An array of spices

Alumni Spotlight: Kiah Fuller + Carla Lopez, Professional Culinary Arts, 2017

Inspired by the catchphrase of one of their former Chef Instructors, the name “Far Out Catering” captures the idea of achieving the unimaginable. Coming from two completely different backgrounds and with over a decade in age difference between them, Kiah and Carla have taken their culinary education and quickly made real world application.

Incorporating their shared passion for food and common entrepreneurial goals, Kiah and Carla are the successful owners of a Bay Area based catering company that aims to aim to bridge the gap in cultural differences and put forth a menu that is “far out” from what you have seen before.

As the owners of a catering company, what activities are you involved with on a day to day basis?

Kiah + Carla: In one day, we can go from being the head chef to being the accountant, the marketing rep, and even the dishwasher. We work around the clock to create new menus, manage food cost, contact potential clients, and our favorite part, cook for weddings, private parties, and corporate events.


What led you to enroll in culinary school?

Kiah: Just before attending the ICC, I graduated college with a degree in Business Administration. Some people might think, “wow, what a complete career change!” However, obtaining both types of training prepared me to be a business owner.

Carla: Before [the] ICC, I earned a degree in Interior Design and for the last 10 years, worked with newborns as a certified Doula. Although I knew I wanted to work in food industry for long time, it was a hard decision to change my career.


What is the fondest memory of your time at the ICC?

Kiah: On the first day at class, when our Chef Instructor told us get started, I remember everyone running to grab pots and pans for themselves. It was then that I first interacted with Carla who kindly brought back a pot for the both of us. It was at that moment when we initiated a seamless alliance that would eventually develop into a business partnership.

Carla: When my class was assigned to make family meal. I appreciated the fact that my Chef-Instructor gave me the opportunity to share my personal food heritage with the entire campus. I took lead in preparing two Peruvian-style dinners and everybody was receptive to the meals. That positive feedback gave me the courage and confidence to later highlight my culture on my menu for FOC.


The idea of loving what we do means putting endless hours and devotion into one thing that we do very well and never growing tired of it– for us that’s Far Out Catering.”


Follow them on Instagram and Facebook via: @faroutcatering

A Taste of Italy

We’re bringing the Italian Experience to you — celebrate the culture, cuisine and wines of Italy with the International Culinary Center and Airbnb in California this May!
Friday, May 11th | 6:00-8:00pm
Airbnb Headquarters
888 Brannan St, San Francisco
Doors open at 5:45pm | Tickets: SOLD OUT (not available for purchase at the door)

Love the vibrant traditions of Italy’s treasured cuisine? Join us to learn about authentic Italian food, wine, ingredients, and culture from experts in the Italian community including:

  • Renato Sardo, Founder/President of Baia Pasta
  • Chef Cesare Casella, ICC’s Dean of Italian Studies & world-renowned Italian Chef
  • Lorenzo Scarpone, Founder of Villa Italia Wines

Escape to Italy while enjoying seasonal Italian canapés and tasting regional Italian wines. Plus, learn to bring the flavors of Italy to your home in a live cooking demonstration from Chef Cesare Casella! You’ll be the first on the West Coast to get a taste of his new Casella’s Prosciutto Speciale, American made prosciutto following the time honored traditions of Italy’s norcini, referred to as “absurdly good prosciutto” in a recent Grub Street article.

Ready to live, speak and cook Italian? Learn more about ICC’s Italian Culinary Experience — an immersive study-abroad program — coming to the Bay Area this Fall!

HOSTED BY:

With The Support Of:

Istituto Italiano di Cultura Logo

SPONSORED BY:

emporio rulli cafe logo
Acme Bread Company logo
Heritage Foods logo
Belfiore Logo
Gio Gelato Logo

Culinary Clash 2018: ICC Winner’s Announced

Each year, the International Culinary Center in California is invited to compete in the annual Culinary Clash Student Cooking Competition & Scholarship Fundraiser. Representing Luce at the InterContinental San Francisco and Nob Hill Club at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins, six teams of International Culinary Center students were selected to not only take over a restaurant kitchen for an evening, but also compete for scholarship monies towards their culinary education.

The International Culinary Center enters the 2018 Ultimate Culinary Clash as the defending champions after having won the competition last year! After weeks of competition, we’re excited to announce the winning teams from Luce and Nob Hill Club that have been selected to move on to the final competition—The Ultimate Culinary Clash in Washington DC on March 17th.

