Dining services employee chisels time away for ice carving event

Anthony Halloway

Goehler says he’s carved more than 1,000 sculptures

Mitch Schrader carves a bear during the Fifth Annual “Make Mine with Ice” Ice Carving Exhibition on Saturday in downtown Kent.

Credit: DKS Editors

John Goehler stands in front of his ice sculpture on Saturday at the Home Savings Plaza in downtown Kent. Goehler was one of three sculpters at the event.

Credit: DKS Editors

John Goehler, assistant director of University Dining Services, is in his 28th year with Kent State. He spends his time doing more than making burgers, though.

Goehler, who is a certified executive chef, is also an avid ice carver. Goehler said that he is likely to have carved more than 1,000 ice sculptures since he first carved ice in 1980.

That was in Lake Placid, N.Y., during the Winter Olympics.

Goehler said, as a sous chef, he learned to carve ice through mimicking others.

” The best way to learn is to watch what others do, and then mimic it,” Goehler said. “We made Olympic logos, bobsleds, and other things from the Winter Olympics,” he said.

After coming to Kent State, Goehler said he continued to carve ice for both work and for fun. In the past Goehler said he competed in close to a dozen ice carving competitions, and while he no longer competes, Goehler said he ended his competing career with a silver medal, and two bronze medals in National Ice Carving Association sanctioned events.

Goehler participated in the 5th Annual Ice Carving Exhibition in downtown Kent on Saturday. In less than three hours, Goehler carved a swan out of three blocks of ice weighing 300 pounds each.

Goehler’s son, Chad Goehler, 24, joined his dad in carving ice on Saturday. Chad said he learned to carve ice in 2001, but said he has not carved any ice for close to eight years.

Chad said he is more likely to be seen working with ink and paint, but he said that he enjoyed coming to the exhibition to carve with his dad.

“It’s great to work with him,” Chad said. ” He is really supportive of all of my art work.”

In addition to his son, Goehler’s employee in Dining Services, Mitch Schrader, 39, sculpted on Saturday as well. Schrader said he has worked under Goehler for 23 years now. Schrader, who is self-taught, sculpts with Goehler at other colleges and town events.

Schrader said that one thing he has learned from meeting Goehler and carving ice is that “water is not water.” He said that tap water’s chemical elements will make the ice block shrink when it freezes, and in order to get the ice to be transparent, special purified water must be circulated continuously while the ice block is being frozen.

Now that Goehler is no longer competing, he said he teaches his carving skills to others. On Wednesday, Goehler plans on teaching a group of hospitality and food service majors the basics of ice carving. He said he will also teach vegetable carving to students in a banquet and catering class. Goehler also heads an on-campus ice sculpting club that is looking for more members.

Goehler said his reasons for ice carving at events like Saturdays ice exhibit are more than money.

“We don’t get paid for this,” Goehler said. “I do this for the self-satisfaction, the camaraderie, and the way it gives back to the community.”

Contact news correspondent Anthony Holloway at [email protected].