Herve Malivert – Director of Culinary Arts & Technology at the International Culinary Center in New York City
Herve Malivert is Director of Culinary Arts & Technology at the International Culinary Center in New York City. Read here to get more information about his exciting story.
You work as the Director of Culinary Arts & Technology at the International Culinary Center in New York City. What makes this job so special for you?
The International Culinary Center (ICC) is a very well-respected culinary school in the US, and even around the world. One of the reasons for this is the dedication of our staff. It’s so special to work with talented, passionate and professional chefs. I’ve learned so much from my colleagues over the past 16 years of working at ICC.
Where does your passion for cooking come from?
I was born and raised in a food & wine region near Lyon. My father is a cheese maker, specifically in Affineur (aged cheese). I also have Vigneron (wine makers) in my family. As a child going to deliver cheese to restaurants with my dad made me love the profession—walking through the kitchen and experiencing the ambiance was really special.
You are from the famous Rhône region of France. How do these roots influence your style of cooking still today?
The Rhône continues to be an influence—from my family’s cooking, to going to restaurants with them on Sunday (a Family Tradition!), and of course having Lyon as the capital of food at our fingertips, I grew up surrounded by some of the best cuisine. But as a chef, I didn’t want to limit my cooking to just this region. I always say, “cooking has no borders”—where ever you decide to go, you can learn new culinary traditions, techniques, and meet some fantastic people.
In 2013 you were asked to become a member of Maîtres Cuisiniers de France. Joining the ranks of the world’s most renowned French chefs ”Maîtres Cuisiniers de France” is an amazing achievement. What is necessary to become a member?
Master Chef of France is the most envied title that all chefs aspire to have! But not everyone can become a master chef. Our motto is to preserve and spread French culinary art and encourage training in cuisine, respect, dedication and assisting with professional development. The Master Chefs of France are given the highest classification in restaurant guides. Most of the leading chefs—The Meilleurs Ouvrier de France—are winners of different culinary competitions and belong to the Association. For nearly 70 years our organization has bravely upheld certain values, such as support for Apprentices, Growers, Breeders, Winemakers, Cheese-Maker, Hunters and Fisherman. We have always promoted locally sourced consumption.
You are always aiming to take your food to new heights. How do you manage that/ what are you working on right now?
Never stop, it’s like climbing a mountain! When you arrive to the top, you’ll see another higher mountain that you’ll want to climb. I am always researching and learning. Right now, I’m working on developing our Professional Culinary Arts curriculum at the school to keep up with the evolving culinary world. Some ideas we’ll be expanding upon include plating techniques and plant-based cooking.
How do you continue to express your creativity as a chef in your role as Director of Culinary Arts & Technology at the International Culinary Center in New York City?
It is easy—teaching and transmitting my love for cooking allows me to be creative every day.
In addition to the two decades you spent working in restaurants worldwide, you also spent a year and a half travelling through Africa. How did all this time abroad influence you as a person and as a chef?
The world always fascinates me. My purpose of travel was to learn the different arts of cooking, but the passion and inspiration of the human race around the world is so rewarding to see as well. I encourage any cook to take the opportunity to travel, if they can. Yes, it is more economic to read books or scroll the internet, but it is not the same. You don’t experience all the senses first hand, and the people’s stories are better than any books!
In your culinary career you have already experienced and achieved so much. You haven’t had your own restaurant yet. Would it appeal to you?
Maybe, I’m still young! I’m always looking for new challenges and opportunities.
And if so, with what concept would you design it?
Welcoming, warm, inspiring and a place you will remember. Bundle those four things together and add some fantastic food—that is my recipe for a great concept. I know it’s hard to put this on paper for an investor though!
If you had the time for a cookbook, what would it be about?
Already done—I was part of a collaboration of 77 Maîtres Cuisiniers de France from the US that put a book together called “Master Chefs of France: The Cookbook”.
Many people are considering giving up their previous profession and becoming a cook, but are worried that they are too old to do so. What do you think about it Have some of your students also chosen this path?
Many of the students enrolled in professional programs at the International Culinary Center are career changers, choosing to leave their current professions to pursue their passion for the kitchen. They come from a variety of different industries—finance, marketing, fashion, engineering, and many others—bringing their unique skill sets to the culinary field. With the help of our education and career services, many have parlayed their past experience into a rewarding culinary, pastry or wine career.
The complexity of French cooking is huge. How would you describe the traditional French cuisine best? And the modern French cuisine?
French cooking is all about the foundation. Traditional culinary apprenticeships in France are very serious, very structured and disciplined. What the apprentices learn is a body of work as far back as the 17th century and François Pierre de La Varenne’s “Le Cuisinier François”. It’s a body of work with its own vocabulary that chefs know. Duxelle, Mirepoix, Julienne, Matignons, Emince are just some terms, among many in the glossary that chefs in most kitchens know. The French love organization and systems. The whole team is under the command of the Chef de Cuisine and work coherently in a systematic way, for the good of all.
If you can recreate this in your kitchen—doesn’t matter if you cook French, Italian, or any other cuisine that inspires you—you will lead a successful kitchen. This is what we teach at the International Culinary Center, the foundation and technique needed to succeed.
What are most/largest misunderstandings about French cuisine?
What I hear the most is that French food is heavy with all the cream and butter, but it is all about the portion size.