Congratulations to the team from Luce, Chef Hannah Gomez & Sous-Chef Molly Doster, and the team from Nob Hill Club, Chef Selah Kendall & Sous-Chef Andrae Gray! See the dinners that won these two teams their spot in the Ultimate Culinary Clash in DC, and the excellent work of all the ICC students who competed below!

I never really expected to win the competition, we just went in worked extra hard with all our best and had a lot fun in the process. Coming this far in the competition made me realize how much I have grown as a chef.This clash has really been a great opportunity for both Molly and I, and as an international student I am very excited about being able to showcase and have everyone get a taste of  Filipino cuisine and culture. “Veni. Vidi. Vici.”

– Hannah Gomez, Lead Chef for Team Luce

As long as God is in your corner,  anything is possible. Do what you love, and love what you do.  ”  – Chef Zulu Gray

Highlights from the 2018 Culinary Clash Dinners

LUCE at the InterContinental San Francisco
Nob Hill Club at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins
March 11 — Chef Hannah Gomez | Sous Chef Molly Doster

Menu

  • Cquilao Pacifico
    Kanpachi Crudo, Lightly Marinated in Cucumber Aguachile Tomato Granita, Trout Roe
  • Poseidon’s Cradle
    Deconstructed Paella, Egg Yolk Confit, Romesco
  • The Grand Finale
    Olive Oil Cake, Brown Butter Ice Cream, Blood Orange, Meringue Brulee
March 3 — Chef Alex Lopez | Sous Chef Annu Verghese

Menu

  • Ode to the Tomato
    Tomato Decoction, Fried Green Tomatoes, Aged Cheese Brodo
  • For the Love of Pork
    Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Romanesco, Crisscross Trumpets, Maple Pistachios, Celeriac Creme
  • Citrus Ruse
    Baba Cake, Citrus Cream, Gelée, Candied Kumquats, Hazelnut, Blood Orange Crisp
March 18 — Chef Ryan Thibert | Sous Chef Tila Taghavi

Menu

  • Grilled Broccolini & Sautéed Brussels Sprouts
    Smoked Bacon, Quinoa, Chevre
  • Beef Tenderloin, Slowly Cooked with Herbs & Garlic
    Potato, Romanesco, Red Wine Jus
  • Dark Chocolate Cheesecake
    Cara Cara Orange, Brown Butter Crumble, Peanut Tuile
March 10 — Chef Selah Kendall | Sous Chef Andrae Gray

Menu

  • Pork & Shrimp Wonton
    Mushroom and Lemongrass Tisane
  • Diver Scallops
    Wilted Dandelion Green, Bacon Marmalade, Pomegranate
  • Black Sesame Creme Brulee
    Meyer Lemon Ice Cream
March 25 — Chef Robert O’Donnell | Sous Chef Michael Zozobrado

Menu

  • Mission Street Corn
    Yellow Corn, Dashi-Miso, Pichkled Chile, Cilantro
  • Lamb Shoulder Confit
    Watermelon Radish, Rutabaga, Confit Leek, Lamb Jus
  • Turron Fosters
    Rum Caramel, Jackfruit Coulis, Fish Sauce Ice Cream
March 17 — Chef Ryan Moffatt | Sous Chef Adam Silverstein

Menu

  • Carne Cruda
    Beef Tenderloin, Bone Marrow Espuma, Wild Arugula Pesto
  • Braised Oxtail Pasta
    Balsamic Cipollini Onions, Porcini Consommé, Mixed Mushrooms, Pickled Spring Vegetables
  • Tiramisu
    Frangelico Espresso Baba, Candied Hazelnuts, Marcarpone Gelato

5 Takeaways from ICC’s Ask The Alumni Demo with Adam Lathan, Co-Founder and Executive Chef of The Gumbo Bros.

Written by: Cathi Profitko 

Adam Lathan, co-founder and Executive Chef of The Gumbo Bros., is a native of the Gulf Coast of Alabama and a graduate of ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship program. In 2016, he and his business partner Clay opened their first location in Brooklyn to rave reviews. He recently joined ICC students for an Ask the Alumni event where he shared his experiences and advice on opening your first restaurant …as well as some secrets to making a great Gumbo.

Opening a restaurant is both exciting and overwhelming. It means you are creating a business that not only feeds your soul but will pay your bills. A big difference between those who succeed and those who don’t, is how they prepare for and manage the unexpected. How did Adam approach this? Here are some highlights from his discussion.

1. First things first, prepare a business plan.

A business plan is your road-map and will make you focus on all aspects of your business – not just the ones you are best at but more importantly the ones you are not.

