someone else, the assumption is that you have money. Also with Kickstarter you have to give people something of value, like dinners or books, and so you are really giving back a lot at the end of the day.

However, it’s great way to fund a project. The thing I would recommend is to build your social media presence prior to your Kickstarter otherwise you are preaching to a void. You need the volume, you need a big community to preach to, and I don’t think people realize that. But it’s a hugely successful thing to do if you are in a small community who wants to support you to build it.

I am sure the road from accounting to opening Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen has not always been smooth. How do you deal with frustration and continue moving forward?

My feeling has always been that if you are frustrated enough you will move forward. It’s the thing that makes you work, especially for me. There are times I feel like I am beating my head against the wall, and at those points I either say I can get behind it and work it through or find out that I have to change course, but you can’t stand still. You are supposed to move in some direction. You have to get mad. You hear these stories of a mother who lifts a car off her son. Well, frustration is a form of fear that can force you to move and to see things and make a change.

Do you feel as though you have developed a culinary voice, and is it important as a chef or personality (or both) to have one?

I didn’t start out thinking, I am going to have this “voice,” but because of “Top Chef,” I do. People stop me in the street and they say, when I see you I get hungry, and people think of comfort food when they think of me. That is what my restaurant is built on and that’s because of who I am. My goal is to recreate the joy of going to my grandmother’s house. I think as you build your career, it’s important to have a point of view. When people are in the mood for a particular type of food, then you fill it. That doesn’t mean you can’t change occasionally, but it’s nice for people to know what to expect. I have done braised pork with plantains and ginger and people are like, where’s the fried chicken, but it’s still comfort food.

What are your thoughts on food media and culture?

Insert eye roll! I mean all that food on Instagram that makes people an influencer? Everyone’s a critic and everyone thinks they know food. But on the other side, and the good side, chefs can push the envelope more because people want to be eating more interesting foods, they are more adventurous. The other good thing is that important issues around food, food insecurity and food waste can be spotlighted on social media. But when you can’t eat your food because you are too busy taking a picture, not so good.

Any advice for students interested in pursuing careers in food media?

I think food media is a great thing. There are all these new careers popping up, because of food and how popular it is. And forward-thinking culinary schools like ICE offer great classes in food media in these small intimate settings that make it easier to move from one discipline to another. I’d say take one of these classes, network a lot and find your way in.

Ready to launch a dynamic career in the culinary arts? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs.

By Caitlin Raux

Back when she was a tween, Tanya Edmunds (Culinary Arts ‘09, Culinary Management ‘09) took an interest in makeup. This being before the days of Pinterest and YouTube tutorials, her mom bought her makeup books filled with pages of application instructions. Tanya would spend hours in her room carefully studying the tutorials then replicating them on herself until she mastered each lesson. From the beginning, it was clear that she would be drawn toward creative, hands-on pursuits.

Though she studied theatre at NYU, practical considerations and a knack for whipping up delicious home-cooked dinners led her to enroll at ICE. Fast forward to present day, Tanya has found a calling that allows her perfectionist qualities to mesh with her creative flair and passion for food: as director of training and development at Shake Shack. If you’re not familiar with the brand, it’s the fast-casual burger chain with a cult following and scores of customers waiting to dig into reliably fresh, juicy burgers on pillowy potato buns — the need for well-trained employees to feed the hungry masses is without question. Spend five minutes chatting with Tanya and you’ll realize she’s got the confidence and the energy to manage training of those employees.

Tanya Edmunds

Tanya Edmunds during a recent visit to ICE

Tanya chatted with us about landing a gig at New York’s favorite burger mecca and offered some advice for those looking to follow a similar path.

How did the idea of attending culinary school come about?

It was my dad’s suggestion. I moved home after my undergrad years at NYU, and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do — what I was passionate about. While I was home I didn’t have to pay rent but cooking dinner was my responsibility. I started looking up different kinds of recipes online and watching cooking shows a lot. My dad is very entrepreneurial at heart. He started his own business, leaving behind a successful sales career. We started talking about whether it would be feasible to open my own restaurant someday. I looked at all of the other things in my background — managing people through stage management when I was in college, my creative side and inclination toward stage design. I thought with my skills and interests I could keep up with a restaurant.

