Search Results for: "James Beard Awards"

By Danielle Page

It’s that time of year again. The prestigious James Beard Foundation has announced the 2018 finalists for restaurant awards — and not surprisingly, the short list is full of ICE alums.

Each year the James Beard Awards embodies a theme, with this year’s focus, “RISE,” celebrating the power of food through community. As per the James Beard Foundation, nominees who are “championing causes, committing to values, speaking up for those who can’t be heard or cooking their hearts out” are being recognized in 2018. Semifinalists were announced just last month, with final winners to be revealed on May 7th in Chicago.

ICE alum Chef Rachel Yang of Joule in Seattle

Rachel Yang, right (photo courtesy of StarChefs)

While it’s no surprise to see ICE graduates on the list of James Beard Award contenders, having an all-women roster of finalists from ICE is certainly noteworthy. “I don’t think any other culinary school in the world has the track record ICE does, serving as a training ground for bright and ambitious women who go on to become culinary leaders,” says ICE President Rick Smilow. It’s exciting to continue seeing so many ICE alumni gain recognition and success at the level where they are finalists — or winners — of James Beard Awards.”

Here are this year’s James Beard Award finalists who got their start at ICE. Congratulations to all!

In the restaurant and chefs category:

  • Missy Robbins (Culinary ’95) of Lilia (Best Chef: New York City)
  • Rachel Yang (Culinary ’01) of Joule (Best Chef: Northwest)
  • Mashama Bailey (Culinary ’01) of The Grey (Best Chef: Southeast)

Mashama Bailey, left (photo courtesy of The Grey)

Other ICE affiliated nominations include:

  • Kismet for Best New Restaurant, where Meadow Ramsey (Pastry ’02) is pastry chef.
  • Outstanding Chef for Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune, where Ashley Merriman (Culinary ’04) is co-executive chef.
  • Best Chef: West, for Jeremy Fox of Rustic Canyon, which is co-owned by Zoe Nathan (Culinary ’01).

In the Cookbooks and Broadcast Media category:

  • Stacy Adimando (Culinary ’10) for “Nopalito” (International Cookbook)
  • Vivian Howard (Culinary ’03) for A Chef’s Life (Outstanding Personality/Host) and Panna Cooking: Black Bean-Glazed Salmon with Ginger Cabbage (Video Webcast, Fixed Location and/or Instructional).

Launch your culinary or hospitality career with ICE — learn more


The James Beard Awards Semifinalists have been announced and we’re thrilled to share that a number of ICE alumni were included on the list. Donned as the “Oscars” of the food world, the James Beard Awards are one of the highest honors for food and beverage professionals in the United States. They’re also an opportunity for the industry to take a moment to recognize the hard work and achievements of those who push the mold and continue to make America’s culinary environment the dynamic, inspiring place it is today.

James Beard Awards

Here are the ICE alums named 2018 James Beard Award Semifinalists:

Outstanding Restaurateur

  • Zoe Nathan (Culinary ’01), Rustic Canyon Group, Santa Monica, CA

Best Chef: NYC

  • Missy Robbins (Culinary ’95), Lilia, Brooklyn, NY
  • Ann Redding (Culinary ’02), Uncle Boons, New York, NY

Best Chef: Northwest

  • Rachel Yang (Culinary ’01), Joule, Seattle

Best Chef: Southeast

  • Mashama Bailey (Culinary ’01), The Grey, Savannah, GA
  • Vivian Howard (Culinary ’03), Chef & The Farmer, Kinston, NC


Honored by Association

We were excited to learn that Kismet, the casual all-day Los Angeles restaurant known for inventive, veggie-forward dishes, was named as a semifinalist in the Best New Restaurant category. ICE alum Meadow Ramsey (Pastry ’02), who previously led the kitchen at LA hotspot Sqrl, heads Kismet’s pastry kitchen. Her pastry kitchen prowess no doubt contributed to Kismet’s honor.

