Unique Culinary Careers: Jennifer Cook
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. We here at DICED wanted to share some of them with you in a reoccurring feature, Unique Culinary Careers.
For our first profile, we talked to ICE alum Jennifer Cook. She started her one-of-a-kind mobile brick oven catering business, Cooking With Fire with fellow ICE alum Jenny Kmiotek. We asked her about her life in food and doing what you love as a career.
How would you describe your job?
Cooking With Fire is a mobile, wood-burning brick oven catering business in upstate New York. We travel to people’s homes, farmers’ markets, beach parties and more to cook Tuscan-style thin crust pizza, but also a whole range of other fantastic dishes including fish, chicken, veggies and stuffed breads.
How did you get this job?
After my friends labeled me the “grilled pizza girl,” I decided to take my pizza act on the road. I spent a month in Florence, learning everything there is to know about brick oven cooking and authentic pizza. Once I came home, I did a little research and found someone to build a mobile oven for me. A friend from ICE, Jenny Kmiotek, was looking to start up something new and the timing was perfect for us to do this together.
What is your favorite part of the job?
I love the entire process, from developing new recipes to being a part of the brick oven experience with customers. Not only do I serve them great food that makes them smile, but I also join in at their gatherings. Being outdoors is a great way to cook. Every job has a new setting and the scenery always changes. I never get sick of my workspace!
What other projects are you working on?
I wear many hats throughout my day. I was a massage therapist before I went to ICE and I own a Wellness Center where I have incorporated healthy food into our services. I am developing a cooking show where I encourage kids to learn more about what they are eating and nutrition. Speaking of TV, I will be a guest on Grill It! with Bobby Flay on September 19.
How did ICE help prepare you for your job?
I can't say enough good things about ICE. The in-depth knowledge I received opened a totally new passion in me. Chef Instructor Chris Gesualdi taught me his obsessive routine of cleaning my workstation. He gave me the skills to cook out in the open, in front of clients, while remaining organized and in control so I can work productively and in a timely manner. And Chef James Briscione inspired me to put surprising flavors together and create something fantastic — my favorite thing to do! I dream of combining ingredients, especially those that you would never think to put together.
Interested in starting your own unique culinary career? Pick up a copy of Culinary Careers and get started now.