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?

Business Class-001-150dpi

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.

Lecture Opera POS-036-150dpi

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.

By Carly DeFilippo

From 17-year-old high school grads to former doctors, artists and executives, ICE students come from all walks of life. In the case of Brooklyn native Christian Souvenir, it took many years in the military before the desire to attend culinary school took hold.

The switch from government intelligence work to cooking may seem like a drastic change, but Christian’s disciplined background is serving him well in the kitchen. Since graduating from ICE’s Culinary Arts program in 2011, he has worked in some of Brooklyn’s most innovative new restaurants, including Nightingale 9 and French Louie, growing his love for a new kind of service.

Thanks to ICE’s flexible scheduling options, Christian is able to continue kitchen work while pursuing a second ICE diploma in Culinary Management. “I love cooking in restaurants,” Christian explains. “But I saw myself on this path where I could potentially be in charge of people and not have the tools to help them get better. What I’ve learned in management is helping me form what I want in my eventual restaurant, and what I want for myself as a leader. That is so important.”

To learn how ICE’s Culinary Management program prepares grads to own or operate culinary businesses, click here. For more information about the range of active duty, reserve and veteran’s benefits available to ICE students, click here.


By Carly DeFilippo

The words energy and determination only begin to describe the curious, enthusiastic force that is ICE alum Eden Grinshpan. Aspiring to work in food television from a very young age, Eden currently hosts two shows on the Cooking Channel, Eden Eats and Log On And Eat with Eden.


What were you doing before you enrolled at ICE?

I enrolled at ICE when I was 22; before that I was traveling through India, South East Asia, and lived in London and Tel-Aviv.

When I was in high school I became completely obsessed with the Food Network. I didn’t grow up cooking or baking; the passion came from watching the network. I could not get enough of Ina Garten’s buttery cakes or Jamie Oliver’s colorful culinary masterpieces (he was on Food Network Canada). I was hooked, so I started playing around in the kitchen.

When it came time to apply for University, I knew where my head was at…so culinary school it was. I enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu for the “grand diplome” in both pastry and cuisine. What a funny and incredible experience. I was so nervous my first day; I didn’t know anyone and my knowledge in the kitchen was minimal. But I quickly made friends with the students and the chefs and accepted my new calling in life: food. During my time studying in London, I took advantage of the opportunity to travel to neighboring countries in Europe. It was then that I realized another passion of mine, travel, and that the best way to explore a new country and culture was to dive right into their cuisine and to try and live like a local.

282750_498013786892481_182184012_n (1)

After graduating culinary school, I was not ready to settle down, so I enrolled in a course that took me on an adventure to the north of India—probably one of the most incredible experiences of my life! I didn’t know that much about India, but soon found out that it was one of the most colorful, warm and exciting countries I have ever been too. I ended up spending almost a year backpacking and exploring, while taking cooking courses, volunteering and just simply bonding with the locals and other people who were backpacking and traveling across this magical country. After India I continued my travels through Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Israel.

Following these amazing, worldly experiences, I was itching to get cracking on my career—so, what better place to start than the culinary mecca of NYC? I moved to New York around 5 years ago. My younger sister just got into NYU, so I decided to follow her here and start my new adventure. The first thing I did was enroll at ICE for the Culinary Management program. I knew that one day I would want my own restaurant, and ICE was the place to learn that skill set. I had such a great time in the program. 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 fortunate to the Cooking Channel for taking me under their wing and believing in me and my shows.

What attracted you to the Culinary Management program?

What attracted me to ICE was the school’s reputation and the great management program they offered. I had a great teacher and the speakers they brought in told us their stories and facts about their businesses. Having so many people come in really inspired me and I got some really great ideas from that course. It’s also so much fun meeting people that are as obsessed about food and the culinary industry as you are—they’re a very special group.


What have you been up to since graduation?

Through ICE, I was introduced to many people in the field that have helped me along the way with my career. Since leaving ICE I have worked on “Eden Eats,” a show that I created with my business partner Samantha Schutz, and am currently working on a brand new show for the Cooking Channel, “Log On And Eat with Eden,” which will be premiering this September…very exciting!

Briefly describe a day in your working life.

Every day is very different since I am traveling all over the country, meeting different people and featuring different foods in every segment. When we get to a new restaurant, we usually learn all about the dish that we are featuring on the show, make the dish, try the dish and try a bunch of other dishes that the restaurant is famous for, while speaking with the person I am interviewing.

What might people be surprised to learn about your job?

