Chef Michael volunteering at an event

7 Ways To Make The Most Of Culinary School

 Written by: Michael Zozobrado, 2017 Culinary Graduate

Chef Michael meeting Chef Cesare

My name is Michael (aka McKoi) and I recently graduated from the Professional Culinary Arts program at ICC’s campus in California. My background is in the medical field. I am a licensed Physician, and currently am running a facility for people with intellectual disabilities. It’s funny to think back on the fact that, for about eight years, I passed by the ICC campus during my commute and I never imagined I would set foot in it, let alone, take a course.

Originally, I was trying to encourage a friend to pursue his love for making desserts. We visited the campus and talked to the lovely Ginny Cook, ICC’s Managing Associate Director of Admissions. In an unexpected turn of events, I was the one who ended up enrolling! Before starting, I was just an average cook, and on my first day of class the Chef Instructor mentioned that after we complete the course, we would be better than average. From that moment on, I accepted the challenge to learn as much as I could. In retrospect, the learning didn’t only happen during regular classroom hours; there were many things outside of class that contributed to a full and successful experience.

Here are my 7 tips for making the most out of your culinary education:

  1. “On Time” is late. Be sure to come in early. Coming in early gave me time to prep my work space, a chance to get to know my classmates, and psych myself up for the class ahead of me. The reality is, the kitchen can be stressful. Having prep time allowed me to prepare physically and/or mentally. It gave me the chance to prepare for the “what not’s” and the “what if’s.”
  2. Read the lecture before class. This one, I totally geeked-out on. I have all sorts of highlights and scribbles on my handouts. Plus, I keep a tiny notebook for things that I learned during class. Reading the lecture beforehand gave me a boost, a sort of upper hand, for the classes tasks. When I came to class well prepared, I had more confidence. It’s not surprising that when I read ahead, I learned more and was able to ask smarter questions. This strategy works particularly well if there’s someone you want to impress in class.
  3. Attend demos. The school offers many after-class demos, skills workshops and occasional off-campus student outings. During these events, I was able to get an insider’s view of what’s happening in the “real” world. Best of all, I got to learn from other people’s mistakes and/or successes. What’s more, most of these events are free ̶ take advantage of it. One of my favorite demos was led by ICC Dean of Italian Studies, Cesare Casella. It’s not every day that you meet a legend and a rock star in the kitchen.
  4. Volunteer. Aside from demos, the school is connected with many local organizations who seek student volunteers to assist them with food related events. Getting involved with these organizations provided great opportunities for me to learn and to network. Most notably, I regularly worked with the Second Harvest Food Bank where I had the opportunity to conduct cooking demos for other people. Volunteering with the SHFB was a definite win-win situation; I had the chance to give back to the community, while teaching others helped me retain what I learned in class. The experience also showed me that even as a student, I had learned enough knowledge to share with others.
  5. Participate in all the culinary competitions you can. It was a privilege to be included in both the annual Culinary Clash, a competition put on by the Intercontinental Hotel Group, and the International Panino competition sponsored by Gambero Rosso of Italy. Although competing was nerve-wracking, joining these competitions showed me my strengths and weaknesses in the kitchen. As cliché as it may sound, knowing those is half the battle.
  6. Take a recreational or amateur class before enrolling in the Professional Courses. Something unique to my student experience is that I took the Culinary Techniques class (20 session’s total) before going on to the Professional Culinary Arts program (9 months for night class and 6 months for day class). Speaking frankly, there is a lot of money and time involved in the decision to enroll. For people out there who are in doubt and still wrestling with the prospect of building a career in the culinary industry (like I was), I believe taking a short course first is a great way to wet your feet. The moment I started rolling my dough and cutting my mirepoix, I felt alive inside and knew I wanted to take the next step.
  7. Attend the commencement ceremony in New York. One of the highlights of my whole ICC experience was attending the commencement at Carnegie Hall. It was indeed the cherry on top. It was inspiring to be in a place where music legends have performed and walked those very hallways. During ICC’s ceremony, you get to be the legend! We, the students, are the focus of that day. All eyes are on us. That’s the moment we can savor all the hard work we put in the kitchen. I walked out of Carnegie Hall with a cute bamboo spoon etched with the school’s name, logo, and the date to commemorate it. On top of that, I walked out feeling confident that ICC prepared me for the kitchen career I aim to have, and hopeful that with hard work and perseverance this dream will become a reality. As ICC Dean of Pastry Arts, Emily Luchetti, mentioned during her speech, “Tenacity is frustrating and hard, passion is invigorating and fulfilling… It is with a combination of your passion and your tenacity that you will succeed.” I always thought that passion alone is enough to carry me through the challenges until I heard Chef Emily. Tenacity is indeed a key ingredient. Like making a mayo, you have your main ingredients (your passion) but without an emulsifier (your tenacity) sooner or later it will break. For both incoming students and outgoing graduates, persevere. Don’t give up. Be strong. As we work towards our dreams, let passion abound and tenacity fuel us through.

With my own excellent advice in mind, I move forward with my culinary journey. With my knowledge in healthcare and in the kitchen, I want to combine my interest in healthy lifestyle and preventative medicine. I hope to forge a culinary career where great food is synonymous to healthy and nutritious.

