By Carly DeFilippo

Originally formed in 1985 to celebrate James Beard’s 82nd birthday, Monday night marked the 29th annual Chef’s Tribute to Citymeals-on-Wheels. More than 40 of the country’s top chefs kicked off the summer season at Rockefeller Center with a wide range of seafood-centric dishes.

ICE students help Chef Stephanie Izard of Chicago's Girl and the Goat serve hundreds of esteemed guests.

ICE students help Chef Stephanie Izard of Chicago’s Girl and the Goat serve hundreds of esteemed guests.

ICE was proud to have 37 volunteers help staff the event—the only culinary school whose students had the chance to cook alongside such culinary leaders as Jean Georges Vongerichten (Jean Georges), Michael Anthony (Gramercy Tavern), Michael Voltaggio (ink), Francois Payard (Payard Patisserie), Marc Forgione (American Cut), Stephanie Izard (Girl and the Goat) and Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto).

Celebrated chefs like Gramercy Tavern's Michael Anthony offered creative takes on refreshing summer fare // An ICE culinary student helps plate Chef Leah Cohen's green curry.

Celebrated chefs like Gramercy Tavern’s Michael Anthony offered creative takes on refreshing summer fare. // An ICE culinary student helps plate Chef Leah Cohen’s green curry.

As one culinary student volunteer, Elio LaPaix, explained, it was an exceptional opportunity to meet some of the industry’s culinary leaders and network with potential employers. “For me it was a great experience to work with Stephanie Izard and learn from her experience as a restaurant owner. She said it always is good to work in other chefs’ kitchens before you strike out on your own, and invited me to extern at her restaurant in Chicago.”

Chef Michael Voltaggio of LA's Ink offered one of the most innovative dishes of the night, featuring cauliflower, roe and chicharrones.

ICE students helped Chef Michael Voltaggio of LA’s Ink prepare one of the most innovative dishes of the night, featuring icy cauliflower, roe and chicharrones.

Culinary greats like Jean-Georges worked the line along with their staff and ICE students.

Culinary greats like Jean-Georges worked the line along with their staff and ICE students. (Did you know? Jean Georges provides more externships to ICE students than any other NYC chef!)

It was also a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn about Citymeals-on-Wheels and how they can continue to support their local community as culinary professionals. The non-profit helps to ensure that no elderly or mobility-challenged New Yorkers go without food or human company. For a school who trains our students in the art of service, that’s a cause close to our hearts!

It was an exceptional opportunity for our current students to learn from the industry's best chefs and connect with potential employers.

An ICE student works alongside Top Chef contestant Leah Cohen, now Executive Chef of NYC’s Pig and Khao.

Overall, the elegant evening was an outstanding celebration of innovative chefs from across the nation, and we’re proud to have helped support Citymeals’ admirable mission.

To learn more about how student volunteer opportunities at ICE, click here.


By Cindi Avila

Tis the season for giving and we at ICE are proud to say that the school and our students give back year round. Things have been especially busy over the holiday season and we wouldn’t have it any other way. For Thanksgiving, we donated our kitchens to prepare meals for The Partnership for the Homeless and the By Any Meals’ Campaign (recently featured on NBC’s The Grio). Thanks to these wonderful organizations hundreds of hungry New Yorkers enjoyed a hot holiday meal.


ICE President & CEO Rick Smilow says, “There are many reasons why I think it’s important for ICE to ‘give back’ and be charitable. First, we have been fortunate over the last 18 years—through some combination of skill, luck and fortitude—to build a sizable school. We have the resources and scale to do things to help organizations and communities that do not benefit from that combination.”


ICE student prepping dessert for The Partnership for the Homeless Thanksgiving dinner.

When you think about cooking schools you may not instantly think charity, but Smilow points out that the two actually go hand and hand, “It really goes with the territory. Culinary and hospitality endeavors have as part of their core, the goal of making people happy and content. Chefs, restaurateurs, caterers, etc. do that every day. As a culinary school, we have the same DNA.”

STREETS event at ICE

STREETS fundraiser at ICE

This effort goes beyond sharing our space and material resources; hundreds of our students donated their time in 2013 to charity work. ICE Culinary Relations Manager, Virginia Monaco explains, “While we often use luxury ingredients and our kitchens are generously stocked, most students and chefs are aware of the reality that many people struggle to simply feed themselves. They feel a responsibility to use their culinary training to give back and help those in need. By donating their time and skill, chefs and students can directly help those most vulnerable and take pride in their contributions to charitable organizations.”


