Earlier this week, ICE Instructors, students and alumni returned from a nine-day trip to Vietnam where they explored the cuisine and culture of Southeast Asia. The group traveled from south to north, eating and sampling as the cuisine changes with the landscape. With trips and tours of museums, cities, towns and landmarks as well as hands-on culinary excursions, the group was immersed in both the history and culture of the area to enrich their understanding of Vietnamese food.

One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the Streets International restaurant and culinary training center. This unique program trains former streets kids for a career in the culinary industry. Former ICE Culinary Management Instructor Neal Bermas founded the innovative program. During their visit, the ICE students and Streets International trainees went shopping in a Hoi An market and cooked lunch at Streets Restaurant Café. They also participated in an intercultural culinary exchange, cooking Vietnamese and American cuisine for each other. ICE Director of Student Affairs Andy Gold said, “The immediate bonding between the students was incredible. Minutes after our visit ended, they were texting and e-mailing each other.”

The ICE group visited with the first group of 13 Streets International students to graduate from an 18-moth program with training in the culinary arts as well as restaurant management. These former disadvantaged youths are now going on to jobs in four- and five-star restaurants in Vietnam, making the transition from poverty to successful careers in the food industry.

Coming up next week, we’ll report on the group’s other activities on their trip, including visits to Ho Chi Min City, Hanoi, Hue and Ha Long Bay.

Interested in experiencing the cuisine and culture of Vietnam? ICE students and alumni will travel to Vietnam again this July. Check out the itinerary here.

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