Launch your culinary or hospitality career with ICE — learn more


When we hear about ICE alumni being recognized for their accomplishments in the food and hospitality industry, we feel like parents of an Olympic gymnast who just nailed a perfect landing — thrilled. With the announcement of the James Beard Award nominees, we’re both thrilled and proud of the ICE alumni who made the list — plus we’re rooting for them to take gold when the winners are announced this April (Media) and May (Restaurants and Chefs). We’re pleased to share the following ICE graduates who were nominated for the 2017 James Beard Awards:

James Beard Award Medallion

Media Awards

American Cooking

Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South
Author: Vivian Howard
 (Little, Brown and Company) — Culinary Arts, 2003

Video Webcast, Fixed Location and/or Instructional

Kitchen Conundrums with Thomas Joseph
Airs on: and YouTube
Producer: Greta Anthony
 — Pastry Arts, 1995

Restaurant and Chef Awards

Best Chef: New York City (Five Boroughs)

Missy Robbins — Culinary Arts, 1995
Lilia –
 Brooklyn, NY

Best Chef: Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY)

Rachel Yang — Culinary Arts, 2001
Joule — Seattle, WA


We’re also proud of alumni who worked closely with this year’s nominees, including:

Outstanding Chef

Gabrielle Hamilton
 Restaurant — New York, NY (Ashley Merriman (Culinary Arts, 2004) is co-chef)

Best Chef: West (CA, HI, NV)

Jeremy Fox
Rustic Canyon Wine Bar and Seasonal Kitchen — 
Santa Monica, CA (Zoe Nathan (Culinary Arts, 2001) is co-owner)

By Carly DeFilippo

Often referred to as the “Oscars of Food”, the annual James Beard Awards honor the country’s most respected chefs, restaurateurs, beverage professionals, food journalists, activists and media professionals. As one of the most anticipated culinary events each year, the JBF gala is always full of exciting wins for the ICE alumni community and offers an exceptional opportunity for current ICE students to volunteer alongside the industry’s most respected chefs.

ICE students support alumnus Brian Recor, Chef de Cuisine at Morgan's in the Desert.

ICE students support alumnus Brian Recor, Chef de Cuisine at Morgan’s in the Desert.

This year, we were thrilled to have 36 culinary and pastry students participate (more than any other culinary school!), supporting such esteemed chefs as Kevin Sbraga (Sbraga Dining—Philadelphia), Bill Corbett (Absinthe Group—San Francisco), Robert Del Grande (Restaurant RDG/Bar Annie—Houston), Paul Qui (Qui—Austin) and Sue Torres (Tierra—Westport, CT).

ICE President Rick Smilow caught up with alum Gail Simmons, nabbing a selfie with famed musician and food lover, Questlove.

ICE President, Rick Smilow, caught up with alum and Top Chef host, Gail Simmons, nabbing a selfie with famed musician and food lover, Questlove.

It was also exciting to see ICE alumni Brian Recor, Chef de Cuisine at Morgan’s in the Desert (La Quina, CA), and Aaron Gottesman, Chef de Cuisine at The Fat Ham (Philadelphia), representing their home restaurants at Monday night’s gala. Additionally, at Friday’s Broadcast, Book and Journalism awards, ICE alumnus Matthew Riznyk, Executive Chef at Great Performances, masterminded and oversaw the catering for more than four hundred of the most influential personalities in food media and publishing.

ICE culinary student Mariseli volunteers alongside alumnus Aaron Gottesman (Chef de Cuisine, The Fat Ham—Philadelphia). JBF award winner and ICE alum Amy Thielen attends Monday's gala with her husband.

ICE culinary student Mariseli volunteers alongside alumnus Aaron Gottesman (Chef de Cuisine, The Fat Ham—Philadelphia). JBF award winner and ICE alum Amy Thielen attends Monday’s gala with her husband.

Last, but certainly not least, we were thrilled to congratulate ICE alumni Amy Thielen, Greta Anthony and Ed Behr on their Beard award wins, recognizing their contributions to the fields of food publishing and media. Amy’s cookbook The New Midwestern Table won in the category of “American Cooking”, while Greta’s work on Martha Stewart brought home the award for “Television Program – in Studio or Fixed Location”. Renowned founder and editor of The Art of Eating, Ed Behr, was one of six inductees into the Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America”.

ICE President, Rick Smilow, catches up with JBF award-winning alum Ed Behr.

ICE President, Rick Smilow, catches up with JBF award-winning alum Ed Behr.

