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

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?


Alumni Spotlight: Chantale Doinel, Culinary Arts Class of 2016

As native of Normandy, France, Chantale Doinel grew up with a love of French cuisine and an appreciation for seasonality. For the last 35 years, she has been working as an esthetician and owner of a skin care salon. However, it was her passion for food and cooking that inspired her return to school to embark on a new career. Chantale graduated from the International Culinary Center’s Silicon Valley campus in 2016 with a diploma in Professional Culinary Arts. Today, she is working as a successful private chef based in the San Francisco Bay Area. We sat down with her to discuss how she switched gears professionally for a life dedicated to the culinary arts.

Thrive to improve, do not complain, and practice.”


What makes the culinary industry appealing to you?

Chantale: Whether it’s a dinner for two, a picnic in the woods, a banquet on a beach or a well-prepared sandwich on a hike, I find great satisfaction in procuring balanced and memorable meals for other people.

When did you know you wanted to work in the food industry?

Chantale: About 12 years ago, when my friends asked me to share my knowledge of regional French cuisine, I started giving them cooking lessons. I realized then that I wanted to learn more about the industry as a whole so that I could better transmit knowledge to my peers. As I am constantly eager to learn, I sought a certification to validate my qualification as a cook.

What were your greatest challenges at school and how were you able to overcome them?

Chantale:  Speed, timing and organization were challenging concepts for me, not to mention the fact that, as I went to school at night, I was working full-time during the day. I tried to overcome these obstacles by being prepared for each class, mindfully studying the  material and practicing knife skills at home.

What inspires your style of cooking?

Chantale: My mother taught me everything about traditional French family cooking. Growing up, our refrigerator was always empty as I was raised to do the shopping on a daily basis and get inspiration according to the season.  As we were a large family, my brothers and I were assigned tasks in the kitchen; from an early age we were roasting, braising, grilling, and making pastries. We often ate specialties from the Normandy region and the Loire Valley and but also exotic dishes from the places we traveled to with my father when he was in the army such as Morocco and Germany.

 

Follow Chantale’s culinary creations on Instagram via @chantalescuisine

Celebrating Culinary Entrepreneurship Grads for National Entrepreneurship Month

November has officially been named as National Entrepreneurship Month, with the official day of recognition for Entrepreneurs’ Day landing on Tuesday, November 21. Throughout the years, the International Culinary Center (and formerly the French Culinary Institute) has provided the technical training to give students and hopeful entrepreneurs the opportunity to have their ideas flourish into reality.

This year, we focus on 6 fearless female graduates of ICC New York’s Culinary Entrepreneurship program to show you the businesses they built from the ground up after receiving their Grand Diploma from our SoHo campus. With ICC’s recently launched Stacy’s Rise Project scholarship, future female entrepreneurs have the chance to earn up to $6,950 toward their Culinary Entrepreneurship education. Through the program, students will receive mentorship and guidance to aid prospective entrepreneurs to go from concept to business plan in just 6 weeks.

The following women have completed the program and have moved on to start a business where they can love what they do on a daily basis.


Rosemarie McNish

ICC Culinary Entrepreneurship Graduate 2016

 Owner of KaRosie Cakes | http://www.karosiecakes.com

KaRosie Cakes, founded by Rosemarie McNish, was conceptualized in 2012 after years of watching her mother bake delicious cakes enjoyed by family and friends.  In an effort to keep the legacy going Rosemarie learned the recipes herself and expanded on her mother’s creations.  The flagship product of KaRosie Cakes is an authentic Jamaican-Style Rum Cake, a deliciously flavored, rum-infused cake that her mother created as a young girl in Jamaica.  Always made with love, and usually only available during Christmastime and weddings, Jamaican-Style Rum cake is now available all year round and for any event.

The name KaRosie Cakes is a combination of the two McNish daughters: Karina and Rosemarie (Rosie) and was also a common misnomer in the household whenever Dave and Jackie McNish were calling for their daughters.  Rosemarie felt it was extremely important to share how significant her family was in turning her dream into a reality and takes great pleasure in explaining the name to everyone.

KaRosie Cakes has developed over the years from the concept of just a Jamaican Rum Cake business to a Cake business focused on many Caribbean Flavors.  Thrilled to introduce unfamiliar flavors to the masses, Rosemarie enjoys adding a beautiful twist to the flavors she grew up with.

Officially launching the business in early 2017, Rosemarie is excited to embark on this new journey that’s been in the making for years.

