Start Up Business Tips: Facility Design

Provided by the Culinary Entrepreneurship Program Instructors

Bradford Thompson
Founder of Bellyful Consulting Inc
Bellyful Consulting, Inc.
is a full service culinary consulting company behind multiple new restaurants, events, catering jobs, TV and film productions and major consumer brands. Bradford and his team have spearheaded projects including Southern Hospitality, Miss Lily’s Favourite Cakes and Grimaldi’s Coal Burger.

Facility Design Tip: Design with sanitation in mind – studies show more labor hours [which means $$$] are spent cleaning than actually preparing food in virtually every type of food service facility.

 

Profiles in Pastry: Matt Robicelli

Written by Daisy Martinez

profiles-in-pastry
Allison and Matt Robicelli of Robicelli’s Bakery (picture courtesy of Brooklyn Magazine)

Matt Robicelli was an FDNY Paramedic who suffered a career ending injury at the age of 20, as a first responder to the World Trade Center on 9/11.

After spending a year recovering from his injuries and having reconstructive surgery on his legs, Matt was facing a future without a career. He decided to follow his first love of cooking and enrolled at ICC, where he graduated at the top of his class and became a protege of Master Chef Andres Soltner. Their friendship was fruitful and Matt became the final head boulanger at legendary New York City restaurant Lutece, gaining that title before he had even graduated. Since then, Matt and his wife Allison opened their own bakery, Robecelli’s in Brooklyn, New York to critical acclaim.

This autumn, Matt and Allison (and family) have moved their bakery to Baltimore, Maryland and partnered with Fransmart to make their delicious baked goods available nationwide through franchises! We love a story with a sweet ending!

 

 

Daisy’s Dish – December 2016

Daisy Martinez, Associate Director of Alumni Affairs and graduate of the Culinary Arts and Intensive Sommelier Training programs, shares a holiday send off to 2016!

When I was a young girl, I didn’t understand why adults would say, “I can’t believe the holidays are here again, already!” To my siblings, cousins, and friends, the holidays took forever to arrive, but now, sadly, I think I understand. Time has shifted into “ludicrous speed” (shameless “Spaceballs” reference), and it hardly seems you have time to get over last year’s tumult, before it’s upon you again. I love the holidays, though, the traditions, the memories I have built for my friends and family, and the food that we make to celebrate in our own personal way. I love the preparation, the anticipation, and most of all the giving. It is the time of year when I feel most blessed, and inspired to new beginnings.

This past year was a challenging one for the ICC family. We closed our beloved restaurant L’Ecole and lost our Founder, leader and greatest inspiration Dorothy Cann15068979_10154319356459440_476310123366870661_o Hamilton, but we withstood these losses, together, as a community. We found strength and solace in each other and even managed a smile and a chuckle–Chef Jurgen David in a hot-dog suit comes to mind!
Our halls have been graced by great personalities from the culinary world; Eric Ripert, Claus Meyer, Massimo Bottura, Julian Medina, Jacques Pepin, Andre Sailhac, Andre Soltner, Jacques Torres, Ron Ben-Israel, Ignacio Mattos and so many more. Our classrooms are driven by extraordinary chef-instructors and our offices led by an amazing team of managers, administrators and facilities staff. Last but not least our students, who have the most humble, inspiring stories from all walks of life. This is the ICC family: a unique quilt woven together, resilient, relying on each other, working together towards the same goal.

This is the time of year when we give thanks for all of our blessings; we wish for peace and take inventory of ourselves. We make resolutions with hope for the future year. We all wish you a joyful holiday season and a happy, healthy New Year filled with laughter, love and promise.daisys-dish

Somm of the Month: IST Graduate, Alan Lane

Written by Daisy Martinez

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing IST grad Alan Lane recently about his experience at ICC and his transition from a U.S. Army officer to a Certified Sommelier. His passion is so infectious; I decided to let him enthrall you with the story of his journey in his own words.

