When ICE President Rick Smilow and Anne E. McBride wrote Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food they discovered a plethora of food jobs they had never heard of before. Since the book’s release, they have been discovering even more interesting career paths in the food world. DICED shares some of them with you in a reoccurring feature, “Unique Culinary Careers.”
Claire Handleman describes herself as a “freelance cook.” She completed the Culinary Arts program at ICE in 2006. Now, she works as one of our Kitchen Assistants, helping cook for a variety of private events. She does similar work helping with banquets at Del Posto and catering with Olivier Cheng and Abigail Kirsch. But in addition, she has worked with Food Network and The Cooking Channel. You may have seen her on Cook Like An Iron Chef with Michael Symon. Never one to turn down an interesting opportunity, she also travels extensively and chronicles her journeys on her blog, Passport to Eat.
What has your career path been like?
I feel pretty lucky that I’ve had so many different opportunities within the food world, whether it’s writing about food, cooking in four-star restaurants, such as Jean Georges, Eleven Madison Park and Del Posto, or cooking on a TV set. When you’re totally passionate about your job, nothing feels like work. I rarely wake up and think “I don’t want to go to work today.” Work doesn’t feel like work to me. I’d do it for free (and have very often worked for free) because I love it. I seize every opportunity to learn. If someone needs help with a cocktail event, which I know very little about, I’ll do it. If my friend needs a hand with a backyard BBQ, I’ll do it. There’s always something to be learned from every situation. And in taking every opportunity, I also get to meet a lot of people. That’s how I can keep diversifying my skills. I also push myself to do things outside of my daily jobs. I want to constantly be working on something and working towards a goal. My next goal is to teach people about how to travel and what to eat around the world. More…