By Kelly Newsome —Student, Culinary Arts, ‘17

I come from a long line of salt lovers. My mother loves telling the story of my grandfather, who during peak tomato season, would arrive at our house, grab a salt shaker and head out to the garden to stalk his prey. He would sit on a log and enjoy the sweet reward of summer: a juicy, ripe tomato, every bite sprinkled with a little salt. My father has shocked friends and guests by salting any melon that crossed his path, a skill acquired from his parents and grandparents while growing up in southern Virginia. To say that I come by my appreciation of salt honestly would be an understatement. We are and will always be a salt-loving family. As a culinary student, I was surprised to hear my instructor tell me, “Very good, but it needs a little more salt.” Is he talking to me, the queen of salt? Apparently, chefs love salt too, but that love is born from an understanding that salt can transform just about any food from alright to irresistible.

Kelly Newsome

“Teaching salt is incredibly difficult and it is the most important thing that you will get out of culinary school,” says my current instructor, Chef Charles Granquist, an ICE alum who has worked at Savoy, Blue Hill and Food Network. Chef Charles’ reliable instruction of, “needs a little more salt” spurred me to dig a bit deeper into teaching and learning about salt. Why is it so difficult? I wondered. According to Chef Charles, “For the first few modules, students straight don’t believe you. You just have to tell them over and over again: more salt.” Starting with disbelief does seem like a steep hill to climb. Even my historically salty palate was tested by his demand for more salt.

Chef Lorrie Reynoso, my instructor for Module One, uses a gradual approach to teach new culinary students about the transformative power of salt. Says Chef Lorrie, “To teach how beneficial salt is to cooking and flavor, I usually make students taste something unsalted, graduating to slightly salted, and at the end graduating to a full and satisfactory flavor level with more salt and whatever seasonings are required — usually pepper, herbs or spices.” We did this with salsa on our second day of class and many times thereafter with other dishes. Every single time, it was as if I was experiencing that innate salty power for the first time. “Wow,” I thought, “salt is magic.”

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Kelly’s salt collection

The great thing about being a student is that you have ample opportunities to screw up. And it’s from this freedom to fail that the learning really sinks in. When it comes to salt and developing your palate, taking your salt a bit too far may be the best mistake you can make. Chef Charles believes this is the salty tipping point. “At first, students may salt too much and that is a crucial moment. That is when they taste what it’s like to truly over season and they can start to back off.”

Salt is justly revered and cherished by cooks across the globe. Depending on the cuisine, it takes a variety of forms, from the ubiquitous soy sauce and fish sauce used in many Asian cultures to the salt-cured pork from Italy or the American South. Chef Lorrie points out that salt has been so important in history, that even the word “salary” is derived from salt. “During the Roman Empire, salt was not only used to pay salaries, but for rent, ransom, dowry and more. Even then, people knew that salt just added flavor to practically anything edible.” Salt was also crucial to food preservation, an essential technique used by humankind for thousands of years before refrigeration. Think about that the next time you enjoy a luscious piece of salty, savory, porky, aged prosciutto.

To my great surprise, my love and appreciation for salt continues to evolve and deepen every time I step in the kitchen for a new lesson. As soon as I hear, “Pull out the rib-eyes” I start thinking, “Let’s get those babies salted and on the fire.” There really is nothing like a perfectly cooked and seasoned piece of beef — it’s what dreams are made of. No matter what you’re cooking, be it bread, blanched vegetables, grilled fruit, hollandaise sauce or ice cream, it will always be better with just a little bit more salt.

Want to learn to salt, season and cook like a pro? Click here for more information on ICE’s 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 Lauren Jessen­—Culinary Arts/Culinary Management ‘16

As a student enrolled in a dual-diploma program at ICE, I juggled a schedule for both the Culinary Arts and Culinary Management programs. Three days a week, I had management classes from 8AM to 12PM and then quickly I’d have to change for my 1PM culinary arts class, which ran until 5PM. On the days I didn’t have management classes, I would spend my mornings working on reading and classwork for management, and then the remainder of my day honing my cooking skills in class.

lauren jessen culinary student institute of culinary education

Once my Culinary Arts program ended, I had one month left of my management classes. The catch? I had just two weeks until I had to start my externship in a fast-paced NYC restaurant. This meant I had to build my management class business plan—the culmination of the Culinary Management program—with a full work schedule. My externship schedule was anything but lax. I worked in the restaurant’s kitchen five days a week—being smart with my time was more important than ever. While I had reading, presentations to deliver and business plans to develop for my management class, I also wanted to do a great job at my externship.

