Business Bites Strategies

Business Bites: Strategies for Purchasing and Operations

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



Monday, February 10th | 6:30-8:00pm
International Culinary Center
28 Crosby St, 5th Floor

Ordered too much of an ingredient with a short shelf life? Have equipment that needs repairs, or to be replaced all together? Purchasing decisions can be some of the most challenging to make when operating a food business, especially in the early days. The right decisions can increase profits, but making the wrong one can be costly! Whether you’re building a new menu with cost efficiency in mind, or navigating the bid process for food, equipment and service vendors, having processes in place to manage these challenges is important to the success of your business.

So, what does it take to streamline your food business operations and perfect your purchasing?

In our next Business Bites event, our panel of experts will discuss strategies that help food businesses streamline their operations—from establishing systems to maximize profits, to coordinating food & equipment purchasing, managing maintenance costs and more. Learn how to find trusted suppliers and purveyors who provide high-quality ingredients, as well as tips to improve inventory organization and optimize food freshness. From menu costing and buying local to service contracts, wait staff education and more, we’ll discuss strategies to improve your operations and prevent costly mistakes. You’ll also have ample time for networking and the opportunity to learn how ICC’s Food Business Fundamentals program can take you from concept to business plan & pitch in just 6-weeks!


Tracy Wilson – General Management Consultant, 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge & Central Park; ICC Food Business Fundamentals Instructor

A graduate of Western Kentucky University and New York University, Tracy began her restaurant career as an opening member of three-star Gramercy Tavern. She was promoted within Union Square Hospitality Group several times including as General Manager of Tabla Restaurant, and later as General Manager of the multi-unit Art Food Cafes within the Museum of Modern Art.

After 20 years within the Union Square Hospitality Group family, Tracy went on to work as the Director of Operations for Claus Meyers’ Great Northern Food Hall within Grand Central Station, before becoming the General Manager of The Brooklyn Barge. Throughout her career, she has managed multi-million dollar operations with hundreds of employees. In 2009, she joined the International Culinary Center’s Food Business Fundamentals program as a guest lecturer. In 2015, Tracy began consulting for restaurants and businesses to develop key growth areas, including 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, 1 Hotel Central Park, and Bar 65 at the Rainbow Room.


bradford thompson
Bradford Thompson
Owner, Bellyfull Consulting, Inc; ICC Food Business Fundamentals Instructor

Thompson’s culinary career has taken him from coast-to-coast, learning from some of the country’s most notable chefs, including Vincent Gueritault, Alessandro Stratta and Daniel Boulud. He later became executive chef of Mary Elaine’s at the Phoenecian. During his time there, the restaurant earned many awards, including the coveted Mobil 5 star award, AAA 5 Diamond, and the Grand Award from Wine Spectator. Thompson himself was voted one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in 2004 and won the James Beard Award for “Best Chef South West” in 2006.

In 2008, Thompson returned to NYC to become executive chef at Lever House in Midtown. He’s since founded Bellyfull Consulting, which offers private dining, menu consulting, staff training, and culinary productions. He and his wife also started Jules Gourmet Foods, LLC, a company that specializes in Jamaican sauces and seasonings. Thompson is currently executive consulting chef for Miss Lily’s Favourite Cakes, an unparalleled Jamaican restaurant in Greenwich Village. Thompson and his cuisine have been featured in several publications, including Food & Wine, Gourmet, Art Culinaire, The New York Times, and The Jamaica Observer. He’s also received network coverage on Fine Living Network, CBS Early Show, The Today Show, and Food Network.

daniel soloway
Daniel Soloway
Founder & President, Kitchen Options

Dan graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with an Honors degree in Biomedical and Nutritional Anthropology. Upon graduation, he began a career in finance as a Proprietary Options Trader on the American Stock Exchange. Five years later he turned in his pen for a chef’s knife and enrolled at the International Culinary Center.

