Business Bites Resources: 5 Entrepreneurship Myths Debunked

Many aspiring entrepreneurs may believe that there is a list of strengths, characteristics or traits out there that will make them successful in their endeavors. But the truth is, entrepreneurs by definition are mold-breakers. There are a lot of myths out there about entrepreneurship which can make taking the step to start your business very intimidating.

On the first day of our Culinary Entrepreneurship program, students begin by discussing the idea of entrepreneurship and many of the myths surrounding it are debunked. It’s the first step in becoming an entrepreneur—letting go of everything you believe about entrepreneurship. This opens the door for students to discuss their initial ideas, which in our most recent class have included concepts for new and existing restaurants, cafés, bakeries, food products, cocktail bars and more. Over the next six weeks, their ideas will evolve and change as they learn how to turn their concepts into reality. They’ll also gain the tools and confidence to leave these 5 myths of entrepreneurship behind!

MYTH #1: ENTREPRENEURS ARE BORN, NOT MADE

Virtually all entrepreneurial skills can be learned.

MYTH #2: ENTREPRENEURS MUST HAVE INNOVATIVE IDEAS

Most successful businesses are evolutions of existing ideas.

MYTH #3: ENTREPRENEURS HAVE TO BE ABLE TO DO EVERYTHING THEMSELVES

A good entrepreneur plays to his or her strengths but also solicits the right help.

MYTH #4: ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS REALLY RISKY

Deep and nimble planning help to reduce risk.

MYTH #5: ENTREPRENEURS HAVE TO BE LUCKY

You work to make your own luck through constant learning, constant effort and constant networking.

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 Culinary Entrepreneurship course, and you’ll have a solid business plan & pitch ready in just 6 weeks! Click here to learn more.
ABOUT BUSINESS BITES

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

business bites

Business Bites: Cultivating & Retaining Top Talent

The BUSINESS BITES SERIES, brought to you by the Culinary Entrepreneurship 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.

BUSINESS BITES: CULTIVATING & RETAINING TOP TALENT

Harnessing HR Tools to Build Your Workforce

Thursday, November 7th | 6:30-8:00pm
International Culinary Center
462 Broadway, 2nd Floor Theater

Building and maintaining a healthy team is vital to the success of your business. Whether you run a kitchen, own a bakery or are looking to open a restaurant, it’s important to learn the key steps to managing and motivating your staff to success. It all starts with great leadership which encourages quality work and staff retention. But with labor laws continuing to change and minimum wage increasing, business owners are being forced to adapt their staffing models to account for these necessary protections for their employees.

So how can businesses, small & large, retain employees and build successful teams?

Join us for an informative discussion with experts in Human Resources & Restaurant Group operations on the importance of selection and hiring, training and retraining, and lastly, engagement and retention. Our panelists will share tools for retaining your staff, providing 401k & insurance incentives and more. We’ll talk about the impact of increased minimum wage on restaurant operations and new no-tip restaurant models. Plus, we’ll discuss how new technology, like apps for kitchen workers, could change the hiring landscape. You’ll also have ample time for networking and the opportunity to learn how ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship program can take you from concept to business plan & pitch in just 6-weeks!

MODERATOR

Alek Marfisi
Alek Marfisi – Owner, Upwind Strategies & ICC Entrepreneurship Instructor

Alek Marfisi is a native New Yorker with a passion for building things and helping people. After working advising small businesses for five years, Alek launched Upwind Strategies in 2015 with the mission of providing deeper and more relatable services to small businesses: the anti-business-school services firm. He previously worked with the NYS Small Business Development Center where he dove into the exciting intricacies of making entrepreneurial projects a reality. Since then, Alek has logged more than 11,000 hours working with small businesses and has been recognized as one of the top drivers of economic development in the country.

PANELISTS

Jackie McMann-Oliveri,
Jackie McMann-Oliveri, PHR
Director, Talent & Culture
Bold Food – Gato NYC – Shark Las Vegas – Bobby’s Burger Palace

Director of Talent and Culture at Bobby Flay Restaurants accustomed to hiring, training, supporting and retaining World Class Talent in the Wonderful World of Hospitality! 20 plus years in HR, a lifetime in Restaurants …Passions include leadership and talent management with a belief that as leaders we should always be selecting and hiring amazing people, giving them the support, tools and opportunities to succeed and partnering on accountability for all.

Most recently served as HR Director for The Meatball Shop and is a founding member of HR Professionals in Hospitality, a lecturer at The International Culinary Center Culinary Entrepreneurship program and lives and breathes an open-door policy. She does what she loves and loves what she does. Loves to garden and cook and spend time with family, friends and Chihuahuas named Latte & Mocha!

chef oron franco
Oron Franco
Director of Culinary Operations
Westville Resturant Group

Chef and entrepreneur, Oron Franco, combines his passion for food and business with over a decade of building and leading companies in hospitality, food service and FoodTech.