Early interest in wine: As an English Literature major at Auburn University in the 1990s choosing wine at the supermarket or even at wine shops was a mystery to me.  Red?  Yes.  White?  Not really.  Rose?  No, thank you.  I wanted to know more, but I didn’t really know where to start.  Those of us in the industry know that this a common predicament for many consumers.  “Windows On The World” was the first book I used to try and educate myself.  It wasn’t until I decided to transfer to the Reserve Component from the Active Duty Component as a U.S. Army Officer effective April 1, 2015 that I thought I would pursue a career in the wine industry following release from Active Duty.

alan-lane-sommThe Transition – In November of 2014 my Commander gave me permission to work part time in a local Colorado Springs wine shop, Coaltrain Wine, Spirits, & Craft Beer. I wanted to know more, to be better, and that’s when I read about the 10 week Intensive Sommelier Program at the International Culinary Center.  My wife, daughter, and I toured the New York campus.  I knew it was meant to be.  Under the direction of Scott Carney, MS and other Master Sommeliers our class worked diligently to master our craft.  We bonded, we got to know each other, debated, tasted, searched together in the city for new wine lists, retail shops, experimented with pairings, blind tastings, industry tastings, the lot!  Our class now stays in contact mostly via social media, and I have visited Napa and Sonoma with friends I met in the class, visit my friends from class in NYC when I’m in town, and this is one of the best parts of the program at the ICC.  The camaraderie of the Sommelier Program is the closest thing I have found to parallel the camaraderie and esprit de corps of the military.  There is a common bond, a common goal, and a common passion found in the both the wine industry and the armed forces.

 

Fruition – I’ve worked in retail, distribution, and hospitality in both New York City and Colorado Springs.  Currently, I work as the Sommelier at 2South Wine Bar in Colorado Springs, CO.  Working as a Sommelier, with the Chef, the owners, my co-workers in front of house and back, helping diners find the right pairing or simply a unique wine to enjoy that they’ve never had, that’s where I find satisfaction.  After deploying to Jalalabad, Afghanistan as an Infantry (Pathfinder) Platoon Leader in 2008-2009 I wondered if I would ever find the kind of kinship, the kind of common bond that I found with the Soldiers with whom I served.  The hospitality industry, the wine, spirits, and beer industry, they have given me the same opportunity to work closely with like-minded, driven women and men who share a passion for providing value added experiences to our clients, consumers, and diners.  Without the Intensive Sommelier Program at the International Culinary Center I don’t know how quickly I would have found my place.  My experience there was unforgettable, and I encourage anyone, especially veterans who are interested in a career in the industry to check out the ICC.  It is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Alumni Spotlight: Julian Medina, Class of 1999

Julian Medina, chef-owner of Toloache, Toloache 82, Toloache Thompson, both Yerba Buena and Yerba Buena Perry, Coppelia, and Tacuba Mexican Cantina locations in Astoria and Hell’s Kitchen, has been creating refined Latin cuisine for over twenty years.

Raised in Mexico City, Julian’s inspiration was the authentic home cooking of his father and grandfather. Training professionally in Mexico City, Julian was brought to New York City by Chef Richard Sandoval; later Julian was appointed as Chef de Cuisine of Sandoval’s Maya, which earned two stars from the New York Times under Julian’s leadership. Maintaining his position at Maya, Julian enrolled in the French Culinary Institute, graduating with recognition in 1999. Soon after, Julian became Executive Chef of SushiSamba, a New York City Japanese-South American restaurant, and helped to open SushiSamba 7 and South Beach’s SushiSamba Dromo.

In 2003, Julian was appointed Corporate Chef of Sandoval’s Mexican restaurants. Julian’s direction garnered Sandoval’s Pampono two stars from the New York Times. In 2004, Julian became the Executive Chef of Zocalo located in NYC’s Upper East Side.
chef-julian-medinaIn August 2007, Julian opened the theater-district gem, Toloache Mexican Bistro, the success of this first venture catalyzed the opening of seven more restaurants in nine years. He expanded the Toloache brand to include an ever popular Upper East Side Toloache 82 in 2012 and Toloache Thompson in 2013. Exploring all reaches of pan Latin cuisine, Julian opened the first Yerba Buena bistro in 2008 in the Lower East Side, and Yerba Buena Perry, West Village, in 2009. Both restaurants have been highly recognized. In 2011, Julian presented the concept of a 24/7 Cuban diner to New York City with the whimsical Coppelia, offering both day and late night foodies authentic Latin fare and dessert favorites. Most recently, the chef has returned to his Mexican roots with the ceviche, taco and fruit vessel cockteles boasting cantina, Tacuba, its two locations are Astoria and Hell’s Kitchen.

