By Carly DeFilippo

As the Dean of ICE’s School of Business & Management StudiesSteve Zagor oversees one of the most innovative culinary business programs in the country. He has mentored countless alumni—from Jim Nawn of Agricola Eatery to Jason Soloway of Wallflower, Mark Sy of Vien to Christina Ha of Macaron Parlour. In fact, those four students-turned-entrepreneurs hail from just one of Steve’s graduating classes. Multiply their success by his 10+ years as a teacher (not to mention his lengthy career as a restaurateur and consultant) and you’ll get a ballpark idea of Steve’s undeniable impact on today’s culinary industry.

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Growing up in New York City, Steve’s parents were friends with a number of successful restaurateurs, most notably the owners of historic speakeasy the 21 Club. So after his undergraduate studies at Tulane, it was no surprise to Steve’s friends and family when he chose to pursue a Master’s degree at Cornell’s renowned hotel school, with the intention of one day returning to the New York restaurant scene.

Yet after a three-year stint at Marriott Hotels, which “taught him how to make money” in the business, Steve bypassed New York for a more ambitious project in the American south, opening the 300-seat “New York Café” in Houston, Texas. At the mere age of 26, this first entrepreneurial venture was a home run. Not only was Steve a local hero, but he was also written up as the “hippest lunch spot in Texas” in Rolling Stone. His business expanded to a small restaurant empire, including “the best deli in Texas”, a cafe with singing waiters and a huge off-premises catering service. But in the ninth year of the New York Café’s ten-year lease, Steve’s landlord announced he wanted to build a high-rise on the property.

Steve has even coached the pros—current and former NFL players—on the ins and outs of the restaurant business.

Steve has even coached the pros—current and former NFL players—on the ins and outs of the restaurant business.

Finding the opportunity in this unexpected turn of events—an essential skill he teaches our Culinary Management students—Steve sold his business to pursue work in corporate food & beverage consulting. That is, until he met the “crazy brilliant, genius IQ” Shelley Fireman of The Fireman Group. Steve couldn’t resist Fireman’s offer to oversee management at Midtown’s trendy Trattoria del Arte, boasting 170 employees and an unbeatable celebrity clientele. Steve describes the work as so engaging that he barely cared about the grueling hours.

But after three years at one of New York’s top Italian restaurants, Steve was itching to try his hand at something new and lay his stakes on a restaurant in Greenwich, CT. Yet unlike his “home run” in Houston, the Greenwich restaurant was a challenge from the get-go. Opened during one of the snowiest winters in New England history, the restaurant had too many investors and not enough success to sustain the venture. Today, Steve credits this failure as much as his success in his formation as a teacher. “Your life is how you handle the bad times,” he says, and having instructors who have weathered such failures is of inherent value to any business education.

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Steve returned to consulting and began teaching at New York University. In 2001, he joined the faculty of ICE’s Culinary Management program and was named program director later that year. A charismatic lecturer himself—known for the occasional magic trick and his stand-up comedy style—Steve knew he wanted to diversity our students’ experience. Since then, he regularly taps into his wide network of contacts to invite successful culinary entrepreneurs to speak with our students or integrate field trips into the curriculum, expanding both the diversity of our students’ educational experience and their access to networking opportunities.

Today, Steve maintains an active consulting practice—as do all ICE management instructors In his long list of clients, he has worked with everyone from Federal Express to Universal Studios, Paul Newman to the Time Warner Center in New York City, and is frequently quoted as an industry expert in the media. This year, Steve and his Culinary Management colleagues have also added a new consulting division to ICE’s roster of services—offering clients the combined expertise of our top-notch faculty, while simultaneously providing students with a first-hand opportunity to work on the next generation of culinary businesses.

Despite all his success, what is perhaps most impressive about Steve is the endless hours he spends mentoring our students and alumni. His sage advice always comes with a side of salty humor, generating an enviable list of witty one-liners that sum up his wealth of wisdom and experience. With his deep connections to the industry and New York as his classroom, it’s safe to say that a day in Steve’s class is unlike any other.