He graduated with honors from International Culinary Center and build his career in NYC working with renowned chefs like Michael Anthony and establishments Gramercy Tavern, JP Morgan Chase Fina Dining and several more.

He currently holds a roll as the Director of Culinary Operations at Westville and is the co-founder of Prime 6 – Premium Sustainable Charcoal.

He founded “Impact on a Plate” initiative, an organization with a mission to promote sustainability and positive change in the food and hospitality industry.

He lives in New York with his wife and two children.

Natalie Diehm
Natalie Diehm
Director of Talent Acquisition
Shake Shack

Natalie Diehm is the Director of Talent Acquisition at Shake Shack.  In her first two years, she has delivered on key performance indicators to ensure a best in class hiring manager and candidate experience.  She leads innovation and process enhancements to meet company growth that have completely changed the way leaders think about recruiting.  Natalie also added structure and a professional team around her to support Restaurant Operations and the Home Office to hire top talent and exceed the company’s recruiting goals.  The fast growth of Shake Shack fuels her hyper-focused team of recruiters to serve as strategic partners in moving the business forward.

Prior to Shack, Natalie served as a recruiter for 10 years at The Cheesecake Factory.  As a talent expert, she also served as a Skills and Competency Assessment Facilitator responsible for data integration and formal evaluation of management skills and knowledge to determine future leaders of the company.  She was born and raised in Hawaii and a cum laude graduate of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

Business Bites Resources: 4 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Secure Investors

One of the biggest challenges for restaurants and food business owners seeking growth is securing investors. So, how do you convince a total stranger to believe that your idea will sell? Well, it all starts with a great pitch and a solid business plan to back it up!

During our most recent Business Bites panel—Perfecting Your Pitch—we learned from industry experts Paul Daitz (Executive Chairman, BCMS), April Wachtel (Founder/CEO, Swig + Swallow) and Evan Madden-Peister (Consultant and Strategist, 13 Ventures) on how to secure capital to get your business up and running.

Their first piece of advice? Pitching your business is almost never like what you see on the popular TV show Shark Tank! Typically, it’s meeting in an office space or discussing your business over the phone. So, if your only reference on how to find investors is from the “sharks” on the show, we recommend you read what we learned from ICC’s very own investment-experts below!

The Environment of Pitching Has Changed

Like we said, pitching does not frequently happen in face-to-face scenarios anymore. With technology continuing to change the way that business is done, most pitch meetings occur over the phone via a call or video chat. While this does open the door for a wide range of investors from around the world, it can also hinder the quality of investors. Our investment experts recommend always trying to arrange an in-person meeting, when possible.

Don't Discount Early Investors

Early investors, like seed capitalists and angel investors, can be the success to your food business. These early investors are the ones that will help to get your business off the ground as they believe in your initial idea. They likely will not be large corporations or investment companies, but any investor, even if it’s a family member or small company, that you can secure at an early stage is important.

Know Your Audience

Investors are people too—they want to know whether the idea is useable for them, if the idea is unique to the market and others who may have invested in your company. Yes, the return on investment will be very important to the investor, but there are so many other factors that play into whether or not they will invest.

It’s also important to note that each investor will want different things. If you are bringing the same pitch deck to every investor, it probably will not work out for you in the long run. You should research your investors and know what they have invested in previously, but you do not need to know their whole life story. You must find a balance that will help you win their business in the end.

Clarity Is Key For Your Pitch Deck

There are certain points that all investors want to see covered in a stellar pitch deck including, who your company is, why this investment will matter to them in the long run and how it will ultimately benefit them. For a first meeting, it’s important that your deck hits on all of these points. You’ll want to leave 20 minutes of time for questions—that will most likely leave you with 40 minutes to present your pitch if the meeting is an hour long. A good pace to keep in mind is 3 minutes to present each slide, which will allow you to give enough substantive information without going into excessive detail.

One aspect of pitching that all of our experts agree on: clarity is key! At the end of the day, your pitch should begin and end with a presentation that looks put together and professional. If it’s difficult to follow, investors will be less likely to take away the main goal of your pitch.

Ready to get started on the business plan for your restaurant, food truck, food product or other dream culinary concept? Register for ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship course starting September 14th, and you’ll have a solid business plan & pitch ready in just 6 weeks! Click here to learn more.
ABOUT BUSINESS BITES

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

Business Bites Resources: 6 Steps To Building Your Brand

Building a brand is key to the success of a food business—even for small brands just starting out. A strong brand identity will help differentiate you from the competition, creating an experience that encourages customer engagement and effectively communicates your company message to consumers.

