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. 

Business Bites Resources: Managing Your Staff

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. Jackie McMann-Oliveri, Director of Talent and Culture for Bold Food, joined us at Pastry Plus this March to answer everyone’s burning question, how do I retain employees and build a successful team? A certified Professional in Human Resources, Jackie is responsible for supporting all of Bobby Flay’s restaurants, and brings her HR knowledge and experience to ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship programs.

jackie mcmann oliveriIn her 75-minute breakout class on managing your staff, Jackie shared the importance of selection and hiring, training and retraining, and lastly, engagement and retention to a sold out class of pastry professionals—pastry chefs, bakery owners, and aspiring pastry business owners. Jackie began by discussing what makes a great leader. Great leadership encourages quality work and staff retention, the hallmarks of a successful establishment. Read below to see Jackie’s three qualities of great leadership and learn how you can adapt them for your team!

Select and hire amazing people.

Hire for character and a passion for the job, not necessarily skills, which can be taught. More time hiring means less time firing.

Give them the tools and support they need to do their job.

An employee handbook is a necessity for effectively managing your staff. This handbook clearly states the rules and expectations of your business. While many companies have a handbook, Jackie recommends going over one topic a week at a short meeting, which keeps the staff engaged and reminds them of the rules in the workplace that must be respected.

People follow leaders, not because they have to, but because they want to. Leaders listen more than they speak, are trustworthy, and accessible to their staff. Recognizing employees through rewards and other means goes a long way in retaining staff, as does actively promoting a work-life balance.

Practice consistent accountability.

Practicing consistent accountability is necessary so that the rules are enforced and respected. Conversations with unhappy employees are uncomfortable, but having the conversation is necessary and usually results in a positive outcome. Get to know your staff and trust your gut. While navigating this in small business models can seem more challenging than a large company, these fundamentals on leadership and staff management are applicable to all business models.

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.

Off the Vine: Careers in Wine

How to Jump-start Your Career in Wine

OFF THE VINE, brought to you by the Intensive Sommelier Training program at ICC, is a series of tastings, discussion panels and networking events designed to support wine professionals in the beverage industry. Each event is designed to provide education, information and the opportunity to connect with industry experts in a collaborative setting.

The wine and beverage industry is dynamic & diverse, and offers many opportunities to build an exciting career—with options that suit different backgrounds, personalities and lifestyles. For those who are seriously considering a career in the wine industry, the possibilities are endless.

This month, we gathered for a dynamic panel discussion with Slim Mello, Head Sommelier at the Mandarin Oriental; Michele Thomas, Assistant Manager and Buyer at Greene Grape Wine & Spirits; Patricia Alazraki, Brand Manager for Monsieur Touton; and Cristina Coari, Wine Education and Press Manager for Vias Imports.

Together, we explored topics like career paths, hiring practices, qualities that employers seek and the paths that each panelist took to get to where they are today. Below, learn what our panelists said about translating skill sets, building your network, hiring practices, and salary expectations!

How can my skills translate to the wine industry?

wineWhen people consider changing careers to enter the wine industry, they are often worried that their skills won’t translate to wine. It’s intimidating to think about starting a new career at any point in your life, but if you share a passion for wine, you’ll fit right in to this new industry.

Your resume doesn’t always have to be perfectly polished—many of your previous work experiences can be translated into the skills needed to pursue the wine career of your dreams. So what are some of the skill sets that you can utilize in your future wine career?

For starters, a desire to learn, listen and study are all very helpful. Pursuing your wine education requires a dedication to study. Even as a professional, you’ll find it important to continue to learn about new wines, taste new producers, etc. Previous front of house or service experience is a plus, as well as any sales background. Being a people person and feeling comfortable speaking with others is very important. Don’t be afraid to ask questions—being able to read a room and help identify what someone wants is not a small task. Make sure you can talk about your previous experiences and apply them to what you want to do in the future. Use your qualifications as leverage and know that all experience is good experience!

How do I build my network?