 

By Stephen Zagor, Dean of Culinary Business Studies

Consider the scene in your average home kitchen. Could a successful restaurant survive with only one sink to clean veggies, peel shrimp, rinse raw chicken, wash hands and rinse pet bowls? Or a reach-in refrigerator filled with perishables that is often left open for too long? What about a dog running around while the staff is working, or an untrained cook who licks his fingers after tasting the sauce? The same warm dreamy set that is the foundation of so many fond childhood memories is also the cauldron of bacteria where you are most likely to get “stomach flu”—or as professionals call it, “food poisoning”.

www.newlyswissed.com

Courtesy of newlyswissed.com

And yet, in-home restaurants are now in vogue. An article recently published in The New York Post entitled “I Turned MY Apartment into a Restaurant” extolls the virtues of this trend in which (often untrained) cooks invite complete strangers to visit their home and pay for dinner. But those interested in starting such a venture should be warned: the average home kitchen is many times dirtier than any restaurant. The reason we have a Department of Health and regulations about serving food and alcohol is to protect both the diner and the restaurateur.

oregonlive.com

Courtesy of oregonlive.com

At ICE’s School of Culinary Management, one of the first things we teach our students to consider when opening a food business is risk versus reward. In the case of home chefs, the risk is a zillion times higher than any possible reward. It takes only one small catastrophe—a guest becomes ill from your famous Lamb Tagine; someone is injured tripping over your new Crate and Barrel rope rug; a diner with a cat allergy goes into anaphylactic shock; or someone has a little too much Pinot and takes a fall on the curb of your home—and you’re in big trouble. The bottom line is, once money is accepted for a restaurant transaction, there is an implied warranty of safety.

finedininglovers.com

Courtesy of finedininglovers.com

In a commercial restaurant, the owner has some defenses. The business is incorporated to protect his or her personal property. There is liability insurance in case of an unexpected disaster. Most importantly, they have been trained in food safety and know the Dram Shop Laws on proper alcohol service.

blackdogfoodblog.com

Courtesy of blackdogfoodblog.com

So this begs the question – can this new cottage industry work? The answer is maybe, but think carefully before choosing this alternative path over your day job. Private Supper Clubs have been around for a while, and some owner/chefs have even gone on to open successful restaurants. But anyone running a food service operation should be properly trained in sanitation and follow the laws and regulations set out for food businesses. My advice would be to set up a proper corporation with suitable insurance. For those daring enough to take on the challenge, think carefully about what you do well and what you should probably avoid.

 

 

 

By Grace Reynolds

ICE alum Jim Nawn is the owner of Agricola, a self-described “community eatery” located in Princeton, NJ. The restaurant celebrates the creation of fresh, wholesome food, using locally sourced ingredients as often as possible. Nawn–who has already received acclaim from the New York Times—graciously agreed to share his story with us this past month, offering some key insights into his successful new business.

Courtesy of NJMonthly.com

Jim Nawn (left), owner of Agricola, with executive chef Josh Thomsen, courtesy of NJMonthly.com

What were you doing before you enrolled at ICE? And what sparked your decision to attend culinary school?

I was an area developer for Panera Bread, owning and operating 37 bakery cafes in northern New Jersey. I sold my Panera business and chose to attend culinary school to learn about food. I had no immediate plan to open my own restaurant and no real personal passion for cooking at the outset. It was a learning exercise to start. I anticipated it would lead to what was right, and it has.
 
Where was your externship, and where have you worked since graduating?

My externship was at Veritas. I selected the site because Sam Hazen was recommended as a experienced chef/business person who ran a good operation. My time there gave me insights into a commercial kitchen at a 3-star restaurant and provided a vision for my own restaurant operation.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I formulated my restaurant concept from the Culinary Arts and Culinary Management programs which I completed. It married my experience with a national brand with the local/community flavor important in Princeton. Synergizing the many considerations into a functioning 200 seat restaurant was a major accomplishment.

Courtesy of Agricola Eatery

Courtesy of AgricolaEatery.com

What are the most valuable lessons you’ve learned from your time in the industry?

