A Mother's Day card and bouquet of flowers

How ICE Chefs Balance Being Chefs and Moms

Our Chef-Instructors share tips, techniques and their experiences in the culinary industry

Mother’s Day is this weekend, and whether or not you’re a parent (this includes those with pets!), step-parent or child, mothers everywhere should be celebrated not just in May, but all year round.

As we are an institution and all about teaching, we turned the tables and asked our Chef-Instructors across both campuses what they learned from their mothers and how they balance being chefs and parents. After all, mother knows best.

Kierin Baldwin

Pastry & Baking Arts

I joke to my students that my grandmother taught me how to properly scrape out a bowl to use every bit of what’s in there. She was a child of the Great Depression and did not condone waste. I remember her scraping every tiny bit of applesauce out of a bowl to be sure I ate absolutely all of it. This has ended up being a useful skill in my professional life — I think of her every time I show my students how to use their spatulas properly to scrape a bowl down to be sure that every bit of an ingredient will be included in the final mix of a recipe.

From my mother, I think I learned a respect for homemade food. When I was really young, she gardened and cooked and baked a lot, and my earliest taste memories are of those foods. They really gave me the palate for handmade, minimally-processed food that has stayed with me my whole life. She was also very anti-sugar when I was a kid, so I credit her with making sweets enough of a taboo that I grew to love them and ended up being a pastry chef. Win some, lose some. (Sorry mom!)

Luisa DeGiorlamo

Pastry & Baking Arts

Yes, I learned from both my mom and her mom, my grandma, whom I am named after. I grew up in an Italian family, so Sundays were the best day to learn to cook meatballs on the stovetop in a small bit of olive oil so they could obtain a nice sear on the outside. Then they would go directly into the pot of homemade tomato sauce, lightly simmering, to marinate and finish cooking.

Carrie Smith

Pastry & Baking Arts, Plant-Based Culinary Arts

I engage my children to help make dinner and give me their input for what they want eat. It’s a bonus for me when we get to go out and try new restaurants and I don’t have to cook!

My mother would be the first to say that she was not a chef, but she did teach me how to manage my time well. She was a busy mom herself, so we often worked as a family to make meals. I now see the same dynamic with my kids.

I'm a better parent because of being a teacher. And I'm a better teacher because of being a parent.

Missy Smith-Chapman

Lead Chef-Instructor, Pastry & Baking Arts, Plant-Based Culinary Arts

I'm a better parent because of being a teacher. And I'm a better teacher because of being a parent. Especially with our students or demographic being young people, and in having my son, who is 19, I can relate to a lot of my younger students.

[Balancing being a chef and a mom] is all about the support that you have around you. That's your friends, your family and your partner. If I didn't have a really strong base, it would have been very difficult for me. I would have had to make very difficult decisions with daycare and putting my child in someone else's hands. That would have been very, very hard for me. So as a chef, as a parent, as somebody who who always wanted to have a child, I found it really challenging with the love of what I do, but also the love of my child. Because of the support I had, I was able to do both, but it was — and still is — hard when you want to make sure that you have enough energy for your students and the people that rely on you while having enough energy to be a good parent.

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