Whew. ServSafe is now under my belt. My Culinary Management class took the exam early this month and we just got our scores back a few days ago. I’m happy to report that I passed. The refresher course has actually come at an ideal time as I just started a new job at Smith Canteen. My first few days involved trying to figure out how to arrange storage so that we were in compliance with health codes.

In the past weeks, Steve taught us about the restaurant experience for guests and opportunities for us to be great. He included ideas like having the chef visit all of the tables in the restaurant. He said that many people find being able to chat with the chef and be able to convey all of their ideas and concerns directly to the person in charge of the food is a great touch. However, he warned that the chef shouldn’t stand and hover creepily over diners without saying anything, because that becomes a negative experience. Last year, at Le Bernardin, I saw Eric Ripert glide out of the kitchen and come and visit one of the tables. Even though he didn’t visit my table, I remember how the entire dining room atmosphere changed and how thrilled I was to see that he was in the kitchen. More…

On Wednesday, ICE Culinary Management students went on a field trip to the Fulton Fish Market at Hunts Point in the Bronx — an incredible inside look at the market. The market was founded on South Street in Manhattan in 1822, but moved to the new 400,000-square-foot facility in the Bronx in 2005. The building houses the largest consortium of seafood wholesalers in the country and handles about one-third of the New York’s total seafood demand. It is second in size worldwide only to Tokyo’s Tsukiji wholesale seafood market. The New Fulton Fish Market handles millions of pounds of seafood daily, flown in from locations all over the world. Everyday top restaurateurs, chefs and fishmongers come to the market to buy fish and seafood.

The market’s size can be intimidating, but ICE students were able to talk with vendors and get behind the scenes look at how seafood is bought and sold. For ICE’s Culinary Management students, a trip to the market was a unique chance to learn about buying wholesale. The group met at ICE at 4:30 in the morning and took a bus to reach the market by 5:00 am, by which time many of the vendors had already made their biggest sales of the day. Though it was early for the ICE students, it was late for the wholesalers. The market is open from 1:00 am to 7:00 am. They walked through the market talking to the wholesalers, asking them about where they got their fish and how they sell it. Anyone is able to shop there and several of the students even purchased some seafood to take home. More…