1 – Food cost and labor costs must be in control. 2 – Every guest has a different expectation and, while one cannot be all things to all people, the restaurant must be crystal clear in what its personality is and deliver on that consistently.

Briefly describe a day in your current working life.

As the owner, I am active and working with my front of house and kitchen team every day. After 10 months we still spend time on finalizing routines in operations, but we are shifting now beyond the basics to establishing every day strategies/opportunities to make our guests feel special.

What might people be surprised to learn about your job?

Agricola is a successful business, but I never stop worrying about the people and systems that run the business—which is the engine that drives the outcome. One cannot focus on the bottom line alone; the people and systems are what keep me up at night.

Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?

I would like to know that Agricola is producing a consistent, outstanding guest experience. But if the opportunity presents itself, there could be room for another restaurant in our group serving the same outstanding experience, which has given growth and development opportunity to my team.

 

 

By Liz Castner

I was sitting in my Culinary Management class when I received the email telling me about an exciting upcoming CAPS class at ICE – “Ice Cream Innovations with Sam Mason”. Mason is the chef-founder OddFellows Ice Cream Co., a hip and funky ice cream shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The moment I read the email, I knew I wanted to attend the class. While I had never been to OddFellows itself, I had been following them on Facebook for months, lusting after posts featuring Mason’s latest edible creation. In short, I knew the CAPS class would be far more complex and exciting than a day’s worth of ordinary ice cream making.

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Chef Sam Mason

As it turns out, I was right. Chef Sam is a truly inspirational and creative guy, a wonderfully quirky mix of Brooklyn hipster, mad scientist and straight-up food genius. He reminds me of a blend between Benedict Cumberbatch and Adam from HBO’s Girls. If I haven’t already given myself away, I definitely developed an ice cream crush over the course of his class, and I’m not alone. Chef Sam is so inspirational that a number of ICE Chef-Instructors, including the “King of Plating” himself—Chef Michael Laiskonis—stuck around to take some notes and observe his novel techniques.

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The line up of flavors (17 in total!)

During our 8-hour ice cream intensive, we made an astonishing number of ice creams. Cornbread, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, “smash” Neapolitan, extra virgin olive oil, rainbow sherbert (composed of mandarin sorbet, raspberry sorbet, lime sorbet), chorizo caramel, lemon, rocky road, lemon meringue pie, peanut butter and jelly, caramelized onion and last but not least, beet. Yes, you counted correctly; that’s 17 individual ice creams and sorbets. What’s more, all of them were delicious—even Chef Sam’s savory flavors, caramelized onion and chorizo caramel. They were so good, in fact, that I currently have six pints in my freezer right now!

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Chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream frozen with liquid nitrogen to craft “Smash” Neapolitan

I’m a firm believer that you can benefit from any sort of class you take, regardless of whether or not you’re already familiar with the material. But as this was a CAPS class, almost all of the attendees had at least studied pastry or culinary arts at some point, and many are currently professionals in the field. With that said, I am happy to report that I learned a tremendous amount from Chef Sam, including how to blend whole vanilla beans and sugar in the food processor to extract all the flavor, as well as how frozen nitrogen can help preserve the shape of certain ingredients when folded into the ice cream.

We froze chunks of meringue, graham cracker and lemon curd for the lemon meringue pie ice cream and froze globs of jelly into jelly rocks for the peanut butter and jelly ice cream. We even froze the different ice creams themselves, such as chocolate, vanilla and strawberry for our smashed-together Neapolitan. We also got to watch Chef Sam spin different ice creams, such as caramelized onion, using a KitchenAid and liquid nitrogen.

But the learning didn’t stop there—Chef Sam also showed us how to craft components like chorizo-infused milk and oil, key ingredients for chorizo caramels and ice cream. We also discussed fat-washing techniques, which you can use for if you plan on making foie gras ice cream like they do in the shop, or even skirt steak ice cream.

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The whole class!

The sheer amount of knowledge Chef Sam brought to class was staggering, but even more inspiring was his willingness to play around with flavors, proportions and textures for the fun of it. Clearly, the guy is a genius. So, if ever you are thinking about taking a CAPS class, take it from this forever-student – if you feel inspired by the instructor and the topic, regardless of cost, it’s really worth it!