I think people would be surprised how much time and work goes into one episode. I was so surprised to find out what goes on behind the scenes—so cool! I love how creative everyone is.

5 years ago, did you ever think you’d be doing what you’re doing now?

I’ve always dreamt of having my own food television show, but you never know. As much as it is about networking and persistence, there is also luck that goes into it. I am so fortunate to do what I do and I am thrilled to be a part of the Cooking Channel family.

What’s next?

Well, I am working on a new show for the Cooking Channel, and I hope to continue working in television (I love it). But, one day I would love to take advantage of the skills ICE taught me and manage/run my own restaurant.


By Carly DeFilippo

Today, it’s nearly impossible to remember a time before food media stars and celebrity chefs. But, in fact, many of the most respected restaurant industry pioneers grew up knowing that their parents and friends looked down on their career choice.

Such was the case for Brian Buckley, ICE’s first Culinary Management instructor. After more than 35 years in the industry, Brian has seen it all—and he’s having the last laugh. “After college, I tried working a normal job writing advertising copy, but after a year, a friend told me about a really good bartending gig. I realized I could make way more money doing something I liked! My parents were totally freaked out and begged me to go to law school, but I was smart enough to see that there was a real possibility to make a name for myself in the restaurant business.”

To structure his culinary education, Brian strategically worked a wide range of positions in every kind of food establishment imaginable—from three-star Michelin restaurants to dive bars. “It was a real awakening because I saw different aspects of the industry, and I learned a lot about the people management side of the industry.” Then, about 10 years into his career, Brian decided to advance his skills by enrolling in the culinary arts career program at ICE (then known as Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School).

Watch Brian explain the concept of “food cost” in our restaurant success video series:

“After 10 years in the business, I thought I knew everything,” Brian explains, “but ICE made me aware of so many more aspects of the industry—it kicked my butt.” The experience also stoked Brian’s entrepreneurial fire, and he started researching possibilities for an Italian steakhouse concept. At the same time, Brian’s network of contacts started reaching out with various consulting opportunities.

Brian credits his ICE diploma as the primary driver behind this unexpected consulting business. From developing a series of chicken recipes to establishing strategies for staff training, there was nothing he wasn’t recruited to do. “After about the third or fourth consulting gig, people starting telling me I was good at it. So I printed up some business cards and, 25 years later, I’m still consulting for a living.”

As a consultant, Brian has worked with everyone from California cuisine innovator Wolfgang Puck to the Food Network, Kitchen Arts & Letters, Cook’s Illustrated and even a wildly successful New York City Penn Station bar and grill called “Tracks.” “I’ve done every job in hospitality except valet parking,” jokes Brian. “If I saw that I could learn something new, I took the job.”

Watch Brian report in as an expert on breaking food safety news on CBS:

That diverse range of experience made Brian the ideal candidate for teaching, which is how he became the first instructor in ICE’s Culinary Management program. Sixteen years into teaching, the program has an incredible roster of alumni, including successful restaurateurs, specialty food retailers and food marketing professionals.

“It’s such a positive experience to work at ICE, and I love the students,” Brian notes. “For someone like me who has an insatiable appetite for learning, the ability to walk down the hall and see Michael Laiskonis working on chocolate or to have Chef Chris Gesualdi say, ‘Here, taste this sauce…’—that’s the dream.”

Brian’s advice for his students is to take the long view: “Your first project may not be your dream project, but it may help you establish your reputation or raise financing. You never know where this career will take you, so intentionally learn things you don’t need for your current job. With the nature of this business, there’s no skill that you won’t use at some point.”

Ready to boost your entrepreneurial skill set? Study with Brian in ICE’s Culinary Management program.

By Grace Reynolds—Student, School of Culinary Management

Last night, I graduated from ICE’s Culinary Management program. All I can say is that I have never experienced a sharper—or more humbling—learning curve in seven months.

Culinary Management Graduation

Celebrating graduation with my Culinary Management classmates

When thinking about how to illustrate this for you, I keep coming back to an assignment from our first week in the program: the “color speech.” The assignment is exactly what it sounds like: give a speech about your favorite color. Sounds pretty simple, right? Think again. For starters, most of us hadn’t contemplated what our favorite color was since we were about eight. Moreover, we were asked to make this speech interesting and relevant to a group of eighteen strangers—a daunting task.

