“ICC.. as far as I’m concerned… is THE best school.”
The Meatball Shop – A Beginning
Michael: “What about meatballs? Nobody’s doing meatballs.”
And that’s how The Meatball Shop was born. Well, not exactly. First, Michael and Daniel had to meet at their dentist’s office when they were 13 years old. Then came the restaurant delivery jobs after school at LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts. Dan – after a stint at age 15 at Le Bernadin – would go on to become an executive chef in San Francisco and Michael, a star bartender at NYC’s Punch and Judy and Frank’s. Years would pass. Then came the phone call.
Michael: “Dude, I’m going to go to culinary school and when I get out, I’m going to open a restaurant and I really want you to do it with me.”
Daniel: “Ok. Do what you gotta do. See you in two years.”
It took 18 months, but Michael Chernow graduated from ICC for both Culinary Arts and Culinary Entrepreneurship (now Food Business Fundamentals) with honors. Soon after, the two found an ideal spot for a restaurant—it even had a window for service—near a busy bar downtown. The only thing left to figure out was what of kind of tasty, cheap fare would bring hungry customers to that window. Bing! The rest is, as they say, history.
The now-famous pair – their trip to couples therapy to work though their business partnership inspired a TV pilot – opened 5 more locations in New York City and Brooklyn. They published The Meatball Shop Cookbook in 2011 and they are the subject of countless profiles, including a recent Fast Company “Power Couple” feature.
Yes, the meatballs are amazing, but the business behind it, from concept to execution to daily consistency, is more than just a supporting player. When asked about how ICC fits into their story, Michael is clear: “ICC, as far as I’m concerned, is the best school… The Culinary Entrepreneurship program taught me every single possible nook and cranny, from marketing to the finances, I learned so much.”
Hometown: New York, NY
Current city: New York, NY
Course of study: Food Business Fundamentals, Classic Culinary Arts
Graduation year: 2008
Current occupation: co-owner, creative director, and front-of-the-house operator of The Meatball Shop in New York City