One of First Night Missoula's traditions is the ice sculpture that welcomes in the New Year.

The culinary students at Missoula College have been creating beautiful carvings to greet the community for years.

NBC Montana found students and their director early Monday morning hard at work on the Missoula County Courthouse lawn.

When they weigh 300 pounds each, there's a lot of work tied up in 12 blocks of ice.

These are clunky, heavy blocks that will be molded into a culinary centerpiece.

It's a cold, but not too cold, gray day New Years Eve Day.

It's ice carving weather.

"If there's sunlight on the ice it can melt it too quickly," said culinary arts director Tom Campbell, " if it's below zero it becomes really fragile."

Students took measurements and sawed.

They stuffed snow  between blocks for mortar.

"We're doing a chef's toque," said Campbell, "It's called a toque, the big fancy hat that they wear."

"We wanted something that told the community that the culinary students did it," said student Brittany Campbell.

Ice sculptures are just part of culinary education.

"It's the atmosphere," said student Michael Goff," ice just brings another dimension to the table."

When the students were finished they had created the chef's hat, plus eating utensils and numbers 2013.