When situations like this happen, time management is crucial. Here are four ways I managed my time between my management class and externship:

  1. Plan ahead. If you know you’re going to be busy in the near future, work extra hard ahead of time to accomplish as much as you can beforehand. This way, when you’re tired and busy during your externship, you’ll feel better knowing that a solid chunk of your work is already done.
  2. Use free hours wisely. Some days I would have a full morning of class and then run to work to start my shift at 1PM, leaving barely any free time in the day. On the days you don’t have class or if you work a morning shift and get out relatively early in the evening, make use of that time by working on your business plan or putting together your presentations for class. Set aside one or two hours during your non-work/class hours to get your important work done.
  3. Focus on one task at a time. At times, the workload of two programs may feel overwhelming. But working step-by-step and checking off small tasks systematically, rather than procrastinating and scrambling to get things done at the very end, will feel more manageable and the payoff is huge.
  4. Prioritize your health. Throughout my management class, my instructor would always tell us to take care of ourselves. Working in the restaurant industry can be physically tiring and the long hours aren’t conducive to good health. When balancing a schedule of working and going to school, rest when you can and don’t neglect down time. If you burn out or get sick you won’t be able to go to class, do your work, or excel at your job.

Ready to launch your culinary career? Click here to learn more about our career programs.


By Jessica McCain—Student, School of Culinary Arts

Before culinary school, when I thought of culinary arts and fine dining, my mind always wandered to the French—at the time, I saw the French as the sole proprietors of exquisite cuisine. From classic dishes such as coq au vin to other dishes with fancy names I could hardly pronounce (before coming to ICE, that is), I was sure that I wanted to focus my culinary studies on French cuisine. In fact, I wanted to master the art of French cooking.

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When classes began and we started cooking our way through different regions, I was exposed to numerous different styles and flavors of the world. Initially, I was still fixated on the French—the classic style and elegance associated with this cuisine was more than captivating. And with ideas of restaurant kitchens like Daniel in my head, I couldn’t shake the idea that French fare was the pinnacle of cuisines.

It was when our class curriculum moved on to the Asian region that my mind began to open to different styles of cooking. Before culinary school, I only knew of the more popular Asian dishes—like sushi rolls and pad Thai—but I never realized the complexity and variety of Asian cuisine. Getting to know the different spices, methods of cooking and the time required to prepare the bases to some of the dishes came as a total shock to me. I discovered new flavors and textures in Asian cuisine that I hadn’t been exposed to previously and found myself excelling at the new methods of preparation—to my surprise, preparing items like bao buns and sushi came naturally to me. When we began exploring the flavors of India and Thailand, I knew my idea of one “supreme” cuisine had changed.

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In addition to learning new cooking styles and ingredients, our classes introduced me to equipment I had never heard of before culinary school—one of my favorite aspects of my education here at ICE. For example, in one of our lessons we had the chance to make naan, a pita-like bread that is made with a special oven called a tandoor. A tandoor is traditionally a clay, wood or charcoal-burning oven—the kind used to cook tandoori chicken. We cooked our naan by pressing the dough firmly against the sides of the tandoor to infuse it with the spices, smoke and flavors of the chicken while simultaneously cooking the bread. This technique means safety gloves and great caution are a must. When done properly, this lengthy process produces an absolutely delicious product, and one that I never would have learned by focusing solely on French cuisine.

From toasting and grinding our own spices to making marinades and curries to rolling our own sushi rolls, Asian cuisine is so much more compelling and delicious than I ever thought. I look back to when I was one-cuisine-minded and I could not be happier with my decision to be here. I have a more complex view and ICE has broadened my culinary horizons beyond French cuisine. I can’t wait to enter the world of pastry in the next module!

Ready to broaden your culinary horizons? Click here to learn more about ICE’s innovative Culinary Arts program. 

 

By Jessica McCain—Student, School of Culinary Arts

Most of us spend our childhoods answering the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” The fact is, we all become adults some day and have to do something…but what we want to do and what we end up doing isn’t always the same thing.

