Best known as the host of Food Network’s Sweet Dreams, Gale Gand is the author of eight cookbooks, a partner in the Michelin-starred Tru in Chicago, an artisanal root beer maker and so much more. This spring, on May 16, we’re thrilled to invite this multi-talented entrepreneur to teach a “signature desserts” class at ICE, focused on an ingredient we often take for granted: vanilla.

gale gand pastry chef

What will you be covering in the CAPS class at ICE?
This will be a class all about vanilla—its complexities and uses. We’ll cover the four main varieties of vanilla beans, vanilla paste and vanilla extract, as well as how the plant is grown, dried, brought to market and made into extract—and, of course, how to use it in desserts.


Read on for our full interview with multi-talented pastry chef Gale Gand.


As the former private dining chef at the Michelin-starred Restaurant Daniel, ICE Director of Culinary Development James Briscione knows a thing or two about plating techniques in fine dining restaurants. If you’re ready to take your dishes from edible to truly eye-catching, check out Chef James’ take on the essential plating tools you’ll need in the video below:

the art of plating

“While mastering flavor is paramount, at ICE, we also teach our students that how food is plated and what it’s plated on can be just as important as how it tastes. Especially these days with Instagram and social media, there’s an expectation that dishes be visually exciting and inspiring as well.” – Chef James Briscione


Eager for more advanced plating tips? Check out Chef James’ Modern Plating workshop and even more cutting-edge culinary classes at ICE.


By Michael Laiskonis—Creative Director


Every step of the chocolate-making process, from fruit to bean to bar, presents an opportunity to influence the flavor and texture of the finished chocolate. After harvesting, fermenting and drying at origin, beans are shipped around the world. Once received at the factory, raw cocoa undergoes several steps of transformation—what we call the “bean-to-bar” process. Previously I’ve discussed the bean-to-bar steps of sourcing and roasting. In this post, we will look at the intermediate steps necessary to turn flavorful roasted beans into the refined product we know and enjoy.

cacao beans raw chocolate bean to bar chocolate

The nuanced flavors and smooth texture we associate with chocolate evolved during the Industrial Revolution, alongside the general advancement of technology and mechanization in the mid to late 19th century. This rise of the machine, so to speak, not only made chocolate products readily available to the masses, but it also catapulted what was a coarse bar or a rustic beverage to more sophisticated heights. Key players responsible for the machines and processes developed during this time remain some of the most recognized names in contemporary chocolate production today, including Van Houten, Peters, Nestlé and Lindt. Machinery remains a constant in the contemporary chocolate-making process, and many visitors to the ICE Chocolate Lab are surprised by the sheer number and diversity of machines we employ.


Read on to learn about the three processing steps—and their dedicated machines—that bridge the gap between roasting and refining.


From food trucks to pop-ups, the food world has expanded both where and how we like to eat. With supper clubs, there’s a dining adventure for every appetite: chef-driven supper clubs, art-focused supper clubs, anti-food waste supper clubs and so much more. But how many of these business ventures survive the test of time?Jenny Dorsey I Forgot Its WednesdayIn the case of ICE Culinary Arts alum Jenny Dorsey, co-founder and chef of the supper club I Forgot It’s Wednesday (IFIW), these DIY dinners have been a catalyst for sustained culinary success. With the press and connections she has gained from IFIW, Jenny has been able to start a culinary consulting practice and is currently planning to launch a food incubator for projects focused on culinary experiences, rather than food products.


Before Jenny was the host of one of the country’s most exciting dinner parties, she was a management consultant in the fast-paced world of NYC fashion and luxury goods. “I was working on a lot of ‘sexy’ projects, attending fashion parties and my friends were envious of the discounts I could get on clothes. It probably seemed like a dream job, but truthfully I was really unhappy,” explains Jenny.


Read on to learn how Jenny changed careers and became a successful entrepreneur.


If there’s one thing that will make your time in the kitchen effortless, efficient and enjoyable, it’s tackling basic knife skills. Below you’ll find our essential tips and a video of ICE Chef Michael Garrett demonstrating how to cut three common vegetables that are surprisingly tricky to break down: an onion, a pepper and a head of cauliflower.

knife skills how to hold a knife

Core Knife Tips:

  1. The average cook only needs three knives in the kitchen: a chef’s knife, a paring knife and a serrated knife. The first is for general slicing, dicing and cutting. A paring knife is ideal for peeling or more intricate work. A serrated knife is essential for cutting any food items with a hard outside and soft inside—like bread or tomatoes.
  2. Proper knife handling: Grip the handle of the knife with your dominant hand, and place your thumb and forefinger on either side of the base of the blade. The other hand’s job is to prevent food from sliding around on the cutting board. For safety purposes, it is best to tuck your fingertips in (curled under like the legs of a crab), while maintaining a steady grip. To slice through an ingredient, rock the blade from tip to base (and repeat).