To learn more about how to create a brand identity & strategy, ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship program invited Alex Ostroff, Founder and Creative Director of Saint Urbain, for a Business Bites workshop open to students & alumni. With clients like Black Seed Bagels, Chip, and Seamore’s, the Saint Urbain team are behind some of NYC’s most unique and memorable food brands.

During the workshop, Ostroff gave us the inside scoop into how brand building begins for a successful restaurant concept: it’s all about creating a name, symbol and design that sets your business apart from the rest. But, there’s a lot that goes into taking that from concept to activation in order to build a lasting brand.

Below, see what Ostroff recommends as his 6 steps to building your food business brand!

Develop Your Brand Identity

Start by thinking about your brand from a high-level perspective. Recognize your competitors and what it is that you like or dislike about what they do. Understand who your customer is, and what their needs are. These will inform your goals for the brand.

Brainstorm Keywords

This is where you want to brainstorm keywords to describe your brand. Are you a modern, fun and hip gastro-pub? Are you a traditional, homey and wholesome café? These keywords will help to guide the overall vision and feel of your business.

Research and Narrow Down

Dive deeper into what your competitors are doing—what is it that you have to do to gain their market-share? Identify the opportunities that you have and what gap you’re filling in the marketplace. Then, identify any challenges that you will have to overcome. Narrow your research into visual possibilities and specific strategies that you can incorporate into your business.

Pick a Strategy

Now that you’ve done your research, figure out which of the strategies will work for your business. Your strategy will inform how you’ll go after your target market and will inform your long-term goals for your brand. Turn this into a solution for your brand. Create the identity of your food business based on your unique point of view and the need you’re filling for your target market.

Design is Key

Once you’ve selected your brand strategy, design or enlist the help of a graphic designer to create a comprehensive visual language that will communicate your brand look and feel. Do you want muted colors to play off of the space that your food business is in? Does your brand have loud colors to accentuate your flavorful food? Remember—customers eat with their eyes first, so not only do you want your food to look beautiful, you want your concept, and the elements that go along with it, to look beautiful too.

Time to Activate

Expand your design to craft your brand experience! Start with your logo and color palette, then create visuals to go with your brand. Will you be selling coffee and in need of to-go cups with your logo on them? How about the take-out bags for food, menu design and other key items that you want to create? Everything should go together and give a cohesive look to the business. You’ll want to play to your strengths to create a fun and memorable brand experience that will encourage your customers to return time and again!

Ready to get started on the business plan for your restaurant, food truck, food product or other dream culinary concept? Register for ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship course starting September 14th, and you’ll have a solid business plan & pitch ready in just 6 weeks! Click here to learn more.
ABOUT BUSINESS BITES

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

Business Bites: Perfecting Your Pitch

The BUSINESS BITES SERIES, brought to you by the Culinary Entrepreneurship 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.

BUSINESS BITES: PERFECTING YOUR PITCH

How To Leave Your Investors Hungry For More

Thursday, August 1st | 6:30-8:00pm
International Culinary Center
462 Broadway, 2nd Floor Theater

One of the biggest challenges for restaurants and food business owners seeking growth is securing investors. So, how do you convince a total stranger to believe that your idea will sell? Well, it all starts with a great pitch and a solid business plan to back it up! From coffee shops to elevators, networking events and more, entrepreneurs must be ready to share their pitch at a moment’s notice. That means delivering your unique sales proposition and brand story in a short amount of time that gets them hooked.

But, where do you start when your pitch has to be succinct and well-delivered to make a lasting impact?

Join us for an informative discussion with experts who have experience as small business owners, investors, business coaches and more to learn the secrets to crafting a great pitch for your restaurant or food business! Whether you’re in the start-up phase, or looking to grow your existing business, you’ll learn what every good pitch should include, how to avoid common mistakes when pitching and what to do to make your pitch stand out. Our panel will share their experiences on where to find investors and insider tips on what they really want to hear. Plus, learn the 5 major stages of start-up funding to develop your financial acumen and get you on the road to success. You’ll also have ample time for networking and the opportunity to learn how ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship program can take you from concept to business plan & pitch in just 6-weeks this September!

MODERATOR

Alek Marfisi
Alek Marfisi – Owner, Upwind Strategies & ICC Entrepreneurship Instructor

Alek Marfisi is a native New Yorker with a passion for building things and helping people. After working advising small businesses for five years, Alek launched Upwind Strategies in 2015 with the mission of providing deeper and more relatable services to small businesses: the anti-business-school services firm. He previously worked with the NYS Small Business Development Center where he dove into the exciting intricacies of making entrepreneurial projects a reality. Since then, Alek has logged more than 11,000 hours working with small businesses and has been recognized as one of the top drivers of economic development in the country.

