The Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) is one of the largest and most diverse culinary schools on the planet. The school has helped countless students find their culinary calling thanks to its locations in two of the country’s most dynamic food cities NYC and L.A.
Always at the forefront of the food and hospitality industries, ICE offers students a dynamic culinary curriculum, as well as management courses to enhance their knowledge of the industry. ICE has built a reputation in the restaurant and hospitality marketplace for delivering graduates that are ready to succeed in the most challenging of foodservice positions. With that profile has come a world-renowned faculty.
The most recent addition to that staff is noted beverage guru and author Eamon Rockey. He recently unveiled an entirely new beverage management curriculum for the professional currently working in the industry. Rockey has a rich history in the culinary world, most recently as the general manager of the Betony restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, and as the founder of the Brooklyn-produced spirit Rockey’s Milk Punch that went to market in July.
Rockey is the son of two professional chefs who sparked his passion for food and encouraged him to enter the kitchen when he was just 14. He would later get his Bachelor’s Degree at the CIA in Hyde Park and work his way up in dining rooms at acclaimed restaurants like Gilt, Compose, Eleven Madison Park, Atera and Aska. While the general manager at Atera, Rockey created the service and beverage programs and hired and trained its staff – the beginning of what would come with his upcoming beverage management curriculum for the new program at ICE NYC.
His partnership with the school began after an invitation from the school’s Dean Steve Zagor to speak to students on his experience. And as the New York spirits chair for No Kid Hungry, it was a natural progression for him to join ICE on a teaching basis given how much No Kid Hungry works with the school. “I felt the need to engage with my industry in more ways and I wanted to find a way to diversify myself,” he explains. “I’ve been fortunate to travel all over to so many places and I’ve been exposed to really special and unique things to be able to teach the world about spirits and cocktail management.”
The always visionary Zagor saw the connection between Rockey and ICE’s students. So he was invited to design a totally new beverage management curriculum based on his own knowledge and experience in the industry. “I sat down with the president of the school Rick Smilow and talked about what I’d want to teach and how I’d design it. It all happened to fall right in line with what they started writing for the curriculum more than a year ago. We all agreed it would be a program that would be targeted at working professionals and people in the food, beverage and hospitality niches.”
Eamon Rockey has put together three different classes within the program and he’s writing each of the curricula from scratch. The first class is on the essentials of spirits and mixology. “It is in parallel with the fundamentals of service and wine,” he describes. “I say this because the class is not specifically for any particular person. Rather it’s designed to provide a foundation and a vocabulary such that anybody in our industry (and even those who are outside our industry) can understand.” He further explains how bartenders are proficient when it comes to cocktails, spirits and bartending, but are limited in their knowledge of wine.
The second course is all about the fundamental understanding of beverages in general – on a tasting level and on an application level. For the third course, Rockey created one solely on beverage program management. “I could argue that all three of these courses are extraordinarily unique, but what I will say is that this is head and shoulders above all of them in terms of uniqueness.” According to Rockey, “there are many head sommeliers, bartenders, and more moving into management as the next natural step. However, they don’t have the right skill set to be a phenomenal beverage manger.”
“We have such incredible wine and spirits education out there,” Rockey admits. “But there is nothing on the planet that I am aware of that teaches people how to be great beverage managers. For me, this course is absolutely crucial.” That’s why ICE has priced the program just right, making it affordable for individuals looking to expand their knowledge and careers.
Students in the program will receive 16 classes over the course of eight weeks – two classes per week. Each class is offered in the late morning on Tuesdays and Thursdays for three hours. “The first half of each class will be spent on lecture and theory, while the second half will be spent on tastings and practical technique demonstrations and workshops,” Rockey explained.
All three programs will also have dedicated trips to getting people into the areas of study. For cocktails, students will be given demonstrations in a trend-setting and progressive cocktail bar in NYC, while the wine section will have students going to an urban winery to look and talk about the fermentation and bottling process of wine, as well as the wine making process in general. For the beverage management course, students will visit a phenomenal operator for a hands-on experience.
Once again, ICE is doing what it does best: listening to the needs of the professional restaurant and hospitality community. Then bring in the best and the brightest: Eamon Rockey to help individuals further their careers and knowledge and ensure a flow of qualified professionals to keep the industry on top of its game in maximizing customer experience.