From Culinary School to Lifestyle Brand, How Chefanie Built Her Business
Meet the International Culinary Center alum.
You may be wondering, “What can I do with my professional culinary or pastry arts education after I graduate?” From working in esteemed kitchens around the world in any number of global cuisines, to building their own businesses and brands, ICC alumni work in every facet of the food industry.
Take 2015 graduate of ICC's Professional Culinary Arts program, Stephanie Nass. Chefanie, as she’s better known to her 70,000+ Instagram followers, is a culinary influencer, dessert innovator and creative caterer with a culinary lifestyle brand that’s growing!
Before graduating from ICC, Chefanie began hosting private dinner parties through Victory Club, a social dining club for young professionals to connect over the culinary and visual arts. If that wasn’t enough, in 2016, Stephanie launched Chefanie Sheets, an innovative dessert “accessory” that can elevate any store bought or homemade dessert. These eye-catching designs have been featured on The Today Show, Refinery 29 and even in O Magazine.
Today, she’s continued to further expand her brand with Chefanie.com, a one-stop shop for tableware, accessories, recipes, and even advice for hosting the perfect parties. With her brand set to become the next Martha Stewart, we sat down with our grad to learn more about why she chose to go to culinary school, growing her business and so much more. Read below for the full interview!
Where were you born & raised? Was cooking and food something you were exposed to at a young age?
I grew up in Westchester, New York! At home, love came in the form of food, and as a child, bliss was hanging in the kitchen, watching my mother cook, tasting every single thing she made.
Why did you choose to go to culinary school?
I wanted to go to culinary school for so many reasons! To learn formal techniques, to meet peers as passionate about the culinary arts, and for the professional credibility that comes with having a culinary degree.
When did you decide to start your brand? How did you initially start Victory Club and what did it morph into?
I began hosting art-inspired suppers in my first NY apartment in 2014. Those meals turned into Victory Club, which is now a roving dining club that brings young professionals together over the culinary and visual arts in arts spaces. Chefanie grew out of Victory Club, and is now a culinary lifestyle brand that encompasses products, services, and media.
What has it been like to work with major brands like Ann Taylor and Uniqlo? How have you secured those brand deals?
It has been a tremendous honor to work with all of my clients. By making interesting things and sharing them on social media, I have been able to form relationships with brands that have endured for several years.
You graduated from ICC’s Culinary Arts program, but you’re well known for your cakes and cookies. How did you decide to expand?
I earned my degree in Professional Culinary Arts and always cooked savory; however when I launched Chefanie Sheets — edible sheets in decorative patterns for cakes, cookies, and donuts — I began getting more orders for patterned treats than anything else. Chefanie offers seated dinners, passed hors d’oeuvres, and creative grazing tables, as well as customized treats.
How have you grown your audience over the years?
Day to day, I strive to create interesting work, capture that work in photographs and videos, and share them online. As much as possible, I engage with my audience and other influencers to create conversation.
Do you have a piece of advice for a student wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Work from your heart — and work hard!
What’s next for Chefanie? Any fun projects coming up that you can share?
We’ll be launching new products on October 30! Every single item was inspired by the festive season and conceived to spark cheer. Other than that, we’ll be blogging our best entertaining and cooking ideas, and hopefully those will become a book in 2020!
Chefanie graduated from the International Culinary Center (ICC), founded as The French Culinary Institute (FCI). In 2020, ICE and ICC came together on one strong and dynamic national platform at ICE's campuses in New York City and Los Angeles. ICC’s culinary education legacy lives on at ICE, where you can explore your own future in food.