A 20-year veteran in the restaurant industry, Dan’s focus on purchasing and operations began in the kitchen under Chef Michel Nischan and John Mooney at the W Hotel. During his time at Drew Nieporent’s Tribeca Grill, Dan went from dining room manager to the Director of Purchasing. Following his four years at the Myriad Restaurant Group, Dan joined Chef Thomas Keller to open Per Se as Purchasing Manager, later opening Bouchon Bakery. Eventually, Dan ventured into consulting and founded his company Kitchen Options. His clients include The Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, Sullivan St. Bakery, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and Union Square Hospitality Group. Today, he continues to consult for hospitality clients interested in reducing costs, creating efficiencies or bettering their operating procedures.

james murphy
James Murphy
Director of Operations, Procurement & Facilities, Union Square Events

James Murphy is the Director of Operations, Procurement & Facilities for Union Square Events, where he heads a department responsible for developing and implementing best practices in regards to purchasing, sourcing the highest quality products and fostering strong vendor relationships. In addition to his role at Union Square Events, James provides company-wide procurement related support throughout Union Square Hospitality Group.

James graduated from Florida State University where he studied Political Science and Philosophy. In pursuit of more experience and education, James moved to New York in 2008 and began studying nutrition and culinary arts as well as staging at various restaurants in Manhattan and Brooklyn. After working in a variety culinary managements roles, James accepted an offer with Union Square Events as Purchasing Manager in 2011. After four years, James was promoted to his current role as Director of Purchasing and Compliance. When not at work, James enjoys reading, running, cooking and spending time with his family.

dave arnold

ICC In The News: Highlights from December 2019

ICC In The News provides monthly highlights from articles published around the world that feature alumni, deans, faculty and more within the ICC community. Stories of our 15,000+ alumni network and their successes are continuously popping up across various prestigious publications. Below, we have brought together some of our favorites from December 2019, aimed to keep you connected with our community and inspire readers to #LoveWhatYouDo in the kitchen and beyond.

New York’s Top 10 New Restaurants of 2019

Have you checked out The New York Times‘ list of New York’s Top 10 Restaurants of 2019? We’re so proud of ICC graduates Jenny Kwak, owner/chef of Haenyeo; David Chang, owner of Kawi; Conn Zhang, pastry chef of Hutong; and Lisa Kalemkiarian , head baker of Benno and their respective restaurants for making the list! Check out what The New York Times said here in their roundup.

ICC alumnus Chef Jared Gadbaw trained at restaurants like Eleven Madison Park, Esca and the Altamarea restaurant group, but recently decided to return to his native Michigan to open Oak + Reel, a seafood-centric Italian restaurant. Read more about the restaurant opening in 2020 in the Detroit Free Press.

Thomas Chen, ICC alumnus, worked at lauded fine-dining restaurants in New York, like Eleven Madison Park and Jean-Georges, before opening Tuome in the East Village in 2014. In this article with Chowhound, get his recipe for a Chinese Sichuan Chicken perfect for a holiday feast.

Wheat Ridge, Colorado’s coziest restaurant, West 29th Restaurant & Bar, is helmed by ICC alumnus Chef Cory Matthews. Check out what he’s cooking up and what 303 Mag thinks of it here.

On March 9th, ICC’s Director of Pastry Operations, Chef Jansen Chan will be judging the Rapid Fire Challenge, all about Desserts! Chefs will submit their delicious and creative desserts for a chance to be crowned the Rapid Fire Champion at the New York Restaurant Show. Read more about it here in Total Food Service.

If you find yourself outside of the city in Port Washington, NY, stop by ICC alumnus Bill Mulholland’s bagel shop Schmear! Opened in 2017, he wanted a neighborhood spot where locals could walk, and where commuters could stop by for their morning cup of coffee or a pastry. Read more about it in The Island Now.

suji park
Entrepreneur and Restaurateur Suji Park Has Built a Global Business Connecting People Through Food

Suji Park is the founder and chief executive officer of Suji’s Restaurant Group and Food Dreams Made Real (FDMR), which does business as Suji’s Korean Cuisine. Through her companies, Park operates multiple restaurants outside the United States ― in Seoul and Tokyo. In addition, Seattle-based FDMR sells Suji’s Korean Cuisine-branded food products through major retailers in the United States, including frozen entrees and heat-and-eat meals ― such as Korean-style ramen spicy chicken, garlic beef and fried chicken bento. To read all about how she does it, check out the profile of this ICC graduate in Seattle Business Magazine here.

Tiffany Haddish Puts the ‘X’ in Christmas Cookies

Tiffany Haddish, actress, comedian, and author recently stopped by with The New York Times to learn all about cookie decorating with ICC Director of Pastry Operations, Chef Jansen Chan. During the interview, they talked new projects for Tiffany, as well as proper techniques in the kitchen as she decorated ‘Like A Boss’. Read the hilarious interview here!