PANELISTS

paul daitz
Paul Daitz, Executive Chairman of BCMS

A veteran of the global M&A market, Paul joined BCMS as its Executive Chairman in 2013. Paul spent seventeen years at Goldman, Sachs & Co., most recently as a senior member of the Global M&A Group. Based at the London office, he served as Chief Operating Officer of the Investment Banking Division in Europe and as a senior member of the M&A team. After Goldman Sachs, Paul was Senior Managing Director at Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc., and the Head of the Telecommunications, Media, Entertainment & Technology Group for North America. He was responsible for the firm’s mergers & acquisitions, financial advisory and principal investing activities across these industries.

APRIL WACHTEL
April Wachtel – Founder/CEO, Swig + Swallow

April Wachtel is a passionate educator, an experienced mixologist, a cocktail and spirits instructor, and founder of Swig + Swallow, the cocktail mixer company. She is a 22 year veteran in the beverage and hospitality industry, working in every role from busser to bartender to beverage director, to brand ambassador to beverage consultant. April has appeared on The Today Show, and Fox & Friends, as well as The Pitch Podcast, The Travel Bite, Tech Bites, The Main Course, Sharp & Hot, and more.

Evan Madden-Peister
Evan Madden-Peister, Strategy Designer at Business Models Inc.

Evan is a strategy designer and provacateur, with an entrepreneurial spirit and analytical impulses. He draws stories from different business contexts, and from the world/life at large, to shift perspectives and draw creative parallels for the participants. A career grounded in entrepreneurship as a member of the founding teams at Birch Coffee and Delhicioso, as well as consulting for multiple startups and coaching at the Starta Accelerator, has given Evan a bias towards creation. That foundation has also driven home the reality that change can happen fast, and that in order for large organizations to thrive they need to stay adaptive to the needs of their customers. This means embracing and putting into action a more agile method of thinking and doing—as a Strategy Designer at Business Models Inc. he helps his clients do exactly that.

Business Bites Resources: 4 Tips For Finding A Restaurant Space

By Stephani Robson

Stephani Robson is a Senior Lecturer at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and teaches in the Culinary Entrepreneurship program at the International Culinary Center.

Site selection is about much more than finding the right size of space in the right neighborhood for your food business. Have you ever considered that doors have to be a certain width to fit industrial kitchen equipment? What about the visibility that your restaurant will garner, or lose, depending on where the front door is?

There are so many different elements that go into choosing the perfect location. That’s why we sat down with Culinary Entrepreneurship instructor and Senior Lecturer at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, Stephani Robson, to learn how to get it right when choosing a location for your restaurant or food business. With over 30 years of experience designing restaurants and teaching restaurant design, Robson’s advice is some of the best in the business! When looking for a site, Robson shares, “a broker can be really helpful, but remember that the broker is working for the landlord, not for you.” Brokers get paid only when the space is leased, so they have a real incentive to get you to commit. Her first tip: Always do your homework first, and be sure to get everything in writing so your lawyer can review it before you sign a lease.

Here are the 4 things she recommends checking with your broker as you look for spaces!

Rent

Ask about the rent and how it is structured— the rent you pay should not exceed 6% of your total sales.  If the rent you are quoted includes all property taxes, insurance, and common-area maintenance, that “all-in” rent should not exceed 10% of your sales.   Be sure to find out whether rents being quoted are “all-in” (including “CAM” charges, building insurance and your share of the property taxes) or “triple net.” If these aren’t included, you will have to pay another 10-20% a month to cover these additional occupancy costs.

Rents vary widely depending on city and neighborhood, so get a feel for local rents by talking to a broker well before you complete your business plan.  If your restaurant concept cannot easily generate the sales to cover the rent quoted using this 6% thumb-rule, do not sign the lease, no matter how appealing the space looks!

Street Level Matters

For restaurants, you really do need to be at street level. Spaces on second floors of buildings or above are also rarely successful for any kind of food business. However, a bar can sometimes work in a basement space that has direct access from the street— otherwise, save basements for storage and food prep! If a street level space you are looking at includes a basement, ask if there is any additional charge for the basement, or if you need to share that space with other building tenants. It’s not unusual to have to share the stairs to the basement with others which can make operations difficult if you need to use those stairs frequently.

Avoid Kitchen Upgrades

Find out if the space already has a grease trap or kitchen ventilation.  Adding these can be really expensive — as in thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.  But if these are already in place, you’ll probably need to give them a really good professional cleaning before use.  While you might be able to clean the grease trap yourself (although it’s a messy task!), you’ll need to spend a few hundred dollars or more having the hood and its associated duct-work professionally cleaned.  At the same time, have the ventilation and fire protection systems checked by an engineer.  That will cost you another couple of hundred, but will be money well spent.