So, how did you take these skills and start in the culinary business?

Education was the first thing that I looked into when we came up with this idea to open a restaurant. With my love of New York City and its amazing food scene, I knew that was where I wanted to be. Ultimately, I chose ICE for a very unique reason. I focused on the environment I was going to be happiest in.

It sounds like from the beginning you had a clear vision of what you wanted from the programs.

My hope was to manage a restaurant and not let anything stand in the way of being successful. So I wanted to have as much information as I could.

I ended up loving the Culinary Arts portion — being hands-on and creating new dishes each day. That spoke more to my creative side. It was a nice balance, going from the intellectual ideas of my culinary management classes to the hands-on creativity of the culinary lessons.

Don’t judge your path. Work towards things that make you happy.

How did you go from ICE to Shake Shack?

After I graduated from ICE, I was looking for jobs in the management field and the kitchen. My first job was in the pastry kitchen at Maialino. I had a great connection with my chef there and we’re still friends to this day. I got to make croissants and brioche from scratch and work a shift that was 10:00 p.m. – 8:00 a.m., then commute back to New Jersey. My dad would pick me up and we’d go have lunch at my favorite diner and then I’d go home and go to sleep.

What a schedule!

It was a cool experience but I wanted to move back to New York City. A neighbor from New Jersey was the director of banquet services for Restaurant Associates in the Bank of America tower. I landed a job there as assistant pastry chef and worked in corporate dining for 14 months. That opened my eyes to another part of the culinary world. I went from a rustic, Roman-Italian restaurant run by Danny Meyer, to working in a huge corporate restaurant kitchen for Bank of America. I learned a lot there, but I kept thinking about management and how I could work in that area.

Tell me about landing your first gig at Shake Shack.

I checked ICE’s alumni job listings every Thursday and had to apply when I saw a position for restaurant manager at Shake Shack. At the time of one of my interviews, Shake Shack was serving a special eggnog-flavored custard for the holidays. As I was waiting for the general manager to interview me, he apologized for being late because they’d run out of the custard needed for recipe. I said, “I have a background in pastry and I make ice cream all the time, can I help?” I looked at the recipe and told him a way to make it faster. I think that might have been one of the things that threw me over the top.

At what point did you transition to training manager?

I was promoted about two years ago.* I’ve been with Shake Shack for over five years. I’m in charge of overseeing everything that happens at new openings and our in-person classroom-style management training. I also collaborate with other departments to make sure we’re executing our manager training as needed.

When you’re sent to a new city to train a new team — what’s a typical day like?

Everywhere is a bit different – whether it’s Tokyo, Texas, Boston or Orlando – and I gather information before I go. Typically the area director will tell me something about their team, such as the staff is made up of all high school students. So I’ll tailor the training for the younger staff, include mentions of Snapchat. I want the audience to engage with the training. I’ve come to realize I’ve got the coolest job in the world. I get to meet managers from all over the country. I get to teach people about what Shake Shack does as a company and what they do for their employees and share my passion for this company. It’s amazing to see people walk in thinking they got a job at a typical fast food restaurant and seven days later they feel completely different about it. They’re excited and engaged.

What advice would you give to students considering going into management, particularly with a huge brand like Shake Shack?

I would say: don’t expect it to happen quickly. Allow your path to be what it’s going to be. Don’t feel like it’s too long or too short because it’s going to happen naturally. My path was unexpected. If you had told me in 2009 that I was going to be leading the training for over 3,500 employees, I would probably tell you that you’re full of you-know-what. So don’t judge your path. Work towards things that make you happy.

One thing I like about your story is that it seems that you were constantly reassessing where you were and where you wanted to go — which I think is important for people at the beginning and throughout their careers.

I’ve been with Shake Shack for five years. Every time I open a restaurant I ask myself what was successful about it? What was challenging about it? Do I want to keep doing it? And the ultimate answer is always yes. As a student, as you’re continuing to learn, it’s good to explore, to try things, to ask for new things. In a sense, I’ve been able to write my own job description, but I’ve worked hard for that.

