Hurricane Irene may have been a bust for me, but its impact on the food industry wasn’t. For me, Friday was spent trying to prepare for the worst — from talking with others to try to figure out whether to close and what time to close, to figuring out what will happen on Monday if the power goes down over the weekend. We closely tuned into the news and weather reports to figure out when the storm was going to hit and employees were asked about how the closing of the MTA would affect their ability to get to work. I stayed later than usual at Smith Canteen on Friday in order to prepare for a shorter day on Saturday and got in earlier the next morning. I was in and out in just a few short hours and worried for the next two days about what would happen if the freezer broke. When I polled my other food friends, I learned that some volunteered to stay overnight in hotels in order to make sure the hotel guests were able to order room service during the storm. Many worried about how they would be able to get to work in time for their early morning shift if the subways were still down. I heard stories about how despite the early morning chaos and the great sales in the beginning of the day on Saturday did not make up for the loss in sales for Saturday night dinner and Sunday brunch. The truth is, even though everyone has to eat, the food industry is very much impacted by what goes on outside.

Before the madness of the storm, we met with Chef Ted to get a chef’s perspective on food costs in early August. He broke down beef and fish in order to give us a visual perspective of what types of portions come out of them and we used those portions to calculate food cost. It was fascinating watching him break down parts of beef to get a sense of what comes out of each section, but even more so to see how much gets trimmed away and how to use those trimmings so they’re not a loss. Finally, I understood why a steak is so expensive. More…

Three years ago, I crammed for the New York Food Handler’s Certificate. The potential illnesses in particular left a lasting impression on me — how was I ever going to eat again? For months, I only ate home-cooked meals — overcooked, dry chicken, salads so over-washed that they were broken and wilted and many, many bowls of cereal.

It took a long time to start eating out again. Even 3 years later, I stare down the cashier to see if he handles my food with the same dirty hands he uses to take my cash, I go through a box of disposable gloves over two days and tie my hair in a bun so tight that I have a headache when I let it loose. I try not to think about all of the diseases I can get from my food. Yes, I will always send back a pink chicken, but I still love my eggs sunny side up. If I think about it too much, I can’t finish my meals.

For the past few weeks, I have been reintroduced to the world of unsanitary conditions and foodborne illnesses via preparing for the ServSafe exam. Yesterday, my alarm went off in the middle of a nightmare. I had been dreaming about catching mice when I heard something tapping. When I looked over, I saw a pink lobster jumping across the floor. Then my alarm went off and I was scared awake. It was only an hour later, when we started covering rodent infestation in class, that I realized I had a dream about a mice infestation and an unsafe runaway lobster. Although we’ve finished reviewing all of the chapters and ServSafe videos, I expect that for the next few weeks I will continue to have dreams about jumping pink lobsters. More…

ICE’s Culinary Management program hosts a one-of-a-kind series of lectures called Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs, during which a wide range of successful culinary business leaders and luminaries share their expertise with students and guests. On May 19, Union Square Hospitality Group’s President of the Core Restaurant Division Paul Bolles-Beaven met with a packed room of students eager to hear about the growth and success of Danny Meyer’s restaurant empire.

For over two decades, Bolles-Beaven has worked for Union Square Hospitality Group, whose acclaimed restaurants include Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Shake Shack, Blue Smoke and Maialino, as well as recent James Beard Award–Winners Eleven Madison Park and The Modern. He was a founding employee of Union Square Cafe in 1985. He started as a waiter, and ultimately rose through the ranks of the organization to bartender, Bar Manager, Wine Director, Service Director, Manager, General Manager, and Managing Partner. In 2003, when the company created a corporate office to oversee operations of their expanding businesses, Paul was promoted to Chief People Officer. In this capacity, he was responsible for recruiting, training, and motivating one of the nation’s most acclaimed hospitality teams. More…