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.

James Beard Foundation Honors Chef Dan Barber at Upcoming JBF Food Summit

What’s Your Consuming Power?

Each year the James Beard Foundation hosts the JBF Leadership Awards as part of the annual JBF Food Summit. The awards aim to shine a light on the importance and complexities of sustainability, food access, and public health.

This year the foundation celebrates ICC Alumnus, Chef Dan Barber, as one such visionary “for his work in blending the dining and educational experience to reduce waste, improve food taste and sustainability, and promote a soil-to-table approach.” Dan Barber, chef/owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, is best known for his innovations in the dining experience that promotes a more sustainable food world. But what many don’t know is that his collaboration with ICC’s Farm-to-Table extension of the Professional Culinary Arts program is actively training the next generation of chefs to cook responsibly. Through the program, Chef Dan Barber is challenging the chefs of tomorrow to make sustainable choices in their kitchens that create a healthier and safer food world.

Ready to join the conversation? Attend the two-day JBF Food Summit: Consuming Power October 23-24 in NYC. This year JBF is bringing together a diverse group of experts, including Chef Dan Barber, from across disciplines to look into the genesis and changing dynamics of consumer power and apply that knowledge to various food-system issues we’re facing today. Learn what Americans want from their food, the challenges and opportunities for a sustainable food system in our new political landscape, and the role chefs and other culinary leaders can play.

Early bird tickets are on sale til October 2nd. For more information & registration, visit jamesbeard.org/foodsummit.

Alumni Spotlight: Anat Vronsky, 2012 Culinary Graduate

ICC caught up with the 2012 Culinary Arts graduate and owner of Anat Catering to discuss how attending the International Culinary Center gave her the opportunities to love what she does throughout her career.

You have to be passionate about cooking and love what you do! If you wish to become a professional, you have to put in some serious time and effort. Study and work with the best and make your dream come true.”  -Anat Vronsky


ICC: Please describe your catering business including the type of cuisine, workspace location, work schedule, type of clients, do you work alone or do you have employees, etc?

Anat: My catering business is located at the JCC in Palo Alto. We do all the preparations in that kitchen and cater events either at the JCC or at other venues in the Bay area. We cater almost any event from breakfast to dinner, corporate to private. We also cater special events such as bar/bat mitzvahs and weddings. Our largest event was a whole day of a corporate event including all meals and a café with desserts and fruits throughout the day serving 300 people.

We serve eclectic food with influences from a broad and diverse range of sources. I invest a lot of time and energy in building tasty, fresh, local, and healthy menus. The presentation is also very important to me, although as I was taught at the ICC, “never on the account of flavor.”


ICC: Tell us about the process of getting your catering business off the ground. How did it begin, and what were your goals as an entrepreneur?

Anat: After graduating from the ICC, I continued my studies at the SFBI, focusing on bread baking, viennoiserie, and pastry. As a graduate of both these excellent schools, I felt like I was ready to initiate my own business, but I wasn’t yet sure what it would be. Shortly after my graduation from the SFBI, I was asked by a small company if I could cater a breakfast for them once a week. They were my first customer. They were 40 people back then, and I still cater a weekly breakfast for them but now they are 300 people. We grew up side by side.

My goal from the very beginning was to create the entire event—to serve wonderful foods but also to create the ambiance, the style, and the décor. I want customers to have a unique and tasty experience.


ICC: Where/how do you see your business in 5 to 10 years?

Anat: I would like to be able to maintain my business as is! My big dream is to start my own cooking school where I can teach the next generation everything I’ve learned. I sometimes sketch that school in my dreams. I really hope it will come true.


ICC: Did your ICC education help you become an entrepreneur? Do you use the skills you learned at the ICC at work?

I use the skills and techniques I learned at the ICC every day and I will probably be doing so for the rest of my career! As strange as it may seem, it is so much easier to apply your creativity when you have a good foundation of basic culinary knowledge.

You learn to cook so that you don‘t have to be a slave to recipes. You get what’s in season and you know what to do with it.” -Julia Child


ICC: What inspired you to enroll in the ICC? Were there certain steps/ thoughts that lead you to the decision?

Anat: Food and cooking were always my passion. I spent most of my adult life being a lawyer, and I switched to being a chef with the love and passion for cooking which has always been inside of me.


ICC: How and when did you know you wanted to work in the food industry? What about it was appealing to you?

Anat: After moving from Israel to the Bay Area in 2008, I decided to take advantage of the geographical change and do what I always dreamt about—attend a culinary school. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to enjoy two careers in my life.