 

Michael Holding Souffles Michael in Class

One of Chef Pablo's creations

What It’s Like to Attend A Masterclass with Chef and Sommelier Pablo Ranea

Written by: Aditya Malhotra, Intensive Sommelier Training Student

Earlier this month, students and alumni enjoyed a star studded masterclass when Chef and Sommelier Pablo Ranea visited ICC’s California campus and world renowned Argentinean wine maker, Santiago Achaval of Matervini Winery, was brought in via a Skype call. During this special event, we had the opportunity to taste a total of ten different wines, and by the end of the day, we gained a new perspective on each of the wines. We started off by sampling 8 Malbecs, each coming from a different elevation, then moved onto a white Torrontes as an aperitif and finished off with a Matervini white.

Argentina is well regarded for its unique culinary style, from quick snacks like empanadas to hearty, quality steaks, and for its high-quality wine produced from ancient vines throughout the country’s varied elevations. During Chef Pablo’s visit, we learned all about Argentina’s cuisine and wine.

This event was especially impressive because as Chef Pablo introduced each wine, he also did a live cooking demonstration of dishes that would pair well. For his first dish, he showed us an interesting technique designed to soften the structure of the octopus meat which he called “Asustar,” which means “to scare or frighten.” This technique involved holding the octopus by the head and submerging the tentacles into boiling water for only 10-15 seconds and then quickly removing them from the heat; Chef Pablo recommended repeating the process about four times. The completed dish was comprised of the expertly prepared octopus, chorizo and potato puree, and topped with the famous Argentinean Chimichurri sauce.

Pastel de PapaLater on, Chef Pablo demonstrated how to prepare “Pastel de Papa,” which comprises the traditional Empanadas Mendocinas with a skirt steak filling. Chef Pablo noted that cutting the skirt steak prevents the filling from drying out. For this dish, Chef Pablo called for some audience participation. Everyone was pretty excited to roll up their sleeves and learn from the master himself.

Pablo Ranea began his career as a Graphic Designer which truly explains the beauty in his food presentation. His preparations looked like art on a plate!

Chef Pablo was the Executive Chef for ten years at The Azafran restaurant, considered to be one of the best restaurants of Mendoza, where he developed his concept of “New Argentinean Cuisine.” It was during his time at Azafran that he also recognized the fact that wines of Argentina were becoming increasingly sophisticated and in higher demand in world markets than ever before. With these thoughts in mind, Chef Pablo saw a need for Argentinean chefs to match their food to great wines. He took matters into his own hands by studying to become a Sommelier, gaining his certification in 2012. Since then, Pablo has been working as a mediating consultant between restaurants and wineries by developing recipes and selecting appropriate wine parings.

In regards to the meaning of “New Argentinean Cuisine,” Pablo explains that he aims to discover contemporary takes on traditional dishes by utilizing a variety of quality regional ingredients. For example, combining lamb that was raised in southern Patagonia, garnished with quinoa harvested from the mountainous region of the Andes, finished with a sauce made with corn or tapioca from the north-east. In this way, pulling ingredients from all corners of Argentina into one dish, Chef Pablo has been able to create a whole new dish which is still exponentially Argentinean.

As a firm believer in the importance of learning from new places, people and experiences, Chef Pablo has become more of a “Nomad Chef,” taking time away from the stationary restaurant setting to travel internationally with his partner Alejandro Cohen. Over the last two years, as they travel the world, they make an effort to share with others their knowledge and passion about Argentinean cuisine and wine by leading cooking demonstrations, wine tastings and hosting pop-up dinners. The students at the ICC were more than honored to have had a chance to meet them.

Check out my tasting notes about the wines from the event below. You may even want to pick up a bottle for yourself!

Selection of Argentinean Wines from Pablo Ranea event

  1. Nieto Senetiner- Torrontes 2016, Yellow color with greenish shades. The nose has a bouquet of white flowers, white peach and citrus fruit like orange and grapefruit
  2. Mi Terruno Reserve- Malbec 2014, Intense red colour with violet hues. Good body with sweet and round tannins. Typical Malbec red fruit aromas of plums and cherry with vanilla notes from the oak aging.
  3. Don Nicanor, Barrel Select- Malbec 2014, Intense purple-red hue and exquisite fruity notes of cherry and red currant.
  4. Rutini Encuentro-Malbec, aged 12 months in French and American Oak, violets floral notes, and fresh red and black fruits. Full-bodied tannins and rich dark chocolatey marmalade fruit notes are present on the mouth.
  5. Guachezco Oro-Malbec 2013 aged 16 months in barrels of French, American and Hungarian oak, displays a deep red colour. The notes of red fruits, plums and blackberries are combined with notes of cranberry along with aromas of caramel, vanilla and mocha from the time spent in the oak.
  6. Rutini Cabernet Malbec 2013 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Malbec, 12 Months in French and American Oak. On the nose, full bodied fruit aromas of cherry, marmalade & plum. The mouth feel combines the mature fruit essence with rich spices of vanilla & chocolate from the time in oak.
  7. Matervini Finca Malbec, grown at 3200 feet of altitude, in alluvial soils. The combination of this soil and old vines results in this classic wine from Mendoza, with flavors of attractive austerity and rich mouth feel at the same time,
  8. Matervini Antes Andes Valles Calchaquies Malbec, planted at 7800 feet of altitude a distinctive Malbec, fresh and full of fruit, with a wild feeling to it and mineral notes that make it a typical wine from Salta.
  9. Matervini Blanco, Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier, cofermented, the juice is allowed 5 days of skin contact prior to fermentation. This decadent white wine has the structure of an old world wine but still had some zesty youth. A great way to finish the tastings.

