Meet Los Angeles Campus Alumni

Meet Los Angeles Campus Alumni

My name is Matthew Leung, I’m a chef
de partie at The French Laundry. My name is Jessica Light and I am a chef
de Partie at Otium. My name is Trevor Evarts and I’m a
pastry cook and laminator in chief at Dominique Ansel Bakery. My name is Tori
Eisenstadt and I’m a lab assistant at Milk Bar in Los Angeles. I’m Ed Maxwell
and I’m the chef de Partie at Jordan Kahn’s, Destroyer. My name is Patricia Mentzer, I am the general manager of Tacocita, a new concept by the Pecos
Hospitality Group. My name is Maggie Yazawa and I’m a freelance food writer. ICE seemed like the best option for me, at
for culinary school because I was looking for a quality education, I was
looking for a school that was well connected with the restaurant industry,
reputable sort of, education and one that offered the least financial burden and
that complete package was ICE, for me. I decided to do both Culinary Arts and
Culinary Management because I personally just wanted to be a leader in my
industry I didn’t just want to be another cog, I wanted to be the whole
clock. Definitely one of the things I was looking forward to coming to ICE was
finding a foundational knowledge that kind of stepped passed the home baking
that I’d done in the past and looking back one of my favorite lessons was
definitely the first introduction I had into laminated doughs and croissants
and danishes and being able to create those from scratch and see the process
through and see the finished product, and find the joy that I found in that.
I went to NYU and I studied media communications there and when I was
looking to further my education I decided to go to the Institute of
Culinary Education as kind of a graduate degree and really expand my knowledge in
a different field in the food industry. My first day at ICE I didn’t know anyone,
even in the state of California, no one. So to now be in a room full of people
that all love the same things that I love and have the same passion as I do,
was a really great opportunity to kind of build my knowledge around, with the
same people, who have the same passion that I do. I didn’t know what to expect
when I came into the classes. I didn’t know who I was gonna be working with. I
didn’t know their experience and what I found was a room full of people who were
hungry for experience, for knowledge, for anything related to food. Moving here
from Florida was kind of a big transition and I didn’t have that many
friends or family when I first got here but having met everyone here and my
instructors and my peers, everyone really became a true family, and I remember I
had a really hard time at my externship, I was really green and I didn’t really
know how intense it would truly be and my rep Jeff, he was the one that enrolled
me in the program, he actually ended up being a huge mentor and a huge supporter
throughout the whole culinary process, my schooling process, and he really pushed
me to do more and stepped beyond his typical daily role, to really push me to
work harder and excel even more than I probably would have on my own. What really stuck out to me at ICE in
the culinary program was when we started working in teams multiple of us and it
really taught me that you know whether you’re behind or ahead you’re always
going to be part of this team and the whole work as a whole is on all of you
and it showed me that I can do this. One of the lessons that I remember very well
is we were doing the line simulations so we all had our different stations and we
all had a certain dish revolving around a certain ingredient and we had to kind
of write the menu for it and then we also had to have kind of a VIP option
and so the two guys that I was assigned to were some of my favorite people to
work with so we made this like VIP hamachi dish with like wasabi and tuna
and it was this whole like elegant like we dyed it with like beet juice so the
edges were red and it looked like a flower and it was it was really fun and
it really was kind of the first time that we all made a dish that we felt
really confident about. Something that all the instructors really stressed was
sacrifice. I think that above the skills that we learned tangibly, there were the
lessons that they taught us about needing to persevere, about needing to
sacrifice, and I think that those were things that I understood in my mind but
I didn’t fully understand until I was in it, which is what I’m in now. I’d always admired Christina Tosi and
her style of baking, where she just kind of throws a bunch of random ingredients
together and makes this beautiful dessert in the end and that’s always
been my particular way of baking, is just kind of putting random things together,
and so when the time came I staged a couple times and eventually expressed that I wanted to do
my externship at Milk Bar. And then after the six weeks I asked if I could stay
and I stayed on the production team. When I was looking for externships I stumbled
across across Destroyer during the stage and the reason I was so hooked on them
was because of the vibe there. Everyone was all about building each other up and
doing better, there’s none of this personal negativity like you’ll see in
some kitchens where it gets heated and stress, we all deal with the stress
appropriately and whenever we say something to each other it’s out of the
care and respect for the whole establishment and it’s never, ever
personal. It’s because we want you to do better.
So in my first few weeks of moving to Pasadena and being classes, our class
took a field trip to Dominique Ansel Bakery and getting to see the bakery and
meet chef Dominique and see how they operate it, I remember thinking that day
that this would be such a cool place to work in the future, not really thinking
that it would happen, but then it came time for me to externa and I was looking
at places and that I might want to go and I ended up applying and sending Chef
Lee in an email and she brought me in for an interview and a stage and she
offered me a job and it was like all the pieces kind of fell together and I was I
was overjoyed. ICE has taught me a lot of various
things in a very short amount of time so where when I got to Otium I had kind of a
book in my brain of different cuisines different techniques and so I now had a
more knowledgeable idea of cooking and that way I could kind of take what I
learned in culinary school and then when I got to Otium kind of blow it up and
expand it because all the chefs there are very much wanting to help me learn,
to help me cook, to the best that I can. What propelled me to, you know, go forward
in my career into and I think to move so quickly was this combination of my
experience in the back of house and what I learned here at ICE, they, the
instructors, and the team here, really helped me feel confident in my ability
to do things and taught me everything else I needed to know to make everything
successful and easy and fun, really fun. ICE definitely equipped me with all of
the skills that I would need to succeed. Coming from home baking obviously I had
a little bit of experience but the pastry program at ICE definitely brought
me through a very intensive process of making sure that I had every tool in my
bag. I don’t think I would have had the confidence had it not been for ICE to be
working at Milk Bar. I came from a smaller bakery and I don’t believe I
would have made that jump so quickly had it not been for ICE. My job as a
freelance food writer has been enhanced by the knowledge I was able to acquire
the Institute of Culinary Education. It’s hard to believe that you know about 18
months ago I was working in Chicago and in a basement of a bank and and now I am
chef de Partie at the French Laundry, which is Thomas Keller’s restaurant. ICE
has allowed me to transition from one career to another and it’s done so
seamlessly and in just a way that I couldn’t have ever really imagined.

2 thoughts on “Meet Los Angeles Campus Alumni

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