Now, I wish I could tell you we all nailed the speech, but that’s just not the reality. We tanked, hard. Sweaty-palmed, voices quivering, we all got up there and tried to justify why we loved blue, felt strongly about purple or were enchanted by red. It went the opposite of smoothly. Our instructor, Steve and our guest instructor, Andy, gave us feedback on our delivery: “Own your space. Don’t ask us, tell us.” By the time we had all given our speeches, we felt exhausted, humbled and totally unsure of ourselves.

Restaurant Management Program at ICE

Now, I bet you’re wondering what a speech about color has to do with restaurant management and entrepreneurship. The answer is simple: failure. Like most things worth doing, there is an inherent risk involved in starting your own business, pursuing a fulfilling career and leading a meaningful life. I would even go so far as to say that failure is not merely a possible risk, but a requirement for success. The color assignment was designed to give us a taste of failure. It was designed to test our perseverance, our resolve and our ability to embrace failure as an opportunity for growth.

Grow we did. In our final week of class, each of us presented our final business plans to a room packed with people, three of whom were high-profile investors. The difference between my stage presence for the color speech and in my final presentation could not have been more pronounced. I witnessed the same transformation in my classmates: dressed like polished professionals, delivering incredible business plans with confidence, poise and courage. This wasn’t just a stroke of luck; the seven months that passed between those two speeches rigorously prepared us for this moment. In short, we were primed to succeed.

Food Entrepreneur Speaker

Looking forward, I have little doubt that my classmates will accomplish great things in the culinary world. I also know that each and every one of us will fail again, hard. But these past seven months have taught us how to seize the opportunity therein. It’s what you do when you fail that dictates the ultimate outcome. After our time at ICE, my classmates and I are ready to accept that challenge.

Click here to learn more about ICE’s Culinary Management program.


By Lizzie Powell—Student, School of Culinary Arts and Culinary Management 

It’s been two months since I started class at ICE, and from butchering nearly every type of protein, to learning how to properly sauté, grill, roast, poach and steam, to exploring the financial side of culinary business, I can confidently say I’ve learned a lot.

But I’m not just learning how to do all these things. I’m learning the why behind everything as well. No matter what my question is (and I ask quite a few!), the teachers at ICE are incredibly knowledgeable about the topic at hand, and every task we take on in class has a strategic educational purpose. For example, in Module 1 of Culinary Arts, my classmates and I joked that Chef Ted had an encyclopedia for a brain—ask him any question and he knows the answer to it and more. The same goes for my Culinary Management instructor, Steve Zagor. He has an endless supply of industry stories that provide tangible lessons about running a culinary business—making our classes a series of hilarious and informative parables!

Ted Siegel - Steve Zagor - Institute of Culinary Education - Douple Diploma - Culinary Arts - Culinary Management

ICE Instructors Ted Siegel and Steve Zagor

Learning how to cook professionally and manage the business side of restaurants at ICE has taught me more about efficiency and waste than I ever thought possible. Take my home cooking habits as an example. Since starting school, I’ve learned I wasn’t cooking nearly as efficiently as I could’ve been in my own kitchen. Sure, I would think through cooking times and what ingredients I needed, but I never made a mise en place list or production schedule before I turned on the stove or oven. As obvious as it may sound to some, doing these simple things has helped me transform into a more strategic, efficient and methodical home cook.

Yet this education goes far beyond reinventing my own home cooking strategy. I’ve discovered that successful restaurant management (see: keeping the rent paid and the lights on) depends on the business skills of the back-of-the-house (BOH) staff. This is because the BOH must help control “food cost,” an essential formula that guides the strategy of any restaurant management team. In simple terms, food cost is the difference between the amount it costs a restaurant to make a menu item and the price a customer pays for that item. If the kitchen knows how to use every bit of edible food that is bought for production, the management team gets more bang for their buck and, in turn, more money is generated to invest in the restaurant’s future.

Salmon Fabrication - Culinary Arts - Institute of Culinary Education

In short, this means that cooks can’t just show up to work and use the prime cuts, the pretty carrots, etc. A good cook—and certainly a chef—is a smart, efficient worker who has mastered strategies for reducing food waste. As a practical example: the other day, I had the chance to fabricate a whole salmon. The goal was to get eight fillets from the whole fish, but even after fabricating the fish, there was still some salmon meat left—called “edible trimmings.” For any food business, the smart thing to do is to take those edible bits and make, say, salmon tartare, turning that potential waste into an elegant appetizer (and a moneymaker!).