 

 

Business Bites: Launching Your Food Product, spoon and light bulb

Tips to Getting Your Food Product on Shelves

Written by: Judson Kniffen, ICC’s Associate Director of Education

On June 21st, ICC’s New York campus held the latest installment of the BUSINESS BITES SERIES. This discussion, which focused on launching your food product, featured four panelists who have successfully taken food products from stove to store as entrepreneurs and food business owners, as well as grocery buyers and brand consultants.

So what do you actually need to know to take your idea from stove to store? Check out the secrets from our entrepreneurs below.

Write a Business Plan. It doesn’t need to be perfect and you don’t even need to stick to it as your business evolves, but having a written business plan forces you to focus on your financials, and sets benchmarks to which you can measure your success. The Brooklyn Public Library has a competition that has helped some of our food entrepreneurs gain financial and marketing skills and focused their business, and ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship program is designed to help you build your business plan.

Packaging is Key. Your product needs to stand out from the competition – but not be so different that it’s unrecognizable. The packaging needs to sell itself. Go to a store and look at similar products on the shelf. How can yours be unique but also share the same shelf space?  What shapes and colors will make it stand out? There are lots of stock packaging options that can be customized, which is an easy and affordable way to get started.

Get Feedback (And Listen to it!). Ask friends, coworkers, and strangers what they think of your product. They might see something you’ve overlooked or taste something you don’t. Have demos at shops and talk to your customers. The more face time you have with the public, the more successful your business will be. If someone gives you a valuable piece of advice, listen to it and ask yourself how you can incorporate it into your business.

The Department of Agriculture is Your Friend. Trying to find regulatory information on your food product? Looking for classes in food safety? Call the Department of Agriculture and speak to someone on the phone about your specific product and questions. The people who work at the DOA are knowledgeable and can be very helpful when you are looking for a quick answer. Get certified in food safety education. Their knowledge and resources are vast and are at your disposal.

Get Started Now! If the big picture is too daunting, making small, incremental steps will ultimately lead to many accomplishments. ­­

Surround Yourself with Other Culinary Entrepreneurs. Listen to podcasts on your subject. The community momentum will help you keep going.

Be resilient! You’re going to hear a lot of “NOs” at every stage of your business, but it is important to persevere and remember why you started in the first place.

The BUSINESS BITES SERIES, brought to you by the Culinary Entrepreneurship program at ICC, is a series of workshops, discussion panels and networking events designed to support entrepreneurs in the food industry. Each event is designed to provide education, information and the opportunity to connect with industry experts in a collaborative setting.

Picture of Victor standing in a bread kitchen.

Alumni Spotlight: Victor Chen, Culinary ’11

Since graduating from ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program in 2011, Victor has developed a multi-faceted career in the food industry by working for Michelin Star fine-dining restaurants, causal fare gastropubs, corporate catering companies, and farm to table dining. Today, he is working at a bakery in Mountain View, CA called the Midwife and the Baker where he and his team create artisanal breads and pastries for wholesale and their stands at local farmer markets.

“I love my career, the crafts I’ve dedicated my life to, and the training and support that I’ve received from ICC in the various pivotal moments in my career as a chef and baker.”

What did your life look like before going to culinary school? 

My life before taking the Culinary Arts program at ICC involved being an accountant, sitting in an office waiting to get out of work to enjoy my one great passion in life: going out with friends to eat. Even though I had a passion of eating delicious meals, I had no idea how to cook or bake and was completely lost in the kitchen. I knew that going into class I would be a complete blank state and actually had a bit of fear even handling the knives we were provided.

What inspired you to enroll at ICC?

The pivotal moment was coming to an open house and observing a class in person. After seeing how each of the students worked on dishes and gained personal feedback in their training, I knew that I had to enroll.

Can you describe what your experience was like as a student and some of your fondest memories?

Having hands-on experience with professional equipment, responsive feedback from the instructors and learning how to work in teams were the best preparation for my career in the culinary industry. There are so many aspects about cooking that you just can’t learn from reading in books or from watching videos online. The best training is when you’re actively in the environment using all your senses to focus on mastering your craft. Will this bread take exactly 10 minutes to bake? Will this sauce only need 10 grams of salt just because it is written in a recipe half a lifetime ago? Learning to deviate from recipes, to save a sauce that is off- balanced in flavor or rescuing a dish that wasn’t coming together were some of the many lessons that I learned in the classroom and kitchen environment at ICC.

My fondest memories were listening to stories that the instructors shared about their own experiences working in the industry and how demanding workloads or inspiring moments helped shaped their career development. The stories really helped to bring a humanizing perspective to being in this rewarding career and to know that even the best trained chefs in the world have made mistakes too.