By Carly DeFilippo


Last night, ICE students and recent graduates cooked with the culinary stars at the James Beard Awards. Among the hundreds of volunteer opportunities we organize each year, these annual awards stand out as one of the most exciting, providing students with the chance to cook alongside such influential chefs as Grant Achatz, Michael Mina and Marcus Samuelsson.

ICE President Rick Smilow and Culinary Relations Manager Virginia Monaco pose with a trio of hardworking student volunteers.

ICE President Rick Smilow and Culinary Relations Manager Virginia Monaco pose with a trio of hardworking student volunteers.

Often referred to as the “Oscars of food”, these annual awards are among the most elite honors in the culinary field. This year’s theme was, fittingly, “Lights, Camera, Taste”, a celebration of the long-standing relationship between food and film. The sentiment was perhaps best expressed by Outstanding Restauranteur winner, Maguy Le Coze, who exclaimed, “Let’s say it; it’s Hollywood now!”

The event was held at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, overlooking the famous plaza of the performing arts center.

The event was held at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, overlooking the famous plaza of the performing arts center.

Each dish at the awards gala reception was inspired by cinema, with such inventive offerings as Grant Achatz’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Cocktail”, which required giant fish tanks of seaweed-infused liquor. But the most talked about dish of the evening seemed to be Nate Appleman’s “Royale with Cheese”, an upscale slider that sated the discerning palates of the industry attendees.


Student Jonathan Horn cooked alongside Chef Nate Appleman, preparing the event’s most buzzed-about dish.

It was a thrill to see our students’ excitement at serving such celebrated personalities as Martha Stewart, Jacques Pépin, and Daniel Boulud. The evening’s plates surpassed the challenging setting, and we are extremely proud of all the ICE volunteers who helped make the event a success.


Student Jenny Wong helped prepare Chef Aarón Sánchez’s Lamb Enchiladas with Mole Negro.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners, and thank you to the James Beard Foundation for yet another memorable ceremony. We look forward to cooking with you again next year!

The prestigious James Beard Awards were held at Lincoln Center last night and what a delicious time! After enjoying a memorable ceremony and seeing esteemed, deserving chefs win the coveted Oscars of Food, host Alton Brown signed off and the doors opened to a spectacular spread of food throughout Lincoln Center.

The Institute of Culinary Education was proud to have an amazing 33% of our students take part in volunteering at the James Beard Awards. They helped some the country’s best chefs with prep, plating and wine service during the gala following the ceremony. See below for a few snapshots from the night and congrats to all of the 2012 winners!

ICE students serving at Nora Pouliion’s table

Staff from ICE

ICE students enjoying the gala with friends

Ham and parsley terrine

ICE students serving delicious Billi-Bi soup with Chef Norman Van Aken of Tuyo

ICE Senior Career Services Advisor Amy Quazza and Director of Career Services Maureen Drum Fagin with Outstanding Chef Award Winner José Andrés

As we welcome spring, food lovers and passionate diners everywhere look forward to the annual James Beard Awards. Celebrated close to the anniversary of James Beard’s birthday in May, the awards are given to the best chefs, restaurants and media in the country. ICE founder Peter Kump helped launch the James Beard Foundation and ICE is proud to maintain close ties to the organization and their hard work to promote and celebrate food in America. The Awards are regarded as the most prestigious awards in the culinary industry, often referred to as the “Oscars” of food.

This year, the awards ceremonies and festivities were spread over the entire weekend as the food world gathered in NYC for a celebration of all things culinary. On Friday night, the foundation held their Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards, hosted by Ted Allen of Food Network’s Chopped and ICE alum Gail Simmons of Bravo’s Top Chef. In fact, Top Chef, took home the award for best Television Show, In Studio or Fixed Location. ICE alums Dominique Andrews and Marie Ostrosky were also nominated for the second year in a row in the Television Special category. More »

The past two days have hit a high in the culinary calendar for 2010, the James Beard Awards. The James Beard Foundation was created by ICE founder, Peter Kump and ICE is proud to maintain close ties to the foundation and their hard work to promote and celebrate food in America. This year marked the 20th anniversary of their annual awards ceremony, which have come to be regarded as the most prestigious awards in the culinary industry, often referred to as the “Oscars” of food.