All of your life experiences push you in a certain direction: they influence the choices you make, define who you are and what you choose as a career. But why just choose a career when you can choose your passion? It took me 25 years to figure out the difference between the two, and now here I am, a student at ICE.

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However conclusive and easy that sounds, it wasn’t an easy journey. I didn’t just wake up one day with everything falling into place. If we go back seven years ago, you find me at age 18—the youngest of four in a hardworking military family. I did what any normal kid would do: went to college, just like the rest of my siblings. The only difference? I hated it! I was so concerned about what I thought my parents wanted that I ended up a first-year nursing student with an overloaded nineteen-hour course schedule, as a new sorority pledge, an ROTC cadet and an intramural sports enthusiast.

If this overachieving, trying-to-please everyone else style of decision-making sounds like you, you’re not alone. By the time I was halfway through my degree, I knew something had to change. So I decided to change my major to psychology. So what if it added another year? I didn’t love it, but it was still a degree…right? I’d be 23 with a degree!

Wrong answer. Another year in, I had the same drowning feeling and still no degree.

College didn’t work out, so I started making other changes. I spent four years in reality television, worked endless miscellaneous jobs and even moved across the country to California. By then, I had finally had enough. Working for so long in fields that I hated (and that offered no room for professional growth) inspired me to finally give in to the one passion that had always stuck with me: cooking.

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ICE was all the way back in New York City, but I knew I had to give it a chance. Once I toured the school and met with the admissions team, I could just feel that I was finally in my lane. Still, the process was far from easy. Coordinating on a three-hour time difference, trying to wade through FAFSA paperwork and find an apartment within a short period of time was no joke! However, unlike some of the other culinary schools I had visited, at ICE I could tell I wasn’t just a number in a system. No, Mr. Jock Grundy, my admissions counselor, made sure I felt that I mattered, and he was always there to help with every step—from my first questions to my first day of school.

Fast forward three weeks later and I, Jessica McCain, was all moved into my new apartment in New York City. I suited up in my crisp white uniform with my name stitched on the chest and had my own set of knives gleaming back at me in my new classroom—kitchen six—with Chef Ted.

Culinary Arts | Jess McCain | Institute of Culinary Education| Sauces | Cauliflower | Roasting

Day one was so exciting, and unlike normal school, we dove right into the fundamentals of becoming a chef—and I felt my passion more intensely than ever. I was no longer waiting to meet my future. A month into the program, I don’t even feel like the same person. I’m no longer nervous to hold my knives­—they’re like an extension of myself, and I feel like I’m beginning to find myself at ICE.

My dad always told me, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” I say if you’re lucky enough to find your passion in life, pursue it and let it set your soul on fire.

Ready to start your culinary journey? Click here to receive free information about ICE programs.

 

While some ICE students have never set foot in a professional kitchen before coming to culinary school, others are looking to take their career to the next level. Take Culinary Arts student Peter Martinez, who had already held the title of executive chef at a small restaurant before enrolling at ICE.

Peter explains: “There are so many things that I thought I knew, but coming to ICE taught me the actual technique behind cooking. My skills increased tenfold.” What’s more, Peter was able to fund part of his education through scholarship opportunities at ICE, as the winner of the 2015 “Cookin’ With Allagash” competition.

As he takes his next steps in the industry, ICE’s Career Services department will be with Peter and his classmates every step of the way: “They helped me so much in terms of networking, meeting different chefs and how to approach positions the right way.”

Click here to learn how an ICE education takes your career to the next level.

 

By Christen Clinkscales—Student, School of Culinary Arts

As 2015 comes to a close, it’s incredible to look back over my last six months as an ICE culinary student. I’ve gotten my hands dirty with knife skills and butchery, learned the full range of hot and moist cooking methods, and even journeyed through the cuisines of France, Italy and Asia. It’s challenging to choose just a handful of my favorite moments from the program thus far, but below I’ve compiled my top five culinary school experiences of 2015:

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Learning to work in a professional kitchen environment:

Chef Mike Garrett has a unique approach to the third module of ICE’s program, which focuses on international cuisines. He chooses to make his classes work in a brigade system. In short, the brigade system is how traditional European kitchens are organized. Teams execute specific tasks for all the dishes on the menu, as opposed to a single chef cooking a dish from start to finish. Throughout Mod 3, our class rotated through three different stations: garde manger (salads, cold appetizers, etc.), entremetier (sauces, soups and stocks) and mains (meat fabrication and cooking, as well as the plating of all final dishes). It was interesting to see how we came together to create the dishes as a team and to experience the coordinated efforts of a professional kitchen.

