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8 Tips To Improve Your Social Media Presence

Written by: Marty Schecht, ’16 Graduate of the Professional Culinary Arts Program, CEO of Restaurant Growth Marketing

A key factor in determining a restaurants success in today’s world is social media marketing. If you’re a restaurant, bakery, or any other food business, these digital platforms have evolved into an extension of your daily operations that can help you to succeed.  Social media is a powerful tool that changes every day.

Here are eight tips to improve your social media strategy to reach more customers, grow your following, and improve your brand:

  1. Post 4 – 6 Times a Week
    • Each post you make is only seen by about 5% of your followers, so don’t worry about posting too much content.
  2. Engage with your Followers/Customers
    • Interacting with customers makes them feel heard, wanted, and important. Respond to reviews, comments, and messages, both good and bad.
  3. Post More Videos
    • Videos have a much higher attention rate than pictures.
  4. Re-Post Pictures that your Customers Post about your Business
    • Pick and choose the best pictures your customers have posted on Instagram by searching your businesses geotag (location) and reposting them on your page. Make sure to give the customer credit and thank them for coming in.
  5. Use Local Hashtags (if you’re a local business)
    • Using local hashtags will generate local awareness.
  6. Always Post your Specials/New Menu Items
    • Any new deals, specials, menu items, or products should be posted. Let customers know about specials and that it’s for a limited time.
  7. Follow your Competitors
    • Interacting with your competitors is good for business. Friendly competition is interesting and gets people involved and talking about your business.
  8. See your Post from the Eyes of your Customers
    • Before each post, ask yourself, do my followers care about this, is it interesting or unique. How rare is it? Will my followers want to share it?

Bonus Tips:

  • Partner with Food Bloggers
    • Locate food bloggers and influencers and interact with them. Build relationships. Invite them in for a free meal.
  • Ask Your Followers to Share
    • The biggest mistakes businesses make is not asking their followers to share their content. Sometimes a little instruction is all a follower needs.

We sat down with Marty to learn about his background, business, and the world of restaurants. Below, find our interview with him and learn more about his company!

 

How did I get involved in the culinary industry?

Taking the Professional Culinary Arts Program at ICC represented a crucial measure of my life’s path to becoming an entrepreneur.  Fueling my motivation, it drove me to a level of confidence that is required when starting your own business.

I learned numerous tangible skills but the greatest attributes I took away from my time at ICC were time management and organization.  Skills I use every day, whether I’m in a kitchen, taking notes during a client meeting, or just planning my day-to-day schedule. I am grateful for my time at ICC.

 

Why is Social Media and Digital Marketing so important to me?

Before heading off to culinary school, I studied entrepreneurial marketing at the University of Iowa.  Opening a restaurant was always my goal, even when I was studying business in college.  The restaurant industry fascinated me, and I wanted to be a part of it.  Although, I never ended up opening my own restaurant, I discovered a unique opportunity to help restaurants and other food businesses thrive using strategic social media marketing and advertising.

Therefore, after attending ICC, I invested a significant amount of time and money to understand what was happening in the constantly evolving world of online marketing. I came to understand the power behind social media and what it can do for a business—if used strategically.  I found a way to combine my passion of restaurants and the food industry, with my education and knowledge of social media.

 

How have I used my education to help others?

I started a company called Restaurant Growth Marketing as a way to help businesses reach their true potential.  As founder and CEO, my focus is to help restaurants, and other food industry related businesses, efficiently utilize the world of online marketing to grow their business in ways they never thought were possible.

My motivation derived from a few mentors I found who taught me about mind-set and how to best educate myself.  They taught me about the world of online marketing and how 95% of businesses needed help.  So, I decided to invest in my own education and apply that knowledge to assist business owners in the food & restaurant industry.

 

How do I manage my business and what services do I offer?

My daily efforts are currently focused on the Miami metropolitan area, but I have clients on both the east and west coast and can help any restaurant/food business anywhere in the United States.  Each day I aim to get face-to-face with more business owners to express the power of the internet and social media, when it’s used the correct way, and show them how I increase sales 10-20% for my clients, often in the first year.

The first step in the process after we take on a client is to dive deep into the minds of the target market to figure out the consumers’ interests, behaviors, and buying habits so we can cost-effectively reach and communicate with them.  Our goal at RGM is not to just reach lots of people or manage your social media, but rather to bring new and repeat customers – to increase revenue.

 

Where do restaurant owners go wrong and how do I help them avoid common pitfalls?

Most restaurant owners are not used to developing such a strategic marketing action plan focused on results.  One of the biggest mistakes’ restaurant owners make is not having and implementing a strategic-executable marketing plan.

What we do at Restaurant Growth Marketing is help businesses create and implement their marketing plan, through result-driven, proven marketing strategies. We focus on results and getting our clients an ROI that makes sense and makes them excited to work with us.  My objective with Restaurant Growth Marketing is to provide restaurants with a customized service focused on growing their brand and increasing customer base.  We’re excited to have such a great opportunity to provide business owners with more stability, strategy, revenue and most importantly, time to work on their business – instead of in it.

 

For more information about Restaurant Growth Marketing:

Please visit our website: https://restaurantgrowth.marketing

Check us out on Facebook: @restaurantGM or https://www.facebook.com/restaurantGM/

Follow us on Instagram: @restaurantgrowthmarketing https://www.instagram.com/restaurantgrowthmarketing/

Deconstructed carrot cake

Elements of Developing an Original Dessert

When ICC re-launched the Professional Pastry Arts program in 2014, the curriculum was updated to better serve today’s pastry chef, educating our students to understand the science and technique behind a wide range of pastry skills to unlock their creativity—to think beyond a single recipe.