Wanting to amp up your cookbook collection in 2020? ICC alumni Danny Mena and Angie Mar were named on The Manual’s list of 10 Best New Cookbooks of 2019. Check out their cookbooks and be sure to grab your copy!

Congratulations to ICC Alumna Diane Fehder and ICC Chef-Instructor Toni Lynn Dickinson on their huge win on Netflix’s Sugar Rush Christmas! During the show, they created a towering gingerbread house that ultimately brought them home the gold. Get Diane’s recipe here in Courier Post Online.

In The New York Times‘ roundup of 8 Ways Restaurants Have Changed in the Past Decade, ICC Food Business Fundamentals instructor Stephani Robson is quoted for her expertise in restaurant design. Check out what she said in the article here.

Wine should always be approachable and fun, according to our Dean of Wine Studies Scott Carney, MS. Check out what else Carney & other wine experts said about the changing landscape of wine in this Wine Enthusiast article here.

With Asian countries emerging as notable wine producers and prolific consumers, so are Asian Americans making an indelible mark as sommeliers! Asian American Life and reporter Minnie Roh explored the history behind wine and how it evolved in Asia with ICC Dean of Wine Studies, Scott Carney, MS. Then, she sat down with ICC alumna Anna-Christina Cabrales, General Manager & Wine Director of Morrell to discover wine pairings for signature Asian cuisine. Watch the full segment here!

The New Hot Drinks

Surprisingly, many things taste good burnt. Check out this article in Punch Drink about why ICC’s Associate Dean of Culinary Technology, Dave Arnold of Existing Conditions, thinks some drinks are more delicious burnt.

Fans of the CW’s Supernatural will recognize Misha Collins as the angel Castiel, but did you know that he’s a newly published cookbook author? Check out what he cooked up in our kitchens when he stopped by with the producers of Chowhound and TV Guide here!


ICC Chef Instructor Creates Winning Gingerbread House On Netflix’s Sugar Rush!

For over two decades, Chef Toni Lynn Dickinson has been teaching the next generation of pastry chefs, chocolatiers, cake decorators, bakers and more at ICC to excel in their professions. Her pastry creations, both in and out of the kitchen are well-thought out, flawlessly executed and leave a lasting impression for years to come. Just take it from some of her former students—many shared in comments on our recent Instagram posts that she was “fun to learn from,” and a “fantastic teacher.”

In 2019, Chef Toni competed on Netflix’s hit show Sugar Rush Christmas where bakers compete against time, and each other, to win $10,000 and the ultimate bragging rights. Bakers compete in three different rounds: cupcakes, confections and cakes, each inspired by a different theme. As the clock ticks, the competition heats up!

In Chef Toni’s episode, she competed against 3 other teams with her teammate Diane Fehder. Diane, a graduate of ICC’s Professional Pastry Arts program and former student of Chef Toni’s, remarked that she was “originally approached to apply for the show and asked to find a partner.” Having previously competed on Sugar Dome—where she took home first place—she shared, “I think the producers sought me out because of my previous television experience.” In considering a partner for this competition, Diane knew that she wanted to ask Chef Toni because of her dedication, work ethic and over all time management—after all, Chef Toni was one of the instructors that taught Diane these skills in the first place!

“[Chef Toni] is one of the best chefs I’ve ever known. Anyone that attends ICC would know that,” Diane shared. “She is a walking culinary encyclopedia and is beyond generous with her knowledge. Behind the scenes while filming, she schooled all the other contestants (in a nurturing way) about the pastry arts, even the production staff.” It’s clear that Chef Toni’s passion for teaching cannot be contained, even under the pressure of a competition!

During each round of their Sugar Rush competition, Chef Toni and Chef Diane executed beautiful, delicious and ambitious creations that wowed the judges. In the first, they created not one, but three different cupcakes for the judges to taste—all with a fruitcake batter as the base, but with subtle flavor variations like chocolate, walnuts & cherry; pear, ginger & almond; and cranberry & pecan. For the second round, they created a cake doughnut with sweet potato mousseline and a rich caramel sauce. For their final round, Chef Toni and Diane blew the judges away with their gingerbread house and spiced cake with grand marnier, modeled after Santa’s workshop. Their gingerbread house featured many colorful decorations to discover, like elves with their tools and toys for the children.