2. Be generous with your estimates and set aside contingency to cover the inevitable yet unexpected.  

One area that many people miss is that in addition to construction and other startup costs, you also have operating costs (lease, utilities, insurance) to pay, even before you open. Setting aside sufficient working capital to cover this is critical.

3. You will need help.

Use resources and the network at ICC to assemble a team of advisers that will give you honest feedback and advice. The Gumbo Bros. has been operating successfully for well over a year yet Adam still actively maintains and expands his relationships with advisers and mentors.

4. Work with people you trust.

In addition to your advisers, mentors, and business partners, find a real estate broker and an attorney that care about your business as much as their own. You are tied to your lease for at least 10 years… be ruthless in making sure it is the best you can get. Remember, if you can’t take it with you when you leave, negotiate to have your landlord pay for it.

5. Understand what each member of your build out team – Architect, Engineer, Contractor(s) – is responsible for and hold them accountable.

Having had plenty of experience in general contracting while working for his father, Adam understood a lot more than most going into the build out. He recommends hiring a self-certifying architect to save time on approvals, working a “no change order” clause into your contractor agreements and take LOTS of pictures throughout the ENTIRE process. You don’t want to have to take down an entire wall to find out where a leaky pipe is 6 months after you open.

This discussion on restaurant construction could have gone on forever as Adam is a wealth of knowledge… but we were all getting hungry so Adam made us some Cajun Gumbo (the roux is oil based). And, of course, it was delicious!


Fun fact: Do you know the difference between Cajun and Creole cuisine? Cajun is referred to as country cooking where ingredients harvested from the swamps and bayous are used prominently; Creole cooking is referred to as city cooking as it came out of the diverse kitchens of New Orleans where the ports supplied an abundant array of less local ingredients.

Alumni Spotlight: Ally Nguyen, Italian Culinary Experience, Class of 2016

Ally Nguyen is currently a line cook at the NoMad Restaurant in New York City.  Originally from Seattle, Ally started her career cooking for some of the best restaurants in her hometown.  Her journey brought her to the International Culinary Center and ALMA – The International School of Italian Cuisine, where she graduated top of her class.  She completed her externship at Ristorante Gellius in northern Italy, and treasures the time she spent apprenticing under Chef Alessandro Breda, who taught her a love for the craft and a deep respect for the earth and its products.

Ally was not always working in the culinary world. Previously, Ally was a management consultant specializing in mergers and acquisitions. She also holds a Bachelors degree from the University of Chicago and a Masters degree from Harvard University. One would say that Ally made the right decision to pursue the culinary industry by studying at ICC, as she was just named one of the 2018 Bocuse Ment’or Grant recipients! We caught up with the ICC Italian Culinary Experience alumni to discuss the recent achievement, and much more below.


ICC: As a career-changer with a Bachelors degree from the University of Chicago and a Masters degree from Harvard University, tell us what made you decide to switch from business attire to chef whites?

Ally Nguyen: I worked before as a management consultant, which is a challenging and rewarding career, but the job required 4-5 days of travel every week.  It got to a point where that lifestyle wasn’t working for me and my family so I took some time off to explore other career options.

I have always loved to cook, but I wasn’t sure if the life of a professional cook would be a good fit.  So I gave myself a year to explore different professional kitchens and see if I could handle what was thrown at me.  My first job was at a small French restaurant in Seattle where everything was made in-house.  I loved my job, but I soon realized that my much younger colleagues had many more years of experience. I knew I needed to close the gap as quickly as I could.  So I worked out an arrangement where I could split my time with two of Seattle’s top restaurant groups, which gave me exposure to a wide range of techniques and foodways.

After a year in three kitchens, I knew the kitchen life was what I wanted.  Similar to my previous career, cooking requires high levels of organization, teamwork, and communication.  I understood that it was often not glamorous, but I loved the intensity of prep, the rush of service, the team camaraderie, and the satisfaction of making your customers happy.

At that point, I was ready for the structured, professional training of culinary school.  I visited a number of schools around the country, but I chose the International Culinary Center in New York because I felt immediately at home.  I was impressed with the facilities and equipment, and I loved how engaged and knowledgeable the chef-instructors were.  Curriculum-wise, I was particularly drawn to the Italian Culinary Experience.  ICC is one of the few culinary schools that offers a four-month externship abroad, and it was important to me to get exposure to a different culture and understand how they approach and think about food.


ICC: You graduated at the top of your class in ICC’s Italian Culinary Experience program. What was your favorite part of the ICC program?