It was during this time that Restaurant Day was born, providing students with the opportunity to demonstrate everything they’ve learned in the 600-hour program to their friends and family in a fun and unique dessert tasting. Every Restaurant Day menu is different, designed, created and produced by the students with a unifying theme to best represent their experiences in the program. Throughout the years, over 250 original desserts have been created—including a Matcha Cake Trifle, Carrot Beignets, Coquito Cheesecake and Sweet Corn Fraisier—showcasing the creativity of the next generation of pastry professionals completing ICC’s program.

Restaurant Day 50

Semifredo from a studentEvery Restaurant Day features a different menu curated with never before seen desserts. For the 50th running of the Restaurant Day program this September, the ICC students, staff, deans, alumni and invited guests came together to celebrate the momentous occasion. This restaurant day was even more special than usual—it commemorated the dessert creations of all the previous classes, while showcasing our current pastry student’s hard work. From black sesame mille crêpes and port-poached fig tarts, to this lemon-raspberry semifreddo (pictured here) and everything in between, our guests left with their sweet tooth satisfied. Plus, students were excited to see special guest, ICC Dean of Pastry Arts, Chef Jacques Torres, at Restaurant Day to evaluate their desserts!

See our full gallery of photos from Restaurant Day 50, including all 8 original desserts created by our students, on our Facebook page here!

The Elements

The RD 50 classWhen you stop and think about all of the elements that go into creating a dessert, it can be daunting to figure out how the pros do it. Through our Professional Pastry Arts program, students work endlessly for 115 days to learn and develop all of the skills that they need to create their own original desserts. We sat down with our Director of Pastry Operations, Chef Jansen Chan, who is the mastermind behind Restaurant Day 50 and many other pastry projects at ICC to discuss the essential elements that are required to create a dessert. Check out these tips below to help you come up with your own sweet creations at home!

  • Textures are essential to dessert composition. It provides contrast and complexity, pleasing the palette. From a graham cracker crunch, to a fluffy mousse, variety in texture is everything.
  • Flavors that go together can create perfect harmony on a plate; however, flavors that do not make sense together can completely throw off the balance of a dessert. Example: acidic fruit, such as oranges, pair well with bitter, dark chocolate to highlight one another’s flavor. Combining delicate flavors, such as jasmine tea and elderflower, confuse the palette.
  • Temperature control is a lot harder than it sounds. Having hot and ice-cold elements are delightful to eat together, but managing the placement and service of such items takes good planning and execution.
  • Contrast brings together many different elements like texture, flavor, and temperature. Have you ever eaten molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream? Simple and divine, the warm, moist chocolate center is amazing against each cold, refreshing bite of ice cream. Pastry chefs strive to create these interesting contrasts daily.
  • Complexity and cohesiveness sound like different principles, but they actually effect one another, so they need to be carefully considered. If a dessert is well-conceived and exhibits the right amount of complexity, it will feel cohesive. It is important for desserts to have a certain amount of depth, while still looking like one idea on a plate.
  • Knife skills are often attributed to cooking, but they are also important for baking. How do you think a petit four has a perfect edge to it or an orange sûpreme is achieved with precision? It is because the pastry chef has achieved extraordinary knife skills.
  • Baking skills are second nature to pastry chefs, but these skills must first be taught. From day 1 of the Professional Pastry Arts program, students are first taught the essentials of baking, both theory and practical skills, in order to build any type of plated desserts.
  • Plate design and composition is the synthesis of all the elements on the plate. No matter the diversity of ingredients, the finished dessert needs to be appealing to the eye and manageable to consume. Understanding basic design principles, such as spacial organization and color use, takes practice and creativity.A student plating
  • Recipe writing and the science behind a recipe is no joke! Most people don’t realize that there are structural elements to a good recipe and steps for recipe development, but in ICC’s immersive Pastry Arts program, students learn to write and even create their very own recipes.
  • Time management is the final piece to the dessert creation puzzle. Whether it’s managing their mise en place over several days or placing the last garnish on a plate, students always need to know how to manage their time in order to perfectly execute their plate.
A dish from Suyo Gastrofusion

ICC In The News: Highlights from September 2018

ICC In The News provides monthly highlights from articles published around the world that feature alumni, deans, faculty and more within the ICC community. Stories of our 15,000+ alumni network and their successes are continuously popping up across various prestigious publications. Below, we have brought together some of our favorites from September 2018, aimed to keep you connected with our community and inspire readers to #LoveWhatYouDo in the kitchen and beyond.

Tim Ma, a 2009 alumni of our Professional Culinary Arts program,  is now the Chief Culinary Officer of Box’d Eats, a school-lunch delivery service. Described as a Blue Apron meets Lunchables, read all about it here.

Yale University’s School of Public Health is set to host its first conference on olive oil next month. Tassos Kyriakides, the department chair at Yale’s School of Public Health, came up with the idea for the conference after completing the Olive Oil Sommelier Certification Program at ICC. Read about the conference here.