Trying new foods:

This will probably sound like a crazy statement, but I’ve never been a big fan of Italian food. (I know, how dare I say something so controversial!) I’m not sure why, but I’ve never been interested in pasta—unless it was mac and cheese. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed our lessons on regional Italian cooking. I didn’t know that Italian cuisine varied so widely by region, and by the end of our section on Italy I was converted. It also taught me to be more open-minded when it comes to trying new things and to throw away prior notions of what specific types of foods should be. For example, Italian food isn’t all pasta and tomato sauce. One of my favorite dishes we made was polenta con sugo di porri: a beautiful Italian meat sauce served over polenta.

italian cuisine institute of culinary education

Getting a chance to flex my creative muscle:

At this point in the program, we’re still primarily following recipes to learn techniques—so I was thrilled to learn that we would get to improvise and create our own rolls during our sushi lesson. Sushi is one of my favorite foods, and I’ve wanted to take a sushi class for a long time. I had so much fun experimenting with different ingredients, and getting to chow down on all the awesome sushi at the end of class wasn’t so bad either.

Discovering new techniques:

Our lessons on international cuisine were fairly eye-opening, but there was one technique in particular that I was very excited to learn. During our studies of Asian cuisines, we learned how to cook with a wok. I had seen this style of cooking in Asian restaurants but never understood how versatile it could be. You can use the wok to saute, fry, stew and braise—all of which we did during our lessons on Asia! It was interesting to see how this simple tool could be used in so many different ways: from soups to fried egg rolls, the wok really can do it all. Family and friends—if you’re reading, a wok is definitely at the top of my Christmas list!

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Putting my new skills to the test:

Though I frequently cook for myself outside of class, I hadn’t tested my skills on other people until I went home to South Carolina for my mom’s birthday in November. That weekend, I not only prepared a few dishes for our weekly tailgate (shout-out to Chef James, who gave me an awesome porchetta recipe!), but I also cooked a fancy birthday dinner for six guests. After a quick lesson in regional grocery shopping—the butchers back home didn’t offer chicken supremes, a bone-in cut we learned to fabricate in class—I was able to whip up boneless breasts with a Riesling reduction. It was the first time I’ve attempted this kind of plated dish for multiple people, so I was thrilled to see that everyone enjoyed the meal. My secret to success? Mise en place and a detailed timeline for prep. These experiences helped solidify my confidence in my ability to take what I’ve learned in class and put it into practice on my own.

2015 has been a whirlwind of new experiences in culinary school. I know 2016 will bring even more adventures, including intensive lessons on pastry techniques and charcuterie, an externship where I can put my skills to the test and a clearer idea of where I belong in the culinary world. Overall, I’m so happy with my decision to pursue my passion for cooking, and I look forward to putting my education into practice in the new year!

Click here to pursue your own culinary adventures in 2016.


By Christen Clinkscales—Student, School of Culinary Arts

Like the old phrase, the second module of the Culinary Arts program at ICE is literally a lesson on taking—or rather, managing—heat in the kitchen. For me, that meant facing my fears—of fire and overcooking proteins—and learning a lot more about cooking, and myself, in the process.Grilling Flames PepperAfter successfully completing “mod 1,” as students call the first section of our program, I felt that my basic skills were in a good place. I was quicker with my knife skills, beginning to understand fabrication and loving all that I was learning in class. Mod 2 was a different story—with a new chef instructor and numerous hurdles to conquer.

This mod is where we learn to actually cook, and boy, did we ever. From sautéing to deep frying, braising to poaching, Chef Sam Kadko taught it all. For future students who are wondering how to survive unscathed and make the most of this mod—I have a few pieces of advice:

Don’t be afraid. Yes, there is fire and sometimes there are flare-ups. And when you’re cooking on the high-powered ranges, there’s a good chance you may get burned. But that’s all part of working in a professional kitchen, so the sooner you get over your fears, the more successful you’ll be. It took a few days of feeling nervous around popping oil and unexpected flare-ups—and some teasing from my classmates—for me to feel comfortable at the stove. However, once I was able to get over that initial fear (and realized that everything in professional kitchens is designed to be much less flammable than home kitchens), I found myself able to use the heat to my advantage and finish dishes more successfully.Grilling Flames HamburgerPrepare for class before class. When you’re dealing with fire, boiling water and other time-sensitive elements, preparation leads to success. In short: do your homework. Reading the lessons and writing out the recipes before class cemented the information in my mind before we began cooking. Taking notes was essential, as Chef Sam supplied many facts, tricks and shortcuts that weren’t in our readings.