There are so many wonderful moments for me at ICC, so it’s hard to choose a favorite. . .

I loved chef-instructors Chef Guido and Chef Jeff of the Italian program and Stefania, my Italian language instructor.  They are amazing individuals, and they make a great team.  They made class fun and educational, and I’m so grateful to have learned from them.

I also enjoyed all the extra-circular activities available to the students.  In fact, there were so many that it was hard to fit them in.  I assisted with many of the amateur and recreation classes, like the ramen class, the food styling class, and the New York Culinary Experience.  One of the highlights was working with ICC’s Chef Hiroko Shimbo. She’s a master of her craft and a true inspiration. And of course, all the amazing bread!


ICC: What would you say was the most challenging?

The most challenging for me was making the transition from culinary school in NYC to culinary school in Italy, where I had to adjust to a new culture, language, faculty and set of instructors.  Our ICC class of seven people were now part of a class of 40 or so students from all over the world.  It was a bit overwhelming at first, but it was also one of the most enriching and educational times of my life.

ICC: Describe your experience completing your externship at Ristorante Gellius in Northern Italy and apprenticing under Chef Alessandro Breda?

I spent my four-month externship at Restaurant Gellius, a Michelin starred restaurant in Oderzo, an ancient Roman market town north of Venice.  The restaurant is run by Chef Breda, one of the warmest, most gracious people I’ve ever met.  He was a wonderful teacher and mentor, always patient but thorough with his instruction.  Under his tutelage, I became the first non-Italian cook to lead the pasta and risotto station at his restaurant.  He loved telling his customers that their very Italian pasta was being made by a non-Italian cook.  But that just proves how good of a teacher he was — under his coaching and watchful eye, I could cook food that met his high standards.


ICC: You’re currently a line cook at the NoMad Restaurant in NYC. Have there been any personal highlights for you since starting this position?

The NoMad is one of the best teaching kitchens in New York so I was very lucky to work there right out of culinary school.  It’s a large operation with a Michelin-starred kitchen, a bustling bar (that’s the 3rd best in the world!), an impressive private dining kitchen on the rooftop, and a busy room service department.  The NoMad is made up of many moving parts so there are always opportunities to learn and grow.

As a new cook, you usually don’t get many opportunities to cook “your own food,” but one of the special things about the NoMad is that the chefs want you to get to know your ingredients and start thinking about how a recipe comes together early on in your career.

A couple times a year, the NoMad holds a “Cooks’ Battle” where every cook in the restaurant proposes an original recipe for the next season’s menu.  The cooks with the best recipes get paired with a sous chef mentor to develop and test their ideas.  It’s an amazing experience that taught me so much about the restaurant’s style, about my strengths and weaknesses, and about how to think like a chef.  It has helped me develop my own voice and style, and has definitely encouraged me to start thinking about my own recipes in my spare time.


ICC: Tell us what it means to you to be chosen as one of this year’s recipient of the prestigious Bocuse Ment’or grant?

It’s a tremendous honor.  Each year, the Bocuse Ment’or Grant gives young cooks the opportunity to live and work in any city and any restaurant they choose, allowing them the chance to learn new techniques and experience different kitchen cultures and approaches to food and cooking.  Additionally, the organization offers a stipend to cover housing, transportation, and salary, which gives young cooks financial support to further their education without the burden of debt.  That’s invaluable for young cooks who don’t always have the resources to cook abroad.

I have so much respect for the Bocuse organization, and I’m so excited about this upcoming experience


ICC: What do you hope to learn/take away from this experience?

In this conversation, you’re probably getting sick of listening to me say the word “learn,” but I think that’s the most important goal for any cook.  Accumulating knowledge and passing it on is the heart of the apprenticeship model.

The time I spent at Ristorante Gellius was some of the most educational time in my culinary life, and there’s nothing that can replace true on-the-job experience.  For my grant restaurant, I hope to receive many humbling lessons, and I hope to get a lot of “ah ha” moments where a technique finally makes sense or a concept suddenly clicks into place.  When I’m in the kitchen, I try to ask as many “why” questions as possible, and I hope to get some of those “why” questions answered during my time on stage.


ICC: Have you selected your stage location for the grant? If so, where and why did you choose this Chef/Restaurant?

I gave Ment’or my top 3 choices, which are L’Astrance in Paris, France, Narisawa in Tokyo, Japan, and Maeemo in Oslo, Norway.  The final destination hasn’t been decided yet, but I’d be thrilled to work at any of these restaurants.