Chef Julian has been featured in many publications, including the Men’s Journal, The New Yorker and The New York Times. In 2010 Sam Sifton, famed New York Times food critic, gave Toloache one star along with an applauding review. In March 2011 Julian made his debut on Iron Chef America: Mexican Chocolate Battle, other television appearances include the Today Show, CBS “The Dish”, Beat Bobby Flay (guest judge), NY1, and Telemundo. His Mexican Hanukkah and Mexican Passover menus have become a delighted New York tradition and receive continual praise each year. Chef Julian continues to open new restaurants throughout New York City. He resides in Manhattan’s Upper East Side with his wife and daughter.

What ingredient is central to your cooking?
I love to cook with chiles as each kind is unique and their personality can be noted throughout the dish contributing to a beautiful flavor complexity.

How do you describe your food?
I believe my food is bold and full of flavor, one bite and you know all about my cooking. Presentation is also important to me so my dishes tend to be very colorful.

What would you do if you weren’t a chef? 
I would have pursued becoming an architect.

What’s on your cooking bucket list?  
Fugu (Blowfish), exploring flavor potentials of the Chilhuacle chile, publishing my own cookbook.

How do you find calm in your kitchen?
When the stress heats up in the kitchen I turn to finding fun to take the edge off, always by laughing and joking with my fellow chefs.

What cookbook is most important to you?
The Art of Peruvian Cuisine, by Tony Custer and The Lutece Cookbook, by Andre Soltner & Seymour Britchky.

Who inspires you?
Chef Daniel Boulud

What do you like to eat and drink on your night off? 
A Mezcal Negroni, a fusion cocktail with mezcal, vermouth rosso and Campari with orange peel garnish, and a good plate of tacos.

When did you realize that you loved food?
I was 15-years old and still in Mexico, and I cooked my first dish which was tamarind pork. I was hooked.

If you could stage at any restaurant in the world, where would you go and why?
Copenhagen or Spain to showcase Mexican cuisine.

 

How I Got the Job: Rachel Coe Shares Her Somm Story

After my graduation from the ICC in December 2014, I began looking for jobs in the area as a sommelier. Not sure exactly what I wanted to do with my certification, but having experience in both front and back of house in restaurants, I visited the ICC to get some guidance. Thanks to the career adviser, Nicole Harnett, I was pointed in the direction of Rosewood Sand Hill and Madera restaurant in Menlo Park, a five star resort and fine dining restaurant.  I began in February 2015 as the Lounge Sommelier, the more casual side of the operation. Thrown into the fire of having to learn a 98 page wine list with over 2,300 different labels (that also was a Wine Spectator Best Award of Excellence winner), there was no other option except to pick it up – fast!  With three great mentors working above me (wine director Paul Mekis, and sommeliers John McDaniel and Julie Sundean), I learned my way around the cellar and wine list quickly. At Madera, our wine team is extremely fortunate to be able to taste a great number of wines on our list, sometimes even with the winemakers themselves. These tastings proved invaluable in moving forward with me career.

rachelcoe_hm-450x300Three months into my job at Madera I met chef Genaro Mendez, who was in the process of opening his own restaurant in East San Jose, The Creek Eatery. Wanting to expand my horizons and responsibility with a new restaurant, while still keeping my position at Madera, I agreed to be a consulting sommelier & beverage director.  My responsibility was to create a wine list to complement the menu consisting of wood fired pizza and various globally-influenced dishes. For 14 months I met with various vendors, tasted hundreds of selections, researched and ordered wine in anticipation of our summer 2016 opening. This was my first experience working as a wine buyer, where I was faced with the age old dilemma of selecting wine that the customers would recognize and enjoy, not necessarily my geeky somm selections. In June 2016 The Creek Eatery opened for business, featuring a wine list with over 60 selections from around the world.