Salmon - portioned - Institute of Culinary Education - Fish- Fabrication - Butchery

At this point, you may be wondering just how I’ve learned this much in just two months. While ICE offers flexible schedules for students who are still working full-time, I’ve been pursuing a full class schedule at ICE—meeting every weekday afternoon for Culinary Arts and three mornings a week for Culinary Management. What’s great is that the course times allow me to complete both programs at once, which means I can finish my diplomas and start my new career in food as soon as I possibly can.

It’s a lot of hard work and takes a lot of commitment, but I wouldn’t change a single thing about taking this leap into culinary school. Just like ICE is teaching me how to work efficiently in the kitchen, they’ve taken the same approach to their curriculum. For a career changer, the fact that I can gain both kitchen and business skills in only seven months is key, and I know I’ll be able to hit the ground running after graduation.

Click here to learn more about ICE’s “double diploma” in Culinary Arts and Culinary Management.


By Grace Reynolds—Student, School of Culinary Management

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.

lecture - culinary management - kate edwards - steve zagor - classroom

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.

Douglas Zeif

douglas zeif - headshot - hospitality - ICE BlogDoug is an international hospitality consultant who specializes in gastronomy and concept development. In addition to consulting projects for companies like Hilton Worldwide and Darden Restaurant Group, he currently oversees global food and beverage operations for the Blackstone Group hotel assets. His career in culinary management began at The Cheesecake Factory when it was just opening its second location, and he eventually rose to become the company’s second-in-command. In 1992, Doug took the company public, and helped grow the company into the internationally recognized brand it is today.

Of the stories Doug shared with our class, one of my favorites was how he got his start at The Cheesecake Factory. While working as the General Manager at a fine dining restaurant, he noticed that a fish entree being set in front of a diner was clearly undercooked. He immediately walked over to the table, excused himself, and explained to the diner that he felt her fish could use a few more minutes on the fire. Would she mind if he returned with her properly cooked dish in a few minutes, entirely on the house? She said yes, he returned with her dish several moments later, and that was that—or so Doug thought. The next day, Doug got a call from the man who had been dining with that woman the previous evening. To Doug’s surprise, he offered him a job on the spot. After witnessing Doug’s attention to detail and his swift, appropriate reaction, he wanted Doug to help him open the second outpost of his restaurant, The Cheesecake Factory. Doug accepted, and the rest is history!

In short, Doug’s main message was to never underestimate the power of doing your job well one hundred percent of the time. You never know who may be watching, or the opportunities that could arise, especially in such a visible environment as the hospitality industry.

Jennifer Baum

culinary management - guest lecturer - jennifer baum - pr - bullfrog & baumJennifer Baum is the type of person that commands your attention and respect the moment she enters the room.  A PR powerhouse, she is the founder and CEO of Bullfrog + Baum, a restaurant-focused firm based in New York City. In addition to representing some of the best restaurants in the city, including Gato, Sushi Nakazawa and Bar Americain, Bullfrog + Baum has also worked with The Four Seasons, Wolfgang Puck Worldwide and Starr Restaurants—just to name a few.

Jennifer’s central story was how she decided to strike out on her own. After getting her MBA in finance and management, she found herself in an unfulfilling job in the corporate banking world. She couldn’t ignore the strong pull she felt towards the restaurant world, so after a year at the bank, she decided to dive head first into the restaurant industry and has never looked back.

After working in the restaurant industry in various capacities for about ten years, Jennifer realized that she had the tools and the connections to start her own restaurant-focused PR firm. That was fourteen years ago. Today, Bullfrog + Baum has more than twenty-five employees, offices on both coasts, many high-profile clients and a stellar reputation in one of the fastest-paced industries in the world.

The biggest message I took away from Jennifer’s talk was that you should always follow your gut, even if it’s leading you to take a risk. Yes, Jennifer had a prestigious, high-paying job in the corporate world prior to starting Bullfrog + Baum, but she knew she wanted something different. She was drawn to the restaurant industry, and she followed that voice to tremendous success. Had she held back and ignored her gut, her career in PR might never have happened (and neither would the many New York City restaurants that credit Bullfrog + Baum with their media success!). Given that many of my classmates and I are coming from professional backgrounds outside of the food industry, Jennifer’s story felt like incredible validation for our decision to follow our guts and enroll at ICE.

Shane Welch

shane welch - guest lecturers - culinary management - sixpointShane Welch is the founder and head brewer of Sixpoint Craft Ales in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Shane’s path, albeit a winding one, had one constant: a love of good beer. In college, Shane created his own mini-brewery in his basement, and began to play around with creating high-quality, small-batch brews. This led to an apprenticeship with Dean Coffey, the head brewer at Angelic Brewing Company. After three years there, Shane set off on a backpacking trip around the world, drawing inspiration from the various ales he came across during his travels.