The awards ceremonies and festivities are split over two days when the entire food world gathers in NYC. On Sunday night, the foundation held their Media & Book Awards where ICE Alum Dominique Andrews and Marie Ostrosky were nominees in the Television Special category. The very best in food media were honored during this first night of festivities and ICE is proud of the graduates recognized by the foundation.

Then last night, the restaurant and chef awards were handed out at Lincoln Center. Everyone and anyone from the food world came to see who would take home the prized medals. The red carpet included luminaries such as Thomas Keller, Dan Barber, Mario Batali, Gail Simmons, Tom Colicchio (a winner for Outstanding Chef), Jacques Pepin, Daniel Boulud (a winner for Outstanding Restaurant) and more names than we can possibly list here. More »

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.

Tell us about your start and how you came to food and hospitality.

If you look around the room, I have little elements of my past life. For example, I have a bobblehead Ronald McDonald. That’s where I got my start in the food industry—working my way through college at McDonald’s. I was a communications major—radio, TV, and print journalism—and when I graduated, I got my master’s from William Patterson, which was then a state college, in New Jersey. I actually started an employee newsletter for the McDonald’s franchise I worked for.

I was slinging hamburgers, making shakes, frying fries, managing. By the time I left, I was a shift supervisor. I knew I didn’t want to stay at McDonald’s, so I sent out my resume and ended up getting a job as an editorial assistant at Family Circle magazine, a big women’s magazine in New York City. I was an editorial assistant, and eventually became a senior editor—I worked my way up. I was at Family Circle for 27 years. When I was seven months pregnant with my third child, my daughter, I became editor in chief.

At the same time, I got married and bought my first house, learned how to decorate. I even learned how to cook from all of the magazine’s recipes and the test kitchens. But I was in charge of the reportage—the articles department—not the food or home or beauty departments. Still, 25 percent of our editorial was food-focused. You name a chef on television or a major cookbook writer—from Bobby Flay to Emeril Lagasse to Ina Garten to Rachael Ray—and they wanted to get their recipes featured in Family Circle, because we had over 20 million readers.

When I left Family Circle, I knew I didn’t want to be in publishing again—I had done that for 27 years. I loved what I did, but during that time I’d also been on the board of trustees of a few foundations. So I knew I wanted to run a foundation, but the James Beard Foundation was not on my radar at all. I was much more involved in child health, homeless families, feeding the hungry, things like that. But in life, and in cooking, timing is everything, as they say.

So when I left, one of the Family Circle’s board of trustees, Barbara Fairchild, then the editor in chief of Bon Appétit, put me in touch with JBF’s board, and I ended up coming here in April 2006.

You’ve led the James Beard Foundation for 11 years. Has it been what you expected when you first arrived?

No. I don’t think you really understand the job until you are in it. I came knowing JBF needed a turnaround. It was financially in a difficult position, losing money. And I didn’t just want to come to the James Beard Foundation because it was known for the James Beard Awards and scholarships. What I also loved was that James Beard was truly an everyman. He liked fried chicken and down-home cuisine just as much as he loved foie gras and haute cuisine. As an editor, you know how to create stories. We needed good PR, and that was part of the mission. I had an expression: “We’re going to take it mass with class.”

For example, Vogue is obviously the height of fashion, but its readership is mass. And I felt that the James Beard Foundation was the height of great food, but it needed to be more mass. More people needed to know how important a James Beard Award was, and what it meant for chefs to be artists.

Food Network had been on the air for just over a decade. Chefs were becoming the new popular celebrities, and I knew how to make sure they became even more popular and part of the culture, not just fine dining. Chefs are the great spokespeople today for food policy, and advocates for better nutrition and better school lunches—it has only grown. So we rode that wave too.

In a sense, you might say you’re the manager of both a foundation and a restaurant.

That first week, somebody was coming to visit me here at the Beard House. The front reception area can get kind of messy until right before dinnertime, with boxes and things being delivered, so I wanted to make it look a little nicer. Albert, our night kitchen manager, was sitting and reading the Post. So I went downstairs and said, “You know, Albert, I’m expecting some company. Can you clean up this room?” He looked at me and said, “I haven’t clocked in yet.” I had this aha moment—I was back in McDonald’s, where people had to clock in. That was really the moment when I realized I was running what would now be called America’s first pop-up restaurant. The Beard House is a place where the restaurant, the menu, and the chef change every day.

