Meet the Ice Brigade

Get to know the ice sculptors extraordinaire of the Food Network show, ‘Ice Brigade.’

GRAND RAPIDS , MICHIGAN, JANUARY 11, 2011 : George Heartwell, Mayor of Grand Rapids with Sharon Evoy, inaugurate the ice-chess set . RANDY FINCH with JOVANNAH NICHOLSON, DEREK MAXFIELD,CHOPS, DEREK "FOLTZ" and SUSAN WALTERS are setting up the Ice-chess pieces on the giant ice-chessboard. ICE BRIGADE follows former chef Randy Finch and his team of renegade ice artists as they blow the lid off ice sculpting by creating original, unique designs that defy the imagination. (Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux/ Getty Images for Food network)

Photo by: Jean-Marc Giboux ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Jean-Marc Giboux, 2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

GRAND RAPIDS , MICHIGAN, JANUARY 11, 2011 : George Heartwell, Mayor of Grand Rapids with Sharon Evoy, inaugurate the ice-chess set . RANDY FINCH with JOVANNAH NICHOLSON, DEREK MAXFIELD,CHOPS, DEREK "FOLTZ" and SUSAN WALTERS are setting up the Ice-chess pieces on the giant ice-chessboard. ICE BRIGADE follows former chef Randy Finch and his team of renegade ice artists as they blow the lid off ice sculpting by creating original, unique designs that defy the imagination. (Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux/ Getty Images for Food network)

With extensive culinary training and more than 20 successful years in the ice sculpting business, friends and business partners Randy Finch and Derek Maxfield own and operate Ice Sculptures Ltd. in Grand Rapids, Mich. Together with their team, they design and execute out-of-this-world ice sculptures that have been featured on national television, recognized in industry media, and included at movie premieres, celebrity galas, concerts and sporting events. Now, their extraordinary talents and projects are captured on Food Network’s prime-time series, Ice Brigade, which follows the team members as they make awe-inspiring interactive creations such as pool tables, bowling lanes, grand pianos, carousels and mini-golf courses.

Read on to meet the team >>


GRAND RAPIDS , MICHIGAN, JANUARY 11, 2011 : RANDY FINCH standing on the giant ice-chessboard. ICE BRIGADE follows former chef Randy Finch and his team of renegade ice artists as they blow the lid off ice sculpting by creating original, unique designs that defy the imagination. (Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux/ Getty Images for Food network)

Photo by: Jean-Marc Giboux ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Jean-Marc Giboux, 2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

GRAND RAPIDS , MICHIGAN, JANUARY 11, 2011 : RANDY FINCH standing on the giant ice-chessboard. ICE BRIGADE follows former chef Randy Finch and his team of renegade ice artists as they blow the lid off ice sculpting by creating original, unique designs that defy the imagination. (Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux/ Getty Images for Food network)

Randy Finch
Born and raised in Howell, Mich., Randy dreamed of becoming a chef and architect since he was 10 years old. An entrepreneurial spirit from an early age, he spent his free time building hot dog stands in the front yard and selling to passersby. Starting as a bus boy and prep cook at local restaurants, he enjoyed learning the ins and outs of life in a restaurant kitchen and applied his learning at home, where he often cooked dinner for his family. After graduating from high school, Randy moved down to Savannah, Ga., where he worked in a hotel restaurant and actually carved his first pieces of ice there after diligently observing and assisting the on-site sculptor. He moved back to Michigan in 1985 and graduated with honors from Oakland Community College with an associate degree in applied science in culinary arts. In his ice sculpting classes, he realized his natural aptitude as a sculptor and practiced endlessly. After graduation in 1989, he worked for master chef Dan Hugelierat at Michigan’s well-known Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, where he met Derek Maxfield, a fellow apprentice. After several years, Randy took a job at the Peter Island Resort in the British Virgin Islands where he served as a personal chef to Jay Van Andel, the co-founder of Amway Corporation. He returned to the Amway Grand Plaza in Michigan and continued to work as a chef while he further honed his ice-sculpting skills. Working out of their trunk, Randy and Derek took their craft to the next level by creating and selling sculptures locally. They made it official in 1994 when they opened Ice Sculptures Ltd. Randy has traveled to the Swiss Alps to see sculpted ice caves made from glaciers and to Connecticut to interview the grandchildren of one of ice sculpting’s earliest artists. He has taught ice sculpture classes at several local colleges. Randy became an avid culinary competitor, winning many prestigious industry awards (in both food and ice) and is world-renowned for his outstanding work. Randy is engaged and lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., just a few miles from the pair's office.

