By Lizzie Powell—Student, School of Culinary Arts & Culinary Management


Before coming to culinary school, I was convinced that I wanted to work in a kitchen every day. But as school went on, I discovered more about myself and realized that while I loved being in the kitchen, I was really enjoying my Culinary Management classes. So for a time I began to see myself working in restaurant operations, but then I started leaning back toward the idea of kitchen work. While this may seem indecisive to many, I think it’s a natural process that many people entering the food industry go through. The beauty of the culinary world is that you can try many different roles throughout the course of your career.


After much internal debate and speaking with my instructors at ICE, I decided that the best place to start my culinary career was in a kitchen. My reasoning is that no matter your long-term career goals in the culinary world, working in a kitchen will give you incredible insight into the industry as a whole. I know that even if I end up in a front-of-house management position, my hands-on kitchen experience will make me a better and more valuable employee, as I will fully understand both sides of restaurant operations. With this in mind, I set out to select an externship site for the final part of my program at ICE. 


Read on to learn about Lizzie’s experience trailing for externships and how she chose her externship site.


Bread has never occupied such an important place at the American table. Over the past 20 years, trailblazing artisans have shaped the way we bake, eat and think about bread—none more so than Chef Sim Cass, one of the founding bakers of Balthazar Bakery.


Designed and taught by Chef Sim, ICE’s Techniques and Art of Professional Bread Baking is an immersive, eight-week course designed for current food professionals, career changers or those aspiring to a future in artisanal bread. From mixing to fermenting, shaping, proofing and baking, you’ll master an incredible number of bread styles and learn what it takes to succeed in this growing sector of the food industry.


Read on to watch a video about Techniques and Art of Professional Bread Baking at ICE.


As the executive pastry chef at Bobby’s Flay’s New York City restaurant, Gato, as well as his Bahamas and Las Vegas locations of Mesa Grill, ICE Pastry & Baking Arts alum Clarisa Martino knows what it’s like to have every eye on her. In her 11 years in Chef Flay’s kitchens—her first position an ICE externship at Mesa Grill—Clarisa has more than earned her stripes, gaining such accolades as a 2013 “Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America” award from Dessert Professional magazine. We checked in with Clarisa to learn what inspires her signature desserts and what it’s really like to work for a celebrity chef.

Clarisa Martino Pastry Chef Bobby Flay

What is it like working for a celebrity chef?
Working for Bobby has been such a great experience overall. He’s a person, even though he’s a celebrity chef. He has always been extremely approachable and easy to talk to. What’s more, working for him has provided me with incredible opportunities to travel—for example, opening the Mesa Grill location at Atlantis in the Bahamas or overseeing pastry production at the Mesa Grill in Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. He has also taken me and other members of the team to Food & Wine festivals, which offers opportunities to meet other chefs, network, etc. These elements make my job very unique; they’re things that not many pastry chefs are able to do. 


“Everybody thinks they know how you should run your restaurant,” says Culinary Management instructor Vin McCann. “But what really matters—and what I focus on as a consultant—is the early stages of a project. The initial choices can be make or break. If you start on the wrong foot, you’re likely to end up crippled.”

Restaurant Consultant Vin McCann

As an executive for such iconic restaurant groups and corporations as Shelly Fireman’s Café Concepts, American Hospitality or National Restaurants Management, Vin has truly seen it all. In his seven years at National Restaurants alone, he oversaw more than $300 million worth of projects in more than 100 different venues. So when it comes to knowing where the money goes—and where new business operators trip up—you’re unlikely to meet a more seasoned expert.


This fall, ICE is thrilled to host Food & Wine’s New York City Wine & Food Festival master classes. As the home of one of the nation’s leading programs for hands-on recreational cooking, baking and wine classes, we’re thrilled to welcome these amazing guest chefs into our kitchens.

NYCWFF Master Classes Chefs

Pizza and Pasta Master Class with Justin Smillie
Having earned three stars in the New York Times as the executive chef of beloved eatery Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria, Justin Smillie ranks among NYC’s most celebrated purveyors of Italian cuisine. In celebration of Smillie’s recently opened California-inspired brasserie, Upland, guests will learn to make Smillie’s signature pizza and pasta recipes and will also head home with a copy of the chef’s forthcoming cookbook, Slow Fires: Mastering New Ways of Braising, Roasting, and Grilling (Clarkson Potter, November 2015).

