Institute of Culinary Education guest speakers

20 Inspiring Quotes from 2020 Virtual Speakers

Highlights from the chefs and experts who spoke to ICE students and alumni via live stream this year.

Among its many lessons, 2020 taught us to come together while physically apart. When both of our campuses closed in response to the pandemic, we had the opportunity to host more than 50 guest chefs and industry experts via Instagram Live, Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and Zoom classes, meetings and webinars.

Over the course of many demonstrations and conversations, we engaged with everything from pasta to beef butchery to omotenashi, the art of Japanese hospitality. We explored food media, restaurant finances and private cheffing with insightful panels and ventured into the fields of fermentation, cocktails, heirloom seeds, ice cream, spices, tea and tortillas. We transported abroad to Lisbon with José Avillez, London with Vineet Bhatia, Graham Hornigold and Ben Murphy, Southern France with Gerard Bertrand, and Tokyo with Emi and Zaiyu Hasegawa.

We heard the varied perspectives of Momofuku founder and memoir author David Chang; renowned food editor Dana Cowin; and Swedish chef now directing the MAD Academy in Copenhagen, Magnus Nilsson. We got sneak peeks of 2020 cookbooks from Leah Cohen and Akhtar Nawab. We revisited the past to discuss the future with chefs and restaurateurs Mashama Bailey, Rick Bayless, Matt Hyland, JJ Johnson, Edouardo Jordan, Matthew Kenney, Emeril Lagasse, Michael Lomonaco, Marcus Samuelsson, Simone Tong and Geoffrey Zakarian.

Above all, we learned that education, motivation and wisdom translate whether gathering on campus or through a computer or phone screen. Here are 20 messages that stood out from our ever-inspiring network.

"The clearer you can become on what motivates you and what feels like it’s your thing, what’s expressing in food what you want to express, then do it, but it takes some time to get to know that." — Rick Bayless, Chef and Owner of Frontera Restaurants

"Learning and growing as a chef is something that you never stop doing. There is always more to learn. I didn’t know much when I first started out, and I learned a lot from Miss Ella Brennan when I was at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. One of the most important things that she taught me was to leave my ego at home and to learn from my mistakes, to work harder each day than I did the day before. Also, I can’t emphasize this enough, the importance of reading and educating yourself on different cuisines and cultures." — Emeril Lagasse, New Orleans Restaurateur

"Cooking is a discipline. It starts as a skill, it turns into artisanship (you become an artisan at it), and then at some point you can break through and become a skilled and talented creator of food. You never stop learning." — Michael Lomonaco, Chef and Co-Owner of Porter House Bar and Grill

"When you want to open a restaurant or you are working in restaurants, stick with those people who have passions like you and do different jobs." — Simone Tong, Chef and Owner of Silver Apricot

"We’re going to see a new style of restaurant be invented that we don’t even realize now ... I can’t wait to see what students now figure out four to five years from now that’s literally going to set the trend for the next 50. Food people are the best people. People always got to eat. We are beloved. And I want everyone to know that we are stronger when we are standing together, always." — Andrew Zimmern, Chef and Emmy Award-Winning TV Personality

"Don't take all of my warnings and negativity to mean that I don't love what I do, and please don't lose sight of what makes this job great. Feeding people is a beautiful act. With your cooking, you can transport people through time and space. You are a conduit for celebrations and a comfort in hard times. You champion the work of farmers and ranchers and artisans. You tell stories. You connect people and break down barriers. You are an artist. Don't forget it." — David Chang, Chef, Restaurateur, TV Host and Author

"If you're interested in a specific cuisine, I think it's really important to go to the country and taste the ingredients and know how and what they're supposed to taste like ... to learn about the people from that country as well. You're really immersed in it and breathing, living, eating, drinking everything that country has to offer." — Leah Cohen, Chef and Owner of Pig & Khao

"I just started in the kitchen, I was bottom of the rung, everyone has to cut their teeth there. No one comes in on top. Everyone gets shit. Everyone has to learn the ropes." — David Zilber, Former Head of Noma Fermentation Lab

"The creative process is really a subconscious process in the human mind that utilizes everything that we have with us, all of the different experiences that we've collected through our lifetime. Every little bit and every little piece of something that we perceived will be part of that process whether you want it or not. The way that you can engage with this is that you can make sure that you fill that toolbox up and approach life in a way where you try to experience things without bias." — Magnus Nilsson, MAD Academy Director

"I’m more curious about food today than when I started. Anyone who can have a job for over 25 years and be more excited, that means that you’re in a good field." — Marcus Samuelsson, Red Rooster Chef and Restaurateur

"People often share that they appreciate our hospitality, and it isn’t something we manufacture. It is something we do with our hearts … My mother wanted me to make use of my smile, and it is something that comes naturally." — Emi Hasegawa, Den General Manager

"To succeed in this industry and in this business, you gotta take the long game. It's certainly been a core piece of why my family's businesses survived and thrived for over 100 years ... The patient operator is going to be successful in the end." — Ryan Wilson, CEO of Lawry’s Restaurants

"A lot of people follow this career path because, like writers or artists, it’s such a seed deep within them that needs to be nurtured and needs to bloom, and I think for that, you can’t turn away. If you feel that this is your gift, of course, you can’t give up now. It is always worth it if it’s the most important thing to you." — Dana Cowin, Founder of Giving Broadly and Speaking Broadly

"My first word is passion: If you have the passion, and if you feel it in your body and in your mind, this is very important. Second is never give up because it is a long journey. Number three is to be open-minded: You are to be curious to taste different wines and try different kinds of food. It is very important." — Gérard Bertrand, Winemaker

"Inspiration is everywhere, every corner, every relationship, every country you go, every moment." — Aitor Zabala, Chef with Think Food Group

"I encourage chefs and culinarians to really dig around your community and family roots and find something that really touches your heart because the cool thing about heirlooms is there's a story behind just about everything." — Shannon McCabe, Baker Creek Seeds Horticulturist

"We’re always thinking, what kind of journey do we want to take the customer through?" — Tyler Malek, Salt & Straw Co-Founder and Head Ice Cream Maker

"Most of the people who are in this business are in it because they are incredibly passionate about making things for other people and enriching people’s lives with food — sharing their culture. It’s about community and all of those things." — Zach Brooks, General Manager of Smorgasburg LA

"If you're interested in food media, it's a hustle, it's a lot of work, it's really challenging right now ... If you have a strong passion, if you have strong work ethic, if you listen, if you're willing to adapt and learn, that's all you need for this industry." — Anthony Contrino, Emmy Award-Winning Food Stylist and Culinary Producer

"One of my favorite things about my job is that I can get instant feedback from people. It's not always good feedback or helpful feedback or the feedback I want to hear, but it's really helpful to me, and I get to learn and evolve at a crazy fast pace. I can learn immediately what resonates with people and what doesn't." — Becky Hughes, New York Times Cooking Social Media Editor

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