Building your network is key in any industry, especially within the tight-knit community of wine. If you want to be a part of this community, you have to put yourself in the position to meet people. Attend a tasting event. Frequent industry meet-ups. Reach out to a professional contact on social media. Making a connection, even through social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram can introduce you to new people who can become great resources in this business.

Panelist Patricia Alazraki, ICC alumna and Brand Manager of Monsieur Touton, found her current job through a friend’s social media post on Facebook. After reaching out to a mutual friend and asking to get coffee to learn from her expertise, her new contact ended up offering her a job. Never be afraid to reach out to someone already working in the industry or at a company you want to work for—more often than not, they are more than willing to help in any way that they can.

Speaking of social media, use your channels to build your own wine presence. Demonstrate your knowledge of wine by posting tasting notes and using popular wine hashtags. You never know who might reach out to you!

What do hiring managers look for when interviewing?

wine pouredAlthough a resume is important in any interview, all of our panelists—who are hiring managers themselves—agreed that two of the most important skills you can bring to your interview are not actually on your resume. Passion and people skills are integral to how you sell yourself in any interview. By bringing your passion for wine to the forefront of your interview, you’ll show that you’re able to connect with customers and consumers.

Interactions that you have in your interview are a good indicator for how you will interact with your customers. You have to be able to carry a conversation and learn about someone’s interests so that you can recommend the right wine to them and have them coming back for more.

What can I expect for my salary?

Like any industry, salaries in wine vary greatly. According to our panelists, who all have years of combined experience, you can expect to start at around $15-$20 while working in retail. Then, anywhere from $25,000-$50,000 is a great ballpark when you begin in a restaurant, not including what you’ll make in tips! From there, Head Sommeliers can make $70,000+ with experience, higher level certifications and percentages of monthly sales or tips. Brand Ambassadors can make anywhere in the $60,000-$90,000 range and added sales commission can increase salary.

Want to learn more about how ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program can help you pursue your wine career? Check out our next Off the Vine panel in April!

Business Bites Resources: How to Unearth Your Sources

For restaurants and food business owners, sourcing quality ingredients and importing products unique to your brand play an important role in setting you apart from your competitors. Your patrons become loyal customers for the quality you retain—and your prices can reflect that. Today, the expansion of global trade and ease of digital communication allows for access to exotic, hard-to-find ingredients from around the world, making it possible to introduce products direct from their origin.

With consumers moving towards ethical buying habits, higher standards for quality and equality are vital in day-to-day business operations. In our latest installment of our Business Bites series, Unearthing Your Sources, our panel of experts shared how they operate profitable food businesses without compromising on quality or fair trade practices. Check out the three things to know when sourcing your products below!

Know Your Farmers

In today’s global market, consumers want to know where their ingredients and products are coming from. Whether it’s intended to support fair-trade practices or identify single-origin goods, it’s an important aspect to the buying process. Being able to connect your customers with the farmers you source from can be both a storytelling and brand building opportunity that results in loyalty and trust.

But, that isn’t the only reason food businesses want to know where, and who they’re sourcing from. Developing a relationship with your farmers can mean the difference between getting the right products for your business, and the best quality for your customers.

Burlap and Barrel stresses this sentiment. During the panel discussion, Ethan Frisch, co-founder of Burlap and Barrel, shared a story about a farm in upstate New York that he has been working with for the past two years. Over this time, Ethan has fostered a strong relationship with Norwich Meadows Farm, opening the door to new opportunities. After much discussion, they have decided to work together to develop a special project, which wouldn’t have happened without Ethan nurturing this relationship.

Know What Your Consumers Want

It’s important to identify what motivates your customers to buy. Is it your uniquely sourced products? Is it your commitment to fair-trade, sustainability or single-origin? Is it your packaging? Figuring out the most meaningful way to communicate to your customers is a time old challenge, but the rewards can be integral to your success.