ICC: What were your greatest challenges at school? And how were you able to overcome them?

Anat: My greatest challenge at school was learning as much as possible! I wanted to catch everything at once. Today I know that it is a gradual process and you have to experience a lot in order to figure out your own way.


ICC: What is your fondest memory of the time you spent at ICC?

Anat: My fondest memory of the ICC is the charcuterie week with Chef Bruno Ponsot. It’s not something you get to do every day, not even as a chef.


Learn more about Anat’s business by visiting,  www.anatcatering.com today.

ICC New York Campus to Host Upcoming Japanese Cuisine Competitions

The following (2) organizations promote the development of Japanese cooking abroad and are aimed to improve the quality of chefs working at Japanese restaurants — in Japan and throughout the world. These organizations are offering (2) upcoming competitions to help expand a chef’s knowledge of Asian cuisine and provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to the right chefs.


The Japanese Culinary Academy (NPO)

Established in 2004 in efforts to promote the global understanding of Japanese cuisine, The Japanese Culinary Academy (JCA) helps contribute to the population of Japanese food chefs for the next generation. Active in programs such as the Food Education Project, the Japanese Culinary Art Competition, and the Japanese Culinary Fellowship aimed at top-level chefs overseas.

The Japanese Cuisine Academy works on educational, cultural and technological research as well as dissemination activities in order to promote the development of Japanese cuisine for people living in various parts of the world as well as in Japan. Providing the opportunity to study abroad in some of Japan’s most fine dining venues, The Japanese Culinary Academy competition is aimed at chefs eager to experience new flavors, and challenge yourself by “creating an aroma.” This is an opportunity for young, motivated chefs to compete against each other to create a new Japanese cuisine.

The Japanese Culinary Competition will commence at the International Culinary Center (NYC) on Sunday, October 29th for the pre-competition. To enter the competition and potentially win the 1st prize of 1,000,000 yen, submit your application by the June 30, 2017, deadline!

For more details on how to enter, visit: http://culinary-academy.jp/eng/usa/index.html 


Japanese Cuisine and Food Culture Human Resource Development Committee

This organization runs the Japanese Cuisine and Food Culture Human Resource Development program which invites 15 selected foreign chefs to learn and master Japanese cuisine. If chosen, the opportunity lands the chef in Japanese language training at Naganuma School, Japanese cooking training in Taiwan at The Academy of Hospitality Kyoto Culinary Art College. From there, the chosen chefs will spend 6 months in a top-class Japanese restaurant mastering their craft.

Last year, 3 ICC graduates completed the program, where they studied in Kyoto, Japan. Applicants must have cooking experience already, and be serious about Japanese cuisine.

Enter by May 31, 2017, to be considered! Visit http://www.tow.co.jp/program/ to learn more.

 

ICC In The News: Highlights From April 2017

ICC In The News provides monthly highlights featuring ICC alumni, deans, faculty and friends. Stories of our 15,000+ alumni network and their successes are continuously popping up across various prestigious publications. Below, we have aggregated some of our favorites from April 2017, aimed to inspire readers to #LoveWhatYouDo in the kitchen and beyond.


Christina Tosi Opens New NYC Milk Bar Location in Financial District.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ICC Professional Pastry Arts alumni, Christina Tosi,  opened her 9th NYC location and 12th overall location of Milk Bar in the city’s Financial District. Tosi joins a plethora of influential chefs and restaurateurs who are embracing the FiDi neighborhood, with new outposts of Mario Batali’s Eataly, Daniel Boulud’s Épicerie Boulud, and an upcoming 6,000 square-foot venture from Danny Meyer in the works for the area. Read more about MilkBar FiDi, here on Time Out New York.


ICC Expands Olive Oil Certification Program to California Campus 

The Olive Oil Program at the International Culinary Center will be expanding to the Campbell, California campus with a six-day, two-level olive oil sommelier certification course this July in conjunction with The Olive Oil Times and Curtis Cord, the program’s executive director. An international faculty of renowned experts will guide students through more than 100 olive oil samples from 26 countries in the world’s most comprehensive curriculum in olive oil quality assessment. Click here to learn how to register.


Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs 2017 

Alumni and executive chef of The Beatrice Inn, Angie Mar, makes the list of culinary newcomers to be recognized by Food & Wine Magazine. As an alum of The Spotted Pig and Marlow & Sons, Angie continues to break the mold of the male-dominated meat world. To see all the honorees, click here.


