Unique Culinary Careers: Caryn Stabinsky

When ICE President Rick Smilow and Anne E. McBride wrote "Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food," they discovered a plethora of food jobs they had never heard of before. Since the book's release, they have been discovering even more interesting career paths in the food world. DICED shares some of them with you in a reoccurring feature, “Unique Culinary Careers.”

Among the chefs and entrepreneurs profiled in the book, there are several culinary careers in education. There are a multitude of career paths for instructors and teachers working in colleges or culinary schools, whether teaching career programs, recreational cooking classes or even working with private clients. In the culinary industry, an important part of education is invaluable experience that comes with working in restaurants. ICE’s chef-instructors have worked in some of the country’s most prestigious restaurants.

Recently, ICE welcomed alum (and Alumni Hall of Achievement inductee) Caryn Stabinsky to our roster of dedicated and experienced chef-instructors. Chef Caryn first completed the Pastry & Baking Arts program at ICE before working at Oceana and wd-50. She is the executive pastry chef at Monkey Bar, where she was part of the opening team. Before she starts using all that experience to help shape the next generation of pastry chefs, we asked her about her experiences in industry and designing a pastry menu.


How would you describe your job?

At Monkey Bar, I was the opening chef. I started here when they had nothing on the walls. One of the very first things I did was spend 2 weeks testing and developing recipes. The owners had a very clear idea of what they wanted in the dessert menu. The style is simple Americana. It was great because I’m a person who starts with a recipe and plays and messes with it until I get what I want. I did everything from scratch. Now, we make our own bread from our own recipe and an array of plated desserts. We make everything ourselves, including fresh ice cream and sorbet.

How did you get this job?

I had experience designing the menus at Suba and Jefferson. I had taken some time off after having a baby. I was just looking to get back into the kitchen when I saw this opportunity on Craigslist. After I interviewed, they came back and said I was their first choice. Because the restaurant was opening I was able to negotiate and come up with something that was a great fit for me.

How does it compare it your previous experiences?

The owners knew they wanted simple, rustic desserts. I get to do more bakery-style production here, not just complicated plated desserts. I was used to menus where there were six or seven components on the plate. When there are lots of things, they can all play off of each other and enhance the dish. With more simple menu items, there is only one thing on the plate, so it has to be really, really good. Designing the menu was a chance to hone different skills and take on new challenges.

Now that you are coming to ICE, what are you most excited about?

One of my favorite parts of my job at the restaurant is teaching people. Often, it is exciting to see someone else with desire and passion. It inspires me to teach them how to go from an idea to actually making a dessert and then how to do it in a professional setting. I work closely with my assistants and enjoy watching them figuring out and seeing the moment when it clicks. There comes a point when I don’t need to say anything and they just know what needs to be done. It’s great to think about the transition from when they start to when they have been in the kitchens for a few months.

Interested in starting your own unique culinary career? Pick up a copy of Culinary Careers and get started now.


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