A dish from Suyo Gastrofusion
NEW YORK TIMES

ELEVATED YAKITORI, DIRECT FROM JAPAN, IN THE WEST VILLAGE

Chef Andy Sen Sang, a native of Ecuador who moved to the Bronx and graduated in 2015, owns Suyo Gastrofusion. His restaurant blends Asian and Latin influences in dishes like steamed pork belly buns, and charred octopus with chorizo quinoa. Check out his feature in the New York Times here.

Little Havana in Washington, D.C. is in the talented hands of Chef Joseph Osorio. He is a graduate, and trained his whole life by cooking in the kitchen with his Cuban immigrant godmother, preparing him to serve Cubano sandwiches and egg rolls, Cuban chicken stews and whole fried fish. Check it out if you’re in D.C.!

The Olive Oil Sommelier Certification Program jointly produced by the Olive Oil Times Education Lab and ICC will be offered in central London this January. It is the first time the course, which has trained hundreds of industry professionals, chefs and enthusiasts in olive oil quality assessment since it began in 2016, will venture beyond its annual New York and California sessions. Click here to learn more.

ICC in the News Article
NEW YORK TIMES

A FINE- DINING VETERAN TURNS TO STREET FOOD

Food & Wine Article on Instagram for Restaurants
FOOD AND WINE
FIVE NEW WAYS RESTAURANTS ARE USING INSTAGRAM TO DRIVE BUSINESS

How can restaurants and food businesses use Instagram to drive business? Check out these 5 tips we learned with Food & Wine in our event with Instagram for Business last month, and see why it’s more important than ever for aspiring culinary entrepreneurs!

Chef Nick Nikolopoulos graduated from our Professional Pastry Arts program and now owns Stirling, NJ bakery Gluten Free Gloriously. He says he is now creating gluten-free baked goods that taste like the real thing. Don’t miss his bakery, read more here!

A group of olive oil professionals and enthusiasts gathered in Campbell, California in early September to attend the Olive Oil Sommelier Certification Program. The six-day course produced by the Olive Oil Times Education Lab and ICC provided in-depth instruction in olive oil production, quality management, advanced sensory assessment and culinary applications. Click here to learn more about the program.

With conversations buzzing about the resurgence of the Jewish Deli, some are surprised to learn that they’re having a moment in places you’d least expect. Take ICC grad Jerrod Rosen’s deli, Rye Society, which debuted in July in Denver’s River North Art District. Read more here about his desire to open a place with soul that would incorporate his family traditions in this Washington Post article.

NEW YORK TIMES

RANCH NATION

cheese souffle
FOOD AND WINE
THE 40 BEST-EVER RECIPES FROM FOOD & WINE

For Food and Wine’s 40th birthday, they looked back at their favorite recipes ever—including two from our deans! In the inaugural issue of Food & Wine, legendary chef Jacques Pépin shared his recipe for the perfect soufflé. Then, in 1979, Paula Wolfert penned an article about great Alsatian chefs cooking their mothers’ food. Included was André Soltner, then the chef at the legendary Lutèce, and he opted to recreate his mother’s outstanding potato pie. Get the recipes here.

Jhonel Faelnar
WINE & SPIRITS

BEST NEW SOMMELIERS 2018

Jhonel Faelnar, Wine Director at Atomix in NYC and graduate of our Intensive Sommelier Training program, is one of Wine and Spirits magazine’s Best New Sommeliers of 2018. Read about our graduate and his prestigious recognition here.

Chef Jacques Torres Sugar

3 Tips For Working With Sugar from Jacques Torres

Chef Jacques Torres and his Sugar ShowpieceDean of Pastry Arts, Chef Jacques Torres stopped by ICC’s New York campus this month to show our students how to work with sugar. Working with sugar is no simple task—it takes years of practice, skill and patience. Watching Chef Torres work with sugar is like watching Picasso paint; it is awe-inspiring, and he makes manipulating and shaping the difficult medium look easy.

For this demo, “Mr. Chocolate” decided to work with something a little different than chocolate—sugar! He created a showpiece featuring a shimmering sugar swan and a lifelike sugar rose. Throughout the hour and a half demo, he shared his insider tips to working with sugar after many years of experience. Below, we highlight some of our favorite tips from him to help you pull and pour sugar like the pros!

1. Sugar Becomes Shiny Through the Process of Satiné

Through the process of pulling the sugar, air is incorporated. As you continue to work with it, a sheen appears. But, be careful not to pull it too much, or else it will become dull!

Chef Jacques Torres Satinizing sugarChef Jacques Torres Satinizing sugar

2. Silicone Molds Will Mold Sugar, but...

…dough will work too! The fat in the dough makes it so the sugar and the dough will never stick together. The temperature difference of the two help to mold the sugar into the desired shape. This is what pastry chefs used before silicone molds were invented!

Chef Jacques Torres pouring sugar

3. Be Sure to Move your Sugar

When your pulled sugar is under a heat lamp, be sure to move it around every so often. This will ensure it keeps the right temperature. Because the heat is on the top of the sugar, it is important to continually flip the sugar so the temperature stays consistent.

Chef Jacques Torres moving his sugar under the heat lamp

If you’re inspired to learn how to make a sugar showpiece like Jacques Torres, check out ICC’s Professional Pastry Arts program where 60 hours of instruction are dedicated to sugar-focused décor, including showpieces like this!

Nick Lee

Nick Lee, ICC Culinary Student, Wins World Umami Cooking Competition!

Competes against five top culinary schools for an all expense-paid culinary tour in Japan.