As a career changer, did you ever have any doubts about leaving accounting and pursuing a career in the food and beverage industry? Where did you find the reassurance to persevere?

Yes. About halfway through my classes, I was still unsure if I really wanted to take my training further and work inside restaurants. The culinary world appeared so mysterious to me and I didn’t know if I would thrive in a professional kitchen. It was through the guidance of my classmates and also of the ICC career services office that helped encourage me to interview at local restaurants. After participating in an internship at a French Brasserie, I was hooked. The training in class was instrumental in helping me feel confident in the restaurant when my chef would ask me to make an emulsified sauce, scale a recipe, or try plating the night’s special—I knew this was where I wanted to be.

What advice do you have for students new to the kitchen?

My advice to new students is to have patience for your craft. Don’t get frustrated when you don’t quite get a technique, if you make mistakes, or if it just seems like you aren’t making leaps and bounds and getting any recognition. Mastering a craft takes a lot of discipline and a lot of time. It may take much longer than you expect but as long as you keep making small improvements every day, work a little cleaner, faster, and tastier, you’ll make progress and reach your goals. If you keep learning, keep improving and avoid making the same mistake twice, you’ll be on the right track.

How have you used your education in the your culinary career?

The training and support that I have received from ICC were crucial to helping to prepare me for my time working as a cook in restaurants as well as my eventual transition to becoming a baker. Technical training in class such as having knife skills, moving quickly, working in a clean fashion, and having enthusiasm for our craft were all elements that were valuable in all of the kitchen environments I would later join. Even as I transitioned from being a savory line cook to becoming a bread baker, those lessons that I learned from ICC were carried forward in providing me an advantageous perspective to learning new techniques, working as a valuable teammate, and honing my expertise in my new-found craft.  Now whenever I go out to eat, or enjoy a delicious pastry, I can look between the lines and analyze all the tender care and techniques used to create complex sauces, intricate lamination between dough’s, and the time and work that went into the craft. Whenever people see an amazing dish and ask if I can recreate it, I know with eagerness that even if I couldn’t right at that moment, I have the training needed to learn. By taking the training I received from ICC and pursuing a career in both the restaurant and bakery worlds, I knew it was one of the best decisions I could have made.

You started out as a cook. How did you discover your love of bread and become a baker?

Two years ago while working the pasta station, I was asked by my chef to fill-in for our pastry chef who was taking time off. After being instructed on how to create these delicious loaves of bread, I felt the need to learn more. Using the resources available to me at the ICC student library, I read about bread baking and researched the craft. It was soon after I decided to make an official pivot in my career and become a bread baker. I was able to make a successful transition from a cook to bread baking because I made use of ICC’s alumni resources: I contacted ICC career services office to seek advice in how to best make the career change and also for contacts in a new city. The amazing team responded with incredible kindness and direction to help get me transition into a new role in a new city. I felt so incredibly supported throughout the process and couldn’t thank the career services office enough.

Tell us about The Midwife and the Baker and what your role is in the bakery.

I am currently working as an artisanal bread baker in a local bakery called The Midwife and the Baker located in Mountain View, California. My role as a bread baker varies day to day but includes responsibilities such as scaling recipes, mixing and developing doughs, shaping, baking bread, organizing distribution, and selling breads to customers at the bakery and at local farmer markets. The job is physically demanding as there are long hours on your feet, constant heavy lifting, and being blasted by the heat of a hot oven, but the rewards of a hard morning’s work to create sensational breads and mastering a craft outweigh all of the physical pains. My favorite part of the day is examining the breads and seeing how any small variation I have made in my technique has on improving the quality of the bread, whether it be shaping the dough tighter or looser, adding more or less water to the dough, or just letting the bread bake a little longer. My mind races to run all of the computations on how all of these little small variations result in the final product, to record them in a mental log of all my experiences and to produce an even better product tomorrow.

What is next for you?

My goal is to tie together all of the past elements of my life experiences: business, savory, and bread baking, and to open my own bakery and café. I believe that with the instructions I have received from ICC and the guidance and practice I have experienced in my time working at restaurants and bakeries will be instrumental in preparing me for success in the near future. Can’t wait to make my dream come true!

2018 Outstanding Alumni Awards: Angie Mar, Anna Bolz, Steven Cook, Aaron Babcock

ICC Announces 2018 Outstanding Alumni Award Winners

International Culinary Center’s 2018 Commencement Ceremony, held on June 3rd at New York City’s iconic Carnegie Hall, celebrated students who have completed ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts, Italian Culinary, Pastry Arts, Cake Techniques & Design, Art of International Bread Baking and Intensive Sommelier Training programs between May 2017 and June 2018.

ICC has a long tradition of celebrating the success of our graduates. Part of our process for planning each year’s Commencement is looking at who has made an impact in the previous year and left a mark on their industry. ICC selects these individuals from each field of study to honor in a series of Outstanding Alumni Awards.