ICC: What advice would you give to other individuals out there potentially looking to change careers and dive into the culinary world?

I’d give the same advice that Chef Guido has always given me because it’s the best advice I’ve ever received:  Follow your heart and whatever choice you make will be the right one, as long as you are willing to learn and put in the hard work.”


ICC: What would be your dream position within the culinary industry? Why?

Funny you ask this question, because I will be starting my dream job in a couple of days.  My last day at the NoMad was on Wednesday, and I’m moving to Eleven Madison Park next week.  EMP was the restaurant that inspired me to move to New York, and it’s the place that I always wanted to work.  I admire Chef Humm’s philosophy on food and hospitality, and it will be a dream come true to work at the flagship restaurant.

  • I’ve been with the Make It Nice group for a year, and I love how good the company is to their people.  I’m so happy stay within the family, and I’m excited to continue learning and contributing to how we make our customers happy.  Because happiness is the end goal, isn’t it?


Chef Aarón Sánchez Talks Mentorship at Exclusive ICC Demo

In January, the ICC New York campus facilities received a visit from the esteemed Chef Aarón Sánchez. During his visit, Chef Aarón demonstrated some techniques behind creating authentic Mexican cuisine with the help of current ICC Professional Culinary Arts student, Oswaldo Rios.

Oswaldo was selected from a pool of more than 40 applicants to become the first-ever recipient of the Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund for aspiring chefs from the New Orleans Latino community. The program pays to send the recipient to ICC and provides other career development support back in New Orleans. Oswaldo, who will be graduating the International Culinary Center’s program in 2018, has expressed a keen sense of work ethic, ambition and understanding of mentoring.

Following the inspiring demonstration, we caught up with Chef Sánchez to discuss the importance of having a mentor during your culinary studies and how having guidance from another chef can help to shape your culinary career.


ICC: Why do you think that mentorship is so important for young, aspiring chefs? 

I think it’s important to have structure and a constant source of inspiration which you can get from a good mentor. When you see that your goals are tangible if you have a great work ethic, passion and resilience, it can keep you going through the tough times. A mentor can also serve as a reminder to honor your legacy or heritage and to carry on family and cultural traditions.”



ICC: Who would you consider to be your mentor? Why?  

My mentors were my Mom and Abuela of course, as well as Chef Paul Prudhomme. They were my mentors for many reasons and offered a variety of lessons in different stages of my life and career. My family has always been run by strong women who stayed true to their roots while putting their own flare and touch on everything they created, they each had their own style. Chef Paul taught me the basics and really ingrained the building blocks for success in me. He imparted so much knowledge over the years, but I would say that he always told me to do my research and have a deep understanding of ingredients, techniques and regional cuisines.



ICC: What piece of advice would you pass along to Oswaldo, the first recipient of the scholarship, or any future mentees that you feel would be invaluable throughout their culinary careers? 

Work hard, find your voice, always be curious and keep learning, explore and travel as much as you can. Honor your culture and preserve your legacy.  “

 


Culinary Clash Student Cooking Competition & Scholarship Fundraiser Continues in San Francisco March 10-11

Written by Yi YeoJin
Chef Instructor/Farm to Table Coordinator
International Culinary Center®

Culinary Clash is a pretty long competition where students have been investing their time outside of class, from December 2017 to now.

Throughout this time lapse, a lot happens!  There are preliminary cooking competitions to sub-sequential competitions that are both held here at ICC, CA. From there, I meet with each group multiple times to refine their menus. This is really the fun part for the students. They get to showcase their hard work, but pitch their own menu and get to run the course at their respective hotels for one night. Each team gets to taste a little of what it feels like to manage a kitchen. Hopefully, it shows them that it’s not just skill sets and talent but communication and working with a team that leads to success.

All the while, on their own time, they are constantly pushing themselves to represent something they are proud to serve their friends, family, and the judges table.

For me, I have a lot of fun seeing the development of these students. You can see them forming ownership of their menus and I have the responsibility of fostering their empowerment. By the time they nail their menus by practicing at school, they face another challenge which is going to a totally new kitchen and workspace to replicate what they have done at school..simultaneously, communicating with their partner and hotel Chef for delegating tasks and finding out where ingredients/equipment are!

I am asking a lot out of them, but I know they are all capable. I’ve been running these competitions at ICC for the past three years and each year we always have something noteworthy to look back on. This year doesn’t fall short either. Looking forward to another stressful, enduring, sweaty yet thrilling and exciting competition this year! Lookout for us in May at the Ultimate Clash in DC!