Volunteer. For those, like me, who don’t have previous experience in a professional kitchen, volunteering is a great way to meet others in the industry. I signed up for as many volunteer events as I could fit into my busy schedule. I was lucky enough to work alongside two former contestants from Top Chef at the Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine and Food Festival. Some of my other classmates have received job offers through these volunteer events! Start checking the ICE volunteer boards and sign up. It’s not just work—it’s fun!Jade Island Professional KitchenStart researching externships now. Even though you don’t have to start trailing for externships until mod 3 or 4, it’s important to start researching the job opportunities that interest you early on in your education. Want to work in restaurant kitchens? Think about the size of the operation and what style of food most appeals to you. Are you interested in intricate plating techniques, or do you prefer a more casual approach? Long term, are you more interested in positions outside of restaurant kitchens? During mod 2, your ICE Career Services counselor will meet with you to discuss your options, and already having some ideas helps them tailor their recommendations to your career goals.

Have fun! This module has so many amazing techniques and delicious recipes. The first time you successfully execute a recipe, you will feel like you conquered the world! And of course, it is awesome to taste all the fruits of your labor.

Ready to start your culinary career? Click here to receive free information about ICE’s Culinary Arts program.


By Christen Clinkscales—Student, School of Culinary Arts

The first time I walked into an ICE kitchen, I could not wait to start cooking! I quickly found out how much there was to learn before I’d be allowed to craft a complete dish. Initially, I was disappointed that we weren’t going to jump right in and prepare elaborate feasts. That’s what I signed up for, right? As it turns out, consistently producing an amazing plate is harder than it looks. From knife skills to sauces to butchery, it’s amazing how many “basic” skills I learned in just the first two months of school.

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The ICE Culinary Arts program is divided into five modules, and “Mod 1” is all about these basics. During this intensive dive into the foundations of professional cooking, my classmates and I learned about the evolution of cooking throughout history, the importance of sanitation, basic knife skills, herb identification, culinary math, stock making, fabrication (also known as butchery) and more.

I can honestly say that through all of my years of school and working, those two months were the biggest learning curve I have ever experienced. I breezed through culinary math and herb identification, but I got tripped up by knife skills. Chef James made dicing potatoes look so easy that I immediately thought, “I’ve got this.” In truth, my ego should have been checked at the door. Try as I might, I could not get those pesky potatoes diced into perfect cubes. After much practice in class and at home, I figured out how to “surrender to the potato.” With a little kitchen meditation, I was—finally—able to dice those spuds into cube-like pieces. I’m still not perfect at it, but I am getting better.

Speaking of knife skills, I was a little intimidated by fabrication. You see, there’s this cool place called a grocery store, and in that store they have these packages with perfect cuts of meat already portioned out. In short, I’d never broken down anything, let alone a whole fish or a leg of lamb. While pre-cut meat is just fine for a home cook, it doesn’t fly in the professional kitchen.

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In class, we fabricated many proteins, but the most challenging for me by far was the lobster. It wasn’t the hardest protein to fabricate, but it was the most daunting. It was still alive, and I was terrified! I spent the better part of ten minutes apologizing to it for what I was about to do. (Cue some serious flashbacks to my high school biology class.) Ultimately, I swallowed my fears and cut right between the eyes. RIP. After that, I knew I could break down any other type of protein thrown at me—as long as it was already dead.

Of all the skills I learned in Mod 1, my favorite was sauce making. Before enrolling at ICE, if you had asked me about sauce, I would have pointed you to the jars of tomato purée at the grocery store. I did not understand the level of complexity and preparation that goes into making sauces for fine dining. Just like knife skills, classic French sauces are among the building blocks for many of the dishes that we will make during the rest of the Culinary Arts program.

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Creating a mouthwatering red wine pan sauce or turning a creamy béchamel into Mornay sauce were just two of the many techniques we mastered. I was so excited to bring these concoctions home after class and experiment in my own kitchen. (My friends were blown away by the cauliflower gratin I made using my leftover Mornay sauce!) It has been so much fun to utilize these new skills at home, and I can already tell how much I have grown as a cook since starting the program.