 

By Stephen Zagor, Dean, School of Business and Management Studies

Living in New York City and partaking in its incredible culinary scene often leads to an inflated food ego. How can we learn anything from chefs or owners outside of NYC, the cradle of modern culinary civilization?

As it turns out, John Gorham, the well-known and successful chef/owner of Toro Bravo and two other Portland, Oregon restaurants, has quite a few things to teach us. He spoke at ICE as the latest guest in our Meet the Culinary Entrepreneur series. In his modest and unassuming way, John shared important lessons about running a successful restaurant, whether in New York City, Portland or beyond.

Courtesy of Portland Monthly Magazine

Courtesy of Portland Monthly Magazine

For almost two hours John captivated the room with his story of growth and development, both personally and professionally. He opened Toro Bravo, his flagship Spanish Tapas style restaurant, over five years ago for $180,000, and crowds still line up daily. Later came his next two restaurants, both carefully crafted to fill a market niche: Tasty n Sons, a neighborhood brunch-centric restaurant and Tasty n Alder, a steak house that also caters to the brunch crowd.

According to Gorham, all of his restaurants have shown positive cash flow in just month one, with total capital investments paid off in under a year. Not bad for a man who sees himself as just a simple guy from North Carolina who started making charcuterie on a whim.

courtesy of LizCrain.com

Courtesy of lizcrain.com

Gorham’s lessons don’t end there. He and his team go out of their way to make sure that all employees are treated well. His chefs and managers work only four days a week—a schedule that is almost unheard of in New York City’s culinary scene. Working fewer days allows Gorham’s employees to maintain work-life balance and show up to work well-rested and focused. Gorham himself tries to keep a balanced life, taking weekends off and keeping Sundays free to spend with his wife and kids.

As far as a marketing strategy, John doesn’t use PR or advertising and thinks social media is overrated. He prefers to promote business through charities and local events. He realizes that the appeal of his restaurants are their party-like atmosphere and sells over 40% of his revenue in alcohol. And he pays well, too—waiters make $10.00/hr plus tips (the state regulated minimum wage) and his kitchen staff starts at $14.00 per hour. Add to that the lower cost of living in Oregon, and it all seems pretty enticing. Does John really work for the local Chamber of Commerce?

Courtesy of Kacheff.com

Courtesy of Kacheff.com

Has it all been great? Of course not. John described a falling out with an early partner who he still doesn’t speak to. He mentioned that the original $180,000 investment was too low, resulting in cheap equipment that broke almost immediately and cost even more to replace. He’s been sued from time to time and has learned many hard lessons along the way.

Despite these bumps in the road, Gorham has enjoyed tremendous success as a business man and restaurateur. When asked if he would ever open a place outside of Portland, he commented: “Not likely. There is still a lot of opportunity in Portland.” It’s a smart, conservative comment from the “simple guy from North Carolina” who taught us New Yorkers a thing or two. “Take it slow and know how to how to manage money,” he said. Good advice from a winner.

 

By Cindi Avila and Stephen Zagor

 

For the past two weeks, The Institute of Culinary Education has had international students walking its halls. Students from ICE’s Russian campus were in New York City to learn the tricks of the trade from some of ICE’s best culinary management instructors. A year after ICE first opened its doors at its new school in St. Petersburg, Russia, fifteen students from the school traveled more than 4000 miles for the chance to train with instructors such as Stephen Zagor and Vin McCann. Most of the students are in their mid-twenties, and speak both Russian and English fluently.

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Group of Visiting Russian Students with ICE President, Rick Smilow (Left)

The students, most of whom hope to own or manage their own restaurants back in Russia, spent their two-week visit soaking in the sights and sounds of New York City, enjoying trips to Eataly and Blue Smoke, and spending time with ICE staff, students, and instructors.

 

Here’s more about the visit from the Dean of ICE’s School of Business Management, Stephen Zagor:

 

While it’s tempting to envision Russia as a beacon of Eastern European culture, untouched by globalization’s influence, it is a far cry from the reality.  Today, Russian is overrun with shrines to the best America has to offer, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Papa John’s, Subway, and the soon-to-open Shake Shack. Our former rivals can’t wait to absorb American culture, much like Sponge Bob eating a Crabby Patty.