Next Up: Derek Maxfield >>


GRAND RAPIDS , MICHIGAN, JANUARY 11, 2011 : DEREK MAXFIELD standing on the giant ice-chessboard. ICE BRIGADE follows former chef Randy Finch and his team of renegade ice artists as they blow the lid off ice sculpting by creating original, unique designs that defy the imagination. (Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux/ Getty Images for Food network)

Photo by: Jean-Marc Giboux ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Jean-Marc Giboux, 2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

GRAND RAPIDS , MICHIGAN, JANUARY 11, 2011 : DEREK MAXFIELD standing on the giant ice-chessboard. ICE BRIGADE follows former chef Randy Finch and his team of renegade ice artists as they blow the lid off ice sculpting by creating original, unique designs that defy the imagination. (Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux/ Getty Images for Food network)

Derek Maxfield
Even as a young boy growing up in the small town of Ludington, Mich., Derek Maxfield knew he felt most at home in two very different places: the beach and the kitchen. A creative spirit from the start, he would often test new recipes in his mother’s kitchen. He aspired to become a chef and started to realize that dream when he began working at a local hotel restaurant at the age of 15 after moving to Grand Rapids. His career really began to take off in 1988 when he joined the highly regarded Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and had the good fortune to work under several very talented ice sculptors, including master chef Dan Hugelier and chef Mike Green. It was there that he met a fellow apprentice, Randy Finch, who would eventually become his business partner. Derek received an associate degree in applied science in Culinary Arts from Grand Rapids Community College in 1992. During his schooling, he left Amway and worked as the sous chef at the Kent Country Club through 1996. All the while, Derek continued to hone his skills in ice sculpting and worked with Randy to start selling ice sculptures in the community. In 1994, Randy and Derek co-founded Ice Sculptures Ltd. Derek continues his education by regularly participating in ice carving seminars and always seeks out new ways to mold, sculpt and even bend ice. In the shop, Derek is known as the workhorse, although he is also a self-proclaimed beach bum who usually cleans up in the company’s poker game and can often be found spontaneously singing the wrong lyrics to popular songs. Derek has been dating Susan Walters (who also works at the company) for 12 years and lives in Grand Rapids, Mich., just a few miles from the office.

Next Up: Jovonnah Nicholson >>

GRAND RAPIDS , MICHIGAN, JANUARY 11, 2011 : JOVANNAH NICHOLSON standing on the giant ice-chessboard. ICE BRIGADE follows former chef Randy Finch and his team of renegade ice artists as they blow the lid off ice sculpting by creating original, unique designs that defy the imagination. (Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux/ Getty Images for Food network)

Photo by: Jean-Marc Giboux ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Jean-Marc Giboux, 2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

GRAND RAPIDS , MICHIGAN, JANUARY 11, 2011 : JOVANNAH NICHOLSON standing on the giant ice-chessboard. ICE BRIGADE follows former chef Randy Finch and his team of renegade ice artists as they blow the lid off ice sculpting by creating original, unique designs that defy the imagination. (Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux/ Getty Images for Food network)

Jovonnah Nicholson
Quick-witted jokester Jovonnah "Jo" Nicholson joined the team after meeting Randy through a college professor who introduced them at Artprize. She graduated in 2009 from Kendall College of Art & Design in Grand Rapids, Mich., where she studied sculpture and functional art with an emphasis in ceramics. Her love of combining creativity with construction began as a little girl growing up in Ovid, Mich., where she spent her days coloring and building forts. She’s not the type to shy away from power tools, so when Randy was looking for women who could work in 3-D and wield a chain saw as easily as a paintbrush, Jovonnah was a natural fit. Jo brings a youthful playfulness to the group and isn’t unfamiliar with being the youngest among the crowd, having spent her summers, starting at age 8, taking art classes alongside college students. She’s a part-time vegetarian, loves to quote Schwarzenegger movies and has been known to Dumpster dive from time to time. When she’s not studying or pulling pranks, she's shopping for crazy clothes and hats with animals on them – items that are sometimes procured during said Dumpster dives.