In August 2015 I was promoted to a position at the Madera restaurant as one of the three full-time floor sommeliers.  Though my title is Madera sommelier, the Madera restaurant is just one outlet in a hotel that brings in over $4 million of profit from the resort wine program. I not only organize the cellar, staff training and tastings, I also help with wine selections in banquets, the lounge, in room dining and the pool bar & grill. Of course, at 5 PM every day my responsibility shifts to being present on the floor, guiding guests through our extensive wine list to select the perfect wine for their meal.

To learn more about the California Intensive Sommelier Training program, click here.

Alumni Interview with Sylvia Yoo (Pastry’09)

In 2009, Sylvia Yoo enrolled at The International Culinary Center in New York and eventually worked in some of the city’s most formidable kitchens, including Jean-Georges and WD-50. When she returned to Los Angeles she found work at an interior design firm, and tried balancing four days there and two days on the line. The pressure of maintaining both jobs was fierce and exhausting, and Yoo eventually left the culinary industry, but still needed an outlet for her love of the kitchen.

Drawing on her love of ice cream and pastry that she had developed during her culinary ventures in New York, Sylvia was inspired to put the two together and Churro Borough was born!

– What inspired you to go to ICC?

I had taken a trip to Japan and Korea in 2009 and was mesmerized by all the beautiful food products and pastries they had.
Visually, they were like miniature sculptures with beautiful form, color, textures, but those concepts also translated over once you ate them. I thought, being a pastry cook must be like being an architect, just a different medium. Once I had returned back to New York, I decided to enroll in ICC to further my curiosity.

– Was there a moment in your life–in school or otherwise–where it all clicked and you knew what you wanted to do with your career? Can you describe it?

I was living in New York during the time of the recession and was an interior architect by profession at that time. Finding work was getting really tough and I found myself at a crossroads in my life where I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and wondered if I was actually ever going to get a job back in design. I decided to take that vacation to Japan and Korea during my down time and it was in Japan that I realized that pastry arts was very similar to architecture and design. Once I returned back to NY, enrolled and began courses at ICC, I fell in love with it! I felt like I was in design school again, working with my mind and my hands again, being conceptual and actually building that concept with my bare hands. But the difference between architecture and food was that everyone and anyone was able to enjoy the food you created and you were able to experience the reactions and emotions of the user. In architecture, you don’t get that same connection…that’s when I knew that I wanted to switch careers and be a pastry chef.

Chef Sylvia Yoo Churro Borough

– What was your graduation dream? How does the business you opened reflect that?

At first I thought I wanted to work the ranks at high concept restaurants that make beautiful dessert creations and one day become their executive Pastry Chef. But after a few years of working at these types of restaurants, I started to realize that only a certain percentage of people who can afford these types of restaurants are the ones that get to see these desserts. I wanted to make desserts for EVERYONE, not just the select few. I already knew that ice cream was not only my favorite dessert to consume, but my favorite dessert to make. It’s the first thing I eat off a plated dessert because it’s the best part! Knowing that, and knowing I wanted my desserts to be more accessible, it just seemed natural that I would open up an ice cream shop.

– Any tidbits of advice for others who are considering this path?

Surround yourself with good people and good business partners (if you can afford it). It’s not just about being the chef and being in the kitchen anymore. There’s so much more to owning a business that I didn’t expect and you just can’t do everything. Currently I’m playing General Manager, Executive Chef, Head Dishwasher, Social Media Intern, Deliveryman, Handyman, mentor, mediator, etc…it can get exhausting and overwhelming, but if you can afford to have someone that can take some of the burden off your shoulders, it won’t be as stressful.

– Where do you see your dreams taking you 5 years from now?

I would like to expand the Churro Borough concept to other cities and states – New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco. But for now, just getting a couple more locations opened in Los Angeles would be just as dream-fulfilling!

