The Chef as Consultant: Freelancing After a Career in Restaurants

From blog.ice.edu, by Institute of Culinary Education
The Chef as Consultant: Freelancing After a Career in Restaurants

 

By Michael Laiskonis—Creative Director

 

As I transitioned away from life as a full-time restaurant pastry chef three years ago, my goal was to create, in part, a day-to-day routine that was, well, different each day. My role as creative director at ICE certainly provides a wide range of pastry projects and endless possibilities for research, but that role was also conceived with a flexibility that encourages special side projects. These very diverse projects not only fulfill me and expand my own knowledge base, but they also enhance what I can offer ICE students from an educational perspective.

Laiskonis L20 Chicago Dessert

Technically, my initial experience with consulting began while I was still the pastry chef at Le Bernardin, as I designed dessert menus and trained the pastry staff at various satellite restaurant projects Executive Chef Eric Ripert managed and partnered with. The primary lesson I took away from these projects was the importance of not only a restaurant concept, but of its location as well. The products and the layout of a menu in Miami differ wildly from that of a restaurant with a similar clientele in Washington D.C. or Philadelphia. I also learned how to create more efficient systems (and desserts) that work across a spectrum of kitchens, not to mention the essential skill of troubleshooting problems from afar (in between sporadic seasonal visits).

 

Read on to learn more about Chef Michael's experience as a consultant.