Check out the student-curated menus and teams for March 10 and March 11.

Nob Hill Club – Chef Selah Kendall and Sous Chef Andrae Gray (March 10)

MENU: Pork and shrimp wonton with mushroom and lemongrass tisane; Diver scallop with wilted dandelion green, bacon marmalade and pomegranate; Sesame crème brulee with Meyer lemon ice cream*

Selah Kendall has been cooking ever since she could reach the stove on a stool. She worked various jobs in the restaurant industry with her very first at a local pizza parlor in Montclair, New Jersey, where she answered the phone and took orders.  Her biggest inspiration is her Great Aunt Jenne who was raised in Jamaica. She taught Selah her first skills in the kitchen and “how to cook with love.”

Watching his grandmothers and parents cook gave Andrae Gray a love and respect for cooking early on. “There is something about watching people’s eyes light up with total satisfaction when you serve them something so delicious and fulfilling. It’s a feeling that I got while watching family cook and I love seeing it on faces now.” Gray was born and raised in California’s Central Valley.

Luce – Chef Hannah Gomez and Sous Chef Molly Doster (March 11)

MENU: Hamachi Crudo; Prawn Enchilada a la Cubana; Blood Orange olive oil cake*

Currently enrolled in the ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program, Hannah Gomez brings with her a degree in entrepreneurial management and two years of running her own business to the kitchen. Born and raised in the Philippines, she always had a passion for cooking, learning from her mother, relatives and friends.

Born and raised on a farm in Iowa, Molly Doster’s journey to the International Culinary Center began in the home kitchen. “I am one of six children, which lent itself to cooking both volumes and varieties. My mom encouraged me to give the culinary field a look.” Molly is inspired by chefs including Argentina’s Francis Mallmann and hopes to one day own and operate a restaurant or bed and breakfast on her family farm.

*menus are subject to change


When: Remaining dates at Nob Hill Club at InterContinental Mark Hopkins and Luce at the                            InterContinental San Francisco are as follows:

  • Saturdays – March 10 and 17 from 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at Nob Hill Club at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins (One Nob Hill); for reservations contact Joanna Carrasco at 415-616-6940 or Carrasco@IHG.com.
  • Sundays – March 11, 18, and 25 from 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at Luce at the InterContinental San Francisco (888 Howard Street); for reservations contact Luce at 415-616-6566, luce@ihg.com or visit Openable.

Hospitality Leaders Tips for Landing your Dream Interview

Submitted by: Jackie McMann-Oliveri, PHR
Director of Human Resources – Bobby Flay Restaurants and ICC Culinary Entrepreneurship Lecturer

Selection and hiring in our wonderful world of Hospitality is everything because we are only as good as the people who work for us.  We work long, we work hard, it is hot in the kitchen and crazy on the floor and one of the main ingredients in success is passion.  I am certain that we can train knife skills and we can train steps of service, but passion – we need you all to bring it!

When asked to write this article, of course, I was stoked!  Then I thought, I can easily be the boring ‘HR Lady’…. or how about I get by with a little help from my friends?

So, I reached out to some of our industry greats to ask them their tips on how to land the interview you desire and some of their culinary interviewing go to questions. Along with their help and my own expertise, we are certain to set you up for success.  Identifying and supporting great talent has been my passion for many years, I am amazingly lucky to have access to some of the very best in the industry (and don’t forget the food) and I also get to share my knowledge, stories and passion with the ICC community.


Hospitality Leaders Tips for Landing your Dream Interview
  1. Own and know your Personal brand – Know your mission, values, social presence and goals and integrate them in all you do. Some of our core values at Bobby’s Burger Palace are being fast, friendly, focused and fun.  What are yours and how do you live them? – Me! 
  1. “Do your research! It is important to know the mission and philosophy of the company as well as what restaurants it runs.  This ensures that we understand what you are looking for in a career and that those goals are aligned with the excellence we pursue.” Kim DiPalo, Talent Manager – Union Square Hospitality Group
  1. “ABC, Always Be Communicating!  Whether it’s LinkedIn, via email, over the phone, or in person, building a rapport is increasingly important.  Everyone’s time is valuable, and unfortunately less and less time is being spent on interviewing.  It’s imperative to success that those participating have a good understanding of the expectations, timelines, and an open, honest dialog throughout the process.” Amedeo Agresti, General Manager – Rosa Mexicano, Lincoln Center location
  1. “Confidence is great, cockiness is not. Humble professionals are the best. Listen more than you talk, you are the one being interviewed, don’t interview your interviewer. Smile, Smile, Smile, give a firm handshake and make eye contact. A great way to impress your interviewer and feel more confident is to do some homework beforehand. In an ideal world you would visit the establishment to see what the environment is like before the interview. If making it in is not possible, do some research online, learn about the menu, read the about page on the website, look at their social media channels etc, so that it seems as though you care and want to immerse yourself into the culture. When candidates walk in knowing about me and the restaurants, I am always impressed. “ – Michael Chernow, Owner – Seamore’s, Founding Partner – Well Well, Co-Founder – The Meatball Shop and ICC Alum and Lecturer