Chef George Duran guiding ICE students during Partnership for the Homeless event

The school encourages students to participate, but we’re proud to say it’s easy to find volunteers for such charities as Wellness in the Schools, City Meals on Wheels & Action Against Hunger. Monaco says, “I’m glad to see how eager most students are to use their new found skills in the kitchen to give back to the community. There are so many organizations and charities to choose from; we direct our students towards those with a proven track record, a history of working with ICE, and who most directly support those in need in New York City.”

Three organizations in particular receive ongoing support in the form of space, time, money or service from ICE. The groups include City Harvest (NYC hunger & poverty relief), Career Through Culinary Arts Program (culinary training and scholarships for disadvantaged NYC teens) and STREETS International (culinary & hospitality job training for orphans in Hoi An, Vietnam).

ICE student volunteers at this year’s Action Against Hunger event

But outside of the school’s ongoing efforts, ICE has often helped raise funds in the case of unexpected tragedies, as in the case of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Smilow says when the Typhoon hit he just knew that ICE had to do its part to help, “The Philippine Typhoon took place just before our annual holiday gift card marketing began, so I thought it would be a nice idea to generate some fast fundraising from gift card sales. The organization earmarked for the funds, Action Against Hunger, is very fast, efficient and thoughtful in delivering truly life saving aid (food, water, sanitation) when disasters strike in less developed nations.” ICE was proud to donate 25% of all sales from that promotion to AAH, totaling $7,750 of much needed aid.

We would like to thank all the ICE staff and students who helped make these relief efforts possible in 2013, and encourage others to take an interest in these reputable charities and their awe-inspiring work. Wishing a very safe, happy and healthy holiday to all!



By Carly DeFilippo


Last week, more than 250 members of the New York community came together to support STREETS International, a Hoi An, Vietnam-based nonprofit organization that trains underprivileged young men and women to succeed in their region’s growing 5-star hospitality industry.


ICE students cooked alongside alumni of the program, Le Thi Thuy and Nguyen Than Linh, preparing traditional dishes served in the STREETS Restaurant and Cafe in Hoi An. It was Le and Nguyen’s first time in the United States, an opportunity to spend two weeks exploring the city’s culinary industry, culminating with their appearance at the annual benefit, held at the Astor Center. For two students who couldn’t speak a word of English just two years ago, Le and Nguyen presented the dishes and culture of Vietnam with exceptional poise and enthusiasm.


STREETS was founded by Dr. Neil Bermas and his partner Sondra Stewart in 2009. Today, their 18-month training program for disadvantaged Vietnamese youth is hosted at four locations in Hoi An: The STREETS Restaurant and Cafe, a training center, and two single-sex dorm houses.


ICE President Rick Smilow and Chef Floyd Cardoz (North End Grill)

As for the dishes served at the fundraiser, a range of celebrated New York restaurants provided unique tastings. The line-up included August, Blue Smoke, North End Grill, Nightingale 9, Rosa Mexicano, Kuma Inn, Edi & the Wolf, Num Pang and The Meatball Shop.

Thanks to the help of STREETS’ many benefactors, including local culinary leaders such as Howard Greenstone (Rosa Mexicano), Phillip Baltz (Baltz & Company), Mark Maynard Parisi (Blue Smoke), and ICE President Rick Smilow, the event was a rousing success. It costs $1,800 for one student to complete the training program, and the benefit raised more than $125,000 for the organization.

ICE alum and TV personality Gail Simmons, Dr. Neal Bermas, and students from STREETS International

ICE alum and TV personality Gail Simmons, Dr. Neal Bermas, and students from STREETS International

Thank you to all the members of the ICE community who came out to support this incredible cause. As Dr. Bermas mentioned in his speech, we couldn’t be more proud to be part of such a generous industry.

By Carly DeFilippo

Whether it’s aiding victims in the wake of Hurricane Sandy or supporting the day-to-day efforts of City Harvest, ICE has long been committed to contributing to the larger New York Community. But there are causes further afield that are also near and dear to our hearts, perhaps none so much as Streets International. Founded by former Culinary Management instructor Neal Bermas, this unique non-profit culinary training program teaches impoverished young Vietnamese men and women the life and professional skills they need to be employed in a 5-star culinary or hospitality setting.