Click here to learn more about the Culinary Arts program at ICE.


By Lizzie Powell—Student, School of Culinary Arts 

3c33c63Hi! My name is Lizzie Powell. I’m a public relations professional turned ICE Culinary Arts and Culinary Management student from Atlanta, Georgia. As I make this major shift in my career path, many people have asked why I chose to “take the leap” and go to culinary school. The answer is simple: for me, going to culinary school seems like the best way to gain both valuable skills and feel more confident in my decision to change professional direction. While I’m not sure if my future will lie in catering, a restaurant or food media, I know one thing will stay constant throughout my time at ICE: my passion for food and a desire to learn new things. Over the next seven months or so, I’ll be diving into various cooking methods, international cuisines and even baking techniques. So join me as I share my experiences with you on ICE’s blog.

On my first day of the Culinary Arts program, my mind was racing: What would my instructor be like? Would my classmates be more experienced than me? How would I memorize all of the culinary terminology? And, worst of all: would I cut myself?

Lo and behold, I’m two weeks into class and all these worries have faded into the background. Aside from feeling like I’m on Chopped every time I present my julienned carrots, paysanne potatoes or small diced tomatoes to Chef Ted for review, I’ve learned that culinary training isn’t nearly as intimidating as I expected. In each lesson, before I ever pick up a knife, the ICE instructors give detailed demonstrations and explain each technique carefully. As a result, in a matter of weeks, I’ve learned core knife skills, important details of food sanitation and how to fabricate fish and seafood, as well as how to properly caramelize onions and purée potatoes. The most surprising thing about everything I’ve learned to-date is how precise you have to be with your knife skills. The average person may not notice if her potatoes are cut into perfect half-inch cubes, but in the culinary world, this precision is taken very seriously. After cutting many “trapezoidal” potatoes, as Chef Ted says, I discovered that the slightest adjustment to the angle of my knife could make a world of difference.

Life as a Culinary Student - Lizzie Powell - Knife Skills

Outside of class, I’ve also made sure to do my homework—and I’m not just talking about the reading or writing assignments given to us by Chef Ted. Whether you’re thinking about going to culinary school, are a current student or are already working in the industry, here are a few lessons I’ve learned so far on how to stay up-to-date on what’s going on in the food world.

  • Read, read, read. The food industry is constantly changing, and the easiest way to keep up with trends is to read industry news. To do this, subscribe to local and national food news publications (like Eater and Tasting Table), read the New York Times Dining and Wine section and follow leading food magazines (like Edible and Bon Appétit) on social media. I’ve personally found that reading these publications has helped me learn about key industry professionals, food trends and restaurant news—all of which are important when you have a stake in the industry’s game.
  • Volunteer as much as possible. Volunteer events are a great way to network and gain exposure to culinary leaders from across the country. If you’re an ICE student, the weekly newsletter is always chock-full of upcoming opportunities to get involved! I recently had the chance to volunteer at the StarChefs International Chefs Congress, a trade show for culinary professionals and vendors, and the connections I made there were incredible. Not only was I able to assist food vendors with prep work and their products, but I was able to meet such reputable chefs as Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth of Root and Bone. Plus, I got to listen to lectures from industry leaders, like Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. For me, this conference was the first experience I’ve had where I was thrown into the thick of the culinary networking world. While it was intimidating at times (like when I was standing right next to Marcus Samuelsson), it was great to be surrounded by such successful chefs and to be so submerged in the culinary culture.
Life as a Culinary Student - Volunteer - Lizzie Powell - Star Chefs

Working at Star Chefs with a fellow student.

  • Attend demonstrations and lectures. I also had the opportunity to attend a free presentation and tasting with Urbani Truffles, one of the world’s most respected truffle producers, at ICE. Not only are these events open to students, but alumni can attend for free as well. Click here for the upcoming schedule!

Throughout the next few months, I’ll share more interesting facts, challenging techniques and helpful tips I’ve picked up in class, as well as personal stories about day-to-day life as a Culinary Arts and Culinary Management student. If you have any specific questions about my experience, feel free to ask in the comments below!

When it comes to the benefits of an ICE education, no one can tell you more than our students. Click here to read more of their stories!