By Stephen Zagor — Dean, Restaurant & Culinary Management


What a year! As ICE’s Dean of Restaurant & Culinary Management, I feasted on the stories, successes, errors and reboots of dozens and dozens of industry notable guests, students and alumni. As a consultant, I peered over the shoulders of some huge industry names, as well as investors and stakeholders. As an expert in my field, I’ve researched numerous articles about current issues in our industry. Each day, I get to inspire, inquire, admire, rewire and even satire soon-to-be and long-standing successful food entrepreneurs. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t learn something new. 

Marc Murphy


So, you might wonder, what, if anything, do those successful food entrepreneurs have in common? Is there a magic dust or is there a teachable skill? Here are some common takeaways I learned this year listening to culinary entrepreneurs. Let’s call them tips for going from "little" to "big."


Keep reading to get Stephen's tips for succeeding in the food biz. 

By Luke Wu 


“In winter, one should eat more bitter and cold foods to stay in harmony with the inward movement of the season.” — Master Herbalist, Lǐ Shízhēn (1518-1593)


Herb Your Way to Healthy During the Holidays


During my time as a cook, I had to show up to work no matter what. When the restaurant needed me, I had to be there — there was no concept of sick days. Most kitchen cultures even promote the idea of showing up to work sick, as a matter of pride. So getting sick meant working sick, which leads to decreased productivity and ultimately lost profit.


Since winter is usually the busiest season for a restaurant (and also when we’re most likely to get sick), I had to learn how to invigorate my immune system and build a stronger body. If I was to stay competitive and cook for some of the best chefs in New York, staying healthy took priority above all else. Even for non-chef civilians, the holidays are a time of family, celebration and lots of food. Consuming excess amounts of food, especially rich, fatty foods, can stress the gallbladder and liver. Cleansing is crucial for allowing the body to absorb food.


Apple cider vinegar and lemon juice with water every morning is one quick way to cleanse and stimulate the gallbladder, aiding digestion and liver function. But for those who want to take their cleansing a step further, herbs are especially helpful with balancing stress hormones so our bodies can focus on digestion and detoxification. Many of them can be easily incorporated into our typical recipes and routines. Before I get into the specific herbs, here’s an overview of herbal traditions.

harvesting hydroponic herbs

Keep reading to learn which herbs you should be eating to stay healthy this winter.

12. January 2018 · Categories: Video

Chef Anthony Ricco, ICE alum and executive chef of The William Vale, has a passion for feeding people — very well. The Brooklyn-native and former executive chef at Jean Georges’ Spice Market combines his culinary training and his unique style in every delicious dish that he creates. Though his roots are Italian, his culinary voice comes from a different part of the globe. 

Anthony Ricco

Watch the video to discover the inspiration for Chef Anthony Ricco’s culinary voice.


In this interview, ICE’s Director of Sustainability Bill Telepan speaks with Chef Evan Hanczor, owner of Williamsburg's acclaimed brunch spot, Egg. Bill and Evan talk about Goatfell Farm, two acres of fertile Catskills land that founder and co-chef of Egg George Weld purchased to yield key produce and ingredients for the restaurant a decade ago. Since then, the duo has learned a tremendous amount about maintaining a successful farm-to-table operation. Bill and Evan chat about the conundrum of what comes first: the produce or the menu, as well as the potential edge that agricultural knowledge affords up-and-coming chefs.

Chef Evan Hanczor

Bill: When did you first start farming for Egg?


Evan: George and his wife Jennifer bought it a year or two after Egg opened, and started to develop it into a place where it grew produce for the restaurant. This is about the tenth year, and it's been a really strong year for us. George is up there [on the farm] most weekends with his family, but we have a hired farmer as well — our third since the farm has been in operation. In the past we've had folks with a background and interest in farming who transitioned from working in the restaurant with us to running [the farm].


Read on to learn how Evan chooses what to grow at his Brooklyn brunch staple. 


By Michael Laiskonis — Creative Director


Long before we turned on the lights — and all of the machines — in the ICE Chocolate Lab, I began formulating a mission statement of sorts. In addition to exploring the fundamentals of chocolate-making and sharing that knowledge with our students, I also wanted to create a space that fostered a sense of community beyond our four walls. Over the years, we’ve opened up the lab to chocolate and pastry professionals of all stripes, not to mention scores of guests who just love tasting our efforts. As we’ve learned to make better chocolate, we’ve also added our own voice to conversations within the industry. This February, we’re taking advantage of our unique venue to promote the exchange of ideas with our inaugural chocolate symposium, Roots of Cacao.

Test Roasting Cocoa Bean Samples

Keep reading to learn more about this exciting event at ICE — and register today! 

05. January 2018 · Categories: Video


At ICE, we make it our mission to help students find their culinary voice — that creative drive within each of us that determines how we express ourselves through food. Whether it’s a career training program, a recreational course in pie crusts or a special event featuring handmade pasta, we’ll give you the tools to hone your culinary creativity. Join us as we ask some of today’s leading food industry pros to share their culinary voice.


