Written by Kait Freeberg
ICC Food Writing Student
This past weekend, I had one of the most incredible experiences of my professional career.
My dream of one day becoming a food writer has led to cooking recipes that come to me by way of cookbook or recommendation, and then writing about the experience in my notebook for practice. Over the last few years, I have grown a fondness and drawn inspiration from Maile Carpenter, editor-in-chief of Food Network Magazine. As an ICC graduate and someone who is constantly improving her writing career, she has become a figure I look up to in the culinary world.
So, when I discovered I had an opportunity to meet her, I jumped at the chance. Food Network was hosting its very first cooking school and created a partnership with ICC to bring it together. There were two sessions being offered, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. After signing up for the afternoon class, I arrived 30 minutes early in hopes of being at the front of the line. However, there were many guests already lined up. Some had even purchased their tickets months ahead of time to guarantee themselves a space. After speaking to a number of these guests, I discovered that the majority were house moms who read Food Network Magazine in their downtime. Once I was allowed inside ICC, we received our itinerary and I was assigned in Group D. After the ICC hosted lunch, guests would go to their assigned classrooms. I would learn how to make pie dough and then move along to an “everything turkey” demonstration, ending with a hands-on appetizer creating experience. But for now, it was time to mingle with the others.I found myself a drink and took my time looking around the room at everyone who was attending.
There was a buzz of excitement in the air. Some participants were lining up to take photographs with Chopped Judge and restaurateur, Marc Murphy. Others were piling their plates high with sandwiches, sides and cookies, and making their way to a space at the belly bars. And then, she caught my eye. Maile Carpenter was standing off to the side of the room, behind a very large November edition of Food Network Magazine. She was alone, scanning the
room and taking in the scene. Knowing this would be my one and only chance to speak to her, I immediately gathered up my courage and went straight over.
What followed was a conversation I won’t soon forget. Maile was so kind and took a genuine interest in what I had to say. She gave me some very useful career advice about pursuing my food writing dream, and even accepted my business card when I asked if we could email further. I am so happy that I pushed out of my comfort zone, took a risk and put myself out there. Now I have a great memory to share with my friends and hopefully one day, I could be working for Maile.
From the beginning, the event was very well organized. I learned how to make flaky, buttery pie dough, and taste a version of apple and pumpkin pies that the student helpers made. Our pastry chef, Lindsay Busanich, allowed us to take our creation home. Knowing my pie dough wouldn’t survive the flight back to California, I offered mine to David, a dad from Long Island whose children sent him to this event as a birthday gift. He was very thankful.
The turkey demonstration was by far the most informational and educational aspect of this day. I took so many notes that I ran out of paper! Chef John Cumming allowed the audience to ask questions, and he patiently answered them while showing us the best techniques to use on Thanksgiving Day. I am currently testing my newfound knowledge on a chicken, to get the brining method just right before the big turkey.
Our last course ended making appetizers with Chef Herve Malivert. He taught us how to create meatballs, cheesy potato skins and fresh hummus, which were all big crowd-pleasers. Our group was treated to a tequila cocktail, and we snacked on our tasty creations to end the afternoon.
After our class concluded, we collected our items from the coat check and were handed gift bags from the Food Network staff. They were filled with items that would definitely come in handy for Thanksgiving day-aluminium foil, chicken stock, olive oil, kitchen utensils, coupons and more. At the end of it all, I am incredibly grateful that ICC sent me to this event. Not only for the people I was able to meet, but for the experience of being in the professional kitchens. It reignited a fire inside of me and now I can’t wait to eventually be a student at ICC. This was more than an awesome experience- it was a day that furthered my career and my dreams.
Connect with Kait on social media via @afreebirdlife or on LinkedIn via Kait Freeberg
All photos provided by Getty Images