When Raaka Chocolate rebranded in 2018, they invested time and resources to figure out what their consumers really wanted to know on their bar of chocolate. In order to make the reintroduction of their brand successful, they tested everything from taste to packaging, and even rewrote their brand story. After all, much had happened in the eight years since they had founded their company. Their new packaging is vibrant and bold, much like the chocolate that it encompasses. Although subtle, it is also modeled after the landscapes from which their cacao beans come from. Instead of using common buzz words like fair trade, when you open their bar of chocolate, you’ll see their term “transparent trade” to exhibit their commitment to be transparent in everything that they do, including sourcing.

Know Your Ingredients

Sourcing quality ingredients, especially in a restaurant, market or food business that’s just starting out, can make or break the business. Whether you provide access to a hard-to-find product, a uniquely curated selection or incorporate it into a signature dish, specialty ingredients help to grow a loyal following of customers that return time and time again. They can even create demand when an ingredient has limited quantities. But, relying on specialty ingredients can also pose a difficulty for new companies.

When Vega Coffee was starting out, they knew that they wanted to import coffee from Nicaragua. In order to receive the ingredients they desired, they had to create a system with the governments in both the US and Nicaragua to import the products through customs. Although this is an extreme example, navigating import laws is an important part of sourcing your products, so you must be prepared to do your research as a business owner.

One of Rishi Tea’s best selling drinks is a masala chai drink. A key ingredient to this drink is a delicious Madagascar vanilla, but because of climate change and a few other factors, the price of vanilla has sky rocketed in recent years. As a business owner, they weighed the benefits of raising the price of their best selling drink, but possibly seeing sales decline, with the cost of sourcing the vanilla. In order to keep the price the same, they decided to source vanilla from another country—something that is not easy to do, as vanilla is grown in few places around the world. In the end, they found an amazing quality vanilla in Mexico and were able to continue their masala chai offering without raising the price or compromising on quality.

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.

salmon in brioche

Sous Vide Smoked Salmon in Brioche Recipe

On January 23rd, our Director of Culinary Arts & Technology, Chef Hervé Malivert demonstrated the intricacies of Sous Vide cooking in celebration of International Sous Vide day! Sous Vide techniques can completely change the way a kitchen operates, in both professional restaurants and at-home settings. From determining how time and temperature influence the taste and texture of different foods, to its potential to transform rarely used cuts of meat into tender delicacies, Sous Vide methods make you think in new and exciting ways.

chef herveIn order to properly prepare the culinary professionals of today and tomorrow to use Sous Vide cooking methods in their kitchens, Chef Hervé is leading the charge with an all new hands-on curriculum. Relaunching on May 31st, our Sous Vide Intensive course will teach the techniques behind low temperature cooking and how to adapt them to your own kitchen—whether you plan to use what you learn in a professional restaurant or home kitchen setting!

You’ll explore both professional grade equipment and at-home versions of immersion circulators, as well as the difference between using sous vide vacuum bags and other alternatives. By the end, you’ll taste, test and explore various applications of sous vide cooking for your kitchen, with an array of proteins, vegetables and more! Plus, our resident master of plating techniques, Chef Hervé, will share some of his tips for plating any number of these dishes to perfection!

Before you join us for class on May 31, you can begin practicing with Sous Vide techniques at home. Check out one of the recipes from Chef Hervé’s demonstration below!

Find more information on the Sous Vide Intensive here.

Sous Vide Smoked Salmon in Brioche Recipe

Ingredients:
  • Salt, as needed
  • Sugar, as needed
  • 900 g Salmon
  • 100 g Molasses
  • 55 g Liquid smoke
  • 50 g Brown sugar
  • 5 g Black pepper

PROCEDURE

  1. Combine 4:1 ratio of salt to sugar.
  1. Season the fish heavily with the salt/sugar mixture, covering as much of the surface as possible. Let it rest for 45 minutes, then place your fish in an ice bath (a bowl filled with ice cubes and very cold water) to completely remove the salt and sugar.
  1. For making the glaze: In a bowl, combine molasses, liquid smoke, brown sugar and black pepper.
  1. Transfer the rinsed the salmon to a sheet tray and pat it dry. Next, brush the glaze onto both sides of your salmon.
  1. Place the salmon in a vacuum-pack bag and seal. Cook it sous vide for 1 hour at 113⁰F/45⁰C 
  1. Fill a large bowl with ice and very cold water. Transfer the bag to the bowl and leave it there until the fish is cool to the touch. Remove bag, dry it off, and store it in the fridge either overnight or all day—recommendation is at least 8 hours.