This year, ICC bestowed the Excellence in Culinary Arts award to Chef Angie Mar, Chef/Owner of The Beatrice Inn in New York City. Excellence in Pastry Arts was awarded to Anna Bolz, Pastry Chef of Per Se. Steven Cook, graduate of the Culinary Arts program in 2000, and Co-Owner of CookNSolo Restaurants, received the Excellence in Entrepreneurship award. Lastly, the Outstanding Sommelier recipient was Aaron Babcock, Advanced Sommelier and the Sommelier at Quince in San Francisco who traveled from the West Coast to receive his award.

Please join us in congratulating our 2018 Outstanding Alumni Award winners and let their stories, and successes, be an inspiration to you!


I’m honored to provide this exceptional group of individuals with the distinction of Outstanding Alumni during the 2018 Commencement Ceremony at Carnegie Hall. It’s so inspiring to watch former ICC students thrive and innovate in the hospitality industry. We acknowledge Chef Angie Mar, Anna Bolz, Steven Cook, and Aaron Babcock, for excellence in their fields and hope that their stories inspire our new graduates to love what they do and to prosper in whatever career path they follow.” – Erik Murnighan, President of the International Culinary Center


MEET ICC’S 2018 OUTSTANDING ALUMNI AWARD WINNERS

EXCELLENCE IN CULINARY ARTS
Angie Mar | Executive Chef/Owner of The Beatrice Inn | Classic Culinary Arts, 2011

Chef Angie Mar, a native of Seattle, Washington, comes from a family of food lovers and restaurateurs. After graduating from our Culinary program in 2011, she went on to work in some of the toughest kitchens in New York, including the Spotted Pig, Marlow & Sons, Reynard, and Diner. In 2013, she took the helm of the West Village institution The Beatrice Inn, where she’s now the executive chef and owner. She has become known for working with whole animals and live fire, earning her a two-star review from the New York Times. She was Thrillist’s chef of the year in 2016, a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2017. Read more & see her interview here.


EXCELLENCE IN PASTRY ARTS
Anna Bolz | Pastry Chef of Per Se | Classic Pastry Arts, 2007Chef Anna Bolz, Pastry Chef Per Se

Anna Bolz is the Pastry Chef at the three-Michelin-starred Per Se where she oversees the production of all the dessert offerings and chocolate production for the restaurant. Born and raised in small-town Iowa, Anna studied music before pursuing her passion in pastry and baking at the International Culinary Center, then The French Culinary Institute. She cooked her way through a few of New York’s best kitchens, including Porterhouse and Jean-Georges, before landing at Per Se. Read more & see her interview here.

 


EXCELLENCE IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP 
Steven Cook, Co-Owner of CookNSolo RestaurantsSteven Cook | Co-Owner of CookNSolo Restaurants & Dizengoff NYC | Classic Culinary Arts, 2000

Steven Cook may not be a household name yet, but he’s one of the country’s most successful restaurateurs and oversees a mini-empire in New York and Philadelphia along with his business partner Michael Solomonov. He graduated from our culinary arts program in 2000 and is now the co-owner of a growing family of restaurants including Zahav, Dizengoff, Federal Donuts, and the philanthropic luncheonette Rooster Soup Company (check out their website roostersoupcompany.com—they’re really doing amazing work!). The cookbook he co-wrote with his business partner, called Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, won TWO James Beard Awards in 2016, for Best International Cookbook and Book of the year. Read more here.


OUTSTANDING SOMMELIER 
Aaron Babcock, Advanced Sommelier, Sommelier at QuinceAaron Babcock, Advanced Sommelier | Sommelier at Quince | Intensive Sommelier Training, 2012

Aaron Babcock, this year’s Outstanding Sommelier, is a young man who has accomplished incredible success in a very short span of time. He graduated from our Intensive Sommelier Training program in 2012, earned his Certified Sommelier qualification and went to work at Manresa, one of California’s best restaurants. Just a few years later, at the unlikely age of 24, he passed his Advanced Sommelier exam and joined the team at Quince in San Francisco, which he helped to earn its third Michelin star. Read more here.

fci alumni ed hardi demo

6 Things to Know Before Opening Your Food Truck

Written by: Judson Kniffen, ICC’s Associate Director of Education

Ed Hardy explaining how to open a food truck to ICC students and alumniFCI graduate Ed Hardy, Class of ’06, recently returned to his Alma Matter to lead a business workshop and cooking demonstration for ICC students and alumni. Ed owns and operates the award-winning food truck, Bacon ‘n Ed’s Mobile Gourmet Kitchen, in the DC metro area. He specializes in private events where he features his famous fried chicken banh mi, Swedish meatball sub, and many other delicious items!

 

 

While discussing the business aspects Chef Natalia serving Bacon n Ed's demo samplesof owning and operating a food truck, Ed and his chef-partner Evan Henris demonstrated how to make quick pickles for their celebrated Banh Mi sandwiches, and they discussed the multi-week long process for making real sauerkraut. Fermentation is hot right now, and Chef Ed works hard to stay on top of the food trends.

 

 

 

Thinking of opening your own food truck? Here are the 6 key lessons we learned from Ed Hardy:

1. Focus on a concept.

Really think about your menu, and whom your audience is. Is your food able to be prepared and served in a truck? What practical necessities will you need to serve the most amount of people in the shortest amount of time?

