Ice Brigade: About the Show
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)
Jean-Marc Giboux, 2011, Television Food Network, G.P.
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 ideate 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, following the team as they make awe-inspiring interactive creations like pool tables, bowling lanes, grand pianos, carousels and putt-putt courses.
Randy Finch and Derek Maxfield were two small-town Michigan boys originally drawn to the culinary arts to fulfill their love of science and art, but they eventually found their true calling in ice sculpting. Both Derek and Randy now agree that cooking was an opportunity to express themselves, socialize and lead an exciting life outside a traditional corporate setting. To make their culinary dreams a reality, they both studied Culinary Arts at local Michigan colleges. Before and after college, they both worked in restaurants honing their culinary and ice-sculpting skills. They met while serving as apprentices under Master Chef Dan Hugelier at Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Mich. They closely observed the ornate craft and stayed late after work many nights to improve their own carving skills. During this time, they realized their mutual affinity for ice carving, which would inevitably lead them to pursue a career in the business together.
After a few additional job transitions, traveling and endless practice, Randy and Derek started carving ice and selling it locally using their car trunk as a makeshift studio. They would drive to a hotel or banquet hall, open up the trunk filled with tools, and sculpt a block of ice right on location. They worked long hours as full-time chefs in order to support themselves along with this second job to fuel their new-found passion for ice sculpting. With hardly a penny in the bank yet determined to succeed, Randy and Derek invested everything they had to open Ice Sculptures Ltd in 1994. Some of their earliest sculptures included swans, hearts and buffet pieces made for country clubs throughout Detroit and Grand Rapids, Mich. More than 15 years later, the company is thriving and has more than 10 employees. The projects just keep getting bigger as the chainsaw-wielding team creates out-of-this-world ice sculptures for countless clients and special events. The company motto remains simple yet focused: Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.
Randy and Derek’s ice carving methods are unparalleled to others in the industry. Many of their techniques and ideas are shared in “Ice Sculpting the Modern Way” (Delmar Learning, 2004) their co-authored book with Robert Garlough, now used worldwide to teach ice sculpting. They were among the first in the industry to fully-incorporate computerized ice sculpting technology (commonly known as an “ice-carving robot”) into their work. Randy and Derek also thrive off competition; they placed among the top 25 in “Artprize,” the world’s largest art contest held every September in Grand Rapids, Mich. They also coached the ice sculptor on the U.S. Pastry team that won “Best Ice Sculpture” in the 2009 Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie in Lyon, France. They currently coach the ice sculptor for the 2011 competition as well. Randy and Derek both live in Grand Rapids, Mich. within a few miles of their office.