finished plate

Business Bites Resources: Storytelling For Your Business

Every business has a story behind its origin, and restaurants and food businesses are no exception. For some, it’s the desire to showcase the food they learned to cook with their grandparents at an early age. For others, they were inspired to create a product they couldn’t find on store shelves. In ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship program, we teach chefs and aspiring food business owners to take their inspiration, and motivation, behind starting a business and develop it into a defined concept and actionable business plan, all in just 6 weeks! But, in order to get started, you first have to think about what makes the story you are trying to tell compelling, what makes your brand unique, and what you have to accomplish to start your business.

So what does it take to start crafting a compelling business story?

Justine ClayWith a little help from Justine Clay, Speaker & Business Coach for Creative Entrepreneurs and Freelancers and ICC Culinary Entrepreneurship instructor, you’ll develop your story and be ready to pitch your food business idea at the end of our 6-week Culinary Entrepreneurship program. If you missed enrolling in our January session, you still have the chance to start thinking about your concept and how to tell your story before our next session in September. Check out these three steps to help you tell your story and beginning your journey to launching your business!

Establish Yourself as a Likeable Hero

Begin by thinking about what you could share about yourself that would engage your customer and have them rooting for you. The story of how you founded your business will show your customers who you are and will allow them to develop an emotional relationship with your business. By incorporating your background into the story, you can develop your customer base and establish that you are trustworthy.

Share Your Roadblock

Next, establish the moment that was daring and defining to your life. You want your customers to be tuned into your story, so show them how you overcame your obstacles to create the business that they have grown an emotional connection to. However, it’s important to remember that this is not the point where you should create a long and drawn-out story–this is where you should set yourself apart and show your customers what motivates you.

Share Your Transformation

Finally, describe how you overcame these obstacles to establish yourself as a business owner. Share your business’ mission and what you set out to accomplish in creating it. Involve your customers by expressing your excitement for your growing brand and the solutions you’ve created that will impact them!

In the end, establishing a compelling story about your brand makes for great pitch content to secure investors, customer loyalty, media attention and 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.

Off the Vine: Careers in Wine

Off The Vine: Careers in Wine

OFF THE VINE, brought to you by the Intensive Sommelier Training program at ICC, is a series of tastings, discussion panels and networking events designed to support wine professionals in the beverage industry. Each event is designed to provide education, information and the opportunity to connect with industry experts in a collaborative setting.

RESTAURANT SERVICE? DISTRIBUTION? MEDIA? WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR YOU.

Thursday, February 28th | 6:30-8:00pm
International Culinary Center
462 Broadway, 2nd Floor Theater

Find out where you fit in the wine industry during a panel discussion with industry professionals at ICC!

The wine and beverage industry is dynamic & diverse, and offers many opportunities to build an exciting career—with options that suit different backgrounds, personalities and lifestyles. For those who are seriously considering a career in the wine industry, the possibilities are endless.

Elizabeth Smith, the Wine Program Coordinator at ICC, will moderate a panel of professionals representing the diverse avenues available to wine career seekers including distribution, restaurants, media and more. Together, we’ll explore topics such as career paths to explore, hiring practices, qualities that employers seek and the paths that each panelist took to get to where they are today. Come with your questions—there will be an open Q&A with the panelists following the discussion! Plus you’ll have the opportunity to network and learn more about how ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program can help you pursue your wine career.

Light refreshments will be provided.

MODERATOR

Elizabeth Smith, Certified Sommelier, ICC Wine Program Coordinator

Elizabeth Smith is the Wine Program Coordinator at ICC, where she assists in running the Intensive Sommelier Training program and coordinates the Court of Master Sommeliers AmericasTM Introductory and Certified Exams.  She also teaches ICC’s introductory wine classes, and organizes extracurricular wine lectures and tastings.