2. Chose your vehicle wisely.

Airstreams look cool, but those curved corners are big wastes of space. Think about maximizing every square inch of your food truck. What is the flow of the cooking and serving? Is there enough storage for food and cleaning supplies?

3. Systems equal success.

Gey your systems in place before opening: payment, scheduling, cleaning, organizing.

4. Start your paperwork early.

There is a lot of licensing, tax forms and other paperwork that need to be submitted. It’s not the fun part of the job, but it’s an unavoidable reality.

5. Be present on social media.

Let your followers know where you will be and keep them engaged. Respond to all question and comments just as you would in person.

6. Be unique

Competition is fierce these days. Your truck and your food need to stand out. Invest in good graphic design and be creative, and consistent, with your brand image. Maintain your quality — don’t lower your standards to increase margins, customers will notice.

Alumni Spotlight: Katy Friedmann

Katy Friedmann | Professional Pastry Arts 2016

I have been a pastry enthusiast for as long as I can remember. When I look back at old notebooks and photo albums, nearly every account of trips and vacations was centered on food. I was lucky enough to travel to Europe several times as a teenager, and I have countless photos of Parisian patisserie cases crammed full of cream-filled wonders, stacks of baguettes, éclairs of all colors lined up waiting to be devoured.

Once a year for my birthday growing up, my parents, recognizing this love of mine, would take me to my favorite restaurant. It was called the Bittersweet, and was renowned locally for its creative plating full of colors, shapes, and textures. As sugar fiend to the core, I would wait, fidgeting with anxious anticipation until the dinner plates were finally cleared and it was time for dessert. Somehow, it had become a tradition for me to be allowed to stand inconspicuously in a corner of the impossibly small kitchen and gaze in awe at the pastry chefs as they skillfully constructed works of edible art. I remember being too enthralled to even move as I watched their hands carefully balance a thin arc of an almond cookie on a scoop of gelato or deftly drizzle a bit of raspberry sauce around the rim of a plate.

As sometimes happens with childhood career dreams, while my love of creating (and consuming) dessert never waned, logistics of life crept in and my dream of being a pastry chef took a backseat. Initially, I decided to go the more “practical” route by attending a traditional college. At the time, I was not yet confident enough to do the thing I loved most. After graduating from Scripps College in 2006, I moved to Oakland to join an organization called Teach for America. During the day, I worked with students with special needs and at night I pursued my Masters Degree in Education at San Francisco State. I then moved across the country and continued teaching in Manhattan for several more years. I loved being a teacher–however, while I was comfortable in the classroom, there was something missing, and I looked back to what had always drawn me – Pastry! I realized that every dollar I saved was being spent at new, interesting restaurants. I had also started to obsessively read pastry blogs and binge on chef shows. That was when I started browsing culinary opportunities in upstate New York. Suddenly, a whole different world seemed within my reach.

In 2012, I decided to pursue a career change and jumped headfirst into the hospitality industry. Starting at a family-run dairy and bed and breakfast in Hudson, New York, I quickly adapted to a daily routine of baking for guests. It was a small operation and they felt confident that I could produce high quality food for their establishment; seeing their enthusiasm was extremely rewarding. Equally satisfying was being so closely tied to the ingredients that my hands transformed into steaming plum galettes or scones with fresh cream, berries, and homemade lemon curd. We often received paper bags of freshly milled flour from our neighbors and hastened to turn it into breads and cakes. I was able to see firsthand what “farm to table” really meant; ever since then, this concept became an important aspect of baking for me.

During this time, I flourished doing what has always inspired me. With positive feedback and encouragement from my employers, I was eager to try new dishes, experiment with flavor combinations, and pore over baking blogs and cookbooks in my spare time. I realized that although I had spent most of my professional life as a teacher, I was finally doing something that sustained me on multiple levels.

Pastry Students, Pastry School, Pastry Chef

Knowing I needed to elevate my pastry skills, I returned to California to enroll at ICC. I had looked at other schools, but ICC’s approachable chef instructors, its physical proximity to so many amazing bakeries and restaurants, and it’s gleaming, happily buzzing classrooms convinced me that this was the place I wanted to be. It paid off—attending ICC was one of the best things I’ve ever done. My class of nine women bonded immediately, and despite every class’s ups and downs, we became a cohesive team supporting each other to the finish line.

One of my favorite memories was when my benchmate, who was very known to all of us for being extremely clean and orderly even in the messiest of situations, over enthusiastically stirred her spatula while tempering chocolate and stood there stunned as she realized she too was covered in chocolate like the rest of us. Another favorite time was during the weekends we all trucked in to work on our gingerbread replica of the Winchester Mystery House to display at school over the holidays.

When finals inevitably came and went, it was bittersweet. I graduated with honors while simultaneously working at Fleur de Cocoa, a family-run patisserie in Los Gatos, where I remained for three years. After graduation, I took on a second job as a pastry production team member at Manresa Bread. Working two jobs, often doubling up on 8-hour shifts in the same day, was exhausting and pushed me to the limits. However, the experience, camaraderie, and encouragement I received from my supervisors and co-workers kept me going. Upon reflection, I greatly value Manresa’s dedication to doing everything by hand, using organic produce and dairy from local farmers, and experimenting with different kinds of grains until the perfect product was achieved.