 

Upon noticing Russia’s interest in American food, ICE and SwissAm partnered together to open an Cooking and Culinary Management school in St. Petersburg. The school’s aim is to train Russians in American styles of cooking and culinary management. Over the course of the past two weeks, ICE hosted the first class of Russian students enrolled in our St. Petersburg location during their visit to New York City.

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Russian Students on Field Trip to Restaurant Public in NYC

I had the opportunity to spend some time with the students and their leader, the Director of Food and Beverage studies at ICE St. Petersburg. This group of highly motivated, focused and excited students–none of whom had ever stepped foot on American shores prior to this visit–reminded me of the first time I took my son to Disney World, albeit in a different setting.  Their reaction to the New York food scene was a resounding “WOW!”  They couldn’t get enough of this American culinary fantasy land.

 

The students informed me that Russian restaurants are where American restaurants were twenty or thirty years ago. Smoking is the norm. Dining concepts are largely unfocused and lack nuance; sushi rolls might just as easily contain raisins and chicken as tuna.

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Russian Students Dining at Saxon & Parole

The dark, leafless trees of the past now blossom with new potential for economic growth and restaurant development. As a result, SwissAm, which owns over 70 restaurants in Russia, has a keen interest in training a new fleet of Russian chefs that will breathe life into the culinary scene. If that isn’t enough, they are also developing a behemoth 20,000+ square foot restaurant complex on 8th Avenue and 42nd. So who’s invading who?

 

All I know is this–I learned so much in the short time I spent with our visiting Russian students and their leader that I felt the role of teacher and student was practically reversed.  They are a sharp, dynamic, and impressive group. Their appetite for success is strong–very strong. It reminds me of watching my son grow from a child into a better version of me. Don’t be surprised if we train the Russian to be better versions of us.

 

Maybe if we are lucky, some will end up back here at ICE or in the USA. That would be a win-win situation.  Until that day (hopefully) comes, we here at ICE NYC wish them all the best of luck!

 

 

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.

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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.

eden

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, 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 apart 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

 

When I first discovered Piquant, a blog which Ana Nicole co-runs with three other writers, I was instantly taken with the fun, colorful content. Learning that she works for one of my favorite parks (just a few avenues over from ICE!) was the cherry on top. Here’s her story:

 

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Photo by Min Wu

What were you doing before you enrolled at ICE?

Working in a law firm! But that’s in the past, let’s talk food! No, just kidding. Seriously, everything I’ve done has led me to where I am today and I am grateful for the experience.

 

What was it specifically that attracted you to the Culinary Management/Culinary Arts programs?

I graduated in the Spring of 2012 from Culinary Arts, and then from Culinary Management n the Fall 2012. These programs have great relationships with industry folks. After graduation, I accepted an editorial internship at Food Arts. There I edited and wrote pieces for the magazine, while also getting to meet renowned chefs and restauranteurs. That experience had a domino effect. Now, I am with Friends of the High Line where I support the marketing efforts of its Food and Revenue Department. We have exciting projects in the works, like a 100 seat restaurant, brought to life by the team behind Torrisi. It will be a full-service, Italian restaurant with floor-to-ceiling glass walls. It’s slated to open in the New Year, and you don’t want to miss out.

 

Where was your externship? 

I externed at Blue Hill, with Chef Trevor Kunk at the helm. The food is unmatched and Kunk is an inspiration to work with! I am also grateful for his mentorship during my time on the line.

 

What have you been up to since graduating?

I am proud of my work at the High Line where I collaborate with food vendors and media to share the park’s food culture with the public. I also co-run a gorgeous blog, Piquant, with my friend, Catherine Dimalla and two other writers. Piquant explores everything at the crossroads of food and design. We do Q&As, restaurant openings, and style original recipes for our subscribers. Check out our Facebook page for recent posts!

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Briefly describe a day in your current working life.