Chefs Go-To Culinary Interview Questions:

“What do you cook at home?” I ask this because I want to know that food is part of their life, not just a job. If they do cook at home, it shows me they carry food over into their personal life and I can see what they cook with and who they fed. It is important to me to have people that think about food and the culture of food so they always bring a fresh perspective to the job of cooking for people. Bradford Thompson – Owner, Bellyfull Consulting, Inc., Chef, Mentor and ICC Lecturer

“Please walk me through your experience job by job and explain to me how you got the job, how you like the job, what you learned from the job, what you disliked and the circumstances surrounding you’re leaving” – Daniel Holzman, Chef and Co-Founder – The Meatball Shop, Founding Partner – Project Foodie and ICC Guest Lecturer

“What is your secret ingredient?” “Fill in the blank – there’s never enough_____!” Christina Tosi, Chef, Founder, Owner – Milk Bar and ICC alum­­

“When I’m hiring a cook for one of my restaurants, and I want to see what they can do, I usually ask them to make me an omelette.” – Bobby Flay, Food Network Personality, Chef and owner – Gato, Bar Americain, Bobby Flay Steak, Bobby’s Burger Palace and Alum of the First Class of the French Culinary Institute, now our beloved ICC

What our advice all has in common is the basics, the passion and the accountability that is needed to make it in this business.  My chefs and restaurant managers know and love (and sometimes hate) how many times I tell them…  “The more time we spend hiring, the less time we spend firing”.

Follow our tips and prepare for our questions. Listening to our tips will guide you to land the interview and the restaurant job of your dreams!


LAND YOUR CULINARY DREAM JOB WITH THE HELP OF ICC

Students of ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program are in the kitchen cooking from day one under the watchful eyes of accomplished chef-instructors, learning from a curriculum established by world-renowned deans such as Jacques PepinAndré Soltner and Cesare Casella. With help from ICC’s on-going Career Services, students leave with the credentials and connections to pursue careers in the culinary industry. For more information about landing your culinary dream job and enrolling at the International Culinary Center, simply complete the form on this page.

The Insider’s Guide to Nailing Your Trail

Article by David Janke
Associate Dean of Students, International Culinary Center


I am a graduate of ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program and a former Sous Chef at a Michelin star restaurant.  As a sous chef, I had the responsibility of setting up trails, interviewing, and vetting potential employees when they would come for a trail.  Part of my role as Associate Dean of Student is managing our Career Services department and ensuring that they properly prepare our students for the most important first step in one’s professional career: the trail. For our current students–and alumni–preparing for ICC’s upcoming Career Fair, here are 5 tips to help you succeed on your next kitchen trail!

 

1. Be persistent!

Communication in this industry is notoriously slow, and it can be frustrating to wait several days or more for a response from a potential employer.  Always use the three day rule: if they have not gotten back to you in three days, send a follow up email.

2. Ask the right questions.

When setting up the trail, there are 3 questions you should always ask.

1) What door should I enter through?
Most of the time, kitchen staff will enter a restaurant through a different entrance that is not always so easy to find.

2) What should I wear?
Most restaurants provide uniforms, but not all of them.

3) Should I bring my knives and equipment?
Different establishments provide different equipment for their employees, so it is always good to ask.  I would always bet on at least bringing your knives in a small knife roll.

3. Be punctual!

If your trail is set to start at 8am, that means you are expected to be dressed and ready to go no later than 8am.  Always give yourself plenty of time, leave early, and plan to arrive no later than 15 mins early.

4. Be positive.

Employers are not necessarily using the trail to specifically test your knife or cooking skills.  They want to see that you are competent in the kitchen, for sure.  But what is much more important is the attitude and demeanor you bring with you.  A supervisor is really looking for someone who is positive, gladly takes on new tasks and responsibilities, and has a team player mentality.  Be sure to focus on those “soft skills” throughout the trail.