When we asked Chef Bill Telepan, ICE’s Director of Sustainability and Executive Chef of both acclaimed restaurant Oceana and national non-profit Wellness in the Schools, to share with us his culinary voice, his answer couldn’t be more simple: he likes cooking with real products. As a leader in the sustainability movement and educating America’s youth on cooking and eating nutritiously, it’s no surprise that this celebrated chef puts a premium on real, responsibly sourced food. 

Chef Bill Telepan

Watch the video to hear Bill dish on his unique culinary voice.


By Stephen Zagor — Dean, Restaurant & Culinary Management


On Monday, January 22 at 10:00am, Stephen Zagor will be moderating a Sexual Harassment panel at ICE. The panel will feature leaders from the hospitality industry as well as labor issue specialists, including Susan Spikes, Executive Vice President of Operations at Hill Country Hospitality, Kutina Ruhumbika, HR Director of Barteca, labor attorney Carolyn Richmond, Elizabeth Ortiz, Director of Talent and Culture for Sofitel Luxury Hotels and Resorts, and Psychotherapist and Executive Coach Jonathan Albert. To register, email Stephen at


A crying waitress sprinted past me to the bathroom. She was relatively new. As I later learned, a floor manager had made advances toward her in the walk-in refrigerator — and it wasn’t the first time. No was not an option, she explained to me. If she failed to succumb, her schedule suffered and her income dropped. Eventually, the waitress quit. The damages were both personal — she was threatened, demeaned and harassed — and professional, as her experience both ended her career at that restaurant and negatively impacted staff morale. Co-workers were angry and a potential rising star was gone.

Keep reading to get Stephen's insight on harassment in the restaurant industry today. 


By Caitlin Raux


In a city like New York, where restaurants are as abundant as rents are high, getting diners in the restaurant door is only one side of the coin. The other side, getting return customers, presents another set of challenges. At Villanelle, a veggie-forward newcomer to the Greenwich Village restaurant scene, first-time restaurant owner Catherine Manning (Culinary Management ’15) has found a balance between casual elegance and exceptional food, and the result is a steadily growing roster of regulars. With dishes like crispy octopus with charred cucumber, green curry and mint, the food is tasty, fresh and feel-good. While there are plenty of delicious reasons to overdo it, chances are you won’t leave feeling like you did. It’s all part of Catherine's goal of providing great, highly repeatable dining experiences.

Catherine Manning

Keep reading to learn about Catherine's path to restaurant ownership in NYC. 


At ICE, we make it our mission to help students find their culinary voice — that creative drive within each of us that determines how we express ourselves through food. Whether it’s a career training program, a recreational course in pie crusts or a special event featuring handmade pasta, we’ll give you the tools to hone your culinary creativity. Join us as we ask some of today’s leading food industry pros to share their culinary voice.


For Chef Ashley Merriman, her culinary career began at the dish pit. Before competing on Top Chef and graduating from ICE’s Culinary Arts program, she worked as a dishwasher after school. One afternoon, the restaurant’s chef was making a batch of tuna salad and asked Ashley to season it with white pepper instead of black. Having never experimented with seasoning before, Ashley really tasted the difference — a brief moment in tasting that had “a big influence on” Ashley. Since that day, her goal was to cook professionally. Today, the co-chef of NYC’s acclaimed restaurant Prune couldn’t imagine her life going any other way. 


Watch the video to hear Ashley dish on her unique culinary voice.


By Timothy Cooper


In 2006, Susan Ungaro, the former editor in chief of Family Circle Magazine, became president of the James Beard Foundation (JBF), a nationally renowned nonprofit foundation and culinary arts organization dedicated to celebrating, nurturing, and honoring chefs and luminaries in the culinary industry. Since beginning her tenure, Ms.Ungaro has been instrumental in helping the foundation thrive, tripling its annual revenue from $4 million to $12 million and erasing a previous deficit of over $1 million.

Five years ago, she launched the Taste America cross-country tour. Other forward-looking initiatives she’s established include the annual JBF Food Summit, the Leadership Awards, and the JBF Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change, as well as structures to recognize women in the field, such as JBF’s Women in Culinary Leadership program and the Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership program.

Among other honors, Ms. Ungaro was named one of Adweek’s 30 Most Influential People in Food and one of Irish America’s Top 50 Power Women; she also received the Hope Award from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. She has appeared on Food Network's Beat Bobby Flay, Iron Chef America, Top Chef, the Today Show, Good Morning America, and many more.


Recently, we caught up with Ms. Ungaro at the James Beard Foundation’s West Village headquarters to discuss her career and her work with the nation’s most celebrated food organization.


Keep reading to get to know this culinary world leader. 

Subscribe to the ICE Blog

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notification of new posts via email.