Iceologist Jim Woodward, SVP Field Operations, gives us his take on working with culinary students in the National Restaurant Association’s ProStart program.

Recently, I led two workshops on ice machines for culinary arts students at Nimitz High School in Irving, TX. Their instructor had scheduled these workshops believing that ice should be treated like any other food that was prepared and served for consumption.  What a great idea it is to want to broaden culinary arts training to include ice!

I loved hearing the great questions that these students had about ice machines and discussing this topic with them.  Many of the students had worked for restaurants or aspired to own restaurants in the future.  With this in mind, we talked about:

  • The alternatives for acquiring ice for a business.
  • Key variables in selecting ice machines.
  • Challenges and costs involved in owning an ice machine.
  • Effect of air and water temperatures on ice machine production.
  • Conclusions ice machine owners had drawn about their experiences with ice machines.

Interestingly, several of the students had their own difficult experiences with ice machines when they worked in various restaurants:

“The ice machine always seemed to be broken and whenever it was we had to rush out and get ice at a local convenience store at high prices until it was fixed.”

“We had to move ice from the ice machine in the kitchen in a 5-gallon bucket to the fountain dispenser in order to fill it whenever it ran out. To do that, we needed to get up on a ladder lifting the heavy bucket and pour the ice into the top of the fountain dispenser , and it was difficult to get the ice all the way there without leaking some water.

“Even the machine we have in our school kitchen has broken down and there were big delays in getting it fixed.”

After seeing the difficulties and costs involved in owning an ice machine, many of the students concluded they’d be better off outsourcing their ice machine acquisition and service than in owning equipment for that purpose.

After this training, they could see that what they would care most about when it came to ice was:

  • Clean, sanitary ice
  • Available all the time
  • With a minimum of trouble and distraction
  • At a reasonable cost

Culinary arts training at Nimitz is truly impressive with a classroom where half was set up with restaurant tables and the other half as a full-blown kitchen. It was fun teaching these future culinary stars about the importance of ice and Easy Ice’s alternative to ice machine ownership. I think these up and coming chefs may be Easy Ice customers someday…and that’s cool!