 


Diana Egnatz

ICC Culinary Entrepreneurship Graduate 2016

Daaamn Good | http://www.dianaegnatz.com 

Diana is the founder of the Sweet Tooth Tuesday blog and the preserves company Daaamn Good. Daaamn Good offers modern twists on classic preserving techniques utilizing locally sourced produce + exciting flavors while providing our patrons with recipes that use our products in interesting ways. This project has been a long time coming for Diana. For years she has spent summers hauling pounds of seasonal produce from the Union Square Greenmarket to her tiny New York kitchen, and would jam up a storm! After coming home from work and going straight to the kitchen to make fig preserves, Diana realized that making jars of delicious goodness was an obsession worth creating a business around. Developing exciting and unusual flavor combinations that taste Daaamn Good is her mission; along with teaching customers how to use our products as more than just jam on toast!

A New York City-based artist, Diana is an honored alumna of the School of Visual Arts BFA Photography department and Mentor program. She works as the Director of Photography for the SVA yearbook. When Diana isn’t dancing around the darkroom or naked before her camera, she enjoys whipping up concoctions in her kitchen!  Winner of PDN Taste Award 2015.


Erica Barrett

ICC Culinary Entrepreneurship Graduate 2016

Southern Culture Artisan Foods
https://southernculturefoods.com

Erica Barrett is the Founder and CEO of Southern Culture Artisan Foods, a breakfast lifestyle brand she started after visiting the grocery store and seeing that there was a lack of quality breakfast products on the shelf. Erica is most notably known for appearing on the Emmy Award Winning Show “ABC’s Shark Tank” where she went head to head with the Sharks and received two offers; one from Kevin O’Leary and one from Barbara Corcoran and ultimately landed a deal with Barbara Corcoran on the show. Erica’s approach to food is to always create the best version of what you love.

Southern Culture, Erica’s Breakfast lifestyle brand is a salute to breakfast and her strong Southern roots. Erica has built her business from the ground up with an idea, tremendous faith and a will to succeed. Her products can now be purchased at 4,000 retailers across the  U.S and in three countries internationally. Erica’s passion for food and desire to build a food empire has inspired Erica to launch her own YouTube Channel and Branded Restaurant Concept.

A native of Mobile, AL Erica is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University with a BA in Business Finance but was inspired to follow her dream to cook professionally after becoming the grand prize winner of a video recipe contest with Foodnetwork.com and Lea and Perrins. She is a graduate of the International Culinary Center (formerly French Culinary Institute) with a Grand Diploma in Culinary Entrepreneurship.

 

 

 


Leticia Skai Young

ICC Culinary Entrepreneurship Graduate 2015

Lolo’s Seafood Shack http://www.lolosseafoodshack.com

Born and Raised in Harlem and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Leticia Young has amassed more than a decade of experience in hospitality, entertainment and tourism having worked alongside Caribbean Hotel Brands and Tourism Boards; including the Anguilla Tourist Board, Cuisinart Anguilla, ViceRoy Anguilla, and Cap Juluca. Leticia brings a unique blend of Ivy League acumen and entrepreneurial driven creativity to the hospitality industry, as a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the Culinary Entrepreneurship program of the International Culinary Center.

Your next island getaway just got a lot closer!  Executive Chef Raymond Mohan and Restaurateur Leticia Young opened LoLo’s Seafood Shack in the Winter of 2014.  LoLo’s Seafood Shack serves up a variety of seafood from the coastal comfort foods of the Cape like sauced shrimp to Caribbean street eats like our crunchy conch fritters.  LoLo’s is a New York Times Critic pick that has been featured on ABC, CBS, NBC, Eater, Potluck Video, The Infatuation, NY Post, NY Daily News, NY Magazine, Nation’s Restaurant News, Refinery 29, Food & Wine, Village Voice and Zagat among others.

Island time hospitality seeks to create transportive and uplifting dining experiences through people in the various hospitality concepts, and consumer packaged goods we develop.  They create restaurant concepts that become unique gathering places at the crossroads of every community that they serve and invest in. Taking inspiration from their authentic passion for culture, global travel, and the culinary arts, the mission at LoLo’s Seafood Shack is to provide freshly cooked quality ingredients with authentic flavors to the massive via fast and friendly service at accessible prices.