Pay Attention to Doorways

Double check the width of all doorways before you buy any equipment.  Many restaurant owners have found that they can’t get that new freezer or oven into their building! Sometimes, you can make a tight squeeze work by taking off the equipment’s legs or doors, or by removing the building’s door and its jamb (that’s the trim around the doorway), but try to avoid this kind of hassle by measuring carefully before you shop for your kitchen equipment and restaurant space.

Ready to get started on the business plan for your restaurant, food truck, food product or other dream culinary concept? Register for ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship course starting September 14th, and you’ll have a solid business plan & pitch ready in just 6 weeks! Click here to learn more.
ABOUT BUSINESS BITES

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

Stephani RobsonStephani Robson has over thirty years of experience designing restaurants and teaching restaurant development and design.  She is a Senior Lecturer at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and teaches in the Culinary Entrepreneurship program at the International Culinary Center.  Stephani holds a PhD in environmental psychology from Cornell and does research on how the design of restaurants affects guests and operators.

Business Bites Resources: Best Practices for Building Client Relations

Jacques Torres, Ron Ben-Israel and Jurgen DavidThe age old saying remains true—the customer really is always right. The success of your business relies on good customer experience. So, what does it take to make your clients happy? During our Pastry Plus conference this spring, Jacques Torres—ICC Dean of Pastry Arts, and Ron Ben-Israel—ICC Guest Master Pastry Chef, shared their experiences running some of the most successful businesses in pastry today. From custom designed wedding cakes to innovating new chocolate product lines, these chefs understand the importance of building client relations for continued business.

Their first tip for food business owners—start fostering long, healthy relationships from the moment your customers walk through the door. In this article, we share these experts best practices for building client relations to last a lifetime!

Listen To Your Customers

jacques torresInspiration for new products can come from even the littlest customers. This is the truth for one of Jacques Torres Chocolate’s most popular products, chocolate covered cheerios. One day, while at his shop, Jacques Torres noticed parents in the store giving their children Cheerios since it was all they would eat. That week, he went to the grocery store and bought a giant box of Cheerios to cover in chocolate (after all, he is “Mr. Chocolate!”).

Not thinking anything of it, he put a bowl of them out for customers to try. People would politely take one, then come back and take handfuls of the chocolate covered cereal to go. He knew he had a hit and had to act upon it.

Looking back on it now, he shares that, “In your career, you’re going to want to do things that you want to do, and there’s nothing wrong with that…But, after-all, your customers will be the one eating your products.”

Accept the Blame

ron ben israelIt’s easy to think that—especially in the custom cake business—your customers will only be one time purchasers that you won’t see again. But, it’s important to remember that everyone can become a repeat customer. That’s why when a recent Mother of the Bride complained that the wedding cake for her daughter was incorrect, Ron Ben-Israel found a way to fix the situation immediately.

After much investigation, he found out that the wedding cake sent to the venue was indeed the correct cake. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. However, instead of telling the mother that he was correct, he accepted responsibility for the situation and sent a personalized cake to the client. By going the extra mile to right the circumstances, the unhappy client became a repeat customer. Now, he is creating custom cakes for their whole family!

Respond To Feedback

panelistsIn this day and age, you can’t hide from a bad review or comment. Whether it’s a Yelp or Google review, a comment on Instagram or a direct message on Twitter, entrepreneurs are constantly receiving feedback—both good and bad about their businesses. Almost 20 years ago when Torres started his chocolate business, this wasn’t the case. He would receive feedback from his customers in person, without the potential of it escalating on social media.

Now that his business has grown to over 100 employees, it would be easy for Torres to ignore customer’s complaints and let someone on his team handle it. But, to this day, Torres still calls his customers personally to address concerns and find solutions that make them feel heard. Ultimately, what makes his business stand out is the way he works with his customers to provide a personalized experience—one that foster’s customer loyalty.

ABOUT BUSINESS BITES

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

panelists

Understanding Your Business Foodprint

This month, in celebration of Earth Day in April, and as a part of our Understanding Your ‘Foodprint’ series, our latest installment of Business Bites: Reaping the Benefits of Going Green discussed ethical choices to reduce your bottom line, while positively impacting the environment, with a panel of experts from chefs and restaurateurs to CEO’s of environmental organizations and consultants for food business owners.

Below, check out what we learned from our panelists about taking the steps to change your business practices to become more sustainable, and move towards a zero waste model!

LEARN FROM OTHERS

Our moderator Alek Marfisi, Owner of Upwind Strategies and instructor in ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship program, was joined by Christina Mitchell Grace, CEO of Foodprint Group; John Oppermann, Executive Director of Earth Day Initiative; Naama Tamir, Co-Founder of Lighthouse Lighthouse Outpost; and Michael Chernow, Co-Founder of The Meatball Shop & Founder of Seamore’s. While their respective businesses interact with sustainable practices on varying levels, they are all passionately advocating for others in the food industry to make choices that will lessen our impact on the environment. Not only did our audience learn a lot from our panelists, but the panelists shared many helpful tips with each other, furthering the idea that a supportive community is important to fostering change.

