Name: Jason May
Favorite unit/class at ICASI and why: Culinary Arts Basic Technique 2 was my favorite, but individual course by far was our Pasta Workshop during that quarter. With my love of all things Italian, it has always been extremely difficult to find a good teacher that knows and loves that food and it's culture. Most chefs I have worked for and with are trained in the French techniques. Working with Loretta really opened my eyes to understanding cultural differences in Italian cuisine.
Favorite instructor or administrator and why (if you have one): Chef Goran was by far my favorite. He was amazing with us and really showed us many aspects to the culinary field. He would show us multiple ways to make each recipe, so instead of learning just one way to do one recipe, we learned several ways to do it. This allowed us to personalize and customize our skill set, and to better understand the food itself.
Why did you chose ICASI?: Honestly, I chose it because it was close to home. While it was less expensive than the bigger culinary institutes, those would have actually been easier to get into since they allowed federal funding. I worked very hard and used a lot of my savings to be able to go to ICASI, because I realized after meeting with Chef Tim McCoy and Chef Stefanie Paganini, that we would get a wide range of skills, and that the administration cared about the students.
Most important thing you learned from ICASI: Besides from the culinary skills, really the most important thing I learned was execution and teamwork. I was blessed to have a wonderful partner in my class, as it was just the two of us, and to be able to pull off all the recipes day in and day out, it took a lot of teamwork and dedication to the craft. That is how it works in the real world, I know from experience. The teachers encouraged this atmosphere. And understanding execution is another very important life skill. It does not matter if you are sick, are having a bad day, or do not like what you are cooking, you absolutely must execute the dish. That sounds rudimentary, but it is culinary gospel.
What was your ICASI experience like?: It was great. While stressful, I am a firm believer that stress builds character, and character is seen in your food. I am extremely proud to call some of the teachers and administrators my friends and mentors. Even teachers that I only was around for a couple weeks will still call me and ask how I am doing, and try to give me opportunities. That is amazing in the world we live in today. I gained everything I expected from my experience, and more.
How were the other students?: The other student in my class was great. She is a sister to me now, and we were like peas in a pod. Our life situations were similar and our desire to switch fields once and for all were the same. We also got to work with another student from the daytime, and I consider him a close friend of mine. His experience was extremely beneficial to all of us. The students I had a chance to meet, they were amazing people, and I will always be friends with them.
How were the instructors?: The instructors treated us like their children, their friends and their colleagues. They were what made the experience worthwhile. We were lucky to have multiple teachers, so we had many different views and backgrounds before us. They all cared about what they were doing, and all had very important lessons to share. No matter what anyone says about them, good or bad, the simple fact of the matter is that they cared, and that is special.
How was the administration?: The administrators were top notch. Nobody looked out for me more than Marilyn did. Either helping with classes, lining up work, making sure we were on the right track, and just being there for us. That is something that I feel is invaluable to a student. Sometimes when faced with a lot of work, students will get a mentality that the administration might be out to get you, since they are the ones making things difficult. They forget that the reason they do it is so that you can test yourself and become more than you already are. And the administration was always there to remind us of that, and help us when things were hard. Nowhere else do you find that.
Did ICASI help you in your career?: Absolutely it did. While I have always been a man of many different fields, when it comes to culinary, I am so much more polished and confident in what I do than before I took the course. Besides the thousands of recipes we have and know well, Chef Tim McCoy above all else taught us how to adapt recipes into our own creations. How to be our own person when it comes to cooking. This has been the cornerstone of my career development with my own catering business.
What advice do you have for future students?: Make sure that when you decide to take classes here that you are prepared to learn. Just like real life, if you give little effort, you will get little in return. Those that love the culinary field will strive. If you do not, consider another career and another school. ICASI will take what you put into it, and give back much more. Expect hard work, enjoy hard work, and strive for perfection. Nothing is handed to you, especially in the culinary field, and the same can be said for ICASI. Take advantage of your opportunity.