By Rick Smilow


Last week, four members of the ICE New York team attended the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ (IACP) annual conference in San Francisco. The organization, founded in 1987, boasts more than 3,000 members in 32 countries, ranging from chefs and culinary instructors to food media professionals, cookbook authors, culinary entrepreneurs and food policy advocates. It was a pleasure to see several dozen ICE alumni in attendance and, in particular, at least seven ICE alumni serving as speakers or resources at the event.


Our team enjoying the IACP host party at San Francisco’s Ferry Building.

One of the most anticipated aspects of the conference was the annual awards, acknowledging a range of achievements, from exemplary cookbooks to humanitarian efforts. We are proud to report that ICE won the 2013 Award of Excellence for “Cooking School of the Year”, our fourth IACP award in the last ten years.

Kate McCue, Director of Recreational Programs accepts the "Cooking School of the Year" award on behalf of ICE.

Kate McCue, Director of Recreational Programs accepts the “Cooking School of the Year” award on behalf of ICE.

Among the other award winners was ICE alum Maxime Bilet, who took home a cookbook award in the “Food & Beverage: Technical Reference” category, for Modernist Cuisine at Home. Max was also on the opening day keynote panel with Chef Thomas Keller and author Peter Kaminsky, discussing “Dirt, Digital and the Future of Food”. Interestingly, the panel moderator was Ann McBride, former ICE Communications Director and co-author of my Culinary Careers book.

Maxime Bilet, Thomas Keller and Peter Stabinsky

Maxime Bilet, Thomas Keller and Peter Kaminsky

Among the other conference highlights was an intimate after-party for ICE alum and friends at Two Sisters Bar and Books, a new bar/bistro opened by ICE alumni Mikha Diaz and Michal Cecconi. Guests included famed author/PBS food expert Joanne Weir and test kitchen expert Suzanne Barr.

Joanne Weir; ICE Director of Recreational Programs, Kate McCue;

Joanne Weir, Kate McCue and Mikha Diaz

The conference had a strong food media focus, and we were very excited to see ICE alumni leading the discussion. Notably, Jamie Tiampo (SeeFood Media) presented  “The New World of Web TV”, Catherine McCord ( asked “Can Video + Cookbook = Profit?”,  Sarah Copeland (Food Director – Real Simple) explored our “Permission to Post, Print or Pin” and author Jody Eddy shared her secrets for “How to Really Get Into a Restaurant” as a writer.

ICE alums Sarah Copeland and Catherine McCord

ICE alumni Sarah Copeland and Catherine McCord

Of course, a trip to the bay are would not be complete without lots of good eating and exploration of up and coming food trends. Saturday, I took a unique culinary tour of Oakland, where we met a range of the neighborhood’s newest and most innovative chefs, who spoke to us over beer at the Linden Street Brewery.  Highlights of the tour included visits to artisanal producers Blue Bottle Coffee, Two Mile Wines and City Slicker Farms.

Blue Bottle's Oakland facilities; The next generation of Oakland chefs

Blue Bottle’s Oakland facilities; The next generation of Oakland chefs

Back in San Francisco, two restaurants won over the “ICE critics”: Rich Table and Bar Tartine. In particular, the opportunity to meet the latter’s young, innovative chef, Nicolaus Balla, was an exciting view into the local, sustainable food movement and the creative minds that will lead the culinary field in the years to come.

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