By Laura Denby—Student, School of Culinary Arts


After months of hands-on lessons in ICE’s kitchens, my classmates and I were reaching the culmination of our education: the completion of an externship of our choosing. In preparation for this real-world experience, my classmates and I had spent months researching different restaurants or culinary businesses and trailing. Yet even with the most extensive research, the externship itself can often be very different than expected.

Culinary School ICE New York City

As a public relations professional with a passion for cooking, I chose to pursue an externship in the field of food media at Tasting Table. My goal was to hone my skills in the kitchen while learning the ins and outs of recipe testing and writing.


As an extern, my role is to contribute recipe ideas, assist in recipe testing and work alongside the full-time staff on the execution of menus for private parties and Tasting Table partnership events. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work in a professional culinary environment where I learn new things every day and, after about a month on the job, I wanted to share three of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far about transitioning from the classroom to an externship site.


Read on for three key lessons from Laura’s time as an extern.


By Kathryn Gordon—Co-Chair, Center for Advanced Pastry Studies


A graduate of ICE’s professional Pastry & Baking Arts program, Roger started his career in the kitchens of Jean-Georges and Gucio Chocolatieri. He then worked for several years as the pastry sous chef of Gramercy Tavern, followed by a stint under Brooks Headley as Del Posto’s pastry sous chef and chocolatier. In 2014, Roger became the head chocolatier at Cacao Prieto in Red Hook, Brooklyn. In anticipation of Roger’s upcoming CAPS class on September 10-11, we sat down with this innovative alum to learn what inspired his career in chocolate.

Roger Rodriguez Cacao Prieto Chocolatier

What sparked your move from pastry kitchens to focusing exclusively on chocolate?
For me, becoming the head chocolatier at Cacao Prieto was a return to the flavors, aromas and traditions of my native Dominican Republic. Ultimately, the decision was not a question of switching from restaurant chef to chocolatier. In the world of chocolate, there is the farmer, the broker, the chocolate maker and the chocolatier. By joining the team at Cacao Prieto, I’m involved in every step of the process. As a pastry chef, it offered me a different view of the product and an opportunity to go back to the basics.


Growing up, Dalia Jurgensen always knew she wanted to cook. But, like many ICE students, she also wanted to pursue a four-year college education. After graduating with a degree in English, Dalia tried her hand at a career in the publishing industry, but soon realized that working in a traditional office environment wasn’t a good fit.

Chef Dalia Jurgensen

“By then, I knew I wanted to go to culinary school, but didn’t want to repeat college by going the traditional two-to-four year CIA route,” Dalia explains. Instead, she got a job as an entry-level pastry cook at Nobu and attended a part-time culinary school program on the weekends.


Since then, Dalia has worked in a number of celebrated NYC kitchens, from Veritas to Dressler. She has also found time to publish a memoir, SPICED, recounting the rewards and challenges of a life in the kitchen, as well as a few outrageous behind-the-scenes stories.


When it comes to teaching at ICE, Dalia says, “I like teaching even more than I thought I would, in large part because of the kind of people who want to go into cooking; many of us feel that we don’t fit in more traditional roles. I like encouraging students to see that there’s more than one path to success, and that, through discipline and hard work, they can discover for themselves what they’re capable of, rather than having someone else decide for them.”


Read more to learn how Dalia’s culinary training and passion for pastry have shaped her dynamic career and teaching philosophy at ICE.

By Alison Mahoney—Student, School of Pastry & Baking Arts

Choux pastry is awesome for a number of reasons—mostly because it’s everywhere. For example, I was in Paris just six months ago, and I tried my first Paris-Brest, which I learned is also made with choux pastry! It’s the base for so many beloved desserts: cream puffs, profiteroles…you name it.

The inside of eclair shells made by ICE Creative Director Michael Laiskonis

What’s the trick to making choux? Essentially, you start with a roux. From there, you add eggs: delicious, forgiving, wonderful eggs. In fact, making pâte à choux isn’t all that hard—you just have to pay attention and move fast. As long as you follow the instructions your chef instructor provided, you’re golden.

07. July 2015 · Categories: Alumni


When alum Brooke Siem started in the Culinary Arts program at ICE, she never imagined her future would be in cupcakes. It took a debilitating back injury, a last-minute trip to Israel and one very cool technique she learned at wd~50, but eventually Brooke discovered her calling: Prohibition Bakery, a liquor-fueled sweet shop. We caught up with the Zagat “30 Under 30” winner to learn how she transformed an unfortunate series of circumstances into a delicious mix of booze and frosting.