It’ll come as no surprise to anyone who knows Chef Toni and Chef Diane, not only did they WIN their episode of Sugar Rush, but they were the first team to ever win all THREE rounds on a Sugar Rush episode. In celebration of their win, Chef Toni held a demonstration at ICC with current and former students, guests, and friends in attendance. During the demonstration, she gave the audience an inside look at what it takes to create a competition-winning gingerbread house!

Check out the gingerbread house that Chef Toni and some of her students created during the demonstration below, and find some of her master gingerbread tips here.

Fermentation With the Flavor Maker of Hudson Valley

As a young chef, Jori Jayne Emde was taken aback by how much food waste was produced in the restaurants she worked in. At the time, she felt it wasn’t her place to say anything, but this was the initial inspiration for her decades long journey of whole utilization and fermentation.

After over a decade of collecting and translating historical culinary manuscripts, Jori has largely taught herself all about the inner workings of “controlled rot” and sells her creations at Lady Jayne’s Alchemy. Today, Jori is known for her fermentation and herbal alchemies that focus on terroir and wild fermentations—basically, how each fermentation changes depending on the environment that it’s created and fermented in.

In 2013, Jori helped to co-found Fish & Game—the widely acclaimed and award-winning restaurant—alongside her husband Chef Zak Pelaccio, ’98 alumnus of ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program. At the Hudson Valley restaurant, Jori is responsible for making all of the vinegar used at Fish & Game out of spent wine from previous services and unused samples left by importers. She is also responsible for the restaurant’s impressive larder of other acetic and lacto ferments & preserves, both sweet and savory.

This past November, Jori held a workshop for our Professional Culinary Arts + Farm-to-Table program, where students learned all about how to ferment using different ingredients. After the workshop, students brought home mason jars filled with their soon-to-be vinegars and were inspired by how they could use these in their daily family meal preparations—where they would soon be cooking for hundreds of their fellow classmates, as well as ICC students and staff.


Chef Ben Grebel, Culinary Chef-Instructor & Farm-to-Table Coordinator, participated in the workshop with his students and was inspired by the symbiotic fermentations of vinegar. He helped the students to create three vinegars to use throughout Level 3 of the program, when the students prepare daily family meal for lunch service. In addition to the red wine and white wine vinegars created, they’ve also made a malted beer vinegar which Chef Ben is especially excited to use in a fish and chips dish.

Below, check out all of the images from the workshop, as well as a few of the vinegars that the Farm-to-Table students are fermenting now!

gingerbread house

5 Tips To The Perfect Gingerbread House

This holiday season, don’t let your gingerbread house crumble under pressure! Fresh off of her win on Netflix’s Sugar Rush ChristmasICC Chef Instructor Toni Lynn Dickinson shared her tips to create the perfect gingerbread house.

Chef Toni’s gingerbread houses are famous around the kitchens of ICC and clients across New York City. She’s created displays for the Plaza Hotel, Times Square, and even for different ICC holiday displays. On the new season of Sugar Rush Christmas, the world finally got to see Chef Toni’s talent alongside her partner for the show, ICC alumna Diane Fehder, as they became the first team in Sugar Rush history to win all three challenges!

Below, check out Chef Toni’s tips to creating a beautiful gingerbread house that if stored properly can last for years to come!

Tip 1

step 1

Roll out the dough and let it rest for at least 1-2 hours in the refrigerator, before cutting. This will help to reduce the shrinkage of the dough.

Tip 2

step 2

Make a template of the house out of stiff paper or cardboard. This can be used to trace and cut the pieces before baking.

Tip 3

step 3

Use a dry brush to remove excess flour from the surface of the gingerbread dough prior to baking. If you bake the dough with the flour on it, the flour will stick and show on the dough.

Tip 4

step 4

Decorate all walls or vertical pieces while flat. Allow to dry thoroughly before assembling!

Tip 5

step 5

During assembly, use heavy cans to keep pieces at right angles, allowing support while pieces dry in place.


Wellness Events To Kick Off The New Year At ICC

This New Year, we’re kicking off 2020 the right way by focusing on health & wellness in the culinary & pastry industry! We’re teaming up with ICC alumna Katzie Guy-Hamilton to challenge the concept of “healthy” desserts and The Center for Discovery to explore the healing properties and nutrition of food.