*After our interview, Tanya was promoted from training manager to director of training and development.

Ready to launch your career in the food? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs.


Recently, ICE hosted another successful Career & Externship Fair, where current students and alumni had the chance to meet one-on-one with top employers in the food and hospitality industry — Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, MeyersUSA, Blue Hill, Craft Hospitality Group, Union Square Hospitality Group, Momofuku and more. To build on the momentum, we tapped one of our experienced career services advisors, Tessa Thompson, to offer some pointers for launching a culinary career.

ICE Career Fair

By Tessa Thompson — Career Services Advisor

Starting your culinary career is a thrilling time. You’ve made the big decision to begin culinary school and become a culinary professional. Chances are, you’re filled with a combination of excitement, anticipation, hopefulness and a touch of uncertainty. You’re finally here — so now what? How do you make the most of your time as a student to start your career in the right direction? Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you kick off your successful culinary career.

  1. Educate Yourself. You may have decided to come to culinary school for various reasons, but one thing that everyone has in common at ICE is a passion for food — eating it, cooking it, talking/writing about it, even dreaming about it! Equally important is knowledge of what’s going on in the industry and who the key players are. Today, researching is easier than ever and the Internet has a wealth of information at your disposal. Take advantage of it. And don’t forget to hit the pavement — there are at least 10 great restaurants within walking distance of ICE and at least five sweet spots for delicious hot chocolate in Brookfield Place alone…can you name them? Get to know your surrounding culinary businesses and hit them up for information (and hot cocoa!).
  1. Use Your Resources. ICE has a near limitless supply of resources — from our instructors and alumni, to guest speakers and professional development classes and more. Honing your knife skills and perfecting your pan sauce are necessary parts of your culinary education, but learning how to use your resources will open up endless opportunities for your future. Develop relationships with your instructors, your advisors and your peers. Take advantage of your class credits, attend the Wine Essentials course or be a part of First Fridays here at ICE. Ask questions, volunteer your time, cultivate your curiosity and use all the resources at your disposal to get the most out of your ICE education.
  1. Find Mentors. Support and encouragement from family and friends is an important factor in your success. But finding industry mentors is equally as crucial. Non-industry folks are well-intentioned but may not fully understand the demands of life in the kitchen. “So you’re telling me you want to stand on your feet for 12 hours a day peeling potatoes for minimum wage with a chef screaming down your neck — WHAT?!?! Are you crazy?!” This is the all-too-familiar response from non-industry friends and family. Industry people can assure you what is or is not normal and offer solutions for the many challenges that you will face in your career. Often, just talking to someone who’s been there and understands you will make a huge difference. So, find a chef you connect with or a trusted career services advisor to help support you in your culinary journey.

Spring Career Fair

  1. Enthusiasm: Act Like You Want it. Ours is an industry of hospitality. Chefs, servers and restaurateurs — we all have a desire to be generous and make others happy. But in order to receive the benefit of a helping hand, you must act like you want it! Enthusiasm comes in many forms and no better time to act like the professional you want to be than right now. Take advantage of opportunities to learn. Volunteer and network as much as possible. Show up to class and your trails with a can-do attitude. Make sure your resume is in order, your emails are free of typos and your whites are clean. Communicate and follow up with those who offer help. Act like you want it and you’ll find that the hospitality flows.
  1. Try, Try, and Try Again. If at first you don’t succeed (or even if you do!), starting your career is about trying different things to discover what’s out there and finding the best fit. Trailing is a big part of this process. As part of finding an externship at ICE, you’ll work with your advisor to research and come up with a list of potential sites. Variety is key here, as is a willingness to move beyond your comfort zone. Ask for recommendations, sign up for industry newsletters and discover what’s out there. Trailing, whether for an externship or a job, is a fun process, so take full advantage of it and try out at as many places as possible. 
  1. Reach for the Stars! You’ve chosen to attend one of the premier culinary schools in the world, so why limit yourself when it comes to your externship (or first job)? Whether fine dining is your thing or really tasty Mexican cuisine, build a strong foundation by setting your sights on the best in the field. Don’t know the top sites? Educate yourself, use your resources and ask for help! Work hard and aim high — you’ll find the stars are within your reach!