In 1984, The French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center) was founded in a little known neighborhood called Soho. Is the school still in this hot spot area of New York? What is the orientation of your institute; more about French or international cuisine?
Today, the International Culinary Center, founded as The French Culinary Institute, remains in the same location where we were founded 35 years ago. The school has grown a lot since then, going from one to four floors of the building with 11 professional kitchens designed for optimal learning, an amphitheatre for chef demonstrations and tasting events, a culinary library with thousands of cookbooks, and an events space. The neighborhood of Soho has continued to be a hub for fashion, food and culture, home to many new and established restaurants. It’s also surrounded by the influences of Little Italy and Chinatown which can provide great inspiration. Today, the school’s curriculum is still rooted in the fundamentals of classic Western techniques, but is taught to establish the foundational skills that can be translated to any cuisine. Many of our graduates go on to work in restaurants that cook various cuisines—French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, you name it!
Do you offer as well courses for foreign students?
We welcome students from every corner of the world, and have had graduates from more than 90 countries attend the International Culinary Center. Many international students attend our full time career programs, like our Professional Culinary or Pastry Arts programs, on a student visa. We have a dedicated International Student Advisor that provides assistance with the student visa process, applications, ESL requirements, housing assistance and more to make our students transition from their home country as smooth as possible.
The International Culinary Center New York offers a new course called “Professional Culinary Arts program + Farm-to-Table extension”. What is the course about?
Our Professional Culinary Arts program with Farm-to-Table extension was created in collaboration with ICC alumnus Chef Dan Barber to develop the student’s sense of stewardship with groundbreaking education and workshops to change the way they cook and look at sustainability. In addition to learning the same 250+ classic cooking techniques taught in our Professional Culinary Arts program, their classroom extends beyond the kitchen with field trips, seminars from Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, and a once-in-a-lifetime Farm-Powered Kitchen trip to Blue Hill at Stone Barns. It’s all about connecting the bounty of the land to the craft of culinary technique.
Is it a full-time course just related to this topic?
The Professional Culinary Arts program with Farm-to-Table extension is a full-time, 6 month program that is offered two times a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. The students will complete 400-hours of hands-on culinary education in our kitchens at the school, before going on a 200-hour paid externship at a restaurant, food business or food media company in New York City. In addition, they’ll have scheduled afternoon lectures and field trips, as well as a 4-day trip to Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture.
What do you think about urban farming? Just a drop in the ocean of fashion?
Urban farming will not feed the planet, but it is a great source of education and understanding of the hard work to grow produce for the people leaving in large cities that may not have the opportunity to visit a country farm.
What makes a good cook for you?
Foundation and technique mastery are very important, like I mentioned above, plus passion! And, I recommend going to a culinary school like the International Culinary Center.
What makes the profession of cooking something special for you?
I consider myself a craftsman. To create a visual and delicious meal and to be able to share it with the people around me is what makes this profession so special. There is nothing more rewarding than a happy face after a meal.
What is your advice to young culinary students and young chefs who question their path and career?
I’ve been there. It happens after a hard, long, hot day in the kitchen. You may doubt your path and wonder why. I suggest sitting back, closing your eyes and go back to the reason you chose this path. What drove you to be a cook in first place? It always works for me!
What other important and sustainable topics do you see in gastronomy?
I believe it’s really important to know where what you cook comes from. Was it properly grown or bred? To do so you have to have a relationship with the grower, breeder, winemaker, you name it, to encourage them to do the right thing. If they don’t, do not buy from them. If they do, acknowledge them on your menu. Try to buy as much as you can from local sources.
More guests want to know where their food comes from. Will it be self-evident in a few years that restaurants will disclose this information?
Absolutely, I’m pleased to see guests concerned about what they eat. They paid for it; they deserve to know where their food comes from. Some restaurants are already doing this. I see farms mentioned on their menu or a board with the farm they use.
What are the current culinary trends in New York?
As we think more about sustainability and food ethics, insects are hitting restaurant tables in a big way.
They are actually an excellent source of protein and are delicious. Vegan options are already booming in New York City as well.
What new restaurant concepts do you notice in New York?
With the opening this year of the Hudson Yards shopping mall, with more than 10 top chef’s restaurants featured, these sorts of eateries are definitely destinations everyone is noticing.
Where are your students from?
Our students come from more than 90 different countries around the world to pursue their culinary, pastry or wine education at the International Culinary Center. Many of our students live in the local, New York City metro area, but we also have others who travel nationally and internationally to study at the school.
Do many of them stay in New York after their training to work as chefs?
It depends. For the majority of the students who live in the New York City metro area, many of them stay in New York to work. For those who travel nationally, some stay in New York City, some decide to go back home. For those who travel internationally, most return home after their studies. Where ever our students choose to go, our Career Services team continues to assist both students and alumni with job placement services long after their graduate. Many graduates also return to hire employees from their alma matter when they are in executive chef positions, or open their own restaurants.
How tough is it to find a cooking job in New York?
It is not. Chefs call me all the time saying that they need cooks. We need more cooks definitely. If you can cook or want to learn how to cook come to New York! But be ready, New York can be demanding with long hours and extremely busy restaurants. But have no doubt, if you can handle working a year in a New York City kitchen, you can work anywhere else with your eyes closed!
Thank you Herve and all the best for your future.
For more information visit the ICC Website here.