We’ll begin the month joined by The Center for Discovery’s Jennifer Franck—Assistant Chief, Department of Nourishment Arts—and Executive Chef Peggy Parten to discuss The Center’s mission and goals, as well as how food can have the power to heal. During Chef Katzie’s demonstration, she’ll discuss clean dessert concepts and leveraging fresh flavors as she sits down with her former ICC Chef-Instructor, Jürgen David, to discuss her career after pastry school. Plus, you’ll have an opportunity to taste what we discuss for yourself!

Check out the full event descriptions below and be sure to RSVP to join!

jennifer franck

The Power of Food With The Center for Discovery

January 15 | 3:30pm-5:00pm | ICC Amphitheater

Food has the power to greatly support or completely undermine health.  What, how much, and when we eat can often determine whether we live relatively healthy lives or spend much of it dealing with chronic illness.

Join us for a discussion with Jennifer Franck—Assistant Chief of the Department of Nourishment Arts at The Center for Discovery—focusing on the role of food in health and what foundational principles chefs can use to create dishes that help support optimal wellness. She’ll be joined by the Center’s Executive Chef, Peggy Parten, who will demonstrate these ideas through the ingredients grown on the farm.

No RSVP required for students & alumni.
Limited seating available for the general public, RSVP to to attend.

katzie guy hamilton

Challenging “Healthy” Desserts with Katzie Guy-Hamilton

January 22 | 3:30pm-5:00pm | ICC Amphitheater

Wellness is a hot button word, but what does it really mean? What does Wellness really look like in a real life? You are a better Chef when you feel great and make better decisions. But wellness and eating “clean” can also be overwhelming.

Join us for a demonstration with ICC alumna Katzie Guy-Hamilton, author, food & beverage consultant for Clarkson Sears Holdings, and formerly the food & beverage director for Equinox. In her debut cookbook Clean Enough: Get Back to Basics and Leave Room for Dessert, she ditches trends and gives a comprehensive guide to cooking simple, whole ingredients that don’t require sacrificing flavor! With a focus on food, you’ll learn fresh food principles and some delicious, daringly simple dishes to fuel yourself and others with feel good fresh food. She’ll focus on clean dessert concepts, leveraging more fresh flavors like juicy grapefruit and tea, paired with light as air meringues, refreshing granitas and tangy yogurts to challenge the concept of “healthy” desserts, replacing it with the perspective of fresh and natural treats. Watch as she demonstrates her Grapefruit & Elderflower with coconut granite and a Labne & Honey Rye Tart with Blood Orange & Pear, and get a chance to taste it for yourself!

No RSVP required for students & alumni.
Limited seating available for the general public, RSVP to to attend.

new years resolutions

6 Ways To Make Your New Year’s Resolutions A Reality

Is your 2020 goal to enroll in culinary school?

Here at the International Culinary Center, our mission is to educate the next generation of culinary leaders—chefs, pastry chefs, bakers, cake decorators, chocolatiers, food business owners, sommeliers and more—and prepare them for success in the industry. With a new decade just around the corner, don’t let another 10 years pass by without pursuing your passion! Begin 2020 equipped with the tools that you need to achieve your dreams of attending culinary school and beginning a career in the industry.

Below, check out these 6 suggestions to help you get started on your New Year’s resolutions!

Attend An Open House

Want to get a taste of ICC? Join us for an open house to meet your future chef instructors, tour the school and see our students + kitchens in action! You’ll also meet our admissions, financial aid and career services teams who can answer all of your questions about attending culinary school. RSVP here to attend our upcoming open house on January 9th!

Schedule A Personal Tour

During a personalized, one-on-one tour, you’ll discuss your educational and career goals with your dedicated admissions representative while learning about your program of interest. They’ll guide you through the school to see our kitchens, student lounge, culinary library and the ICC Theater—home to visiting chef demos for our students & alumni. Then, you’ll have the opportunity to meet with our financial aid and career services teams to answer other questions you may have. You can also sign up for the opportunity to sit in on a class to “test-drive” our curriculum. Ready to visit? Request a tour here.

