Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs: Jason Apfelbaum

ICE offers a year-round series of lectures called Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs, during which a wide range of successful culinary business leaders share their expertise with students and guests. On Monday, Jason Apfelbaum, ICE Alum (and member of our Alumni Hall of Achievement) and President and CEO of Chef & Company spoke. ICE Culinary Management Instructor Alan Someck shares more:

During his Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs lecture Jason Apfelbaum, President and CEO of Chef & Company, provided inspiration, insight and a whole lot of fun for students in ICE’s Culinary Management program and guests. Chef & Company is NYC’s premier corporate and fine dining catering and event company, producing up to 25 catering events a day. Students got to sample a mushroom crostini and Kobe beef satay, just two of Chef & Company’s delicious appetizers. Jason’s own history is filled with attempts at big dreams, learning from mistakes and transforming knowledge gained into great success in a very demanding and tough business.


He shared the underlying keys to his success, presenting a model where he hires people with great attitudes for hospitality and the talent to perform well. He then proceeds to have his employees experience ownership of the company while always fully respecting them for their efforts. He has two basic rules for them to guide their job: work very hard and have fun. In a creative ending to his talk, Jason had the students experience his unique hiring process by breaking into small groups and presenting a themed menu and creating a song to go with it.

Through this process of expressive presentation, Jason is able to select the qualities that are a fit for his company. As a final example of generosity, Jason provided the opportunity for one of the ICE students who made a special tasty marshmallow dessert treat to come to his kitchen and explore the possibility of using her product in his company — a real lesson in creating opportunity and giving back to the culinary community.

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