Elizabeth began her career at Food & Wine magazine, and spent 8 years in various sales, marketing, and business insights roles at F&W and American Express.  In 2016 she decided to take her love of wine to the next level, graduating ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program, followed by a happy year at Astor Wines and Spirits.  Elizabeth is a CMS Certified Sommelier and is currently pursuing her WSET Diploma in Wine.

She is a passionate lover of wine and food, and documents her culinary adventures on Instagram @in_vino_glorias.

PANELISTS

slim
Slim Mello, Certified Sommelier
Head Sommelier at The Mandarin Oriental | ICC Alumnus

Slim started his hospitality career at ICC (International Culinary Center) in New York with the Intensive Sommelier Training program under the instruction of Master Sommelier, Scott Carney.  In the same year, he was granted the Walter Clore Scholarship at the Court of Master Sommeliers certified examination for achieving the highest score in NYC.

In 2016,  Slim began his work at Mandarin Oriental NYC with the Internship program under the mentorship of the Master Sommelier Laura Williamson. In 2017 proceeding the internship he became the Sommelier at Asiate Restaurant of the Mandarin Oriental.

During this exciting learning process, Slim was able to expand  his knowledge at the WSET level 3 course. As well as becoming a certified Sherry Wine Specialist with the House of Lustau in 2018.

Currently, Slim resides at Mandarin Oriental as the Head Sommelier taking on new challenges that will allow him to achieve the next level on his educational journey.

michelle
Michele Thomas, Certified Sommelier
Assistant Manager and Buyer, Greene Grape Wine & Spirits, Writer & Educator | ICC Alumna

Michele Thomas is the assistant manager and buyer for Greene Grape Wine & Spirits, located in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene, neighborhood, and a writer, editor, and educator with deep roots in food, wine, and publishing. A certified sommelier (IST ’15) and former executive editor for curriculum at the International Culinary Center, she is co-author of Culinary Careers for Dummies (Wiley), and her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Edible Brooklyn, and Activist Philanthropist. She has also consulted for several food and hospitality companies, including Garnish Global Studio and Gumbo Bros, and documents her varying adventures in food, wine and culture on Instagram as @Bedstuysomm.

Patricia
Patricia Alazraki
Brand Manager, Monsieur Touton | ICC Alumna

Patricia was born in Uruguay and lived a life outside the wine world until her late 20s.

She initially pursued a career in Psychology and Culinary Arts and learned from working at her family’s food import business about sales, distribution and marketing. It wasn’t until 2016 that she decided to make a career change and move towards wine.

She is an alumni of the Intensive Sommelier Training program at ICC. Later on she took on an apprenticeship at Wine and Spirits Magazine, and moved to Bordeaux where she pursued a Master in Wine and Spirits Management. In Bordeaux she worked in wine tourism and education for visitors from around the world. She recently moved back to Brooklyn, NY and took on the position as US Brand Ambassador for a selective group of Bordeaux wine makers. You might find her waking around Prospect Park every morning with her yellow lab, her second passion after wine.

Cristina
Cristina Coari
Wine Education and Press Manager, Vias Imports

Cristina Coari is a native Italian from Gorizia in Northeast Italy. She joined the Vias Imports Marketing Team in 2014, and today she is especially involved in wine education projects and media/public relations.

Cristina received Master Sommelier status from AIS, the Italian Sommelier Association, in collaboration with ALMA, La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana. Prior to that, she worked in communications at Marco Felluga winery in Italy and was an intern at Domaine Select Wine Estates in New York.

Business Bites: Unearthing Your Sources

Business Bites: Unearthing Your Sources

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.

SOURCING AND IMPORTING FOR YOUR FOOD BUSINESS

Wednesday, February 13th | 6:30-8:00pm
International Culinary Center
462 Broadway, 2nd Floor Theater

For restaurants and food business owners, sourcing quality ingredients and importing products unique to your brand play an important role in setting you apart from your competitors. Your patrons become loyal customers for the quality you retain—and your prices can reflect that. Today, the expansion of global trade and ease of digital communication allows for access to exotic, hard-to-find ingredients from around the world, making it possible to introduce products direct from their origin.