The first-ever World Umami Forum, presented by Ajinomoto this past September, brought food science experts, renowned researchers and top culinary professionals together for a two-day consortium aimed at deepening the understanding of umami and it’s essential role in American cuisine, as well as opened the conversation about monosodium glutamate and some of the common myths surrounding MSG.

As part of the conference, the World Umami Forum challenged six semi-finalists from America’s top culinary schools in the inaugural United States of Umami Cooking Competition, held on September 20th, to create their best original, umami-rich recipe in the form of a signature entrée. ICC was honored to be selected as one of the six culinary schools, including The Culinary Institute of America and Johnson & Wales University, to participate in the competition. Through an internal selection process led by ICC’s Director of Culinary Arts & Technology, Chef Hervé Malivert, Professional Culinary Arts student Nick Lee was selected to represent ICC in the competition. (Nick was selected for the competition while a student at ICC, but has recently graduated from the program).

Judged on technique and taste, these culinary students went head-to-head for a chance to win an all-expense paid culinary trip to Japan. After months of preparation refining his umami-rich recipe and one-on-one practice with ICC’s resident culinary competition coach, Chef Hervé, we’re excited to announce that ICC student, Nick Lee, was selected as the winner of the competition! We couldn’t be more proud to share Nick’s journey to victory with all of you, and the recipe behind his winning dish.

Born in South Korea, Nick grew up in the United States with a love for experiencing different cultures—travelling through various countries and living in Japan, China, and Cambodia for a time. Nick holds a Bachelors of Science degree in both Mechanical Engineering and Psychology from the University of Illinois, and his unique career background ranges from engineering, accounting and military, to hotel management—he’s worked both front of house & back of house in hotel restaurants. Having always been passionate about food, Nick decided to pursue this passion by enrolling in the International Culinary Center’s Professional Culinary Arts program in January 2018. He is currently in his final externship level of the program at Jean Georges’ Mercer Kitchen in Soho.

In preparation for the competition, Nick trained one-on-one for months with our Director of Culinary Arts & Technology, Chef Hervé Malivert. Chef Hervé has coached many ICC students in competition to success including: Rose Weiss, winner of the 2011 Bocuse d’Or Commis Competition; Christopher Ravanello, Northeast Regional winner of the 2012 S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition; Colfax Selby, Northeast Regional winner of the 2015 S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition; Mimi Chen, winner of the 2016 Ment’or Commis competition. Through this preparation and hard work, Nick refined his recipe, timing and plating to be able to come home to ICC victorious as the 1st place winner!

The main requirement of the competition was to create an original dish circled around the theme of umami. While Nick had many directions he could have pursued for his dish, he was passionate about using all the umami ingredients that were naturally rich in MSG. That left him with ingredients like kombu, Parmigiano Reggiano, tomatoes and shiitake mushrooms. From there, he wanted to create a dish that embodied both western and eastern influences that would best represent ICC in his mind. A dish in South Korea that translates to an abalone porridge came to his mind, and he thought making a risotto out of this dish would be a great way to elevate the flavors of the ingredients he wanted to work with.

Check out Nick’s winning recipe below and you’ll see why his dish took home the gold!

Butter Poached Abalone

Served with Roasted Mushroom Risotto and Oven Dried Tomatoes

YIELD: 4 Servings

The winning dish

 

The winning dish

INGREDIENTS

For the Kombu Stock

200 g dashi kombu

200 g onion (2 whole onions)

100 g dried shiitake mushroom

200 g daikon radish

200 g leek, cleaned

6 cloves garlic

3 kg water

For the Oven Dried Tomatoes

300 g cherry tomato

140 g extra virgin olive oil

10 g parsley, chopped fine

10 g basil, chopped fine

10 g thyme sprigs

Salt and pepper to taste

For the Seaweed Crisp

20 g seaweed sheet

80 g rice flour

50 g water

10 g sesame seeds

10 g sugar

50 g soy sauce

300 g kombu stock

10 g sesame oil

Salt and pepper to taste

For the Abalone

5 ~ 6 fresh abalone

280 g butter

Salt and pepper to taste

For the Risotto

60 g extra virgin olive oil

100 g shallots, very finely chopped

80 g cremini mushroom, finely chopped

500 g Arborio rice

30 g soy sauce

125 g dry white wine

1 ½ kg kombu stock, or as needed*

60 g butter, plus an additional 60 g for finishing the risotto

100 g freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Salt and pepper to taste

 

For the Roasted Mushroom

200 g oyster mushroom

200 g shitake mushroom

200 g maitake mushroom

1 bunch of rosemary

2 head of garlic

For Service

50 g purple radish microgreen

50 g Brussels sprout leaves

Extra virgin olive oil

PROCEDURE

For the Kombu Stock

  1. Cut kombu into squares and steep in some of the water used for the stock.
  2. Put kombu and the water steeped in into a large pot and add aromatic elements.
  3. Bring everything to boil and take kombu out immediately once it starts to boil.
  4. Strain the stock carefully and set aside for use.

For the Cherry Tomato Confit

  1. Preheat convection oven to 300°
  2. Cut tomatoes in half, in a bowl season with S/P and olive oil.
  3. Baked in oven on a bed of thyme for about 45 min or until tomato done.
  4. Once the tomatoes are done add the herbs and set aside.

For the Roasted Mushrooms

  1. Clean and cut mushrooms to desired size, season with XV olive oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Bake in 350°F convection oven on top of a bed a rosemary, until cooked and golden brown.
  3. Remove and set aside.

