By Stephanie Fraiman
This weekend, ICE received the ultimate nationwide honor from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP), winning the 2015 Award of Excellence for “Culinary School of the Year” at this year’s Annual IACP Conference in Washington, D.C.
The IACP is a forum of 3,000 professional food and beverage members from 32 countries engaged in and committed to excellence in all aspects of the culinary industry at the local, national and global level. Each year, the IACP Awards pay tribute to notable culinary professionals or institutions that have made significant and lasting contributions to the culinary industry.
This award comes at a pivotal time in ICE’s history—2014 had record enrollments and 2015 marks the school’s 40th anniversary. In April, ICE will be moving to its brand new, expanded 74,000 sq. ft. home at Brookfield Place, overlooking the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan (225 Liberty Street).
“ICE’s mission is to help our students find their culinary voice, be it as a restaurant chef, food entrepreneur, master baker or simply a better home cook,” said Rick Smilow, ICE’s president and CEO since 1995. “This award not only validates those efforts, but also acknowledges our ongoing mission to be one of the world’s most programmatically diverse, creative, inspiring and state-of-the-art culinary institutes.”
At the IACP Conference, ICE won a second award as Culinary Arts Chef Instructor Chris Gesualdi was named 2015 “Culinary Educator of the Year.” During Chef Chris’ 10 year tenure at ICE, he has made a lasting impact on thousands of students through his unyielding commitment to excellence in the kitchen. Prior to a career in education, Chef Chris worked at some of New York City’s best restaurants, including Le Bernardin, Tonic and Montrachet (where he received 3 stars in the New York Times and a James Beard Award nomination for his work as executive chef). Among Chris’ most formative colleagues is Chef Thomas Keller, who notes: “Chef Chris’ commitment, dedication and work ethic were unmatched and continue to be an example today. Our profession is in a better place because of [chef instructors] like Chris who truly understand what it takes to be a chef.”
“ICE operates classes and events more than 350 days per year, helping people from across the country hone their culinary skills or advance their careers. We’ve created the ideal culinary community for anyone to find what they are looking for in food and hospitality,” said Richard Simpson, ICE’s vice president of education. “We are constantly looking to enhance this community with innovations like migrating our curriculum to iPads, installing a bean-to-bar chocolate lab in our new facility or partnering with leading brands like IBM and the New York Jets, and we’re proud that our professional colleagues recognize that effort and imagination.”
In the field of cookbooks and food journalism, three ICE alumni also received top honors at the conference, including “Best Culinary Column” (Kristen Miglore—Genius Recipes, Food52), “Cookbook: Judges Choice” (Jody Eddy—North: The New Nordic Cuisine of Iceland) and “Cookbook: Children, Youth & Family” (Ramin Ganeshram—Future Chefs: Recipes by Tomorrow’s Cooks Across the Nation and the World).
ICE has won IACP Awards in the past for “Best Vocational Cooking School” and “Best Recreational Cooking School.” Additionally, ICE Creative Director Michael Laiskonis won the “Culinary Professional of the Year” award in 2014 and Smilow, ICE’s president, won “Culinary Entrepreneur of the Year” in 2011.
Click here to learn more about ICE’s award-winning career programs.