By Richard Vayda
Fresh off her most recent nomination for a James Beard Award, Suzanne Goin – celebrated chef, restaurateur and cookbook author – charmed and informed our students and industry attendees as the latest guest in ICE's ongoing series, Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs. The featured speakers are noted foodservice business leaders from all corners of the industry–wine makers, bakers, chefs, distillers, restaurateurs, bar owners, cheese mongers and more–who are invited to share their backgrounds, successes and advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. While every guest brings a unique and inspiring tale to tell, because of my own French culinary background, I was particularly excited to moderate this discussion with Suzanne, and the two hours did not disappoint.
Goin began by sharing how an early interest in cooking began the foundation for her career in the food industry. That curiosity led her to some extraordinary places, first among them an internship at the legendary Ma Maison (called by Zagat one of "13 restaurants that changed LA dining forever") while still attending High School in Los Angeles. After heading east for undergraduate studies at Brown University, Goin resumed her career in restaurants by working at such famed establishments as Chez Panisse, owned by the legendary chef Alice Waters in Berkeley, CA, and Olives, the first restaurant by chef Todd English, in Boston, MA.