From Puppies to Pasta Part II

By Kris Feliz,
ICC Italian Culinary Arts graduate.
Read From Puppies to Pasta Part I

I got to culinary school having romantic ideas of Italian landscapes and giant bowls of pasta, thinking tradition and family was what drives cuisine in Italy but looking back at the Italian Culinary Experience at ICC — this total immersion curriculum expanded and exceeded my whole understanding of learning, cooking, what it means to be a chef, interacting with other chefs, and the beautiful countryside of Italy.

In the New York portion of the program, we learned all aspects of Italian cooking techniques and the connections that the cuisine has to culture, history, and language. It’s amazing how detailed and packed those days were — and Chef Guido is an excellent and genuine instructor. The foundation I built at ICC paved the way towards having a successful experience at ALMA.

As a school, ALMA is a precious gem in the Italian culinary world and it completed my education with a polish that has impacted the way I view the bigger picture of my job as a chef. Learning a complete body of wine, culture, history, language, and cooking techniques from all areas of the fine dining kitchen is just part of what I walked away with. The dedication and self discipline required to complete the complex coursework has shaped the kind of professional I am now becoming in the job market.

The campus environment is beautiful and truly helped to shape my thinking about the cooking community. Every week, we met with guest chefs who shared their wisdom and experience, allowing us to learn how these exceptional visionaries carved out their place in the modern cooking world. Simplicity, elegance, and elevation became fundamental for creation that reinforces the values of respect for the ingredients, expands traditions, and pushes the limits of today’s modern cooking techniques. Going to ALMA changed me, from a person who wanted to cook, to a chef who wants to create.

Italian Culinary Experience

Living in Italy was such a magical experience! ALMA is situated in a great location for access to many major cities, and there just wasn’t a reason not to enjoy the benefits of our free time. It’s always full sensory participation of foods, architecture, and cultural events no matter what city you visit. Travelling by train was easy and comfortable, and there’s always something happening in Italy. I had so many spontaneous experiences just because I was standing in the right spot when the marching band passed by, or when the festivals were visiting. I fell so in love with the sky, the trees, every building and cathedral, the coastlines, and mountains that I wanted to stay!

Luckily I was coming back to New York City with its high-quality, high-volume kitchen culture that is fueled by creative passionate chefs. I run into other ICC grads all the time in kitchens and it feels good to see us working and producing. I feel proud to be a working member of our graduate community! And I look back at the brilliant education I received with fondness for my creative and passionate instructors, mentors. This motivates and drives me to keep practicing, keep pushing this craft into a lifelong career of learning and giving back.

Alumni Interview with Abraham Scott (Pastry Arts’16)

My name is Abraham Scott and I currently work as a Pastry Cook at 2-Michelin-starred Marea Fine Dining Restaurant. I’m a recent graduate of the Professional Pastry Arts program and I am so proud to say that ICC gave me the foundation to be working at a Top 10 NYC restaurant. Prior to attending ICC, I worked in IT for a many years at City University of New York.

– What is your best memory from your time at ICC?

A class trip to Jacques Torres’ Factory in Sunset Park, Brooklyn! Our Dean of Pastry Arts took us on a tour of his massive chocolate factory. Of course, we got a chance to taste many of the chocolate treats. It was a very inspiring outing, Jacques shared his own pastry stories and professional experiences with us.

Pastry School New York City

– Describe a day in your life.

My work day begins at 3pm. I do inventory of all of our desserts to make sure we have ingredients on hand. The Desserts menu is a wide spectrum of items which range from Mascarpone Panna Cotta to Bomboloni (Blueberry Doughnuts served with Honey & Lemon Curd). I am also responsible for prepping the desserts for the dinner service, which lasts from 6pm through 11pm on weekdays and 11:30pm on Saturdays. During the actual service, I am engaged in plating desserts at a rapid pace. Our covers average 260-300 a night, or even higher on the weekends.

Once the last order is out, I break down the station and clean the area, restock it for the morning cooks. I usually leave work at around 1:30am in the morning five days a week, and I get 2 consecutive days off a week.

Bomboloni at Marea (Photo by Ted Axelrod)
Bomboloni at Marea (Photo by Ted Axelrod)

– What would you tell someone who wants to start a career in pastry?