Check Our Upcoming Class Schedules

We know that finding time to pursue you’re passion can be challenging. That’s why ICC offers daytime and evening schedule options to help you graduate ready to work in as little as 6-9 months. Many of our programs are offered year round, but if you’re thinking about enrolling soon, be sure to check out our upcoming classes to see which one best fits your schedule!

Attend A Demonstration

Each month, ICC hosts top chefs from around the world for exclusive demonstrations and tasting events open to students and alumni. It’s a great opportunity to meet and network with world-renowned chefs, as well as volunteer to cook alongside them, learning new tips and tricks from some of the best in the industry. We even reserve a handful of seats in certain demonstrations for prospective students like yourself to experience what it’s like to be a culinary, pastry or wine student at ICC! Your admissions representative can let you know about upcoming demonstrations and reserve you a seat. Plus, check out our series of wellness events happening this January 2020!

Brush Up On Your Kitchen Knowledge

Though many students have a passion for food prior to attending culinary school, not many students have previous experience in a kitchen. That’s OK! At ICC, we teach you everything you need to know to develop a strong foundation of technique for your career and future success. But, coming into any new situation can be nerve-wracking, so we put together some tips and terms to learn and practice before you begin your culinary journey. Check them out here and our top three library picks to get you ready for the kitchen and your culinary career.

Fill Out An Application

Lastly, if you’re ready to take the first step in achieving your New Year’s goal to enroll, don’t forget to fill out an application! Once you begin the application form, you can always return to complete it in the future by using your email address. If you have any questions or need assistance with the application process, our admissions team is here to help! You can contact them here.

food business fundamentals

Business Bites Resources: 7 Lessons This Food Entrepreneur Learned

Written by Ori Zohar, Co-founder of Burlap & Barrel

“I’m gonna start a food company! How hard could it be?” -Everyone

Anytime you read the origin stories of successful food entrepreneurs, it goes something like this: I made something that people loved, my friends urged me to start a company making that thing, I did it, and now I’m super successful.

What about the hardships? Or the days your bills added up to more than the amount in your bank account? Or the months (years?) of living at a “founders salary”? Or how about all those friends that constantly pointed out the naive hubris of it all?


Back in 2017, my co-founder and I launched Burlap & Barrel, a single-origin spice company, literally out of his apartment. We wanted to build a social enterprise that would bring equitably sourced spices from smallholder farmers across the world to kitchens across America. We’re almost at the 3-year mark, so I wanted to share the most important lessons that I learned along the way.

1. Build in room for error

If you’re reading this, you’re most likely one of two types of people: either you (1) have a tight business plan and have mapped out your path to success or (2) you feel good about things and think plans are for suckers. I’ll bet you’re in the first camp since I probably lost most people in the 2nd camp by giving this article an action-oriented headline. Nevertheless, you’re here whoever you are. Thanks for sticking around.

The truth about any new company is that you can’t possibly know what you’re in for. Even if you’re familiar with parts of it, there’s so much you don’t have control over. Things won’t go as planned, you’ll get the wrong inventory, you’ll have business partners that leave you high and dry, you’ll have unhappy customers—but your business has to be strong enough to float on. So before you kick off your new venture, think about whether you’ve left room for figuring stuff out, for getting things wrong and trying again.

We’ve had sacks of spices slashed open when the exporters wanted a bribe and bought thousands of jars that ended up not being the right size.

Any plan based on flawless execution or going viral is going to be even more stressful and frustrating than it needs to be. Leaving room for error will mean you have some buffer when things are going poorly and it will feel so good when things are going well.

2. You’re in charge of sales (and PR)

I’ve come across so many founders that say they don’t like sales and plan to hire a salesperson as soon as they can. The problem is that it’s really difficult to outsource sales since the founder is the most important salesperson that your company will have. No pitch will outperform a well-told founder’s story. The same goes for getting press coverage—there’s no magic PR unicorn waiting for you to ride it to the cover story on TIME Magazine.

If this is one of your strengths, great, keep honing it. Press coverage requires fresh angles and new stories to tell. If reading that last paragraph made you slink down in your chair, don’t worry, it’s something we all can learn. Go to a networking event—every time you make a new professional connection, it’s your turn to pitch. Keep doing it until you land on something that you’re comfortable with but it has to be captivating. You’ll know that you’re there when people keep asking follow-up questions.