Annie Shamoon

ICC Culinary Entrepreneurship Graduate 2016

Just Hit Send
https://www.justhitsendgifts.com

Founded by Dallas-based events planner Annie Shamoon, Just Hit Send attempts to make gift giving easy — with just a click, they will design, package, and send unique, high-end themed gift boxes to your friends and family. Each box contains three to six items that fit a unique theme. For example, the Cheers to You box packs in sparklers, matches, confetti and champagne glasses.

Sending someone a gift adds meaning to the moment. And all you had to do was hit “send”! I hope you enjoy gifting these packages as much as I loved designing them.

 

 

 

 

 


Ellie Pegler

ICC Culinary Entrepreneurship Graduate 2016

Farine +Four
https://farineandfour.com

Farine + Four is a developing bakery, led by New York City trained, Ellie Pegler. Utilizing strict technique and simple ingredients, the company sets out to create thoughtful and forward-thinking breads, pastries, ice creams, and chocolates.

When it comes to making bread, Ellie Pegler definitely knows a thing or two. She grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska where she worked at a local bakery making cookies for 9 years while still in her teens, graduated from the University of Nebraska, then followed her heart to New York City to attend the French Culinary Institute (now The International Culinary Center) to learn the art of bread baking and entrepreneurship. She honed her skills working at top restaurants in New York including the Michelin-starred restaurants Aquavit and Marea, and Vaucluse as Head Baker. Passionate about baking, she is now launching Farine + Four in Omaha Fall 2017.


To learn more about our Culinary Entrepreneurship program now, click here

To learn more about the Stacy’s Rise Project Scholarship, click here.

Are you a graduate of the International Culinary Center (or French Culinary Institute) and an entrepreneur we should know about? We’d love to be updated on your culinary career! Email your story to asamartano@culinarycenter.com to be included in future updates.

Review: Ask The Alumni Event with Tracy Obolsky

Written by Olivia Hamilton
Culinary Arts Student, Level 3

Tracy Obolsky is chef and owner of Rockaway Beach Bakery, as well as a graduate of the Pastry Arts program here at ICC. Prior to attending the French Culinary Institute over 10 years ago and realizing her passion for the food industry, Tracy attended the Pratt Institute. Before embarking on the adventure to open her own bakery, Tracy has had a variety of experience working in restaurants such as Esca, North End Grill, Burrow Food and Drink, and more.  She even helped chef and restaurateur Nick Morgenstern to open a few of his venues.

As Executive Pastry Chef at Esca at the age of 26, Obolsky was challenged to revolve her dishes around Italian cuisine. As a self-proclaimed American influenced chef, she knew that Esca would not be home for long. Eventually landing the same position at Danny Meyers’ North End Grill, Tracy was granted more creative freedom in her recipe development. One of her most prized dishes while at North End Grill was creating a chai-spiced funnel cake.

While she loved working in the city and enjoyed the fast-paced lifestyle, she was commuting to and from Rockaway Beach (Queens) every day for 10 years and it eventually began to take a toll on her. She knew it was time to make the transition to leave the Manhattan restaurant scene and pursue her dream of opening up a bakery.

When Chef Obolsky started to make her dream a reality, she quickly realized she wasn’t as business savvy as she originally had thought. Though she had worked at many great places, there were a lot of things (especially permits) needed that came as a surprise to her. Once she decided on her shop in Riis Park, she said it was, “”literally bricks and a toilet”. When budgeting for the costs of opening her bakery, the biggest shocker was the plumbing costs. She admitted to the audience that while originally estimating a $2,000 budget for plumbing, it wound up costing over $16,000! Investing her life into this project with her husband by her side, the duo also acquired an Angel Investor to help speed up the timing of renovations prior to the grand opening.

Though the chef was finally living her dream, she missed the collaboration that goes on in a restaurant kitchen. That’s when she got the idea for the croissant project. The croissant project is chef Obolsky’s way of continuing to collaborate with local Chefs. Currently, they are working with Breezy’s BBQ to make burnt ends croissant with maple and sea salt.

She expressed to students that working in a seasonal beach town can be tricky, but she is always thinking of ways to keep the customers coming in. At first, they didn’t understand the limited quantity and selection of items, but Chef Obolsky likes to think of it as a boutique bakery where everything is special since she personally fresh bakes items every day. The operation is currently only a 3-man team, one of the employees being her younger brother. He didn’t have any prior experience but has learned very quickly and has a natural talent for knife skills. His pies are so good now that Chef Tracy is unable to tell the difference between ones baked by him or her own.

One of the biggest boots she received in business was when a journalist from the New York Times came into the bakery to review the venue. After the article came out, business doubled! To check out the full NY Times review, click here.