Ready to launch a rewarding culinary career? Click here for more information on ICE’s career programs.

By Brooke Bordelon — Student, Culinary Arts ’17

Chefs are no strangers to the world of charity. In addition to filling hungry patrons’ bellies, superstar chefs use their clout to make the world a better place. Philanthropic organizations that help different groups — from struggling farmers and low-income families to at-risk youth — have flourished, largely due to the support of culinary heavyweights like Eric Ripert, José Andrés and Christina Tosi.

With her organization Emma’s Torch, ICE student Kerry Brodie (Culinary Arts, ’17) hopes to join the ranks of these culinary visionaries in the fight for a better tomorrow. Inspired by the words of the famous American poet and refugee advocate Emma Lazarus, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” Kerry’s organization aims to empower refugees in the United States by training them in the culinary arts to gain employment in the culinary industry.

ICE student and Emma's Torch founder Kerry Brodie

ICE student and Emma’s Torch founder Kerry Brodie

I recently chatted with Kerry to discuss her experiences as a culinary student at ICE and as the CEO of Emma’s Torch.

How did you first come up with the vision for Emma’s Torch?

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea that food and cooking are things that make us human. I’m the child of immigrants and most people I know are descendants of immigrants or of refugees. I’ve always wanted to do something that would engage immigrants and refugees in the food world to use this universal experience of cooking, eating and sharing meals to create social change.

How have the skills you’ve learned and connections you’ve made at ICE helped you launch Emma’s Torch?

ICE has been invaluable for connecting me with people in the food world and showing me what it means to be a culinary educator. I’ve learned so much from observing our teachers and talking to people in various departments at ICE about what’s important when it comes to training. The instructors have been very supportive in connecting me with chefs and showing me how to set up a kitchen. They’ve been so generous with their time — going above and beyond to show me that they value my vision and that they want to see it come to fruition.

Has any particular chef’s career been an inspiration to you?

On one hand, renowned chefs like José Andrés are inspirational. There are also so many chefs who we don’t hear as much about who quietly, in their own businesses and hiring practices, make differences in people’s lives. One of those chefs, Mary Cleaver, is on our advisory board. She was one of the first restaurant owners to say that we have to do good for the world through our businesses. What inspires me most though are the people you never hear about — the dishwashers, the prep cooks — who work tirelessly because they want to make a better life for themselves and their families, and believe that working hard to make beautiful experiences for people in restaurants is part of that American dream. 

How do you balance school with your work for Emma’s Torch? 

One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Seuss is, “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” No matter how overwhelmed I feel sometimes with school and trying to get my business off the ground, I am so in love with the opportunities that both endeavors have given me. As much as I want to catch up on sleep on the weekends, it’s hard because I just want to keep working. Even at my most stressed out moments, I consider myself lucky to be doing what I love.

What has the response been like from students at ICE? 

The response has been powerful and positive. So many of the students in my classes are willing to dedicate what very little free time they have to volunteering with Emma’s Torch. The outpouring of support — both moral support when I’m complaining in the locker room and students volunteering at events — has been humbling.

How do you think your experience at ICE has differed from other students?

I think everybody at ICE has a story. There’s got to be something that drove them to come to ICE and something that they’re aiming for in the long term. What I’m trying to get out of my education is different from someone who wants to work in a restaurant. Another thing that has set my experience apart is that I’ve been focused on how we are being taught, not just on what we are being taught. I’m going to do some teaching and recruit other people to teach culinary classes for Emma’s Torch, so I need to learn the building blocks of a well-rounded culinary curriculum.

How can people get involved with Emma’s Torch?

Very easily! They can email me at Kerry@emmastorch.org, or check out our website, emmastorch.org. We’re always looking for new volunteers and partners. We’re small but we’re flexible and eager to involve more people in our community.