3. Simplify, simplify, simplify

Businesses are built on doing the same thing over and over. There’s magic in creating something new, and there will hopefully be so many opportunities to do that throughout the life of your business. But, ultimately, your success will be based on whether you can provide a consistent product or experience to your customers.

Whenever we’re launching something new, I always ask myself whether this is something that simplifies or complicates our business. Our bar for something that complicates the business is pretty high—we don’t want to distract from our day-to-day business for something trivial. Instead, we put our main energy towards improving how we execute our core competency each and every day, and often that involves finding elegant solutions that simplify our business.

Don’t over-complicate it—find what you do well that your customers love, and keep adding to the magic.

4. Launch sooner rather than later

Your hypothetical plans for what your business will be are much less valuable than actually getting your business into the hands of some customers. 

You’ll gain a lot from real feedback and tweaking along the way, instead of betting big based on your “market research.” You know how Tony Hsieh started out? He took photos of shoes at a local store and posted them online. Whenever someone purchased a shoe, he bought it at that local store and shipped it to them. He could have leased a warehouse, filled it with inventory, and then launched his company, but that could have cost a pretty penny. Let’s say he sold 100 pairs of shoes at a $10 loss for each pair – that’s so much valuable information from a $1,000 investment.

5. Focus on your existing customers

Repeat customers are the lifeblood of most businesses (not looking at you, mortuaries). There’s a reason for that: it’s so much harder to win a new customer than it is to re-engage an existing customer.

Reach back out to your customers on a regular basis – use newsletters to let them know about new items or events, ask for feedback after they’ve received the product (bonus: that’ll give you feedback on what’s going well and a chance to win back angry customers before they leave a 1-star review), and send reorder reminders. Show your customers there’s value in staying engaged and you’ll build a loyal following and maybe even a community.

6. What’s your time worth?

Your time is finite and your business needs will feel infinite. How do you keep from being overwhelmed? The trick is in knowing that not every hour is created equal. 

Take a look at your day and divide your time into high, medium, and low-value tasks. Judge the value based on what it would cost for you to hire someone else to complete that task. Aim to spend 80% of your time on the tasks that no one else but you could accomplish—these are the highest value tasks. Do your best to automate the lower value tasks or get freelancers/interns/friends to help you with them.

The key is to be honest with yourself about which tasks only you can truly do—and guard your time fiercely to make sure that you’re spending enough on what’s most important (not necessarily the most urgent) to creating a healthy business.

7. Follow up like your business depends on it

Misaligned timing is responsible for the deaths of more deals than any other cause. Most people reach out once, receive either a “no thanks” or no response, then move along to the next thing. The person on the other end is often just busy, overwhelmed, distracted, or maybe you just caught them at a bad time. Don’t be obnoxious or take it personally, just be persistent. For the most important doors to open, you gotta keep knocking. 

Your secret tool is the Snooze button in Gmail. Send an email, then snooze it for 8 days. If 8 days have passed with no response, it’ll pop back into your inbox – followup again and snooze. If your contact says it’s not a good time, find out when would be and snooze the email until then.

I’ve emailed some folks this way for months (and months and month), keeping the conversation alive until finally the right time came along and we were able to make something happen. We’ve gotten so many partnerships and sales done just by persistently reaching out until the timing aligned.

So there you have it. Those are seven lessons that I’ve learned over the past 3 years. None of them are food-industry specific, but have come out of operating a single origin spice social enterprise. Best of luck on your journey, especially if it involves making our food systems even a little bit better.
Got more to add? Want to connect? Stop by and reach out.
ori zohar
Ori Zohar
Co-founder, Burlap & Barrel
Ori Zohar is a social entrepreneur and the co-founder of Burlap & Barrel, the world’s first comprehensive, single-origin spice company. Burlap & Barrel creates equitable global supply chains by working directly with farmers to cut out intermediaries and deliver exceptionally flavorful spices. The company has been featured in Epicurious, Bon Appetit, Saveur, and Fast Company, as well as in the kitchens of restaurants from Eleven Madison Park and Blue Hill to sweetgreen and Chop’t to home cooks across the country.

The BUSINESS BITES, brought to you by the Food Business Fundamentals program at ICC, is a series of workshops, discussion panels, networking events and resources designed to support entrepreneurs in the food industry.