5. Send a thank you email.

After you complete your trail, always send a thank you email to the person you have been communicating with from the employer.  Even if you are not offered the job, or choose not to take the position, it sets the proper tone professionally and leaves a good impression.  In an industry where everyone seems to know everyone, reputation is important.


What is a soft skill? 

“Soft skills” in this industry are traits and attributes that are more nuanced and subtle, but just as important to employers when searching for the right candidate. While one’s hard skills – knife skills, knowledge of cooking terms and techniques, etc. – are certainly important, it is the soft skills that can play a major role in one’s success. Being punctual and always arriving early, having a positive attitude and strong work ethic, being the first to volunteer your time; these are all examples of soft skills. And the good news is, these are factors that you can control. For instance, you may not have the best knife skills yet; that is a skill set that develops over time and with practice.  However, if you show a willingness to improve and excel at other soft skills, you will be successful.

 

For more information on Career Services at ICC, click here.

James Beard Award 2018: ICC Alumni Semifinalists & Finalists

Each year, we are always so proud to see alumni and Deans of the International Culinary Center recognized for excellence in their field. With the recent announcements from the James Beard Foundation, we’d like to congratulate the following ICC alumni [and Dean!] for being recognized in the list of 2018 James Beard Award Semifinalists!

Following last year’s ceremony, ICC Dean and Chef, David Kinch, is nominated again for Outstanding Chef! Philadelphia institution Zahav, co-owned by ICC alumnus Steven Cook, is also nominated again for Outstanding Service. To view all ICC alumni nominees [and winners!] from the 2017 Awards, click here.


[UPDATE] With the announcement of the 2018 James Beard Award Book & Media nominees, ICC alumni and deans have received 19 nominations combined! Congratulations to the seven alumni and our dean David Kinch who made it on the short list in their respective categories! The winners will be announced later this spring, stay tuned.


2018 James Beard Award Semifinalist & Finalists [ICC Alumni & Dean List]

Orange indicates selection as finalist

Outstanding Chef Category:

Ashley Christensen, Poole’s Diner, Raleigh, NC [Sous Vide Intensive ‘12]

David Kinch, Manresa, Los Gatos, CA [ICC Dean]

Alex Roberts, Restaurant Alma, Minneapolis, MN [Culinary Arts ‘93]


Outstanding Restaurant:

L’Etoile, Madison, WI – [Tory Miller, Culinary Arts ‘00]

Momofuku Noodle Bar, NYC [David Chang, Culinary Arts ‘01]

O Ya, Boston – [Tim & Nancy Cushman, Fundamentals of Wine ‘06]


Outstanding Service:

The Red Cat, NYC [David Battin, Culinary Arts ‘12]

Saison, San Francisco [Joshua Skenes, Culinary Arts ‘01]

Sepia, Chicago [Andrew Zimmerman, Culinary Arts ‘00]

Zahav, Philadelphia [Steven Cook, Culinary Arts ‘00]


Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic

Brittanny Anderson, Brenner Pass, Richmond, VA [Culinary Arts, ‘09]

Joey Baldino, Zeppoli, Collingswood, NJ [Culinary Arts, ‘02]


Best Chef: New York City

Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske, Contra [Culinary Arts, ’07 and Culinary Arts ’09 | Pastry Arts ’10, respectively]


Best Chef: West

Evan Rich and Sarah Rich, Rich Table, San Francisco [Sarah Rich, Culinary Arts ‘01]

Joshua Skenes, Saison, San Francisco [Culinary Arts ‘01]


Book Awards: Reference, History, and Scholarship

Peppers of the Americas | Author: Maricel E. Presilla | Lorena Jones Books [Maricel E. Presilla, Culinary Techniques ‘93]


Broadcast Media Awards: Television Program, in Studio or Fixed Location

The Bobby and Damaris Show | Hosts: Bobby Flay and Damaris Phillips | Airs on: Food Network [Bobby Flay, Culinary Arts ‘84]


Journalism Awards: Dining and Travel

“The Eating Season” | Author: Tyler Kord | Bon Appétit [Tyler Kord, Culinary Arts ‘02]


Journalism Awards: Profile

“The Untold Story of the Lady from Louisville and the Bubbe Who Wasn’t There” | Author: Rebecca Flint Marx | Taste [Rebecca Flint Marx, Culinary Arts ‘08]


The 2018 James Beard Award Winners will be announced May 7, 2018. The 2018 Media Awards will be held on April 27, 2018. For the full list of 2018 James Beard Award Semifinalists, click here.