Emma’s Torch will be throwing their launch party on December 18 at Brooklyn FoodWorks from 6-8 p.m. Those in attendance can meet the students and taste appetizers and desserts prepared by the first class of Emma’s Torch. All proceeds from the event will support refugee empowerment programs. To get tickets, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/emmas-torch-launch-party-tickets-29203974875.

Ready to launch your culinary arts career? Click here for information on our career programs. 


By Emma Weinstein—Culinary Management ’17 / Culinary Arts ’17

I have been in love with food from an early age. Growing up in a family where both of my parents worked in the restaurant and hospitality industry, food and restaurants have always been a huge part of my life. At seven days old I was already in my first restaurant, sleeping soundly in my mom’s lap while my parents ate. I am lucky to have been born into a family where food has always been prominent. I have so many wonderful food-related memories, from exploring farmers’ markets in Paris to waking up at the crack of dawn to see the tuna auction at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.

ICE Student Emma Weinstein

Emma at ICE’s Fall Career Fair

I attended Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, where I majored in Art History. Still, I always found myself very involved with food. I wrote restaurant reviews for our local campus chapter of Her Campus, went on road trips to visit local cheese farmers and loved exploring the different farmers’ markets and restaurants in our area. It seemed that a career in food was always my calling, even if I didn’t recognize it yet. After graduating, I worked in several contemporary art galleries in Chelsea before deciding to finally face the music and pursue a career in food. I left the gallery where I had served as assistant director for a year and a half and joined my father and brother to help launch a new restaurant venture—Chuck & Blade, a contemporary steakhouse located in Chelsea.

Prior to this decision, I had some experience working in restaurants but it was by no means extensive. I worked as a hostess briefly in high school and did a pastry internship as well, but that was it. Suddenly I was fully immersed in the world of restaurants and having to learn a great deal of information within a relatively short time frame. I never dreamed I would find myself researching different types of commercial dishwashers or deliberating over what size ice cubes our restaurant should serve. Some parts were much more fun than others. I loved meeting with different vendors, sampling products, touring the restaurant show, developing the menu and beverage program and participating in menu tastings. On the other hand, filling out paperwork for all the vendors, setting up payroll and dealing with the department of buildings was not as exciting. It was a wonderful learning experience, and while I do feel I learned a lot on my own in a relatively short period of time, I felt I would greatly benefit from a more formal education; this led me to ICE.

I started my time at ICE as a Culinary Management student, but just recently decided to pursue Culinary Arts as well. I’m not entirely sure yet what I want to do with my culinary diploma. I love writing and reading about food, and I’m a huge fan of Michael Pollan, Ruth Reichl and Frank Bruni. I also really enjoyed developing the concept of my family’s restaurant and working with my mom to design the interiors. I am eager to soak up as much information as possible during my time at ICE and hope these two programs will help me hone in on what aspect of the industry I would most like to pursue.

Want to learn more about ICE’s career programs? Click here for more info.


By Caitlin Gunther

Picture a culinary school graduate and chances are you imagine a white-toque wearing chef on his or her way into a traditional restaurant setting. Most people wouldn’t think that culinary school could also lead to working in the test kitchen of a food media startup located in Brooklyn’s coolest new creative hub, Industry City. That’s exactly where ICE alum Jiselle Basile (Culinary Arts and Culinary Management ‘14) recently landed—as chef and food stylist for Extra Crispy, Time Inc.’s new breakfast-centric website. Though the Career Services department at ICE set her up with her first food media internship (in the Birmingham-based test kitchen for Cooking Light), Jiselle’s willingness to try something different, leaving both her comfort zone and her hometown of New York City, helped Jiselle land her current gig.

Taking a break from such adventures as making green eggs and ham for grownups, Jiselle hopped out of the test kitchen to complete the ICE alum questionnaire. Unsurprisingly, this ICE alum has strong views on culinary school and where to score the best breakfast sandwich.

