Notre Dame employee shares experience as ice carver
Mike Dugan | Wednesday, December 5, 2018
In a building a little over a mile northwest of LaFortune Hall, Danny Bloss goes to work. Bloss is a 29-year-employee of Notre Dame currently working at the Center for Culinary Excellence. He is responsible for cooking all the pasta, sauces and soups for the campus, though he also performs a unique role at the University — he is one of Notre Dame’s ice carvers.
Bloss is highly-experienced in the field of ice carving, having regularly competed in regional and national competitions over the majority of his 12 years as an ice carver. In 2017, Bloss won the Professional Division at the National Ice Carving Association’s National Competition. Now, as a master ice carver, he continues to enter competitions on a regular basis.
Bloss described the typical ice-sculpting competition.
“Blocks are 40 inches high, 20 inches wide, 10 inches deep,” Bloss said. “You usually get a single block of ice, about 300 pounds, and you get two to three hours to do your sculpture — breaking it down into pieces, re-fusing it. It’s judged by three judges and they come through and look at it, add up their scores and that’s how they determine the winner.”
Bloss said that these competitions are well-attended and provide for a lively atmosphere.
“I was just in Houston last weekend carving ice, doing a 45-minute competition with 600 pounds of ice in front of 1,600 to 1,800 people there, and that was pretty cool,” Bloss said. “When I went down to Richmond, Indiana, last winter where we do that same type of event, there are usually about 3,000 people there.”
Even with a first-place finish in a national ice carving competition under his belt, Bloss said he remains humble.
“You can never quite be a master,” he said. “I have experience, but I could always use more.”
Bloss expressed hopes that he and his work can serve as inspiration for kids.
“I like seeing the finished product and seeing if there are little children or little kids and seeing their reaction,” he said. “They say, they could never do something like that. I say to them, ‘You can do it. You can do whatever you want to do.’”
In addition to competitions, Bloss is also largely responsible for the creation of ice sculptures in the dining halls during special meals, including those in North and South Dining Hall on Tuesday. Eduardo Luna, a student manager at North Dining Hall and the student government co-director of student life, described his appreciation for Bloss’ work on campus.
“I think it adds a whole level of specialty to the experience,” Luna said. “Being that Notre Dame students that live on campus overwhelmingly go to the dining hall for their meals, [the dining hall experience] can get very repetitive. By having an ice sculpture and something that’s not a random ice sculpture, but a professionally-done ice sculpture … from a master-level sculptor, it can really blow you away. It speaks to the level of specialty and attention that’s put in the food, and it highlights everything that’s being done within Campus Dining during these special events.”
Editor‘s note: a previous version of this story incorrectly stated the year when Bloss won the Professional Division at the National Ice Carving Association’s National Competition. He won the division in 2017. The Observer regrets this error.