Since graduating from the ICC program I received EIGHT job opportunities, which is amazing! The best advice I received at ICC is to “Choose the job based on what you will to learn the most from” — that’s why now I am learning daily at Marea.

– What’s next for you?

I’m currently perfecting my ice cream recipes because I want to develop a line of ice cream products and hope to launch a pop up parlor in 2017.

A Cuisine in Ferment // Judy Joo Culinary Arts’04

By Eric Levin
Appears in the July 2016 issue of New Jersey Monthly
Photo by Jean Cazals

Judy Joo, the studious, Jersey-raised daughter of Korean refugees, left Wall Street to bring the bracing food of Korea to TV and now a cookbook.

Uprooted by the communists, little Eui Don Joo, his eight siblings and their parents put what belongings they could on their backs and walked south. The family had been landlords and farm owners in northern Korea, but now, as war raged in the early 1950s, they were refugees. In his backpack, Eui Don, the youngest, about age five, bore the lightest load, but the most crucial: rolls of fine silk. With Korean currency worthless, silk could be bartered for essentials, most of all food.

Eui Don’s daughter, Judy Joo—author of the new cookbook, Korean Food Made Simple(HMH, $30), based on her Cooking Channel series of the same name—learned perseverence and scholarship from her father, who came to this country in 1967 after graduating from medical school in Seoul. She learned those virtues and Korean cooking from her mother, Young Nim Park, who left Korea in 1968 with a scholarship to Ohio State, where she earned a master’s degree in chemistry. Eui Don became a psychiatrist. Joo’s parents met in Michigan and eventually settled in Berkeley Heights.

At the exclusive Kent Place School in Summit, Joo and her older sister, Sonya, were the only Asians. “Our parents pushed us hard. ‘You have to succeed! Play the violin, play the piano, excel!’” Joo recalls with a laugh. “I didn’t read that Tiger Mother book. I lived it.”

Partly to help her daughters fit in, their mom made them pb&j sandwiches for school lunch. But family meals were always Korean and made from scratch. “The laundry room,” Joo writes in her cookbook, “teemed with jars and containers stacked precariously, filled with fermenting drinks, bowls full of soaking tripe, mung beans, bean sprouts, or rice. The adjoining garage had rows of drying seaweed on hangers, chiles, and a small foil-wrapped charcoal grill for barbecue perched in the corner.”

At Columbia University, Joo majored in industrial engineering and operations research. She became a financial analyst and, at age 22, worked the trading floor. “It was a crazy environment,” she recalls, “with 500 people on the floor, 48 phone lines, a headset, two handsets, six screens in front of you. You’re yelling all day. The market is always moving, so you have to handle stress effectively and have a ridiculous memory. You either sink or swim.” She swam, but soon realized she didn’t love the pool.

What Joo did love was food and restaurants. So she quit and got a degree in pastry arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York. Why pastry? “Because of the science factor,” she says, referring to the precision required. She cooked, among other places, at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in the Napa Valley and Heston Blumenthal’s high-tech Fat Duck in London. After the stress of the trading floor, the pressure of a high-end restaurant kitchen was “not that big a deal.”

In London, Joo became a U.K. Iron Chef, competing in some 200 battles. She was executive chef of the London Playboy Club, working some Korean influences into her menu, when a backer who had eaten her food called out of the blue and offered her the chance to open her own restaurant. “I didn’t really want to,” she says, “because I knew how much work it was.” But she bit.

Jinjuu (Korean for Pearl) opened in London’s Soho in early 2015. By year’s end, through a cold call from another backer, she had opened another Jinjuu in Hong Kong. Now she commutes between those two cities and New York, where she appears on various Food Network shows and sees her family.

Joo’s book leads cooks gently from dishes that have gone mainstream—like crackly Korean fried chicken and kimchi, the spicy fermented condiment and ingredient—into the heart of a hearty and healthy cuisine.

Anything Jersey in the book? Yes! Kimchi pulled-pork disco fries—a tribute, Joo says, to the many hours she whiled away in the diners of Route 22.