This week, we were thrilled to welcome Neal and Streets alumni Le Thi Thuy and Nguyen Than Linh to our teaching kitchens, where they engaged in a cultural culinary exchange with our chef instructors and students. In the morning, Le and Nguyen joined Chef Lorrie Reynoso’s Culinary Arts class, tackling an eight recipe lesson on the regional cuisines of Northwest Italy.


Le Thi Thuy, Nguyen Than Linh, and Chef Lorrie Reynoso’s Culinary Arts class.

Over four hours they learned to prepare wild boar ragu, fresh hand-cut pappardelle, and braised shrimp-stuffed calamari. From there, they moved on to giant veal chops stuffed with Fontina cheese, which were then breaded, pan-fried and finished in the oven with white truffle butter. Finishing off the rich menu, the students prepared a creamy gorgonzola risotto and sfogliata di radicchi (a Ligurian tart bursting with radicchio, spinach, raisins, oil cured olives and anchovies in puff pastry). Needless to say, these flavors were a far cry from the street food of Vietnam. The class concluded, as it always does at ICE, with a communal tasting and critique of the day’s work.


Le Thi Thuy, Nguyen Than Linh, and ICE Dean of Students, Andy Gold.

In the afternoon, the tables turned, as ICE students attended a cooking demo where they learned to make traditional Vietnamese rice pancakes (Bánh xèo) and winter melon soup. As Neal explained, Streets International is more than a school, it is also one of the most popular restaurants in Hoi An, Vietnam, seated at the heart of a blossoming tourism industry. In addition to culinary and hospitality skills, students are trained in English language and “life skills”, a foundation for communal living and working with others. At the end of their 18-month program, 100% of Streets students find work in 5-star establishments, as there are more jobs for highly trained locals than Streets can teach on an annual basis.


Bánh xèo, a traditional Vietnamese rice pancake.

From the look of Le and Nguyen, two of Streets’ most talented graduates, you would never know the hardship and poverty in which they were raised. They now lead tours of Vietnamese markets for curious tourists and help manage the Streets Restaurant and Cafe. Next Wednesday, May 1st, the two will present traditional dishes at the annual Streets International NYC Benefit, which will also feature more than a dozen local chefs, such as Floyd Cardoz and Kenny Callaghan. Buy your tickets here:

By Carly DeFilippo

This Thanksgiving, ICE has partnered with a number of charitable organizations to serve less fortunate members of our New York City community. We would like to thank our students and staff who generously gave of their time to make these programs a success.

Culinary students joined forces with the Partnership for the Homeless and Chef George Duran to provide a traditional holiday meal for more 50 homeless men and women.

Our Special Events team donated kitchen space to By Any Meals, a five borough food drive that will provide hot meals to at least 500 New Yorkers in need.

Students also helped photographer Zoe Adlersberg roast turkeys for Hurricane Sandy victims. The turkeys will be served at two local restaurants in the Rockaways, providing 600 meals to families devastated by the storm. If you would like to donate to this ongoing initiative to feed hurricane victims, please click here.

We wish a very Happy Thanksgiving to all of our students, staff, chefs and the rest of the ICE community.


BlueStar, the manufacturer of professional cooking equipment and the provider of stoves and ovens to ICE’s 12th floor recreational classrooms, recently teamed up with Chef Marcus Samuelsson to benefit the Susan G. Komen for the Cure via its Susan G. Komen Greater NYC Race for the Cure. As part of the event, BlueStar is auctioning a pink 30-inch gas range valued at $4,700 and VIP dinner for six at Samuelsson’s Red Rooster, one of New York’s hottest restaurants. Award-winning chef and ICE Advisory Council member Samuelsson will personally cook a four-course meal for the winner and their guests (dates and times to be mutually agreed upon). And, when they’re ready to cook at home, they’ll also be able to use their new BlueStar eight-piece cookware set, valued at $595. It’s an amazing prize from both BlueStar and Samuelsson, two of ICE’s closest partners in the culinary industry.

To bid, go directly onto eBay’s Giving Works site here.

The auction ends on August 30th, and 100% of the proceeds will be contributed to the charity. The company will provide free shipping. If pink is not your color, you can bid on the range and select any one of BlueStar’s 190 colors, at no extra charge, and still support the cause.

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