The Real Differences Between Yams and Sweet Potatoes

Learn the differences between yams and sweet potatoes from ICC Master Chef Marc Bauer, including how to spot them out in a grocery store. Chef Marc also discusses the nutritional differences between the two with Real Simple. Click here to read the full story.


The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017  [1-50]

In April, The World’s 50 Best announced the honorees for the 2017 edition of the top 50 restaurants across the globe. While NYC’s Eleven Madison Park earned the #1 spot, the ‘Highest Climber Award‘ was bestowed upon ICC alumni Dan Barber‘s Blue Hill at Stone Barns located in Pocantino Hills, New York. ICC’s Farm-to-Table program students actually have the luxury of spending a full week at Barber’s farm, while being mentored by the agriculturally conscious chef. To view the full list of restaurants, click here


Macaron or Macaroon? Here’s the Difference

In an article for Real Simple, Director of Pastry Operations, Jansen Chan, explains the major differences between macarons and macaroons. Discover the history behind both in the full article, here.


GQ Talks With Dean of Special Programs Jacques Pépin 

In a brand new interview with GQ Magazine, ICC’s very own Dean of Special Programs, Jacques Pépin, speaks out on his upcoming episode of American Masters on PBS, his funniest Julia Child story, drinking wine over water and much more. Learn more about the legendary chef, here.

Alumni Spotlight: Jae Lee, 2016 California Culinary Arts Graduate

After immigrating to America, Jae Lee owned and ran a successful Japanese restaurant. Over time though, he realized the need for a solid culinary education to build on and solidify his knowledge. Read the story of how Jae Lee went from 2016 California Culinary Arts graduate to Sushi Chef and General Manager of Kenji Sushi in San Jose, California.


There are times when you’re so tired from work, but still can’t hate it because you love what you do.” – Jae Lee


ICC: What were the steps and thoughts that lead you to the decision to attend the ICC?

Jae: I was born and raised in Korea, and during my childhood days, I remember always making my own snacks after school. Even with the instant cup noodles, I tried something different by adding seafood and some spices to make a fancy noodle soup and I did this pretty much throughout my childhood days. After I graduated high school, I wanted to go to culinary school in the U.S. but I first had to take ESL classes and learn English. During those days, I worked part-time jobs in the food industry. After I got married, I thought skipping culinary school and owning my own business would be a good idea so I started my own Japanese restaurant. I owned this restaurant for seven years and although is was successful, I wished I knew more than just Japanese or Korean food. I wanted to broaden my knowledge in professional culinary techniques. I had regrets on not going to culinary school, so I sold my business and found ICC.


ICC: Today, you have taken on responsibility in your family’s business—How you get involved with Kenji and what are some of your day-to-day tasks?

Jae: Working as a Sushi Chef and also in general management, I start my mornings off by making sure all staff members are prepared for the day. I check the receipt and quality of all deliveries for the day’s ingredients and I ensure the cleanliness of the restaurant. The task that gives me the most joy is creating a meal with raw fish behind the sushi bar while a customer is in front me watching how I make things. I love seeing the smiling faces of customers and hearing them tell me that they love what I made them.

I work at Kenji because my family owns the restaurant but, my main motivation is the style and the concept that this restaurant pursues. It blends in with my previous Japanese restaurant business and the new things I learned at ICC.


ICC: What advice would you give to someone considering enrolling in culinary school?

You should not hesitate to pursue a culinary education if you love sharing with people the food you’ve made. You learn so much in school! Even after owning my own restaurant business for 7 years, there’s still so much I learned. Coming to ICC was definitely one of the best decision I made throughout my career.


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

Jae: My greatest challenge at school was attending evening classes while working full time but my passion for learning new things kept me going.


ICC: What is the best industry advice you’ve ever received?

Jae: The best advice I’ve ever received was when one of my professors who said that most important thing about business is the ‘concept of the restaurant’. Because my career goal is to have my own restaurant again, I find this very practical advice.


ICC: Tell us about your current role at Kenji Sushi in San Jose?

Jae: I work as a Sushi Chef at Kenji and also do general management. I start my morning off by making sure all staff is covered, checking all deliveries for today’s ingredients and cleanliness of the restaurant. Creating a meal with raw fish behind the sushi bar, while a customer is in front of you watching how you make things; this is one of my joy of my job. Seeing the smiling faces of customers telling me they love what I made them.


Connect with Jae Lee on Instagram via  @jay_lee_man and @kenji_sushi.