For the Seaweed Crisp

  1. Mix rice flour and water together to make batter.
  2. Cut seaweed into squares and apply batter on one side of seaweed. Sprinkle sesame seed on top of battered side of seaweed.
  3. Fry seaweed in 325°F, take it out to a cooling rack with paper towel when it starts to brown.
  4. Combine kombu stock, soy sauce, sugar until ¼ of original volume.
  5. Add sesame oil to reduced stock and drizzle over battered side of seaweed.

For the Abalone

  1. Separate abalone from the shell with a spoon.
  2. Make quadrillage mark on top of the abalone using a knife.
  3. Season each side of abalone with salt and pepper and sear until brown on each side.
  4. Butter poach abalone gently.
  5. Remove transfer to a container, smoked slightly and cover until service.
  6. On the same butter poached the Brussels sprout leaves right before serving.

For the Risotto

  1. Bring the stock to a slow, steady simmer in a russe.
  2. In a wide, shallow sautoir, sweat the finely chopped shallots and cremini mushroom in 60 g butter until soft and translucent.
  3. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until it is hot and evenly coated with fat.
  4. Add the white wine and simmer until it has evaporated.
  5. Add enough of the stock to just cover the rice, stirring constantly with the wooden spoon, keeping the sides and bottom of the pot clean as you stir. Keep the rice at a brisk simmer and stir continuously. Continue adding stock a ½ cup at a time, until the liquid is absorbed, and maintain the heat at a lively pace.
  6. Taste the rice after 12-15 minutes. The rice is done when it is tender but still firm to the bite. As you approach the final minutes of cooking, gradually reduce the amount of stock that you add. The liquid should be a little soupy because the addition of the final ingredients will tighten up the risotto.
  7. Off the heat, add the roasted mushrooms, soy sauce, the remaining 60 g of butter, and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Season with salt and pepper. Stir the risotto energetically with the wooden spoon to whip the ingredients together. The consistency of the rice should be thick and creamy but still have movement, so add a few drops of stock if necessary to achieve the correct consistency.

For Service

  1. Spoon risotto into warm bowls.
  2. Slice Abalone ¼ inch thick on a bias.
  3. Garnish with seaweed crisps cherry tomato, Brussels sprout leaves, and micro purple radish.
James La Mar

Alumni Profile: James La Mar, Sommelier ’11

James La Mar is a 2011 graduate of the Intensive Sommelier Program at ICC’s Campbell, California campus. Like most students who enroll at ICC, James was looking for a career change and for something that he was passionate about. Before coming to ICC, he remarks that he was “all over the place,” mostly doing odd jobs to keep him occupied. He started with no experience, very little knowledge, and no contacts in the industry, but he knew that choosing ICC would give him the proper foundation to start and advance in the competitive world of wine.

After graduating, he spent 6 years working part time at the now closed Beltramo’s Wines and Spirits in Menlo Park, mostly helping out during the busy winter season. The store was over 100 years old and was one of the most important family owned wine shops in the history of California. He shares that he’s very glad to have been a small part of a wonderful legacy.

Fast forward to today, he now owns Grape Obsession, an apparel and accessory brand geared towards Sommeliers and wine fanatics.T Shirts from Grape Obsession James manages everything within the business, including creating designs, managing social media content, website maintenance, book keeping, sales, and everything else you can possibly imagine. With Grape Obsession, James aims to help his fellow Sommeliers show their passion through fun apparel and accessories, while helping new Sommeliers establish themselves in the industry—donating a portion of the profits to scholarships that benefit Sommeliers on their quest for knowledge and self-improvement. 

When asked about a piece of advice he would give to someone wanting to pursue an education in wine, he says “the only people who don’t succeed in life are the ones who never try.  Even if failure is a high possibility, do it anyway.  The struggle alone will make you a better person.  If you know in your heart that you want to do it, stop over thinking it and just do it.”

Before starting Grape Obsession, James tried on many different hats in the wine industry, including sales, wine retail, and even working as a sommelier and wine steward to find his best fit. He also believes that working in different parts of the industry is an important learning experience for any Sommelier, and helps to develop a sense of the bigger picture and where you fit in. Below is his take on the pros and cons of each profession in the industry.

Retail/Tasting Room

Wine retail is an especially great place in the industry if you are new to the business and still trying to figure out where you want to go.

Pros:

  • The wine buyer makes sure that you taste almost every wine that sales reps bring, which allows you to develop your palate.
  • Physically inspecting the bottles and the boxes as they come in helps put a lot of your wine theory into practice and gives a lot of needed context.
  • The hours you work would mostly be normal business hours, allowing for a decent work life balance, though you should expect to work some holidays.
  • You will be meeting a lot of wine sales reps; working in retail gives you some great contacts if you want to move into sales later on down the line.

Cons:

  • Working in the day means that you may have less opportunities to go to industry tastings and trade events that normally happen during the day on weekdays, unless you work your way into a management or wine buyer position where attending trade events is a part of your job.
  • Due to the nature of working in retail, you will be expected to work many weekends and holidays.
  • Entry pay is also lower in retail, though as you move up through management, compensation can range from average to above average.
  • Lastly, work can be humbling as you will be expected to work a cash register, lift heavy wine boxes, stock shelves, break down boxes, and clean floors, windows, and displays.