Jiselle Basile Extra Crispy

ICE graduation year: May 2014 (Culinary Arts and Culinary Management)

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Occupation: Chef and food stylist for Extra Crispy

Favorite sandwich spot:
I narrowed it down a lot obviously (laughs). One place is Steve’s Pork Store on Bath Avenue in Brooklyn. They make probably the best Italian sandwich I’ve ever had. And for breakfast—because obviously I have an opinion on breakfast—at the bagel shop I grew up with, Bagel Boy in Bay Ridge, they make a power bagel that has sunflower seeds, flaxseed and millet in a whole wheat bagel. I know a lot of people hate whole-wheat bagels, but this one is delicious. I get a sausage, egg and cheese with ketchup on that bagel and it’s a perfect breakfast sandwich.

Describe a typical day in your life.
There’s not a typical day, which keeps it interesting. At Extra Crispy, there’s a startup mentality—within a major company—but it’s still a startup. Most of us take on a lot of different roles so no two days are similar. Usually I’m either researching recipes at my desk; or I can be at a video shoot with a chef; or testing and styling in the kitchen. Tomorrow, I’m going to be making Scotch eggs with an ostrich egg on Facebook live. I have to pick up ostrich eggs at Union Square Market at 8:00 AM, so I’ll start here whenever I get back.

Where do you look for recipe inspiration?
Food & Wine, Lucky Peach, Bon Appetit…I also read a bunch of food blogs. Or if I really like something I eat at a restaurant, I’ll try to recreate it. I research a bunch of recipes and then try to make something that’s my own. My family is also a big inspiration. Everyone in my family cooks, so I grew up trying to learn from them, though that’s mostly Italian food.

How did ICE prepare you for being a chef and food stylist at Extra Crispy?
I am where I am today because of ICE. If it weren’t for [ICE Career Services Advisor] Tessa, I never would have known about the internship with Time Inc. in Alabama. To be completely honest, I didn’t even know this kind of job existed before attending ICE. Both programs definitely prepared me for working as a chef/food stylist. The Culinary Arts program provided me with the necessary technical skills and I gained an understanding of market trends in Culinary Management. The recreational classes were also a great way to build on a particular interest.

Chef Jiselle Basile

What is your culinary voice?
I’m still trying to figure that out. Right now I want to make delicious food that makes people feel good, or that brings back a memory or a specific moment in time. That’s why I like working for Extra Crispy—there’s so much comfort and emotion tied to breakfast.

Wired recently released a video with David Chang of Momofuku and in the video he talked about his success. He said a lot of things I love, but one thing in particular was that he tries to evoke nostalgia in his dishes, but not in an overtly obvious way. So the dish one person is brought back to won’t be the same dish that another person is being brought back to. I’d love to be able to do that but I have a lot more to learn.

What inspired you to go to culinary school?
It was always something I thought I wanted to do. When I graduated from high school, I thought I wanted to go to culinary school but I ended up going to college and getting a communications degree. I didn’t know where I wanted to go from there. At some point I realized that cooking had always followed me—no matter where I was, I was always finding a way to cook. Even in college I took cooking classes when they were offered. Eventually I realized that it was what I wanted to pursue as a career—something I always loved doing.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?
On my way toward starting something that will be my own. I don’t know if that will happen in five years because I need more restaurant experience first. So whether I’m back in kitchens or on the management side of things so I can learn how the FOH works, hopefully I’ll be on my way to owning my own restaurant.

Thoughts on the current culinary landscape?
The whole foodie culture thing is having an impact. People are either talking about things more than ever or social media is having an impact and brought to life how much people talk about it. People are more aware of their food; I’ve seen restaurants focusing more on where their food is coming from and I guess it’s in part because people are so much more concerned about the surrounding issues. It’s also interesting how owners and chefs now look at how social media affects their restaurants. Nowadays a lot of people, before they set foot in your restaurant, will see if you have an Instagram and check out what your food looks like, which has a huge impact on whether someone will eat in your restaurant.

Click here to discover how you too can earn a double diploma from ICE in Culinary Management and Culinary Arts or Pastry Arts.