Read on for more knife tips and to watch Michael Garrett break down difficult produce.


When it comes to generating new ideas, it’s easy to feel like everything’s been done before. In the past few years, however, the food industry has had an influx of fresh, innovative concepts that challenge that old adage. Among the first-time entrepreneurs successfully disrupting the food market is ICE alum Mary McAuley, founder of Ripe Life Wines.

Mary McAuley Ripe Life Wines

A former health care analyst, Mary’s story began like that of many ICE students. She felt unfulfilled in her career and spent her free time dreaming about opportunities in the restaurant business, but she wasn’t quite ready to make the professional leap. Thanks to the flexible schedule options at ICE, Mary was able to enroll in the Culinary Management program while continuing to work full time. “ICE is such an accommodating school, and, because of that, I feel like we had all walks of life in the classroom—executives interested in restaurant management, people who were young, people working in PR, etc. For those who aren’t fully comfortable diving straight into the restaurant industry, it’s a great way to get your feet wet.”


Read on to learn about Mary’s career path to wine entrepreneurship.


Over the course of his multifaceted career, ICE Director of Beverage Studies Anthony Caporale has consulted on the bar programs for Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, Bloomingdales’ Flip! Burger and 48 Lounge in Rockefeller Center. He has also spearheaded YouTube’s very first bartender training series, Art of the Drink, and garnered rave reviews for his off-Broadway show, The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking.

anthony caporale bartender training

As an ICE Culinary Management instructor, Anthony performs the role of mixology myth buster, exposing the economic and human resources issues that can sink even the most exciting bar program. “People always say you make all your money behind the bar in restaurants. It’s laughable because you’re literally tracking liquid, which is much, much harder than noticing the disappearance of silverware or chicken breasts. In fact, most restaurants are losing money behind the bar because they haven’t properly trained and motivated their staff.”


Read on to learn more about Anthony’s unconventional career path and expert insights on bar management.



By Lauren Jessen—Student, School of Culinary Arts & Culinary Management


No matter what your goals are after graduating culinary school, there are countless ways you can maximize your education. While the classroom provides an incredible environment to learn in, real-world experience is critical for thriving both personally and professionally. School can give you the skills and the foundation, but here are seven ways I’ve learned you can expand upon your culinary training:


  1. Read, Read, Read
    While reading assignments are already a part of my Culinary Arts and Culinary Management curriculum, there is a seemingly infinite number of books that could take my learning even further. ICE is home to a robust library of publications about food science, food history, chef biographies, restaurant management and regional cuisines, as well as an impressive cookbook collection. As a student, we have free access to all these materials, so why not expand your education by creating a reading list that complements what you are learning in each module?
  2. Cook What You Love
    In addition to your scheduled classes, take advantage of ICE’s single-session cooking, baking and beverage classes through the schools of Recreational Cooking and Professional Development. From dim sum to Tuscan cooking, chocolate confections and modernist cuisine, there’s a class for nearly every interest. They’re also an awesome opportunity to meet other people who are interested in food!

Read on for more of Lauren’s tips and experience.


By James BriscioneDirector of Culinary Development, School of Culinary Arts 


The fried chicken sandwich, by law, may only contain bread, chicken, pickles and sauce. Never mind which law that is—the point is this: if you try to put anything more on my sandwich, we are going to have problems. With just four components to build it out, this sandwich is perfect in its simplicity, so each ingredient that goes into it better be perfect, too. Any missteps or half measures are going to stand out big time and completely throw off your chicken sandwich mojo.

fried chicken sandwich recipe

Now don’t worry, you have me to take you through it step by step. First, the sandwich components:


  1. The bun: Only a soft potato roll will do. Period.
  2. The pickles: Dill chips are really the way to go (but if you have another preference I won’t fight you on this one).
  3. The chicken: Fried, of course—but also brined.
  4. The sauce: It’s gotta be special.


Read on for Chef James’ signature fried chicken recipe.


For 27 years, the U.S. Pastry Competition, hosted by Paris Gourmet, has provided opportunities for experienced professionals and up-and-coming pastry chefs to display the best of their talents. As the most prestigious pastry competition in the country, the event has long been an incredible opportunity for networking and career advancement.


This year, a team of three ICE pastry students—Pooja Jhunjhunwala, Marcela Torres and Anne Roche—entered the competition’s Junior Pastry Challenge. Mentored by ICE Chefs Kathryn Gordon and Michael Laiskonis, the students were charged with submitting a plated dessert, petits fours and a showpiece inspired by the theme “Magic and Illusions.”


Competing alongside students from other culinary schools, the trio were thrilled to bring home the second place award. “Seeing our showpiece in the context of all the other students—ours was the most different. In terms of technique, we really maximized the skills we learned, and it was great to see that recognized,” adds Pooja.


Read on for more on the students’ experience at the competition.

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