Blogs and Testimonials from SICE students

La Petite Culinarian s a blog written by Becky Rinehart, a second-year student at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. It's a great view of SICE through a student's eyes!

Please note that the blog is written by a student and its content does not represent the opinions of Grand Rapids Community College or the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education.


My Internship at the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh: A letter from SICE student Marc Sovik May 25, 2014

Good morning Mr. Gendler, Dr. Flanagan, Chef Rango and Chef Renusson,

I absolutely love the opportunity that I have been given here in Pittsburgh. The Duquesne Club is without a doubt the most exclusive club in Pittsburgh, and as such, affords Pastry Chef Will Racin an opportunity to do many things. Fortunately for me, Chef Racin and his team of pastry chefs are quick to teach me new things and allow me to get my hands in things that I probably wouldn't be doing until I reach the pastry class at school. I feel blessed to have been this opportunity and recognize that if it were not for the contacts at SICE, I surely would not be here.

Every day at work I am learning something new — and am picking up some incredible recipes. I am still the low man on the totem pole and as such, I get stuck with some grunt work but I enjoy it all the same. The signature dessert at the Duquesne Club are their almond macaroons. I have to assemble, pipe and bake 1,000 of these every night. My piping skills have greatly improved and a task that took me three hours at first is now down to 1 hour and 45 minutes, so I am learning how to be more productive yet still put out a quality product. Chef Coughenour (Executive Chef) and Chef Racin are fanatical about keeping the work space clean while preparing items so my skills have improved in this area as well.

The part that I am extremely excited about is that there is going to be a big dinner in June where Chef Thomas Keller will be an attendee. Two restaurants in town have been tasked with preparing the food and our pastry department has been chosen to do the pastries for this huge extravaganza. This is yet another opportunity that being in this position has allowed me to experience.

My real intent in sending this e-mail is to say thank you. I know these opportunities would not be available to me if it weren't for all of you and your help and guidance. I consider it a privilege to be associated with all of you and want to let you know that I am always aware that I represent you and SICE and I do not take that lightly. I hope your summer is going well and I look forward to seeing you in the fall semester.


My Internship In Italy: A letter from SICE student Robert Haughton from August 7, 2013

Pictures of the students in Italy.

Chef Gilles and Mr. Gendler,

I have been busy with hands in the pasta dough, enjoying every minute of the experience over here. Chef Gilles, you were on-point with your description of Chef Fabio, what a terrific individual! He and his his family have really taken me in.  I feel at home here, it has been beyond my expectations. I also have a "hello and many kisses" to send your way from Chef Marco Valletta, who came in one day and lead some of us in a class on baking and pasta making. We made our own brioche of choice and various pastas including gluten-free. It was interesting doing something I have done before but working with different Italian products. Chef Velletta is very knowledgeable and comical in the kitchen, I can see how he makes a great Chef-Instructor.

The guys in the kitchen are great, they don't all speak English, but we all speak the language of food, so it's not hard to figure out what needs to be done. I've been able to move around each station and learn various roles in production: antipasti, main courses, pasta and vegetables, butcher, etc. There are also a couple of guys from India at Metropole who fill a small Indian food section of the buffet . They are very knowledgeable and it's fun to work alongside them.

 I was able to stage at a pizzeria for a night at a restaurant I have already frequented a couple times. Fabio set it up a week ago and it was a blast! I have worked at a bakery before and made pizzas in America at different jobs, but this one night really opened my eyes to a new world. It was just me and Carlo, the head pizza chef, who showed me the ropes of real, Italian pizza making!

I just wanted to thank you both so much for helping me get this opportunity, it is definitely life-changing and I won't forget what I have learned here.  I appreciate the experiences I have had because I am connected to this community, and I am proud to represent the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education.

Thanks again Chefs!