Sales & Distribution

If you have a competitive spirit, sales can be an exciting area of the industry to work in.  As a salesman, you will be responsible for motivating yourself to meet with wine buyers, taste products, make sales calls and write emails, and schedule your daily tasks weeks, sometimes months, in advance.  Being in sales is brutal especially if you are new to the game, but if you stick with it and persevere, there is a great sense of pride and accomplishment when you develop your territory and build strong lasting relationships with your buyers.

Pros:

  • This is great if you enjoy being a self-starter and working unsupervised.
  • You will have more work life balance, even though you will be extremely busy, and you will have more opportunities to see friends and family at night and on holidays.
  • There can be opportunities to travel for work to represent your brand or attend staff training trips.
  • You will be meeting frequently with clients and wine buyers, so you will be able to build a strong network within the industry.
  • You will also be responsible for supporting your accounts by leading tastings and classes on your products for their staff, which is fun as it allows you to pass on your passion for the brands you represent.
  • Earning potential is higher in sales. Because you are paid mostly by commission, you have the opportunity to make as much money as you are willing to work for.

Cons:

  • If you don’t have a strong competitive nature, sales can be difficult.
  • In sales, you will be faced with constant rejection; you will have to be able to take criticism of yourself, and the brands you represent, in stride.
  • As a sales rep, you will also be expected to be the problem solver for each of your accounts. The delivery truck missed a case of wine that your account needs for the weekend?  Stop by the warehouse and take the case directly to the account yourself.
  • You will need to check up regularly on your products at retail stores or check in with restaurants to see how they are doing on inventory. If the product is moving slowly, it is your responsibility to help the account make the product a success by offering to teach classes to the staff, making store marketing materials, etc.
  • It will also take some time before the money starts to come in, usually a few months to a year of building your territory up, so make sure you have a financial cushion when you start out.

Sommelier/Wine Steward

Are you a night person?  If you are, being a Sommelier may be the career path for you.

Pros:

  • Working nights frees up hours during the day to pursue many productive facets of your life, including having ample time for exercise, running errands, going to wine industry tastings and study groups, and most importantly having time to study.
  • Guest interaction is one of the greatest benefits, as there is great joy to be found in putting the needs of others in front of your own
  • You will also have certain management responsibilities, including staff training and assisting on the floor of the restaurant, which builds up leadership experience.
  • The amount of wine you try as a Sommelier is far greater than any other job in the industry— you will constantly taste exotic wines from your vendors, during restaurant service to make sure they aren’t corked, and at many different industry trade tastings that you will be invited to.
  • As you move up into a wine buyer role as a Sommelier you can also be invited to luncheons and occasionally have opportunities to be sponsored to travel to wine country by your vendors, your employer, or industry publications.
  • You have the job of building a wine program, which allows you to be creative and develop skills in purchasing.
  • Earning potential can range from average to above average as you normally will be making tips, though as you come up in the industry and move into a wine director position, earning potential can be even greater.

Cons:

  • Working nights and holidays is a challenge for anyone in the restaurant industry. You should prepare your friends and family that you’ll be working on a completely opposite schedule than most of them.
  • Like any job in the public sector, you will be dealing with people and will need to develop finesse to serve all guests.
  • Being a Sommelier is a very social line of work— you need to be comfortable with talking to complete strangers and charming them.
  • You will need to know how to manage a team and treat everyone with respect.
  • There are non-glamorous parts of the job, like carrying 40 pound cases of wine, counting inventory, publishing a wine list, and understanding the restaurant and the needs of your guests so that you make appropriate purchasing decision

Unlike other industries where moving around from different types of work can be a detriment to your resume, the wine industry appreciates job applicants with well rounded work experience, as the skills you build in different lines of work are often transferable and show that you have a passion for everything about wine, including the parts that are sometimes difficult or uncomfortable.  It is important for any Sommelier to be well rounded and to have a variety of experience in the industry in order to succeed in the long run.

Check out Grape Obsession’s awesome apparel and accessories here: www.grapeobsession.com and be sure to follow them on social by clicking on each icon below!

Things to Know Before Culinary School

As a new student at ICC, it is OK to have never cooked in a professional kitchen before and to not know everything– that is why you are coming to school in the first place! When you come to culinary school, you will develop a foundation for your career and set yourself up for future success. But, coming into any new situation can be nerve-wracking, so we put together some tips and terms to learn and practice before you begin your culinary journey. Read on to start the foundation of your success!

1. Test Your Technique

You’ll learn more than 250+ professional techniques in our Culinary and Pastry Arts programs, but we think these skills are great to practice before you come to ICC. These are skills that all chefs develop overtime, so working on them before you even come to school will make you feel prepared and ready to get cooking!

  • Clean as you cook. This is possibly one of the most important kitchen skills you can learn. Having a clean station is stressed in the classroom, and getting into the habit ofClean station being neat will set you up for your future professional career.
  • Learn the basics of the metric system. Units are typically codified into the metric system in the classroom and professional kitchens, so understanding the differences between ounces, liters, grams, and so on, will make it easier to get cooking.
  • Practice visualizing the steps of a recipe and writing out the steps in shorthand onto a notecard. Professional kitchens and the classrooms of ICC do not allow for recipes or phones, so it is important to know the recipe before you step into the kitchen. Writing out the steps is said to be the best way to study and truly understand material.

