No matter the season, Michael Stoddart's job runs hot and cold.
The co-owner of Season's Catering and Special Occasions cooks in a hot kitchen and creates art in a freezer.
Stoddart is an award-winning ice carver who, last month, brought home a gold medal for a 7-foot-tall statue of a horse's bust leaning forward and drinking from a lily pond. The horse was then mirrored three dimensionally in ice on the other side of the pond.
In the skills competition at Winterfest in Perrysburg, Ohio, professional ice sculptors were given two 300-pound blocks of ice and four hours to create something to demonstrate their creativity, skills and capabilities.
After 14 years of competition, Stoddart said 2012 "has been a good year for me."
At the U.S. Nationals ice-carving competition held earlier in February in Branson, Mo., Stoddart was named champion in the professional division. He received two silver medals in each of the first two competitions and scored third overall in a speed carving competition. His performance helped him accumulate the best overall score, earning him the championship.
Stoddart was given a 300-pound block of ice and had two hours to complete a planned sculpture of a grasshopper sitting on a blade of grass. In the second competition, Stoddart carved a flying winged fish and two manta rays swimming around a large base of coral. In the speed-carving contest, contestants each were given a block of ice and 15 minutes to develop a sculpture, and the audience selected three best-of-show winners.
At the beginning of his ice-carving career, Stoddart carved swans and hearts for weddings. As word spread, he began to create larger and more intricate sculptures for corporate and social events. He now can carve an elaborate company logo in minutes.
His tools include a chain saw, a drill with various size bits, nail boards, angle grinders and an electric iron. At competitions, blocks of ice are provided.
Stoddart doesn't go into competition unprepared. He makes a practice piece, and when he arrives at the competition he's prepared to concentrate on the ice and his grinder.
One of Stoddart's recent sculptures was a side view of a '57 Chevy carved out of seven blocks of ice. It was for a fund-raiser, and the catering side of the business served food through the window, Stoddart said.
The 2012 ice carving competition season is over, but Stoddart is thinking about his next contest.
"I'm thinking it will be walking back in time. I'd like to make an old stand-up mirror with a person trying to walk through the mirror. An old person throwing away a cane will be in the reflection," he said.
Stoddart has a few months to perfect his idea, and help his 15-year-old son Matthew hone his skills. Matthew has learned tricks from his dad and has awards to prove that one day he might outrank his father. Matthew competed in the amateur division at the Perrysburg event, and his sculpture of manta rays swimming around a coral reef earned him a bronze medal, accumulating more points than some of the competitors in the professional division.
Stoddart also works with culinary students at Sullivan University, and one of his goals is to form a competition team.
When Stoddart isn't in the freezer, he's in the kitchen. He graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in 1986. He and former wife Kellie started the catering business in 1998.
Stoddart's work may be seen at Seasonsice.com.
Go Cats and cupcakes
Caramanda's Bake Shoppe has created a cupcake for March Madness and Big Blue fans. The Go Big Blueberry cupcake is filled with blueberry fruit filling, iced with buttercream swirled with a Wildcat blue stripe, and finished with a paw print on top.
Locations are 332 Southland Drive, 3805 Dylan Place (off Boston Road) and a kiosk in Fayette Mall. Call (859) 278-7172 or go to Caramandas.com.
The Rockin' Appalachian Mom Project, or RAMP, in Martin County is receiving help from Shuckman's Fish Co. in Louisville.
Through Aug. 31, Shuckman's will donate 5 cents to RAMP for every tub of its Gourmet Seafood spreads sold in Whole Foods Market's Mid-Atlantic Region. The money will aid the Martin County public school backpack snack program, community and school garden projects, the RAMP Mobile Community Co-Op, the Healthy Kentucky Kids program, the Homecoming Food Pantry in Calf Creek and microloans that promote economic development in Martin County. Go to Kysmokedfish.com.