What does bringing the James Beard Foundation experience on the road via the Taste America tour entail?

We’re celebrating chefs in the cities that we’re visiting. In Boston last weekend, we were celebrating Karen Akunowicz [2015 and 2016 James Beard Award Nominee for Best Chef Northeast] and several other local chefs. Then we bring a chef from outside the city, so we have local stars, and what we call our All-Star, a national star. So in Boston, we had Daniel Boulud. He came and they created a beautiful dinner together. It’s always a big fundraising dinner with auctions, a cocktail hour, and a five-course menu.

Then the next day, we went to Sur La Table stores, where we had two free cooking demos and book signings with the two chefs who participated the night before. So Daniel Boulud showed people how to make this incredible lobster in a chilled broth called homard en gelée, and Karen Akunowicz’s demo was scallops with a Thai salad—really interesting.

In Chicago the week before, we had Michael Voltaggio, who has a restaurant in San Francisco, and won Top Chef. He was our visiting star. Our Local Star was Stephanie Izard, of Girl & the Goat, the first woman to win Top Chef.

How do all these activities carry out the mission of the James Beard Foundation?

We spread culinary knowledge. For example, we grant scholarships to students all across the country. Since 1991, we have awarded over $7 million in scholarships. When I came, the average annual amount of scholarships awarded was $150,000 to $200,000. Now it’s more in the $700,000 range.

Plus we’re taking the Foundation’s name on the road, featuring rising chefs, so people know that these chefs have something to do with a man who was considered the godfather of American gastronomy. James Beard wrote over 24 cookbooks. One of the things I am proudest of is that more and more people know who he was and what he stood for, because we’ve made the Foundation’s footprint national. Bringing the Beard House experience on the road makes us more “mass with class.”

This spring, the PBS series American Masters did a Chefs Flight series—four chefs, four one-hour documentaries on PBS: Jacques Pépin, Alice Waters, Julia Child, and James Beard. The documentary on James Beard was called America’s First Foodie. I’m really proud of that, because it means we’re getting his name out. People know who he is. When they walk into a restaurant and they see a James Beard Award medal or certificate on the wall, they know, that means something.

Tell me about what the James Beard Awards mean and why they matter.

The James Beard Awards are the most coveted awards a chef can get in this country. Obviously, Zagat and the Forbes Travel Guide are different honorifics, but Michelin is only in four cities. It’s only in New York, Chicago, D.C., and San Francisco. But the James Beard Awards are national.

Many chefs will say publicly that a James Beard Award changed their life because all of a sudden, reservations were up in their restaurants; someone wanted them on TV doing cooking demos, just like James Beard used to do on the old Today show in New York City; and they might even get a book contract. It’s an affirmation by their colleagues. Yes, there’s an open call for entries, but ultimately you are voted on by a jury of your peers and journalists.

My first awards in 2006 were at the Marriott. It was a great celebration, but publications like the New York Times had referred to it as the Oscars of the food industry, and it didn’t feel like it. So the next year, we moved it to Lincoln Center. It became a red-carpet event, a reason to dress up. It elevated the awards, the chefs, the restaurateurs, and the media. And a few years ago, we moved the awards to the Chicago Lyric Opera House. It is still the most glamorous night for the food industry in America.

Can you talk about moving the awards to Chicago?

There are 10 Regional Best Chef Awards, for 10 regions of the country. They’re national awards. Even though the Beard House is in New York City and the awards had always been in New York City, it was good to move out. We also moved the nomination announcements to different cities. The day the nominees are announced is a big day around the country. That’s why we visit other cities to do the announcements. [Ed. Note: In 2017, ICE hosted the James Beard Foundation’s annual Chefs’ Night Out celebration, to give chefs, nominees, presenters, and their supporters a chance to mingle before the big awards ceremony.)

Is there a consistent trait you see in the chefs who win a James Beard Award? What makes them outstanding?