TACKLE ONE THING

In today’s world, sustainability should be a driving factor for businesses. The word itself is defined by the avoidance of resource depletion in order to maintain an ecological balance. It is essentially what business owners should be doing every day. But often times, business owners are overwhelmed by the idea of just running their business, let alone trying to minimize their environmental impact. So our main piece of advice for getting started, just do one thing first!

Waste Diversion

Naama, whose restaurant Lighthouse Brooklyn is focused on sustainability in every aspect, created a waste system with multiple different streams. By diverting the streams to the appropriate places, like composting and creating bio-diesel with the organic waste or donating oyster shells to the Billion Oyster Project, her restaurant can make a significant impact on what ends up in landfills. Her restaurant even takes it a step further by partnering with companies to use empty wine bottles for candles and uses the corks to make tops for food jars. Lighthouse Brooklyn is a great example of how everything can serve multiple purposes and that it is possible to become zero waste in the food space.

Organize Your Space & Educate Your Team

While becoming a zero waste restaurant or food business is completely doable, it can be challenging to get there without the right tools—that’s where Christina Mitchell Grace comes in. Her company, Food Print Group, helps food and hospitality organizations design zero waste into their buildings, kitchens and front of house processes. Becoming zero waste starts from the beginning of the source, so by creating an efficient kitchen and work space, training your staff and educating your customers, it will automatically become simpler to divert waste from landfills and source separate your organics from trash.

Use Sustainably Sourced Ingredients

Others, like Michael Chernow, tackle sustainability through ingredient sourcing. The fish at his restaurant Seamore’s is 100% sustainable, sourced as close to home as possible and offered at an accessible price point. Seamore’s whole philosophy is founded on the idea introducing underutilized, undervalued local species of fish to their customers in healthy and tasty ways. By doing so, they’re working to protect our oceans from becoming depleted and educating others to keep our oceans healthy for future generations.

If seafood is not a key focus of your menu, focusing on local ingredients can be. By using ingredients that don’t have to travel far, it can cut carbon footprints by reducing long-distance transportation and will put your dollars into your local economy.

Advocate With Your Dollars

To bring the conversation together, John Oppermann discussed how Earth Day Initiative educates businesses on energy efficiency and building brand awareness around your sustainability practices. While it may be too costly to install solar panels, or even unrealistic if your building doesn’t allow it, you can actually purchase renewable energy through regular energy providers. By voting with your dollars, you’re letting your local city officials know that clean energy is important and making your voice heard in a simple way.

THE ULTIMATE GOAL: ZERO WASTE

There are big questions that need to be addressed to strategize for a future that minimizes, or hopefully eliminates, the 24,000 tons of wasted materials produced in NYC each day. Questions like, “what if every building had a compost program,” or “what if all single use coffee cups were replaced with reusable mugs?” But, one of the first steps that businesses can take to reduce this massive amount of waste is to assess opportunities for waste reduction through source separation. A surprising amount of “trash” is actually organic waste that can be composted or recycled, which will eventually get you to the ultimate zero waste goal. Taking an audit of your waste will help you identify this.

Even though zero waste is the ultimate goal, there are smaller practices that you can put into place to help you integrate sustainability into your business. Practices like buying local, using the entire ingredient, and buying in bulk are simple changes that can be made quickly. If you want even more resources to go green, check out our Business Bites Resources article here.

ABOUT BUSINESS BITES

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

Business Bites Resources: 4 Ways To Bring Sustainability To Your Kitchen

In celebration of Earth Day this month, and as a part of our Understanding Your ‘Foodprint’ series, our latest installment of Business Bites: Reaping the Benefits of Going Green discussed the economic rewards of making ethical & sustainable choices for your restaurant or food business.

In a passionate discussion led by moderator Alek Marfisi (Owner of Upwind Strategies & ICC Culinary Entrepreneurship instructor), panelists Christina Mitchell Grace (CEO of Foodprint Group), John Oppermann (Executive Director of Earth Day Initiative), Naama Tamir (Co-Founder of Lighthouse Lighthouse Outpost), and Michael Chernow (Co-Founder of The Meatball Shop & Founder of Seamore’s) shared their experiences running, or working with, restaurants & food businesses promoting sustainable, zero waste practices. Read our full recap of the conversation here.

You won’t be able to change everything all at once. Instead use these tips and resources to help you get started by doing one or two things differently today. Whether you’re a food business owner, chef or home cook, making small changes to your foodprint can have large impacts on the environment. Check them out below!