2. Know Your Kitchen Terms

Brigade is a system of hierarchy found in restaurants and hotels. The hierarchical structure can vary, depending on the kitchen. Some of the variations include:

  • 1 Executive Chef and Line Cooks
  • 1 Executive Chef, 1 or more Sous Chefs, and Line Cooks
  • 1 Executive Chef, 1 Executive Sous Chef, a Chef de Cuisine for each restaurant, a Banquet Chef, perhaps a Sous Chef for each Chef de Cuisine, a Pastry Chef

 

Mis En Place, also known as mise, is all of the prepped ingredients that a chef will need in order to have a successful service. These ingredients are readily available for the chef to quickly prepare the dish needed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother Sauces are the 5 sauces that every chef should have in their repertoire, and each one can be transformed into its own family of different sauces. They include:

  • Béchamel Sauce
  • Velouté Sauce

Fire: When this is heard in the kitchen, that means it is time to start preparing a dish! Typically, orders are made when they are received, but sometimes they have to be delayed to make the timing of the dishes spot on. If a table orders appetizers and entrees, the appetizers will be fired first!

 

Heard: If you’ve ever watched a cooking show before, you’ve heard this term! This is shouted back at whoever calls out instructions to the kitchen to let them know that they have been understood.

 

Behind: This term is key to kitchen safety. Any time you are crossing behind someone in a kitchen, it must be said so that the person who is dealing with the hot pan or plate of food does not injure someone else. Other terms to do with behind include sharp knife and hot behind.

 

Stage: Pronounced st-ah-j. This is the French term for externship/internship and is commonly used in kitchens and in the classroom.

 

Yes, Chef! is said in response to the head chef of the kitchen. This is to let the chef know that you have heard them and understood their message. Although it is a sign of respect and is earned in kitchens worldwide, it is also a safety measure to ensure that the kitchen runs smoothly.

3. Brush Up On Food Safety

In level one of the Professional Culinary and Pastry Arts programs, you’ll receive in-depth training on food safety & handling, and have the opportunity to receive your ServSafe® Certification from the National Restaurant Association. But before you learn the ins and outs of food safety, here are a few key tips to remember:

  • Perishable food should be kept below 45° or above 135°.
  • Dairy or protein based foods should not be left at room temperature
  • Refrigerators should stay below 41°F at all times
Duck from The Grill

ICC In The News: Highlights from August 2018

ICC In The News provides monthly highlights from articles published around the world that feature alumni, deans, faculty and more within the ICC community. Stories of our 15,000+ alumni network and their successes are continuously popping up across various prestigious publications. Below, we have brought together some of our favorites from August 2018, aimed to keep you connected with our community and inspire readers to #LoveWhatYouDo in the kitchen and beyond.

At West~bourne restaurant, you won’t find millennial pink banquettes or pineapple-print wallpaper, but you will get a homemade celery soda-kombucha, chia pudding with rose water and petals, and vibrant vegetable-grain bowls. Check out alumna and owner Camilla Marcus’ sustainable spot featured in NYLON.

Chef Matthew Kenney is one of the world’s premier chefs specializing in plant-based cuisine. Originally hailing from Connecticut, he graduated from ICC and spent the early ’90s honing his skills in kitchens throughout the New York dining scene. Read about the interesting new menu he developed for Folia at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills.

Hither
VOGUE
Why This Oregon Town Could Be the Next Napa

According to Vogue, Ashland, Oregon is positioned to become the next Napa. If you journey to this beautiful wine region, be sure to stop by our alum’s market Hither, where co-founder Wesley Reimer is serving everything from coffee to natural wines with co-founder and wife Corrie.

Kris Feliz, graduate of ICC’s Italian Culinary Experience, is a line cook at the almost cartoonishly luxurious restaurant, the Grill, which opened in NYC to solidly enthusiastic reviews last year in the former Four Seasons restaurant. Every night, she is tasked with preparing the menu’s honey-mustard duckling, something of a signature dish that has come to define the kitchen’s commitment to turning out modern renditions of mid-century American classics. Find out why we can’t wait to try the honey-mustard duck in this Grubstreet feature.

A fascinating read on our grad David Chang and what he accomplishes in each of his restaurants with his chefs that many restaurateurs can’t: individuality within a large restaurant group. Catch our other grad too, Chef Jude Parra-Sickels, who is executive chef at Majordomo in LA. Read the article here.

Sofreh
NEW YORK TIMES
At 59, a Gutsy Chef Makes Her Restaurant Debut

 Nasimeh Alikhani is an ICC alumna and Chef/Owner of the newly opened Sofreh in Brooklyn, NY. Find a bold, modern take on Persian cuisine in a beautiful modern setting and read the NYT feature on her restaurant here.

Did you know there are many different routes you can take with a culinary education? Check out two of our grad’s, Alexis deBoschnek (Senior Culinary Specialist) & Rie McClenny (Video Producer) now working at Tasty, and remember that there are many different options for you after graduating from ICC!

Nourish began back in 2014 when alumna Mary Drennen co-founded the Birmingham-based meal subscription service. It features Southern-inspired meals with a premium on presentation and nutrition. Check out her subscription service here.

Majordomo Ribs
TEXAS MONTHLY
At Majordomo, David Chang’s Smoked Beef Short Rib Delights

David Chang’s newest restaurant venture, Majordomo, opened to rave reviews. The $190 dollar beef short ribs are worth the pretty penny, so check out his new place if you’re in Los Angeles!

