NEW YORK, August 1, 2005—From July 11 to July 18, The Institute of Culinary Education developed and hosted three culinary training sessions of two days each for 45 New York City Board of Education SchoolFood Services workers.
SchoolFood cooks and managers from all five boroughs attended the training sessions, as a reward for excellence in their work. Serving over 800,000 meals a day to 1.1 million children, the New York City SchoolFood program is the largest of its kind in the nation. The program utilizes over 1900 cooks, the vast majority of whom have no specific culinary training.
ICE® President Rick Smilow met Jorge L. Collazo, SchoolFood’s new Executive Chef, and David Berkowitz, its new Executive Director, when City Harvest’s Chief of Program Services Jill Stephens introduced them in January 2005. Smilow subsequently invited Collazo and Berkowitz to visit ICE® and to discuss ways in which ICE® could contribute to SchoolFood’s efforts, in a pro-bono fashion. Commenting on the program, Chef Collazo said: “ICE® has really broken new ground on what it means for the private industry to partner with SchoolFood in an effort to serve our children better. I hope this serves as a lightning rod for others to join in this very important mission.”
The first day of each session focused on new uses and cooking techniques for ingredients already commonly supplied to New York City school kitchen pantries. On the second day, the cooks prepared Asian specialty dishes such as chicken satay, lamb curry, tofu dressing, pad thai and noodles with tofu sauce. ICE® Chef-Instructors Michael Handal, Richard Ruben and Karen Schley taught the classes.
The New York City school meals program faces enormous challenges. With a limited budget, the staff is supposed to provide lunch (and often breakfast) for over 1 million students, while school kitchens often lack proper equipment for cooking and storage. The culinary backgrounds of the students are increasingly diverse, which requires a broad range of menus to hold their interest and satisfy their appetites. Meanwhile, poor nutrition and increasing obesity rates are headline issues that the SchoolFood program would like to help solve.
Micky Valdez, SchoolFood’s regional chef for Manhattan and one of the attendees of the program, commented that for his team, “It was great to be invited to a workshop that was a reward. Moreover, most of us never knew tofu could taste so good!”
The Institute of Culinary Education (ICE®) is New York City's award-winning center for culinary education. Founded in 1975 by Peter Kump, the school offers highly regarded 8- to 12-month career training programs in Culinary Arts, Pastry & Baking Arts, Culinary Management and Hospitality Management. With an intensive curriculum, dedicated Chef Instructors, a strong record in externship placements and a clear entrepreneurial focus, ICE is widely regarded as a great pathway to begin or continue a culinary career. ICE also runs the largest program of hands-on recreational cooking classes and wine education courses in the country, with more than 26,000 enthusiasts taking any of the 1,500 classes offered each year. In 2008, ICE was named the International Association of Culinary Professionals' (IACP) Culinary School of the Year and a School of Distinction by the ACCSCT in 2006. ICE's 42,000 square-foot facility is open seven days and nights a week, 350 days a year and is located at 50 W. 23rd Street, New York, NY 10010. More information can be found at www.iceculinary.com.