Next Up: Derek Foltz >>

GRAND RAPIDS , MICHIGAN, JANUARY 11, 2011 : DEREK "FOLTZ" standing on the giant ice-chessboard. ICE BRIGADE follows former chef Randy Finch and his team of renegade ice artists as they blow the lid off ice sculpting by creating original, unique designs that defy the imagination. (Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux/ Getty Images for Food network)

Photo by: Jean-Marc Giboux ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Jean-Marc Giboux, 2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

GRAND RAPIDS , MICHIGAN, JANUARY 11, 2011 : DEREK "FOLTZ" standing on the giant ice-chessboard. ICE BRIGADE follows former chef Randy Finch and his team of renegade ice artists as they blow the lid off ice sculpting by creating original, unique designs that defy the imagination. (Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux/ Getty Images for Food network)

Derek Foltz
Derek Foltz ("Foltz" to the group), grew up in the small farming community of Portland, Mich. In his early years, he had a passion for athletics, including basketball, football, soccer, track, baseball and wrestling. After getting kicked out of Michigan State University, he needed a job and found his way to Ice Sculptures Ltd. after playing in a band called Venkman with Randy’s cousin. He called Randy to see if the company could use someone to do things around the office like sweeping up and shoveling snow. Little did he know that it was the first step into what became his career. Foltz has been with the company since 2002, working his way up from sweeping floors to general manager. His experiences as an athlete helped foster a strong work ethic as well as a spirit of dedication.

Next Up: Susan Walters >>

GRAND RAPIDS , MICHIGAN, JANUARY 11, 2011 : SUSAN WALTERS standing on the giant ice-chessboard. ICE BRIGADE follows former chef Randy Finch and his team of renegade ice artists as they blow the lid off ice sculpting by creating original, unique designs that defy the imagination. (Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux/ Getty Images for Food network)

Photo by: Jean-Marc Giboux ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Jean-Marc Giboux, 2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

GRAND RAPIDS , MICHIGAN, JANUARY 11, 2011 : SUSAN WALTERS standing on the giant ice-chessboard. ICE BRIGADE follows former chef Randy Finch and his team of renegade ice artists as they blow the lid off ice sculpting by creating original, unique designs that defy the imagination. (Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux/ Getty Images for Food network)

Susan Walters
Susan is from a small family with Dutch roots. She grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich., and graduated from Calvin College with a teaching degree in 1993. Susan is Derek Maxfield’s girlfriend of 12 years; she got into ice sculpting because she wanted to spend more time with Derek. As part of the Ice Sculptures Ltd team, Susan brings a true feminine touch – always finding ways to include flowers or warm colors in the sculptures. Very much considered the "queen bee" of the company, Susan is on an eternal quest to learn how to make healthy food taste good. She can often be found with Derek on the shores of Lake Michigan in the summer--anytime their schedules allow.

Next Up: Shawn "Chops" Winnell >>

GRAND RAPIDS , MICHIGAN, JANUARY 11, 2011 : SHAWN "CHOPS" WINNELL standing on the giant ice-chessboard. ICE BRIGADE follows former chef Randy Finch and his team of renegade ice artists as they blow the lid off ice sculpting by creating original, unique designs that defy the imagination. (Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux/ Getty Images for Food network)

Photo by: Jean-Marc Giboux ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Jean-Marc Giboux, 2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

GRAND RAPIDS , MICHIGAN, JANUARY 11, 2011 : SHAWN "CHOPS" WINNELL standing on the giant ice-chessboard. ICE BRIGADE follows former chef Randy Finch and his team of renegade ice artists as they blow the lid off ice sculpting by creating original, unique designs that defy the imagination. (Photo by Jean-Marc Giboux/ Getty Images for Food network)

Shawn Winnell
Ice Sculptures Ltd. just wouldn't be the same without Shawn "Chops" Winnell. Native to the small town of Paw Paw, Mich., Chops grew up in a small family with a passion for sports. He met Derek Foltz while following local music while in college. After attending Grand Valley State University, Chops followed Foltz’s lead and asked for a job sweeping at the Ice Sculptures Ltd shop. With no shortage of energy, hard work and an edgy sense of humor, Chops was instantly welcomed into the family. An accomplished athlete, Chops participates in several sports, including soccer, hockey and snowboarding, and he often comes into the office with some new injury.






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