Looking back, I can see that pastry school gave me extremely necessary foundational knowledge, but working in higher volume businesses taught me confidence, efficiency, speed, and understanding of how to be part of a team working towards a common goal. Although I loved working in the professional bakery setting, I jumped at the chance when ICC offered me a position as assistant to the Chef Instructors! It was the perfect opportunity to blend my background in education and passion for pastry arts.

Grad katie friedman working on the Gingerbread HouseThroughout the duration of this job, I happily spent my days working with students to master the classic French pastry curriculum. It felt really good to be in a position where I was both taking some of the stress off of instructors whom I highly respected from my own schooling, and giving back in some small way towards the school that introduced me to an industry about which I feel so passionately.

Towards the end of my position with ICC, an employer reached out to the school looking for a summer stagiaire in a small southwestern French village. The position entailed getting flour from the local mills, making croissants and baguettes every day by hand, living and working in a village with a population of only 500 people, exploring the local history and architecture on days off, and working in a beautiful building that was constructed in the 1200’s. Reading that job description brought back happy images of patisserie windows from my childhood and, holding my breath, I sent off an application.

I was beyond thrilled when I received a job offer the following week. The process of applying to this job is another reinforcement to me that, if you pursue what you love wholeheartedly, you will create the opportunities you have always dreamed of receiving. I hope to deepen my knowledge of traditional French pastries in the very place they were first tested and developed. In addition, part of the position includes the time and space to do my own recipe development in the patisserie, and I hope to bring ideas of non-traditional flavor combinations or pastry ideas with me that may not otherwise be showcased in the village. In the few months before departure, I plan to study French, compile favorite recipes I have collected along the way, and leave with an open mind to what doors may open next.

Follow me in my adventures in France on Instagram: @katyfree8

ICC Sommelier Alumna, Minjoo Kim

Alumni Spotlight: Advanced Sommelier, Minjoo Kim

Minjoo Kim, Advanced Sommelier, began her foray into food and wine training to become a chef and received her Culinary Arts Diploma from Le Cordon Bleu in Sydney, Australia. It was during her time as a culinary apprentice that she realized her passion for wine and sought to further her education at the International Culinary Center in New York, enrolling in the Intensive Sommelier Training program. In 2013, after passing the Court of Master Sommeliers Introductory and Certified Sommelier Exams at ICC, she returned to Korea to begin her wine career. Over the years Minjoo has worked as both Manager and Chief Sommelier for Hannam Liquor, retail shop and wine bar, as well as a tasting educator for the International Food and Wine Society, and Judge of the Korea Sommelier Wine Awards and Korean Wine Fair. In 2017 she passed the Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced Sommelier Exam.


What was your first (or most fond) memory of wine to date?

A glass of Vouvray, Huet ‘Le Haut Lieu’ demi-sec.


When did you know that studying wine would be a passion you’d like to pursue professionally?

While I was studying at ICC, the Master Sommeliers inspired me to believe that one day I could possibly do this like them.They were amazing.


Your extensive range of culinary and wine education ranges from a Culinary Art Diploma from Le Cordon Bleu’s Sydney, Australia campus as well as ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program in 2013 and more. What made you decide to move forward with a wine career over a more traditional culinary path?

I learned that wine could be more than just an alcoholic beverage when I visited Sydney’s fascinating restaurant Sepia—two hats ranked ay that time—to try a pairing menu for study as a culinary apprentice. Before that I wasn’t very fond of alcoholic beverages and simply hated drinking. But that night I was overwhelmed and began noticing that wines could be just more than alcoholic beverage. It was at that moment that I decided to learn about wines. That is what brought me to New York City and ICC right after finishing my 2 and a half year culinary path. I believe that knowing and understanding wine broadens my culinary horizon.


You recently received your AS [Advanced Sommelier] certification. [Congratulations!] What was the most difficult hurdle you faced prior to achieving this status?

I actually didn’t receive my certification the first time I took the Advanced Sommelier exam, despite passing the Theory and Blind Tasting portions. With only have 5 years of experience as a sommelier and having never worked for any formal, fine dining restaurants, I believe it was my minimal service experience that was the biggest reason I didn’t pass the exam. But I can tell you that I definitely learned a lot from that failure. Last year, I retook the Advanced Sommelier exam and passed my second time around!


What has been the most rewarding experience thus far in your wine career?

For the past three years I had been working as both a manager in a retail wine shop and chief sommelier for a wine bar at  the same time and place up until very recently. During this time, it was difficult to balance my roles in both sections. But it provided me with experience and communication skills for both wine retail and service, as well as the opportunity to try many interesting promotions, events and educational classes. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot!


Your extensive background in wine has landed you as a judge in 2017 for both the Korea Sommelier Wine Awards and the KWC (Korean Wine Fair.) Through these particular experiences and beyond, do you feel that mentorship plays an important role for those looking to develop a career in the field? If so, why?