I walk to work on the High Line park—such a fun perk! You might find me coordinating a photography shoot for our “Faces Behind The Food” blog series. Or maybe you’ll catch me announcing a new partnership that meets our goal of supporting small, local businesses with oh-so-delicious food. I could also be spotted in the office kitchen eating a Melt Bakery peanut butter & banana ice cream cookie. (Ok, I admit it, you’ll find me in the kitchen.)

 

What might people be surprised to learn about your job?

It’s a really fun place to work at! We have art, food (savory and sweet!), salsa dancing nights and even star gazing. If you’re looking for a New York experience on the cheap or free, we’re your park.

 

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

No way! My advice to young people is to listen to their authentic selves and don’t fear the unknown. Embrace uncertainty. It is this open mentality that can lead you to amazing, never-imagined professional discoveries.

Where would you like to see yourself in the future?

I see myself continuing to write about and promote the importance of food in culture. I am not sure how that will manifest, and that’s okay. My ICE education and experience thus far are faithfully guiding me.

 

By Carly DeFilippo
 

6:10 PM

Moving from savory to sweet, Chef Chad Pagano demonstrated the difference between making dessert at home and for a crowd. Inviting Martin Rucker and Herb Taylor to whip up a batch of chocolate mousse, he added gelatin and simple syrup to the standard recipe, and explained the persuasive power of pastry in a restaurant’s marketing plan.

Chef Chad Pagano whips up chocolate mousse with Martin Rucker and Herb Taylor.

Chef Chad Pagano whips up chocolate mousse with Martin Rucker and Herb Taylor.

5:40 PM

To finish up the long day of learning, we treated our NFL guests to a duo of cooking demos with Chefs James Briscione and Chad Pagano. James recruited Babatunde Oshinowo and Adalius Thomas to help him revive his southern roots, preparing a seasonal succotash dish.

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Chef James Briscione prepares southern succotash with Babatunde Oshinowo and Adalius Thomas.

5:10 PM

For the day’s final lecture session, our entire Culinary Management faculty came together for a passion-filled panel and Q&A session. The core message was this: “Don’t be comfortably mediocre.” Define the mission statement of your business and invest time in recruiting staff who live and breath those core values. “Think about the team you were on that most motivated you. Those qualities are the same that will make a positive work environment in the service industry.”

The ICE Culinary Management faculty join forces for an end of day panel.

The ICE Culinary Management faculty join forces for an end of day panel.

 

4:20 PM

Shaking things up, resident ICE mixologist, Anthony Caporale, shared the secrets behind “shrinkage”—in particular, bar theft. A veteran bartender, Caporale has witnessed every scam in the trade, from over-pouring to padding the tip jar. When it comes to hiring staff, he warned, “What I want in a bartender is someone who can count. If he/she can’t count, than that person isn’t a bartender, but a drink mixer.” To ensure the message hit home, Caporale recruited players to run a simple bar scam.

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Anthony Caporale teaches former NFL linebacker, Eric Alexander, how to run a bar scam.

3:40 PM

After lunch, Hospitality Consultant John Moser presented an overview of the hotel industry. The NFL players were shocked to learn that, due to the labor set-up in hotels, pricey room service creates very little or no revenue. They also gained perspective on roles that are often under-appreciated, such as that of maid service, which Moser called one of the most difficult jobs in America.

John Moser shares his insider perspective on the hospitality business.

John Moser shares his insider perspective on the hospitality business.

2:15 PM

During a delicious lunch, prepared by ICE Chef Instructors (and football fans) James Briscione and Chad Pagano, our NFL students were treated to a keynote speech by CEO of Rosa Mexicano, Howard Greenstone. A veteran of the restaurant industry and former college athlete, Greenstone shared his successes and failures on and off the field. Of his many resonant points, two stood out in particular. First, don’t micro-manage your staff. Referencing Chef Ted’s earlier demo, Greenstone, stated, “You shouldn’t be in the kitchen chopping up steaks unless you’re the chef.” He also reminded players that, while it’s great to love the business, ultimately those who are successful are in it to make money as well.

Howard Greenstone shares his professional wisdom with NFL workshop students.