But, what do you really know about your sources and where your products come from?

With consumers moving towards ethical buying habits, higher standards for quality and equality are vital in day-to-day business operations. In our latest installment of our Business Bites series, Unearthing Your Sources, you’ll hear from a panel of experts running some of NYC’s best single origin businesses about how they operate profitable food businesses without compromising on quality or fair trade practices. Join us to discuss what it’s like to source from around the world, the laws and agricultural regulations with regard to importing products, fair trade best practices and the key players within a supply chain. They’ll share their tips for working with farmers, navigating customs laws and building a network of trusted producers. 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

Ethan Frisch
Ethan Frisch, Co-Founder of Burlap and Barrel

Ethan Frisch is a chef, activist and the cofounder of Burlap & Barrel, the first comprehensive single origin spice company in the US.  A former line cook and pastry chef in New York and London, he was also the co-founder and Executive Chef of Guerrilla Ice Cream, a nonprofit politically-inspired ice cream cart. As a humanitarian aid worker, he worked with NGOs including the Aga Khan Foundation in Afghanistan and Doctors Without Borders on the Syrian/Jordanian border.

He has been an adjunct lecturer at the City College of New York and an instructor with the Experiment in International Living’s Leadership Institute. He is honored to serve on the Board of Directors of the Bond Street Theatre (www.bondst.org), which uses theater to teach conflict resolution and resilience in areas of instability around the world, and on the Advisory Boards of the student-led racial literacy and justice organization Princeton CHOOSE (www.princetonchoose.org) and the Fragments Theater, a youth theater company in Palestine. He is also on the Organizing Committee of the Queens International Night Market.

He holds a dual Bachelors Degree in Conflict Studies and Education and Social Change from the City University of New York, and a Masters Degree in Violence, Conflict and Development from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

Stephen Thomas, Rishi Tea
Stephen Thomas, Market Manager- NYC Metro of Rishi Tea

Stephen Thomas began his hospitality career as a certified sommelier working for one of the largest wine collectors in the world. This passion led him into the world of cocktails, where his science and engineering background opened the doors to some of the top restaurants in New York. He joined Rishi tea just about 2 years ago where he was able to bring it all together under the core values of the company; Importer, selector, maker.

William Mullan
William Mullan, Brand Manager of Raaka Chocolate

William Mullan is Brand Manager for Raaka Chocolate, a bean-to-bar chocolate maker based in Red Hook, Brooklyn. He is fascinated by the intersections of food, culture, and commerce; how food shapes our lives and how we shape our lives with food. After five years at Raaka, he is still not sick of chocolate and considers this to be a good thing.

Rob T.
Rob Terenzi, Co-Founder and CEO of Vega Coffee

Rob Terenzi is a co-founder and CEO of Vega Coffee, a company whose mission is to radically transform the coffee supply chain. Before starting Vega, Rob lived in Nicaragua for about 5 years working with small women-owned coffee cooperatives on improving access to markets and making great Nicaraguan coffee available domestically He also attended law school at Fordham Law and earned a masters degree in International Economics, before working as a start-up and venture finance attorney in Silicon Valley for WSGR for a bit over three years.

Tips to Make 2019 a Financial Success

2019: A Successful Year for Your Food Business

As 2018 comes to an end, food entrepreneurs get a chance to sit down and look over their financial performance for the year.  The food business is fickle; some operators seem to have it so easy and others seem to always be struggling.  If you’d like to do better in the new year, here are 3 ways you can make your business more efficient and ultimately enable you to take home more money.

