Pastry Coordinator & Chef Instructor

Biography: Jeanne Neivert graduated from the International Culinary Center’s, then the French Culinary Institute, pastry program in 1998. Before returning to ICC as an instructor, Chef Jeanne was the pastry chef for Spoon Catering and Tbsp Café. While studying in college to become a veterinarian, Chef Jeanne fell in love with the warm kitchen atmosphere and the infinite number of ways that simple dough can be transformed into a complex plated dessert. She is equally as energized by her well-respected colleagues and enthusiastic students and loves the interactions that she has with students, as well as having the chance to meet so many wonderful people. Chef Jeanne joined the International Culinary Center as an instructor in 2010.

Interview:

ICC: Where are you from and when were you first introduced to the world of pastry?

Jeanne: I grew up in a suburban commuter town in New York called Ossining. I was in high school when I had my first experience with the food industry working in an ice cream store where I was involved in high-volume cake decorating. It was a fast paced environment, and I loved it. My bosses were super organized and I think that their methods set the tone for my career. Then, in college, I was on track to become a veterinarian. In order to support myself in school, I began working as a server in restaurants and enjoyed the atmosphere.

ICC: How did you switch from pre-vet to studying the pastry arts?

Jeanne: At a certain point, I couldn’t ignore my love for baking and decided to pursue my passions. It was 1998 and the first school that I thought of and contacted was the French Culinary Institute (now the ICC). I did the six month day program and halfway through, student services helped me to find employment.

ICC: What did you do after graduation?

Jeanne: I started working for one of the judges who graded my final project, Abigail Kirsch. Abigail is the owner of a massive catering company that was based at the Tappan Hill Mansion located in Tarrytown, New York. It was an amazing experience to work for a highly seasoned establishment and the large scale production was eye opening. As the on and off-site events changed weekly, I learned to be flexible. During the high season, our team consisted of around six people.

ICC: What was the next step in your career after working in catering?

Jeanne: After a year there with Abigail, I moved on to work at Equus Restaurant, an extension of The Castle Hotel & Spa at Tarrytown – a small Inn that had received designation from Relais & Châteaux. As a Pastry Cook, much of my time was devoted to petit fours production. What was interesting about the team at this hotel was that many of the employees were placed there by an international staffing agency – they were from France and Switzerland, so for me, it was an intense European immersion and the staff became very close.

 ICC: What was your most memorable work experience?

Jeanne: I continued working in the fine-dining sector as a Pastry Cook at Gramercy Tavern, a restaurant by Danny Meyer. We were a staff of 11 and I had never experienced high-volume, fine-dining before. It was also my first experience where the Kitchen Brigade method was taken so seriously. As part of this method, the pastry department was compartmentalized and as it turns out, this works amazing for consistency –there is so much repetition which honestly, is good for you! That restaurant was like a finely oiled machine; everything from the front of the house to the back, the dishwashers, everyone. Working at Gramercy, I was introduced to many influential people in the industry such as Tom Colicchio, who was the Head Culinary Chef and Claudia Flemming, Head Pastry Chef. The food created by that team was elevated in every way, almost ethereal. That was the point when I realized that the entire dining experience is orchestrated like a dance. You are not just paying for the food, you pay for the entire atmosphere – it’s almost like they are pumping pheromones into the air. I would definitely say that this was my most memorable work experience because at this point, I had gained enough experience to take on the role of a Pastry Chef. In that position, I took on a new level of responsibility that I hadn’t until this point. This allowed me the opportunity to build and test menus for various establishments.

 ICC: What are some of your other notable work experiences?

Jeanne: In 2006, I began commuting to Brooklyn. I worked as Pastry Chef at an Italian restaurant named Lusardi’s. This restaurant group had three locations and I produced desserts for them all. One of those locations, Dressler, gained a Michelin Star during my time there.

ICC: How did you transition from being a fine-dining Pastry Chef to an instructor at ICC?

Jeanne: In 2010 I responded to an ad for an Instructor; I thought that the change would bring my career around full circle. I felt that because I had been working for so long, now I would have an opportunity to give back. It sounded like an amazing experience. In 2012, I joined the International Culinary Center campus in California.

ICC: What is the most important lesson for you to convey to your students?

Jeanne: Firstly, respect the kitchen. That means leaving it cleaner than you found it and never walking away from a station with your hands empty or without having organized something – any corner or table that you walk to, be sure to do something productive before you leave it. If the kitchen isn’t well respected, then you can’t think clearly and the food that is produced is sad. It is a relationship between you and the kitchen. You need an open, organized environment where you can be creative. When there is clutter and mess and it seems that no one cares about the equipment, you cannot grow.

Secondly, I will also say that the techniques you learn in school are things you will continue to grown on. Once you have a foundation, then everything else comes down to creativity, flavor profile and how fast and organized you can work – that leads to your success.

ICC: What advice can you give to students who have recently graduated from ICC’s pastry program?

Jeanne: Work in many different environments and find out what you really enjoy. Over the course of your career, it might change, but when starting out, try them all. Consider the size of the establishment and the pace of work. I think that everyone needs to spend at least four years in the field before taking steps to open a business – there is so much more involved than just the financial side.

I also want students to value their foundations. It is very important to understand that you cannot build a career without the basic skills that we worked on at the beginning of the course – those are actually my favorite things to teach!

For those who are still considering this as a career, please understand that this field is highly competitive and the money…let me just say that we do it out of love!

COURSE OVERVIEWS
Classes start year-round


UPCOMING OPEN HOUSES
CALIFORNIA CAMPUS
08/08/2018 - 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm -

Wine Panel
Courses Covered:
 Sommelier

08/15/2018 - 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm -

Courses Covered: Culinary, Pastry, Sommelier

09/26/2018 - 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm -

Courses Covered: Culinary, Pastry, Sommelier

11/14/2018 - 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm -

Courses Covered: Culinary, Pastry, Sommelier