Ready to get started on the business plan for your restaurant, food truck, food product or other dream culinary concept? Maybe you’re looking to scale a family business or grow an existing concept? Register for ICC’s Food Business Fundamentals course, and you’ll have a solid business plan & pitch ready in just 6 weeks! Click here to learn more.

3 Reasons Laurent-Perrier Champagne Is Not To Be Missed

One of the most successful Champagne houses in the world, Laurent-Perrier, wasn’t always known as that. In fact, when André Michel Pierlot founded the house in 1812 at Tours-sur-Marne, it took another 75 years before the house was officially named Laurent-Perrier.

The house has a long history of being passed down to different families—Pierlot, having no kin to entrust his vineyards to, willed his company to Eugene Laurent. In 1887, Laurent tragically passed in a cellar accident, and his widow, Mathilde Emilie Perrier took over the business. In 1925, Laurent’s daughter, Eugénie Hortense Laurent inherited the business and sold it to Marie-Louise Lanson de Nonancourt in 1939.

During World War II, Marie-Louise Lanson de Nonancourt continued to run the business while her two sons, Bernard and Maurice, joined the French Resistance. Bernard returned home in 1945 and began an apprenticeship, learning every aspect of the business. Finally, in 1948, he was promoted to Chairman and CEO, and held this position for 60 years.

After surviving two World Wars and The Great Depression, the business was turned around by Bernard, becoming the infamous house that it is today. Over 200 years since its inception, the house is known for its non-dosage Champagne and fresh style of wine. Below, explore just a few of the reasons that make this globally-consumed Champagne so special!

Breaking Convention in Champagne

In 1960, Bernard released the brand’s prestige cuvée—Grand Siècle. He believed that nature could not provide the perfect vintage every year, so instead, he decided to blend wines from three different vintage years. He was the first to even consider blending vintage years and broke many traditions in Champagne, a region known for vintage wines exclusively from select years.

Rigorous Training for Chef de Caves

Throughout its history, Laurent-Perrier has had just three Chef de Caves (French for winemakers!). Eduoard Leclerc retired in 1981, Alain Terrier retired in 2004 and Michel Fauconnet, who took over after that. Fauconnet has been with Laurent-Perrier since 1973 and trained with both of the previous cellar masters. Now, Fauconnet has begun to train the next Chef de Cave, Dominique Demarville, with the hopes of retiring in 2020.

The small number of winemakers allows for Laurent-Perrier’s style of wine to remain linear after all of these years. When you pick up a bottle of Laurent-Perrier, the quality remains consistent due to their diligent training methods.

Family and Female Owned

After Bernard passed in 2010, his daughters Stéphanie Meneux de Nonancourt and Alexandra Pereyre de Nonancourt, took over the business and are continuing to expand the brand. Laurent-Perrier has a long and storied history with being female-owned, dating all the way back to 1887.

When you purchase your next bottle of Champagne for the holidays, consider Laurent-Perrier’s many qualities that make the brand so special! 

holiday cocktail

Chef Jeff Butler’s Cranberry Bourbon Sparkler

Looking for a new holiday party cocktail recipe? You’re in luck! ICC’s very own Chef Jeff Butler shared his famous cranberry cordial recipe that he always makes around the holidays.

Growing up in Pine Barrens, New Jersey, there was always an abundance of cranberries—the town is home to more than 2,000 acres of cranberry bogs!

Below, get his recipe for the perfect cocktail that’s sure to delight any holiday crowd!

Note this recipe is for ages 21+, please drink responsibly!



1.5 Cup Water
1.5  Cup Light Brown Sugar
12 oz Fresh or Frozen Cranberries
1 each Star Anise Whole
2 each Cinnamon Stick
10 each Black Pepper Corns
1 Orange


1 Part Cranberry Syrup
1 Part Bourbon
3 Part Club Soda
Ice As Needed
Orange Slices for Garnish
Reserved Cranberries


  1. Zest and Juice the orange.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a pot.
  3. Bring up to a simmer and cool.
  4. Cool overnight.
  5. Strain syrup to use a as a mixer and reserve the cranberries for garnish.


  1. In a bar shaker mix 1 part Cranberry Syrup with 1 Part Bourbon. Top with ice and shake to mix.
  2. Strain off ice into an Old Fashioned Glass and top with 3 Parts Club Soda.
  3. Garnish Glass with Orange slice and Cranberry.
  4. Serve and enjoy!