What’s Your Gross Margin?
Your gross margin is the most important ratio to know about your company. It’s the percent of sales left over after you account for what your product cost you.  If you sell $10 six packs of soda and your product costs you $4, your gross margin is 60%.  On your company’s profit and loss statement, find your gross profit and divide it by your total revenue to get your gross margin.  Here are a few things to think about once you know your margin:

  • Do I operate a high gross margin or low gross margin business?
    High margin businesses (those with gross margins over 50%) benefit the most from a sales push, or working on your pricing and food costing. Low margin businesses (those with gross margins under 50%) benefit the most from finding ways to make the business more efficient by lowering overhead costs like kitchen utilities and employee overtime.
  • How does my gross margin compare to other companies in my sector?
    Once you have your gross margin you can use it to make an apples-to-apples comparison to your competitors’, or industry’s gross margin. Is it above average?  If so, make sure you keep giving your customers a meaningful reason to pay more for what you’re offering. Is it below average? Then maybe you need to consider changing your pricing and quantity structure.

Track Your Refunds and Discounts.
No other businesses face as many refunds and discounts as food businesses do.  Whether it a restaurant comp’ing a meal after a service error or free samples being given away to promote a new food product at a grocery store, discounts and refunds can seriously affect your business’ ability to make a suitable profit.   At the same time, they’re a fact of life for this industry.  The solution is to benchmark, track, and set goals for your refunds and discount.  Many bookkeepers just lump discounts and refunds into your sales figure.  Encourage them to separate these costs out into discrete figures that offset your total revenue.

Work With an Expert to Optimize Your Labor.
Foodservice labor is complicated, and the rules are changing all the time.  It’s never OK to cut your staff and overburden your team just to save a dime, but there are many ways in which your scheduling, overtime, and calculation of base wages net of credit card fees can add small costs to your payroll every week that translate into big expenses each year.  A good payroll processing technology that’s specialized for the foodservice industry is good, but in this case we recommend that you talk to an expert: preferably someone who runs human resources for other food companies.  Here are a few labor costs to think about:

  • Do your customers tip your employees via credit card? If so, make sure you are deducting credit card fees from the amount of tips you pay out to your employees.
  • What is the tradeoff between adding a shift and working your current staff overtime? Comparing these two scenarios might make a big difference in your total annual payroll costs.

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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.

Tips To Grow Your Beverage Program

This month, our Business Bites Resources—brought to you by ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship (CE) program—provides tips for food businesses looking to bolster their drink menu.

the panelists from the eventAt the beginning of November, members from the culinary community gathered for a panel to discuss the importance of having a beverage program in your restaurant that gets customers back to the bar.  The four panelists were experienced members of the culinary and beverage industry, including Jason Hedges, Bar Director of Gotham Bar & Grill and Partner of BarIQ; Noah Rothbaum, Editor of Half Full from The Daily Beast; Nora Favelukes, President of QW Wine Experts; and Vanessa Da Silva, Sommelier at Ninety Acres.

In the discussion, they shared their tips for creating and managing a successful beverage program, as well as how to turn your drinks into dollars. We’ve gathered some of their tips for success below!

Specialty Cocktails Drive Sales

Our panelists all agreed that specialty cocktails can drive sales and bring in new customers, while increasing margins for the business. Not only are cocktails experiencing a renaissance among bar scenes, but they can also be a fun and visual “Instagram-able” feature on your menu, increasing brand awareness. One tip that we learned from our experts—using fresh juice not only makes a cocktail more delicious, but is surprisingly a way to save money as it can be cheaper than buying expensive pre-made mixes.

Invest in Ice

For most guests, their first experience in a restaurant is ordering a cocktail, so why not take your cocktail to the next level? Ice is a daily requirement in all restaurants, and a universal ingredient in bar drinks. Despite its importance, ice can often be overlooked. Many bar programs are turning to ice blocks, specialty cubes and more to provide a better appearance and experience for their customers. In the end, the cocktails look better, but can also taste better as ice that is higher in quality won’t dilute a cocktail with water as fast.

Bar Software

Bar software can make or break a restaurant in today’s world. According to San Pellegrino, 100% of US restaurants on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list are using a software called BinWise. In addition to these restaurants, Jason Hedges and Vanessa Da Silva, both panelists that work in the restaurant industry, also use BinWise to manage their restaurants inventory and more. There are many other options on the market, so the key is to find a software that works for your business. In the end, bar software programs can increase time saved during inventories, help to gain insights into what products are being poured the most, create a database to have information readily available, and help to recapture lost money.

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.