By Caitlin Gunther

Where do you see yourself in ten years? That’s the question Chloe Vichot (Culinary Management ’15) heard when she was interviewing for admission to business schools after graduating from high school. Though she didn’t say it aloud, in her head the answer was clear—owning a restaurant. A successful career in finance and an ICE Culinary Management diploma later, the Paris native is on the cusp of realizing that dream in New York City. This fall, she will open the doors to Ancolie, a Greenwich Village grab-and-go eatery, where glass jars will be the eco-friendly packaging of choice. Serving fresh takes on the seasonal, home-cooked meals she grew up eating, Chloe is sharing her culinary voice with downtown Manhattan.

Ancolie_Chloe

In the midst of juggling the roles involved in opening a restaurant, Chloe sat down with us to answer the ICE alum questionnaire.

ICE graduation year: July 2015 (Culinary Management)

Location: New York, New York

Occupation: Founder of Ancolie, a restaurant with a grab-and-go concept that will open in the fall of 2016. It’s going to be in Greenwich Village in the NYU area. I chose this location, rather than midtown, because I wanted to be close to the student life. And people will come in the morning, evening and weekends.

Favorite sandwich spot: Tartinery in Nolita. They have open-faced sandwiches that I love…and there’s also a location in ICE’s building, Brookfield Place.

Describe a day in the life.
My life changes every day—one day I’m cooking for an event, another day I have to deal with the contractors and construction, another day I have to talk to my interior designer and make sure the plans are on track. Other days I have to take care of social media. There’s a lot of multitasking and wearing different hats in a single day. Then I’m also trying to plan ahead for all the things we’ll need once the store opens, which is challenging.

Did the management program at ICE prepare you for making these decisions?
Absolutely! Being with professionals from the industry who have done this for more than 20 years was fantastic. I was able to learn from professionals who have seen a lot of concepts and know the industry trends. I could pitch them my concept and get valuable feedback. And with three professors, I had more than one opinion.

What is your culinary voice?
I took recreational culinary courses, but I never considered myself a chef. I considered myself a businesswoman and someone who wanted to create a new concept, with a goal to touch people through food. Originally, I thought I would have a professional chef at Ancolie, but as the days went by, I realized that I was going to be the chef…it’s been an interesting transition.

My culinary voice comes from what I grew up eating and what my mother and grandmother taught me. I was lucky not to have to worry about what I was eating growing up—because my family was always cautious about picking the right ingredients and in the right proportions. So I’m trying to bring this culture to the U.S.: to enjoy food and find a balance.

Ancolie_Sharing

What or who inspired you to go to culinary school?
I always dreamed of having a restaurant. I started with an amateur cooking course, and at the time I wasn’t even considering quitting my job in finance. The course made me so happy and excited that I realized I wanted to switch from finance to the food world. When I decided to take the Culinary Management program at ICE, I think I had just had a fight with my team at work, and it made me consider what I wanted to do with my life. I was married and going to have children at some point, so if I was working and had kids I wanted to make sure I was doing something I was passionate about, and I knew finance was not that. So I started thinking—could I do something in food, but something more daytime-oriented for when I have a family? I started the ICE program knowing I wanted to do something in food but not sure what. The program helped me confirm that the food business is what I wanted to do and that I could do it by myself.

After graduating from ICE, I worked in a restaurant in front of house for a couple of months. I thought I’d have to gain a couple years’ experience, but then I realized it was time to just to do it. I’d never be totally prepared to open a food business, so I decided to jump in the water and do it.

Thoughts on the current culinary landscape?
I’m very inspired by what’s happening in the current culinary landscape, especially the focus on eating locally and seasonally. Dan Barber is an inspiration – he is trying to reuse things that are typically thrown away.
I think the culinary world needs to take the next step and focus on packaging. Ancolie is going in the right direction by using glass instead of plastic. Every time I talk to a restaurateur, they think I’m crazy and wasting money, but I think more people will start using glass and reusable packaging.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I would really love to have a couple of Ancolie stores in the city and an operation that is successful. To me, success means making a difference in the local community and the environment—which is why I’m using glass, so people don’t need to throw away their packaging. Success also means making sure my investors are happy with their investment. And of course, I want happy customers. I feel like I’m finally on track to realizing my dream.

Ancolie_Food

Ready to start your own food business? Check out our Culinary Management program and find your culinary voice.