For The Food Business Owner

Sustainable practices aren’t limited to just the kitchen—incorporating them into every facet of your business can not only reduce waste and help to save money, but also educates your customers on how their actions impact the environment as well. Share your stories with your audience and they’ll reward you by becoming loyal customers.

This infographic from the NYC Department of Sanitation will help introduce you to the world of efficiency, creating a more usable space for your business, which will lead to less waste. Download their full Zero Waste Design Guidelines here or evaluate how much waste you generate by using their calculator here.

This organization provides organic collection solutions for small food businesses including in-house education to make composting easy, reduce waste & recycling costs, and guide you in edible food rescue opportunities.

Carbon Credit Capital helps to calculate your company’s emissions and find solutions for going carbon neutral.

Whether you’re looking for local compost drop offs or shopping for recycled kitchen appliances, Big Reuse has you covered.

For the Chef

As a chef, being focused on sustainability isn’t just trendy, it’s imperative. Chefs have an opportunity to advocate for better practices in our food systems and educate their customers through the food that they cook. In addition to the positive marketing & storytelling for your brand, incorporating sustainable practices can help to cut costs as well.

It’s no secret that chef’s enjoy cooking with what’s in season, and this seasonal food guide from FoodPrint.org allows you to search by your location and time of year to see what’s available near you! By choosing ingredients that are local, your food dollar goes directly to farmers and you eliminate environmental damage caused by shipping foods thousands of miles.

According to the Sustainable Restaurant Association, 90% of the world’s fish stocks are either fully or over-exploited. Help to recover the world’s oceans by diversifying the fish that you use and educate your customers on making the right choice.

Meat has long been at the center of the plate, but by making vegetables more appealing and using descriptive words on your menus, you can draw attention away from resource-consuming meat.

ICC special guest panelist Naama Tamir is the owner of Lighthouse Brooklyn and Lighthouse Outpost. Her restaurants go beyond farm-to-table dining, embracing sustainability in everything they do. At Lighthouse, everything has multiple uses. They recycle, compost, and collaborate with other green-oriented businesses to grow, improve and educate their staff, guests and community. From recycling empty wine bottles into candles for the restaurant and turning cooking oil into bio diesel, to returning oyster shells to the Billion Oyster Project, everything is re-purposed into a new life. Places like Industrial/Organic are taking it to the next level, deriving organic chemicals and ingredients from food waste—simultaneously diverting food waste from landfills and creating recycled home & personal care products, dietary supplements and more.

For the Home Cook

If you live in NYC, you know that the NYC Department of Sanitation requires all residents to recycle, so you’re already on the right path to decreasing your carbon footprint. Here are a few small steps you can take to bring sustainability into your kitchen, and home!

This short, fun quiz explores what your foodprint is, introducing the subject of sustainability and educates you on your carbon footprint based off of your food habits. They’ll provide you with tips at the end that you can apply to improve your foodprint.

While most chefs are trained to practice whole-ingredient cooking, it can be more difficult to do so at home without the proper education. Reducing food waste as you cook at home not only saves you money, it provides a better tasting product while also making small positive changes on the environment.

As we approach the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020, The Earth Day Initiative has launched their Do Just 1 Thing campaign to encourage people to switch to clean energy whether for their residential or business dwelling.

60,000 plastic bags are used every 5 seconds in the US, so it’s time to start doing your part. Carry a reusable tote that you can put groceries and any other purchased items into instead of a single use plastic bag. Start now because by March 2020, NYC will have officially banned single use plastic bags.

ABOUT BUSINESS BITES

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

business bites

Business Bites: Reaping The Benefits of Going Green

The BUSINESS BITES SERIES, brought to you by the Culinary Entrepreneurship 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.

THE ECONOMIC REWARDS OF MAKING YOUR FOOD BUSINESS SUSTAINABLE

Thursday, April 18th | 6:30-8:00pm
International Culinary Center
462 Broadway, 2nd Floor Theater

63 million tons of food is wasted annually in the US—that’s equivalent to 180 Empire State Buildings—and the restaurant industry alone generates 11.4 million tons of food waste each year. There’s no denying that there remains great room for improvement to make food businesses and restaurants more sustainable. In addition to the environmental and social reasons, there are also many economic incentives for businesses to adopt sustainable practices. For instance, did you know that for every dollar invested in food-waste reduction, restaurants can realize about $8 in cost savings? Energy efficiency, composting, recycling, ingredient sourcing and packaging are all ways that food businesses can incorporate sustainable practices to improve their bottom line.

So what does it take to make your restaurant or food business sustainable through the front door and out the back?