I think that mentorship is a crucial part of this industry. I see many people who have mentors easily approach their goals and achieve what they are trying to go after. It’s important for those just entering the wine world to have mentors like I did. At the very beginning, I was struggling with no one to discuss matters I encountered like big career path decisions, preparing for competitions and the Advanced Sommelier exam, etc. I still hope I can find someone to seek help and advice from, but I also want to be the someone who can help future sommeliers.


If you weren’t a professional sommelier or chef, what career path would you have gone down?

I’ve always aspired to find beautiful things in my life such as food and wine. My major in University was Fashion, so I’m guessing I would have worked vigorously in any fashion business with a beautiful glass of wine!


For any new individuals looking to make their mark on the world of wine, please share your advice for a flourishing wine career?

Have passion and be full of energy. With that combination, you can make any mark you wish. I learned this from five of the Master Sommeliers I met while taking the program at ICC.


What are your professional goals for the next few years? Any exciting news on the horizon to share?

I definitely want to take the Master Sommelier exam in the next few years and want to do anything I can here to help the wine industry in Korea grow. Without growth in this industry, there is no dream for us Sommeliers.


 

ICC Alumnus David Israelow competing in the Washoku World Challenge

Alumni Spotlight: David Israelow

David Israelow is a market analyst turned chef.  He is a graduate of the International Culinary Center and the Tokyo Sushi academy.  David has cooked and trained in New York City, Colorado, India and Japan.  He recently won the World Washoku Challenge, hosted in Tokyo.  Currently, David is working on food and farm related projects in the Hudson Valley and New York City.  

What motivated you to enroll in the Professional Culinary Arts program after working in financial industry for some time?

When I was working in finance, I got to the point where I was ready to move on, but wasn’t sure in what direction.  I looked around for a new job but didn’t find anything that interested me.  I decided instead to enroll at ICC in the evening program.


What did you enjoy learning the most while enrolled in culinary school?

French technique is the reason I enrolled in culinary school.  I really enjoyed learning the foundations from knife work to sauce making to potatoes, veg, proteins, etc.


Tell us a little bit about your first culinary job after graduating from ICC.

While I was finishing at ICC I started interning at ABC Kitchen and then at En Japanese Brasserie.  After graduating, I had a chance to travel, so I ended up in India for 6 months.  When I returned, I wanted to work in fine dining and spent time trailing and volunteering around NYC before starting at Betony.  I spent about a year there.  It was a very demanding kitchen and environment but I learned a lot.


We know that you served as a volunteer to Chef Hiroko Shimbo’s 5-day Essentials of Japanese Cuisine course at ICC. When did you realize were you inspired by Japanese cuisine and which aspect of the cuisine were you attracted to the most?

I have always been interested in Japanese cuisine.  There aren’t many structured programs to study Japanese technique, so when I saw the opportunity to assist Hiroko’s class as a student I was very excited.  I actually assisted her twice for essentials and once for ramen and gyoza.


How did working at American and French restaurants help your understanding of Japanese cuisine?

Many American restaurants are founded in French systems and techniques that were explicitly codified and widely adopted.  So working in American restaurants its easy to learn a lot of French technique and vocabulary without even realizing it.  This is not necessarily the case with Japanese cuisine.  Often Japanese vocabulary is borrowed to describe American food that has little to no foundation in Japanese technique.

On the other side of the coin, there are some American restaurants with deep knowledge of Japanese cuisine doing really incredible work developing new methods founded in technique and tradition.  But I don’t think it’s very common.


Tell us a little about your experience heading to Japan and enrolling in a Japanese cooking school.

I went to Japan with no plan, no contacts and no idea what I was doing.  I was lucky to make some amazing contacts and was able to stagiaire in several kitchens, travel widely and eat amazing food.

When I found out about the program offered in English at the Tokyo Sushi Academy, I decided to enroll.  I saw it as an opportunity to round out the experiences I had in kitchens that weren’t always easy to understand or readily translatable.  It was a great curriculum at the TSA with dedicated and skillful instructors, I was able to learn a lot very quickly.


While in Japan, did you acquire any apprenticeships? If so, please share your favorite experience.

In Japan I’ve trained in restaurants in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.  I wouldn’t go as far as to say I had a favorite experience, but preparing osechi ryori (Japanese new year food) in Osaka was certainly a highlight.  On the final day, all of the cooks spent 24 hours straight finishing all of the jubako (boxes holding the new year food).


Would you recommend that chefs should study Japanese cuisine, even if they are not working full-time with the country’s cuisine?

Japanese cuisine is founded in technique and tradition.  Traditional Japanese cuisine, Washoku, has been designated UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.  I think it is certainly worthwhile topic of study for any aspiring cook, chef or food related endeavors.



How has life changed after receiving first prize at the Washoku World Competition? Have there been any exciting, new opportunities popping up?

A lot of very interesting opportunities have begun to unfold following the WWC.  I met some amazing people and expanded my network both in and outside of Japan during the competition.  I look forward to seeing what presents itself.


Aside from the Washoku World Competition, what other goals do you seek to achieve in the upcoming months/years within your career?

I’m currently working on some projects in the Hudson Valley and New York City.  I plan to learn more about farming and to continue my culinary training in Japan.

 

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