By Renee Farrell
ICC Student, Professional Culinary Arts
International Culinary Center has a long list of famous alumni, the most impressive of whom have photos and imprints of their hands mounted ceremoniously on the walls in the school’s hallways. This huge network of game changers, thought leaders, rule breakers and style makers have helped shape the culinary intelligence of America as we know it today. Two exceptional renegades come to mind:
Game Changer & Thought Leader – Dan Barber (ICC, 1994), Restauranteur & Author
An important development in the US over the last thirty years has been the championing of healthy food production methods and increased education about health and nutrition. You can see the East Coast movement flourishing at the bustling Union Square farmers markets on any given Saturday morning. One of the biggest and most effective champions of this movement is restaurateur Dan Barber of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, located in the non-profit farm Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. Not only does Barber practice what he preaches by offering fresh, seasonal, produce-driven menus at his restaurants, he also authors books on the topic, and more recently was appointed by President Barrack Obama to serve as a food expert on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. In 2009, Barber was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. I wonder if he ever daydreamed about these accolades while turning cocottes at ICC back in the day.
Rule Breaker & Style Maker – David Chang (ICC, 2001), Restauranteur & Entrepreneur
Who says you can’t put fried chicken on a noodle bar menu? When David Chang opened Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City’s east village he broke every rule. It was fine dining but it was ramen, it was in the grungy rock’n’roll east village but it was sleek and modern, and it was tiny but could pack a crowd. Every rule once written now erased. And there were lines around the corner to prove it. Chang’s restaurant success lead to more posts of the beloved Momofuku franchise, as well as Lucky Peach magazine.
From their humble beginnings as students at ICC, alumni are changing the face of America’s culinary intelligence by expanding conventional wisdom and championing a better understanding. This leaves me to ponder the impression I’ll make once I graduate. I plan to take the culinary intelligence that I’ve gained, continue to expand on it and meaningfully communicate all things “food” in any medium possible.
To my fellow students, what will you do with your diploma?