When he returned from his time abroad, Shane wanted to translate his experiences into something tangible. This ultimately led to the birth of Sixpoint, which began in an 800-square-foot garage in Red Hook, Brooklyn in 2004. Initially, Shane did everything: he devised the concept, took care of the brewing and selling of his beer and made deliveries. Yet his passion—not to mention his delicious brews—was contagious. Craft beer lovers started coming out of the woodwork to join Shane’s team, and Sixpoint began to grow. Today, Sixpoint is a well-known and highly respected brand. Since 2004, the company has created hundreds of different kinds of beers and continues to be a leader in craft brewing.

The most inspiring piece of Shane’s story is the magnetic power of passion. When Sixpoint started, it was a one-man show. That quickly changed, however, as like-minded beer enthusiasts tracked Shane down, attracted to his quest to create brilliant beer. It was a telling example of the advice that if you truly love and believe in what you do, you’ll attract the right people and ensure your own success.

These three speakers are only a small sample of the profound stories that have inspired my own career path to this point.  As I continue to define my personal goals in the restaurant industry, I have no doubt that the lessons they shared will continue to help me persevere in the months and years to come.

Click here to learn more about inspiring guest lectures at ICE.


By Carly DeFilippo

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.

isle and cristian resized

What were you doing before culinary school?

Cristian Quiroz: I worked as a waiter at a place called The Crepe Café back in Chile. It was my first restaurant job and I would always bother the crepe cook to let me make the crepes. He kept saying no, until one day he got tired of me and just let me do it. Soon I was able to manage the station on my own. That’s when I decided I wanted to learn back of house skills, to hopefully open up my own restaurant one day.
Ilse Herrera: I was studying singing in a conservatory in Guadalajara, Mexico. I moved to New York just one week before starting classes at ICE.

What specifically attracted you to the programs at ICE?

IH: I liked that ICE offered immersion into the world of cooking within a short amount of time. The modules were well rounded and the program was affordable. Being in New York City was definitely a big plus.
CQ: The length of the programs (Culinary Arts and Management). I had considered CIA because of its reputation, but my father suggested that I would probably benefit more from a shorter, hands-on program, than a traditional 2-4 year degree. I think he was completely correct. In the end, it depends on the learning style of the person.

What have you been up to since graduating?

CQ: I worked at Txikito for a year and a half and then helped opened La Vara in Cobble Hill. After Alex received two stars in the New York Times for El Quinto Pino, we helped open the restaurant’s new dining room, “El Comedor.” Currently, most of my time is spent at Txikito, but I occasionally work at the other two spots as well. As a personal project, I planned a sold-out Chilean food pop-up last September, which I’m considering developing into my own spot in the coming year.
IH: I was garde manger at Lupa during school, and later moved to The West Branch where I was quickly promoted to the pasta station. After a year, I left New York to spend two months in Italy, and upon my return I got a job at Txikito through a former co-worker. I started off as a lunch cook and then became the morning sous-chef. I also helped with research and development and staff training for the opening of La Vara in Brooklyn, and worked with Cristian on the expansion of El Quinto Pino, where I currently run the kitchen.

What are your proudest accomplishments?

IH: 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.
CQ: I’m very happy with the job I’ve done in Alex and Eder’s restaurants. In addition to helping achieve two stars at both La Vara and El Quinto Pino, the whole experience of starting two new restaurants from scratch is personally very gratifying and entertaining.

What is a day like in your working life?

CQ: My day typically involves quality control during dinner service, expediting, ordering, creating specials and maintaining food safety. Training staff is a big part as well.
IH: I get in at 9:00am and take a quick inventory of the kitchen. Then I check the morning production list, take on some prep tasks, and manage quality control for the team throughout the day. When the night crew comes in at 2:00pm, I communicate with the supervisor about any new specials or menu items. I have a lunch break from 3:00-4:00pm, then prep is continued until around 5:00pm. Finally, I do inventory of vegetables, fish, meat, dry goods, etc. and place any necessary orders before I go home.
CQ: Working with Isle has been amazing. Both times we helped open new restaurants (La Vara and El Comedor), it would basically be Isle in the morning, then I’d come in for lunch and dinner service. She would train prep cooks and maintain quality control prior to opening, while I would do the same during service. I remember hearing somewhere that chef/owners normally need two close and very trustworthy cooks to rely on to run a restaurant—it’s definitely been true in my experience.