Roast Chicken Master Class with Jonathan Waxman
A native Californian, Jonathan Waxman first made his name at Alice Waters’ legendary Chez Panisse before establishing himself as Executive Chef of Michael’s in Santa Monica. In 1984, Waxman made his mark on New York with Jams, and is best known today for his iconic roast chicken at Barbuto in the West Village. Guests will receive a hands-on roasting lesson from this former Top Chef Masters contestant, including the secrets behind his signature dish. 


Read on for the full schedule of NYCWFF master classes at ICE.

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

When it comes to the art of the airbrush, there’s little Lisa Berczel hasn’t tried. From painting cars to cakes and even the human body, Lisa is renowned for her genre-defying airbrush illusions and artwork. This summer, we’re thrilled to host a two-day workshop with Lisa on August 29-30th at our Center for Advanced Pastry Studies. Read on to learn more about Lisa’s diverse industry experience.


What techniques will be covered in the CAPS class?
The class is a comprehensive two-day boot camp. The first day will focus on understanding the airbrush, knowing which airbrush is the best fit for our needs and proper workplace setup. Students will learn and practice all the basic strokes, cleaning procedures and how to troubleshoot common issues. The second day we’ll introduce more advanced techniques, such as stenciling and painting on decorative items such as edible printer sheets, wafer paper, molded fondant and more.

At ICE, we’re committed to helping students make their dreams of a culinary career a reality. Our Office of Financial Aid can help students explore such options as grants, scholarships, out-of-state and double diploma tuition discounts, visa application processes, affordable housing options and more. So before you say, “I can’t afford culinary school,” learn about the many resources at your disposal.

Culinary School Financial Aid

Read on to watch a video about financial aid opportunities at ICE.


By Michael Laiskonis—ICE Creative Director


Now that ICE has moved into a new home in Lower Manhattan, our long-anticipated Chocolate Lab and state-of-the-art pastry kitchens are nearly ready to begin classes. In turn, my day-to-day role at the school has remained as active and varied as ever. Yet between regular class visits with our professional Pastry and Baking Arts students and my own roster of courses for ICE’s School of Professional Development, I’ve still found time to continue research on various creative projects.

Michael Laiskonis Test Roasting Cocoa Bean Samples

Selecting ICE’s Single-Origin

With regard to the Chocolate Lab, the bean-to-bar equipment has arrived and is ready to be turned on, including a roaster, winnower, refiner and tempering machine. Meanwhile, my mind has been focused on raw materials. Over the past few months, I’ve begun collecting an array of single-origin samples from regions including the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Madagascar, Trinidad and Tanzania. Though one can begin to assess the qualities of a cocoa bean from visual cues (cut tests on a sample of beans can reveal certain aspects of the fermentation process) the true potential of the bean is realized with sample roasts and careful tasting of the nibs. I won’t give away the results just yet, but I believe I’ve decided on which bean we’ll be using for our very first batch of chocolate!


Read on for more of Chef Michael’s recent research & development projects.


When it comes to chefs that have changed the way America eats, few have been more influential than Top Chef Masters champion and James Beard Award-winner Rick Bayless. He’s introduced millions of diners and home cooks to the authentic cuisine of Mexico through his six restaurants, eight cookbooks and numerous television appearances. This spring, he shared personal stories and valuable career advice with ICE students when he visited the school as part of our ongoing “Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs” lecture series.


Read on to watch a video about Rick’s unique “culinary voice” and the way it has shaped his dynamic career.


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


For chefs, the notion of shopping locally is a romantic one: Glorious, sun-filled mornings, strolling through the farmers’ market with a warm latte and freshly fried apple cider doughnut in hand. Stopping for a quick chat with your favorite farmers. Carrying the day’s bounty back to your restaurant in a little red wagon. This is every chef’s dream morning, but that’s not how it really goes down.

Jenny McCoy Eat Local

Seasonal and local sourcing is not for control freaks; it’s for those who know the only thing you can rely on is change. That leisurely morning at the market? This experience rarely goes off without a hitch. Odds are, the beautiful, handpicked mâche you were dreaming of might not even make it to the market. If you leave with 100% of the produce you expected to source, it’s like winning the lottery. But that’s when your skills as a chef truly come into play, because when you have a menu devoted to seasonal and local produce, you actively plan for improvisation. If snap peas lack their snap, you can substitute long beans. If the peaches are overripe, you substitute plums for your tart—or buy the peaches on the cheap and make sorbet.


Read on to learn how smart chefs reinvent their menus with the seasons.