March 1, 2018,
Jersey City, NJ –
before he became a
Kalman carved ice and tallow and spent a night with classmates in
sleeping bags at the dining room of Hudson County Community College’s
Culinary Arts Institute, the school where he developed skills that
keep him in demand.
Mr. Kalman returned to the Hudson
County Community College (HCCC) Culinary Arts Institute (CAI) on Feb.
15 to share his career experiences, insights and advice with CAI
students and a community audience. Basic tips included finding work
in a restaurant while attending school in order to enhance classroom
learning; working with a successful chef/organization; and
understanding that it takes time, patience and repetition in order to
“Everyone wants to jump from one
thing to the next without actually mastering the first thing,”
Kalman said. “You become a jack of all trades and a master of
nothing that way. It’s a hard pill for most cooks to swallow, but
there is so much to being a great cook and a great chef, not just
knowing how to build flavor.”
Those interested in concocting a
career in crafting cuisine that is both mouth-watering and visually
pleasing learned about Mr. Kalman’s humble beginnings. He started
cooking at a local pizzeria when he was 13. Mr. Kalman cooked for
five years before attending the HCCC Culinary Arts Institute, and
chose to study there because of its small class sizes, intensive
hands-on lessons, and strict programming.
“Aside from cooking technique,
learning proper service, and management basics, it mostly taught me
teamwork, strong work ethic, and discipline. I feel very well-rounded
as a chef because of my time at HCCC,” Kalman said. “I really
enjoyed all of the instructors. They told it like it is, they treated
us in a way, as they would treat commis (junior chefs) and chef de
parties in their own restaurants, and I liked that structure.”
Fast forward to his typical workday
as the owner of multiple restaurants. “I spend the majority of my
time mentoring and coaching the chefs, working on menu development,
putting tighter systems in place; a lot of time is spent on promoting
my brand and the brand of the restaurants. This is how you get butts
in seats. The public relations brings people in, and the coached chef
teams deliver the goods, which brings people back,” Kalman said.
Before becoming a chef and mentor,
Mr. Kalman had several mentors who taught him key points about the
restaurant industry. He worked in New York City with David Burke at
Park Avenue Café, and in Chicago with Paul Bartalotta at Spiaggia.
Both chefs were his biggest inspirations.
“Working with these two amazing
chefs, who have such polar opposite styles of cooking, has helped
push the boundaries (Burke) while maintaining classic integrity and
simplicity (Bartalotta),” Kalman said.
He thanked Bravo/Brio Restaurant
Group for mentoring him on running a business.
Mr. Kalman’s executive chef
experiences include Okno, Green Dolphin Street, and Coco Pazzo in
Chicago, Il Piatto in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Chelsea’s Kitchen in
Phoenix, The Churchill in Los Angeles, and the Union in Old Town
Kalman was nominated for a James
Beard “Rising Star Chef:” award, and has made several appearances
on the Food Network, Esquire Network, and Bravo.