Vanessa Greeley, graduate of ICC, is an award-winning TV chef—competing on multiple Food Network Challenge episodes, Food Network Cake Wars, and more—and now she’s teaching others to create edible masterpiece just like they see on TV. Celebrate the opening of the Vanessa’s Cake Designs studio in Warwick, NY.

 

Nicole Allyson Uy, a graduate of ICC’s Professional Pastry Arts program, is making waves with her wildly successful hundred gram cookies at her bakery The Flour Girl in the Philippines. Check out the story of how she came up with her famous cookies, and opened her bakery here.

MY JEWISH LEARNING
This City is the Next Hot Spot for Jewish Food

With one of our campuses in NYC, it’s almost unheard of to talk about bagels from other cities. But our alumnus, Josh Pollack, is changing the narrative in Colorado. Read about how he recreated New York water in Denver, CO and now makes amazing bagels rivaling our NYC favorites!

Great Barrington, MA has a new restaurant and at the helm is alumnus, Chef Nicholas Browne. Among his accolades are winning Chopped in 2016, working at Michelin-starred restaurants across the globe, and now his newest venture, Botanica in MA. Check out his restaurant here.

 

Upstairs 2 is one of L.A.’s best-kept culinary secrets, a hidden gem that many do not know exists. Executive Chef Maiki Le, a Professional Pastry Arts program alum, cooks up a New American menu—market driven & sustainable—and boasts victories on Food Network’s “24 Hour Restaurant Battle” and “Chopped.”

Culinary Shows to Watch on Netflix

Whether you are heading back to school for the first time, in the midst of your culinary education, or even enjoy learning more about the culinary industry, we put together this list of shows on Netflix to get you inspired this back-to-school season. Check out the shows below, all of which feature ICC Deans & Alumni!

Chef's Table

Each episode of this Emmy nominated series profiles a different chef who’s innovations are changing the culinary scene and takes viewers through a journey of their lives and kitchens.

Our Graduates Featured:

Christina Tosi: 2004 grad, Christina Tosi, is changing the pastry industry from the inside out. When the producers of the show approached her to be one of the first pastry chefs featured, she was hesitant to go through with the show. We are so glad she did, as it gives us an inside look at the pastry giant’s creative mind.

Dan Barber is an alumnus and one of the leading voices in sustainability and food. His restaurants Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns are disrupting the culinary industry—starting from the farmers and purveyors all the way to the plate. In his episode, learn how he works with producers to breed new flavors into vegetables .

Ugly Delicious

Star chef and alumnus David Chang recognizes that good food doesn’t always have to be pretty. In his show, Ugly Delicious, watch as he takes his friends across the world in search of amazing food and conversations.

The Mind of a Chef

This show, which won multiple Emmy’s, explores the creative processes and artistry behind some of the greatest chefs in the world.

Season 1: Go back in time and see David Chang before his Momofuku empire took off! You’ll even see Christina Tosi in a few of the episodes.

Season 4, Episode 6: Shameless plug: this episode of The Mind of a Chef happens to be our favorite. It includes an interview with our dean, Chef André Soltner, filmed at our school!

Nailed It!

Jacques Torres, our Dean of Pastry Arts, leads Netflix’s Nailed It! as the head judge. Watch this show and prepare to laugh as home cooks try to recreate difficult, and sometimes wacky, pastry trends!

Career Fair September 13th, 2018

All chefs get their start somewhere. This September 13th, meet your future employer and amp up your networking skills! ICC’s Career Fairs, held twice a year, allow students & alumni to meet some of the most well-known restaurants and restaurant groups in NYC, coming specifically to ICC to meet YOU. With 50+ restaurants, restaurant groups, and more, there is something for everyone and every career path!

Thursday, September 13th | 3:00pm-4:30pm
International Culinary Center
28 Crosby St | New York, NY 10013
*Open to ICC Students & Alumni ONLY*
Email jobs@culinarycenter.com with inquiries

Below is the full list of employers, but be sure to visit the ICC Community page at my.internationalculinary.com for more information and for any updates to the employer list.

Abigail Kirsch/Pier Sixty
American Cut
B&B Hospitality Group
Breads Bakery
Celestine
Contra/Wildair/ Una Pizza Napoletana
Charlie Bird/Pasquale Jones/ Legacy Records
Choc o Pain Bakery and Cafe
Contra/ Wildair / Una Pizza Napoletana
Convene
Crafted Hospitality (Craft Restaurants)
Dinex Group of Chef Daniel Boulud, The
Eataly
Gramercy Tavern
Gabriel Kruether
Harvest Restaurant Group
Hello Fresh
Indiana Market & Catering
James Beard Foundation
Kruether Handcrafted Chocolate
Le Coq Rico
Loring Place
Madison Lee’s Cakes
Indiana Market & Catering
James Beard Foundation
Kruether Handcrafted Chocolate
Le Coq Rico
Loring Place
Madison Lee’s Cakes
Martha & Marley Spoon
Matter House Group (Estela, Café Altro Paradiso & Flora Bar)
Mercer Kitchen
NoHo Hospitality Group
Padoca Bakery
Park Avenue Seasonal,Quality Branded Group
Perrenial
Quality Branded (Quality Meats, Quality Italian, Park Ave, Maloney & Porcelli, Smith & Wollensky, Quality Eats)
Restaurant Marc Forgione
SoHo House
Starr Restaurant Group
Tao Group
The Culinistas
Thomas Keller Restaurant Group
Union Square Hospitality Group