Brooke Siem Prohibition Bakery Cupcakes NYC

Did you have another career before studying at ICE?
I enrolled at ICE just after graduating from Middlebury College with a major in history, so I didn’t have any prior professional experience. Ultimately, what attracted me to the program was that it was based in the real world. I didn’t need another undergraduate degree, and I was looking for a part-time program, so ICE was perfect for that. I actually started working in the kitchen at Bar Boulud when I was still in school, which allowed me to get an education from all angles.


By Steve Zagor—Dean of Business & Management Studies


Once again, the headline reads: “Well-Known Neighborhood Café Closes Due to Escalating Rents.” We hear it about the iconic temples of gastronomy like Danny Meyer’s Union Square Café. The local bistro where you proposed to your wife. Or maybe it’s—worst of all—that little neighborhood coffee shop that always remembered your order. In fact, last year Zagat reported twice as many restaurant closings as openings—the first time that has happened since 2007—due in large part to rising rents.


As a consultant, I’m privy to insider information about these kinds of restaurant woes. I recently received a call from an owner of a long-established East Village restaurant whose lease expired after 15 years. She was forced to sign a short-term, interim lease to see if she could afford the huge rent increase. “It’s better than closing or moving,” she said.


But is this really the whole story? Who is right? Who to believe?


Read on to learn about the many factors that affect a restaurant’s life span.


In the past few years, macarons have become a staple in the New York pastry scene, but when ICE Pastry & Baking Arts and Culinary Management alum Christina Ha first conceived of Macaron Parlour, they were far from your everyday treat. With flavors that expand beyond traditional French offerings, Christina has always pushed the boundaries of creativity, and her latest venture—the city’s first “cat café”—is yet another unexpected innovation. We caught up with this entrepreneurial career changer to learn about her sweet success.

Macarons From Macaron Parlour

What would students be surprised to learn about your job?
I think most people would be surprised to learn that most of the cooks I hire work Monday – Friday, 9:30 to 5:30, like a traditional desk job. It took me a long time to figure out how to make that happen, but today, we’re able to produce everything we need for our online shop, wholesale clients, three bakeries and two market stands on that schedule.


Read on to learn more about Christina’s road to pastry entrepreneurship.

Think you could launch a successful business on a $300 budget? That’s just what ICE Pastry & Baking Arts alum Julian Plyter did, selling his whimsical ice cream sandwiches at the Hester Street Fair before opening a storefront for his beloved Melt Bakery on the Lower East Side. From sustainable, locally sourced ingredients to an innovative business strategy, there are more than a few ingredients fueling Julian’s ice cream dreams. We caught up with this entrepreneurial alum to learn more about his professional path.

Julian Plyter Melt Bakery

What was your career path prior to enrolling at ICE?
I was working as an arts administrator for a major NYC orchestra for just over eight years. As a career changer, what really attracted me to ICE was the solid curriculum combined with the flexibility of scheduling options!

Read on to learn how Julian’s ICE externship shaped his path to pastry entrepreneurship.


By Chef Jenny McCoy—Instructor, School of Pastry & Baking Arts


Just days into official summer, we’ve already had some sweltering temperatures in NYC, and all I can think about are frozen desserts. Ice cream, gelato, sherbet, soft serve, sorbet…there is an explosion of frozen options available in my neighborhood —from a Häagen-Dazs pint at the corner store and pretzel waffle cones piled with Blue Marble fresh mint ice cream to homemade gelato from old-school Italian sweet shops. The popularity of frozen treats is nothing new in the U.S., and is certainly not specific to New York. We are in the midst of a “frozen renaissance,” so here’s a few scoops of history and science to inform your ice cream adventures this summer.

Ice Cream Chef Jenny McCoy

American Ice Cream History
President George Washington spent about $200 for ice cream in the summer of 1790, according to the records of a shopkeeper in Manhattan. Today, that would be equivalent to about $5,000 in ice cream purchases. President Thomas Jefferson loved ice cream so much that he adapted recipes brought back from France for ice cream, one of which is said to have been an 18-step procedure for something similar to a Baked Alaska. His personal recipe for vanilla ice cream is even in the Library of Congress! Do you think Washington and Jefferson would rise from the grave for a scoop of Chocolate-Chile from NYC’s il Laboratorio del Gelato? I do.


Keep reading to learn about the science behind different styles of ice cream, from gelato to soft serve.


Working in the food industry wasn’t ICE student Lizzie Powell’s first career. “I was working in public relations in Washington, D.C., but my mind just kept coming back to food, and I knew it was time to make a change.”

Culinary Student Lizzie Powell

After touring multiple culinary schools, Lizzie chose ICE because she could earn both a Culinary Arts and Culinary Management diploma in just six and a half months. 


Read on to watch a video about Lizzie’s experience at ICE.