In celebration of Earth Day this April, and part of our Understanding Your ‘Foodprint’ series, our latest installment of Business Bites, Reaping the Benefits of Going Green, will demonstrate how these ethical choices can help to reduce your bottom line. Hear from a panel of experts operating local restaurants with an emphasis on sustainability, as well as professionals working to bring solutions in food waste to consumers and food business owners a like. They’ll discuss NYC requirements for commercial organic waste, solutions for hauling food waste, composting, compostable packaging & products, sourcing ingredients, energy efficiency and more. Plus, you’ll also have ample time for networking and the opportunity to learn how ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship program can take you from concept to business plan & pitch in just 6-weeks!

MODERATOR

Alek Marfisi
Alek Marfisi – Owner, Upwind Strategies & ICC Entrepreneurship Instructor

Alek Marfisi is a native New Yorker with a passion for building things and helping people. After working advising small businesses for five years, Alek launched Upwind Strategies in 2015 with the mission of providing deeper and more relatable services to small businesses: the anti-business-school services firm. He previously worked with the NYS Small Business Development Center where he dove into the exciting intricacies of making entrepreneurial projects a reality. Since then, Alek has logged more than 11,000 hours working with small businesses and has been recognized as one of the top drivers of economic development in the country.

PANELISTS

christina mitchell grace
Christina Mitchell Grace, CEO of Food Print Group

Christina Grace is a leader in sustainable food systems planning and zero waste. She is CEO of Foodprint Group, a services business that helps food, hospitality and corporate office teams design for zero waste through better purchasing, recycling infrastructure and integrated training. She is co-author of the NYC Zero Waste Design Guidelines, and an advocate for sustainable food and waste policies. She has 15+ years experience as a food systems planner working from farm to compost. She is a trained cook based in Brooklyn where she’s raising two kids and a startup.

john opperman
John Oppermann, Executive Director of Earth Day Initiative

John Oppermann serves as Executive Director of Earth Day Initiative, an environmental non-profit with a variety of sustainability initiatives, including the Gotham Grazer sustainable food education program and a community solar program helping to bring rooftop solar facilities to New York City.  The Gotham Grazer program includes various sustainable food toolkits, including a mock negotiation placing participants in the roles of stakeholders trying to bring sustainable food solutions to a food desert.  He also serves as an Associate Real Estate Broker at Compass, specializing in green and healthy homes, and an adjunct professor at NYU with a course titled Marketing Green Homes, which looks at how a variety of green and healthy building features and standards (including LEED, Passive House, and WELL) resonate with home buyers.  John is a graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and Harvard Law School.​

naama
Naama Tamir, Co-Founder of Lighthouse & Lighthouse Outpost

Naama Tamir born and raised in the city of Rehovot in Israel, she moved to NY in 2000 after her mandatory IDF service. She studied Philosophy and Psychology at Hunter college while moonlighting in the hospitality industry. Upon graduation it became clear that her passion lies in restaurants, sustainability and education. In 2011 along with her brother-partner Assaf Tamir, they opened Lighthouse in South Williamsburg, a sustainable and forward thinking restaurant. In August 2016 the opened a second location named Lighthouse Outpost in Soho.

Other commitments include : Producer of Umami Food and Art Festival, Chair of sustainability practises and green initiative at BaBar (bar & restaurant alliance), Co-founder NFL – No Free Lunch sustainability platform at the Institute of Public Knowledge, Collaborator in the reusable to go container project by sanitation department, Guest speaker : NYU, New School,  ICE – ‘Sustainability Plate by Plate’ Conscientious Capitalism’, Consultant & leader : Fair Kitchens initiative, Contributor : James Beard Foundation Impact Program

michael chernow
Michael Chernow, Co-Founder of The Meatball Shop & Founder of Seamore’s

Michael Chernow started working in restaurants as a teenager on New York City’s Upper East Side.  He has since built a successful career in the industry including seven years at Frank Prizanzano’s eponymous flagship restaurant, Frank, where he cultivated a large, loyal following.  In 2007, Michael enrolled in the French Culinary Institute, graduating with honors and an associate’s degree in both Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management at the end of the two-year program.  In 2010, Michael teamed up with his childhood friend Daniel Holzman and debuted The Meatball Shop in New York City’s Lower East Side. The mix-and-match menu of meatballs, served in a warm and convivial environment, was an instant hit.  Five more locations of The Meatball Shop—in Williamsburg, the West Village, Chelsea, the Upper East Side and the Hell’s Kitchen—opened in quick succession. Michael also co-authored The Meatball Shop Cookbook, which was published to much acclaim in 2011. A passionate fisherman since childhood, Michael combined his love of fishing and his culinary expertise with Seamore’s in New York City, which opened in summer of 2015 to immediate and consistent buzz. Michael has appeared in countless broadcast segments including ABC’s Good Morning America, NBC’s TODAY Show and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno as well as in an array of widely reaching local and national publications such as The New York Times, Food & Wine, Saveur, People, Food Network Magazine and GQ.