ICE Student Stories: From Basic Training to Brooklyn Kitchens

I joined the Navy at 18 — five
months before 9/11. I was in the Navy for seven years, I went to Iraq for nine
months, came back, went to Guantanamo and while I was there I reached the point
where I was just kind of wondering, what’s next? My name is Cristian Souvenir
and I’m a two-time student at the Institute of Culinary Education: first in
the culinary arts program and currently in the culinary management program. I did
the culinary arts program, started working in restaurants and loved working
in restaurants but I saw myself on this path where I could potentially be in
charge of people and not have the tools to really help them get better. In
addition to being a student at ICE I’m also working at French Louis, a French
restaurant in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. The management program is designed around
the nuts and bolts of operating a restaurant. For me, working in kitchens,
you miss that part, as a line cook you spend a lot of your time focusing on
your very small piece of a larger puzzle. What management does, it gives you
the rest of the puzzle. Or at least it helps you understand what the other
pieces will be. ICE puts a premium on the experience, which is what drew me to ICE
in the first place, and I think what I’ve learned in management is helping me form
what I want in my eventual concept, in my eventual restaurant to be. And what I
want for myself as a leader — that is so important. Moving into a second career, if
you’re going to do it, go all in. You have to believe in it 100%. It took me a while
to get here but, you know, the path is what it was supposed to be.

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