Number one, obviously, is that they’re getting great reviews in whatever city they hail from. Their peers are looking to them as leaders in whatever they’re doing culinarily, in their restaurant, in how they’re presenting their food. There may be some trends that they are expanding on, or maybe they’re just doing something that is so beautiful and different that they’re being held up by their colleagues and voted on.

Which chefs stick out in your memory?

To me, every chef who comes and cooks at the Beard House. For many of them, it’s their New York debut. Julia Child said this, not me: Bringing a chef to cook at the Beard House is like inviting a singer to come and perform at Carnegie Hall. It has been such a treat to meet some of our country’s iconic chefs. Jacques Pépin—it’s just so special to be with him. Charlie Trotter, who sadly passed away—we had some memorable times honoring him at the James Beard Awards. For our 30th anniversary, Marcus Samuelsson was basically the keynote, because he came and cooked at our 30th anniversary dinner at the Beard House, and it happened to be his 25th time cooking here. [The dinner will be featured in 30 Years: A Celebration of the James Beard Foundation, on ABC.] All of these chefs are special in their own ways. How do you choose your favorite children? You can’t.

What might surprise people about what the Foundation does?

We are a place where anyone can come to dinner. We even have a student membership, for $25. Anyone can go online and see who is cooking at the Beard House. In general, a dinner costs $175. That includes everything: tip, wine pairings, champagne, and cocktails. And if you’re a member, you’re paying less—generally $135. To have an incredible dining experience—to go out to dinner in New York with five courses with wine pairings—is going to cost a whole lot more than that.

And we have our “Foodies Under 40” program, called “JBF Greens,” in New York and Chicago. Membership is $75, and those events are also fantastic.

What’s something that young or aspiring chefs might not realize about this industry?

Chefs are actually kind, nurturing people, despite what the public image might try to make of them. Sure, it takes all kinds to make this world, but in general, I’ve always felt that chefs, whether they’re men or women, are like mothers. What do they want? They want to feed us and nurture us.

The majority of chefs that I’ve met—even the ones with big, bawdy reputations—want to create the next, best generation of chefs. So you should be looking for role models who fit your ideals. When you go work in a place, if it doesn’t feel right, leave and go somewhere else. In these times, that’s even more important.

Tell me about how you overcame some of the major challenges you’ve faced as head of this foundation.

I didn’t look back. I looked forward. When I took this position, my oldest son was in medical school. It was the white-jacket moving-up ceremony at Mount Sinai, and they had a pediatric cardiologist from Texas giving the keynote to these wide-eyed, ambitious, and idealistic young people who want to be doctors. This doctor’s job was to do heart surgery on babies, on children. And he said the children who did the best were the ones that had parents who were irrational optimists.

I’d never heard those two words put together before—irrational and optimist. I realized that’s what I’d done, because I had been at the Foundation for just a year and a half, and things were already turning around. If you are an optimist, try to keep those other voices—“It can’t be done, it’s never been done”—out of your head. Think that you can do anything—that really does help you succeed. It’s easy to be an optimist when it’s a sure thing. It’s not easy to be an optimist if it’s not that rational at the time.

You’re stepping down as president at the end of 2017, at the conclusion of the Foundation’s 30th anniversary year. What’s next for the Foundation, and for you?

Well, I’m not calling it retirement, but a “rewiring”—because honestly, I don’t know. It’s nice to be able to say, “I’m going to see what comes to me.” I had some time off between Family Circle and the James Beard Foundation, and at the time, all I knew was that I wanted to do something to give back. That’s what I know now as well. I can imagine myself helping other foundations that need my help, but I’m also looking forward to not working “36/7.”

And for the Foundation, we’re poised for even greater things to come. We’ll be giving out more scholarships. We’ll be doing more in the areas of food policy and advocacy, in which we’ve taken a big leap. We’ve been working very hard to create a more diverse restaurant and food world. And our Women’s Leadership Program is growing and having an impact; we want it to be even better than it is right now.

 Do you have some final words of wisdom for people entering this career?

I’ll use something that I used even before I came to the James Beard Foundation: The ten most important two-letter words are: ‘If it is to be, it is up to me.’ Ultimately, in every aspect of our lives, we’re in charge of ourselves—no matter what’s happening around us. That’s a really important life lesson to take, no matter where you go.