Howard Greenstone shares his professional wisdom with NFL workshop students.

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Chef Instructors James Briscione and Chad Pagano prepared a delicious lunch for our guests from the NFL.

1:08 PM

In the morning session, the players learned about the four major products of any restaurant business—food, service, design/environment, and “sizzle”—and considered the different types of business opportunities available in the culinary and hospitality industry. They then dove into the details of financing a restaurant and elements of a successful business plan.

Terrence McGee and Larry Tripplett with Dean of Culinary Management Stephen Zagor

Terrence McGee and Larry Tripplett with Dean of Culinary Management Stephen Zagor

Switching things up, the players headed to our demo kitchen, where they learned about the economics of food waste with Chef Instructor Ted Siegel. To demonstrate his point, Chef Ted broke down a boneless beef loin, one of the most expensive cuts of meat.

Chef Instructor Ted Seigel shows Jason Avant and Will Smith how to break down a boneless beef loin.

Chef Instructor Ted Seigel shows Jason Avant and Will Smith how to break down a boneless beef loin.

10:11 AM

This morning, we welcomed 21 current and past NFL players and their wives to ICE for a one day Hospitality and Culinary Management Workshop. From attendees already working in the culinary industry—one retired player owns his own wine label, while another works as a chef—to current players getting a head start on a future career, the group represented a diverse range of interests and passions. Introductions revealed the extracurricular talents of the group, from photography to writing to music, with enough brass players to form a formidable horn section.

martin rucker - vincent rey - babatunde oshinowo

Martin Rucker, Vincent Rey and Babtunde Oshinowo listen to Stephen Zagor’s lecture.

ICE Dean of Culinary Management, Stephen Zagor, kicked things off with a quick restaurant quiz. Players were surprised to learn that it isn’t a “love of food” that launches most culinary management careers – rather, it’s the fact that working in the food industry “looks like fun”. Undercapitalization is the biggest pitfall for new restaurants, whereas guests rate cleanliness as the most important aspect of a food business. As for the fabled statement that “90% of restaurants fail in their first year”, Zagor revealed that, in fact, 50% of restaurants survive their first two years of business.

will smith - jason avant

Will Smith and Jason Avant learn the ins and outs of financing a food business.

Last night, five ICE students competed head-to-head in the 17th Annual Calvados Nouvelle Vogue International Trophies. Hailing from the Culinary and Hospitality Management programs, the students were given the unique opportunity to train with Anthony Caporale, renown beverage expert and ICE Mixologist and Beverage Instructor.

Craig Joseph, Carol Arciniegas, Anthony Caporale, Edward Dickman, Anthony Causi and Ellen Richards

Craig Joseph, Carol Arciniegas, Anthony Caporale, Edward Dickman, Anthony Causi and Ellen Richards

The competition was held at the Intercontinental New York Hotel’s Barclay Bar, the first Calvados bar in the country, boasting more than thirty types of this traditional French brandy. From cream to chocolate, thai basil to jalapenos, the range of cocktails presented by the students truly demonstrated the spirit’s fruit-driven versatility.

Professionals from the New York Chapter of the US Bartenders’ Guild competed alongside the students, vying for the chance to compete in the Calvados Cocktail finals this April in Normandy, France.

Craig Joseph strains his ginger-inspired Calvados cocktail.

Craig Joseph pours his winning Calvados cocktail.

Culinary Management student Craig Joseph took home the prize with “The Normandy”. We look forward to seeing Craig at the finals in France and congratulate all the competitors on their impressive bartending skills!

"The Normandy"

“The Normandy”

The Normandy

By Craig Joseph

  1. In a mixing glass, muddle:
    2 pieces of fresh peeled Ginger
    1 strip of fresh Orange Zest
    3.5 cl Sweetened Fresh Lemon Juice
    1.5 cl Cherry Bitters
    0.1 cl Cinnamon (powdered)
  2. Fill mixing glass with ice and add 6 cl Calvados.
  3. Shake until the tin is frosted.
  4. Double-strain into a chilled martini glass.
  5. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and peeled ginger slice.