What might people be surprised to learn about your job?

CQ: I wasn’t looking for the “celebrity chef” life when I got into the business, but I’ve met a lot of people who got into the job thinking it was going to be a piece of cake. You should be ready for long hours and hard work. Certain kitchens and staffs are more pleasant than others. One chef will think screaming is an essential part of his job; others are laid-back and don’t care—but you should show up ready for anything.
IH: There is more to being a cook than just cooking. A lot of discipline, respect for others, teamwork, cleanliness and speed are required. It’s not the way it looks on television. You have to truly be passionate about food in order to be happy in this field.

How would you describe your “culinary voice”?

IH: I would describe my culinary voice as clean and simple. I believe in staying true to the flavor of each ingredient and searching to complement it in unexpected ways. I have been taught (the Basque way) to get rid of black pepper as a staple seasoning. A little bit of olive oil and salt are all a great ingredient needs. As far as plating is concerned, I like natural-looking food that can make it to the table without looking ruined. I don’t oppose the modernist approach, but I love the example of a chef who once said to me: “Imagine a light breeze brought your salad over to the plate, and… ahh,” while letting the greens fall naturally.
CQ: The way I understand food is entirely influenced by Alex and Eder. I have far more experience working with Spanish food—and some Middle Eastern flavors at La Vara—than any other cuisine, but currently I’m excited to develop a Chilean restaurant concept. Chile is a country whose cuisine has been defined by the immigrants and colonies that have arrived there, especially Spanish, German and Italian. I’m looking to maintain the authenticity of traditional Chilean flavors, but present them in a more creative, appealing way.

Click here for more inspiring ICE alumni stories.


Does your restaurant have what it takes to thrive, or will it be just a flash in the pan? With this advice from ICE’s industry experts in American Express’s four-part Restaurant Success Series, learn how proper employee training and responding to customer feedback can help build a stable, profitable business. Plus, understand how to create a cost-effective menu that sells and discover how getting your manager out of the office and onto the sales floor can give you a leg up in this competitive industry.

For more tips on staying ahead of the curve, we consulted with ICE Culinary Management Instructor Vin McCann. Below, see his 7-step strategy for developing a marketable product and building customer loyalty:

  1. Research: Learn about your market—for example, are there already restaurants like your concept (potential competitors) nearby?
  2. Concept: Differentiate yourself in the market by developing a unique product.
  3. Strategy: Develop a business plan, taking into account costs, product, design and more.
  4. Funding: Raise at least 30% more money than you think you’ll need.
  5. Train: Your staff is the primary factor in whether or not new clients become regulars. Ensure they understand and can execute your vision through thorough training.
  6. Guests: They are your indicators of success, so take their feedback seriously.
  7. Observe: Monitor your costs, profits and losses and adjust as needed.

Learn more about the logistics, design and execution of restaurant success at ICE’s School of Culinary Management.

By Stephanie Fraiman

When it comes to building a successful restaurant or food business, who better to turn to than the expert consultants and Culinary Management instructors at ICE? In this four part video series, created in collaboration with American Express, we invite aspiring and current restaurant owners to explore the world of restaurant management with tips, advice and insider information that can help ensure your success.

From breaking down menu costs to learning the secrets of preventing bar or retail theft, get a leg up in this highly competitive industry. Offering their expertise are instructors from ICE’s School of Culinary Management: Dean of Culinary Business and Management, Steve Zagor; instructors Vin McCann and Brian Buckley; Director of Beverage Studies, Anthony Caporale; and public relations consultant, Cindi Avila.

Recipe for Restaurant Profits

Cutting corners may initially seem easy and fast, but could you end up losing money in the long run? Discover the number one thing you need to know to make money in the restaurant business.

Restaurant Success: How to Sizzle and Not Fizzle

Does your restaurant have what it takes to thrive, or will it be just a flash in the pan? Learn how proper employee training and learning to interpret customer feedback can help build a stable, profitable business.

Preventing Bar and Retail Theft

Do you trust your staff? Do they trust you? Could security cameras do more harm than good? Master the secrets to preventing beverage, food and retail theft in your restaurant.

Building Your Marketing Plan: Public Relations, Social Media and Advertising

Afraid your food business is getting lost in the mix? Discover your “niche”, learn to build buzz, and boost brand recognition with these PR, marketing and media tips from ICE. 

Have an idea for a food business, but not sure how to get started? Learn how ICE’s Culinary Management and Professional Development programs can help turn your dream of opening a restaurant into a reality.

Subscribe to the ICE Blog