And I’ll give you one other bit that my father used to say: Be like a tea bag. You get stronger the longer you’re in hot water.

Ready to launch your career in the culinary arts? Learn more about ICE’s career training programs. 

Chef David Waltuck | Director of Culinary Affairs | Institute of Culinary Education | Restaurant Chanterelle

By Caitlin Gunther

In 1975, fresh out of college, Chef David Waltuck landed his first cooking gig at Empire Diner, the legendary late-night haunt in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. The young grad had recently decided not to pursue a career in biological oceanography, his college major. Little did he know that this opportunity at a diner would lead to a celebrated culinary career that would span four decades, earn him two James Beard Awards, multiple glowing New York Times reviews, two acclaimed books and, his latest venture, a role as director of culinary affairs at ICE.

Growing up in the Bronx, no one in Chef David’s family worked in the restaurant industry. In fact, as he explained, “Food in my home was not a big deal.” For Chef David, however, a passion for food and restaurants was innate. “My parents loved to go to the theater or concerts,” he recalled, “and when I was old enough, I got invited to come along. It pretty much always involved dinner at a restaurant beforehand—and that was much more compelling to me than the theater or a concert.” He continued, “It was exciting! You got to try new things, order whatever you wanted; there was a certain level of care and theater about the whole experience.”

Chef David’s first gig at Empire Diner was a defining period. Not infrequently, the restaurant chef left him, still an untrained cook, in charge of the kitchen. As he explained, “I was there, and stuff would arrive, and I would have to figure out what to do with it.” What’s more, the owners created an ambitious, prix fixe menu—not the typical greasy spoon fare. Thrown into the heat of the kitchen, something clicked, and he managed to thrive. “I liked the atmosphere: the team spirit, the hands-on aspect…that you got to start over every day.”

Culinary School | Culinary Arts Training | Institute of Culinary Education | Chef David Waltuck

After his time at Empire Diner, Chef David decided to enroll in a formal culinary training program. It was in school that he developed the fundamental culinary techniques essential to building his career. It was also during this period that he landed an externship in the kitchen of Tavern on the Green. With both formal training and real world experience under his belt, Chef David decided to take a position as sous chef at La Petite Ferme, an Upper East Side restaurant that was a favorite with the fashion set (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was a regular).

Within a couple of years, he was ready to venture out on his own. He and his wife Karen opened the doors of Chanterelle, a restaurant that would introduce a new kind of fine dining—French and New American cuisine—to downtown Manhattan.

As Chef David describes it, the cuisine was “French food, filtered through my aesthetic”—that is, the aesthetic of an American man. At Chanterelle, the Waltucks enjoyed 30 years as the proprietors of a critically acclaimed restaurant. Under his leadership in the kitchen, the restaurant received two James Beard Awards, including Best Chef NYC in 2007 and Best Restaurant in America in 2004, plus another 10 James Beard Award nominations and two four-star reviews from the New York Times in 1987 and 1993. During this epoch, Chef David also authored two books: Staff Meals at Chanterelle and Chanterelle: The Story and Recipes of a Restaurant Classic, which won an IACP Award for Best Cookbook: Chefs and Restaurants in 2009.

After three decades of celebrated success, and much to the chagrin of New York City diners, Chanterelle closed its doors in 2009. Chef David went on to explore various culinary opportunities. He became executive chef for Ark Restaurants and opened another restaurant, élan, which was awarded two stars by the New York Times. Asked about his decision to open a second restaurant, Chef David explained, “I missed the restaurant world. It didn’t make sense to a lot of people, but I missed it.” In particular, Chef David missed the team-like nature of the work. “Even when it’s not good, you’re not in it alone.”

Student prep in a culinary arts class at the Institute of Culinary Education


Chef David’s love for the kitchen and guiding other chefs may be part of what led him to his latest position as director of culinary affairs at ICE. As he explained, “It’s a beautiful facility and the people are dedicated and caring. I wanted to be back among motivated people who are interested in food and cooking.” The team at ICE couldn’t be more excited to welcome Chef David, who will be sharing his insight and years of experience with a new generation of aspiring culinary professionals.

Want to study with Chef David? Click here to learn more about our award-winning culinary arts program.

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