By Liz Castner
My first thought on day one of the Culinary Management program was, “Oh boy.” As in—oh boy, eleven textbooks is kind of a lot. Oh boy, this is a room of people I’ve never seen before. Oh boy, this is the thickest information packet of all time. Oh boy, I have a lot to learn.
By contrast, my thoughts on the first day of my Pastry & Baking Arts class were something along the lines of: “Yay! Finally!” But today, a month into management, I’ve learned to accepted this contrast between my passion-driven approach to pastry and my practicality-driven attitude towards management. In fact, I’d be quite surprised if at the age of 24 I suddenly discovered an unrealized fire raging in my heart for economics or finance.
From day one of “CMD“—as we ICE students call Culinary Management—we dove straight into our work. We split the class in terms of the type of restaurant concept each student wanted to pursue, with myself and two other women interested in launching bakery/pastry shop working in a group. Over the course of the next few classes, we examined different aspects of our chosen restaurant concept and learned how just one misstep, like a poorly chosen location or the ability to only operate at certain times of day, can lead to going out of business. We also went on two field trips to two very different businesses. For each location, we were asked to think about what type of restaurant concept we thought would best work in the space, based on the information we had learned.
Another highlight of the CMD program is access to a team of several different instructors, as well as guest speakers. Hearing multiple points of view from experienced professionals—not to mention those of my classmates—has made for an intense learning experience. I have definitely gained a newfound appreciation for what it takes to succeed in the food industry.
As my awareness has grown, my initial business concept has evolved in several ways. It has grown from a simple bakery and cake shop to a sleek, Northern Californian dessert bar with dishes designed to pair with specific wines and beers. As a self-declared wine lover, I would ideally partner was a vineyard and create seasonal desserts to pair with their wines. I would like to feature select beers to match with the desserts as well. Expanding on the idea, I would like to provide customers with a take-home experience, allowing them to order a cake, paired with a bottle of wine, to pick up at their convenience.
Other exciting thoughts I’m currently toying with include: tasting flights, dessert pairing and baking classes, and catering or hosting special events. I also like the idea of creating wedding cakes designed to pair with the bride and groom’s signature drink, whether it be a glass of champagne, a cocktail, or a wine from our potential vineyard partner.
As you can see, the hesitation I felt the first day of Culinary Management class has now been replaced by excitement. I feel very passionate about this restaurant concept and am determined to educate myself as thoroughly as possible in order to make it a reality. My concept presentation is in two weeks—stay tuned to hear how it goes!