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

Mastering the art of purchasing can make or break your restaurant. What do I mean when I say purchasing? Purchasing is part of restaurant operations and entails buying enough food and beverages to meet the demand of the restaurant’s customers. It requires organization, planning ahead, diligence, creativity and consistency. As a restaurant, buying more food than you need means inventory and money going to waste. However, if you buy too little of an ingredient and it sells out, you’re faced with unhappy customers and a potentially expensive problem to solve.

Roam Halls-003-150dpiIn my Culinary Management program, the topic of purchasing is an entire unit because of its complexity. By now, I could write a book (or two) on the topic, but for now I’ll share the key things that I’ve learned in class to keep in mind when purchasing for your restaurant:

  • If feasible, put someone in charge of purchasing. These people usually have titles such as purchasing manager or purchasing director. Because it takes a lot of effort to properly purchase goods, you want it to be someone’s job to do it correctly.
  • Create a budget for goods. You need to know how much money is going to be spent so you can organize your funds strategically. This also provides useful boundaries for the chef and purchasing director.
  • Audit invoices and payments to make sure you’re being properly charged.
  • Have at least two vendors that you are buying from. You want more than one so you can price check and make sure you’re not being scammed, but also in the event that one vendor runs out you have a backup plan.
  • Your purchasing director should go through everything with the purveyors, which means he or she should randomly weigh items and count the number of items delivered. Some examples of things to look out for include delivering scallops in water so it costs more (order dry weight scallops), fish that isn’t fresh and items that weigh less than what you originally ordered (weigh items to make sure you’re getting the exact ounce you ordered).
  • Consider whether you want fish or meat delivered fabricated or pre-fabricated. If you want the meat already cut to order, this may save you money in the long run because you won’t have to pay for the labor of butchering meat in-house. Run the numbers so you know which option is best.
  • Take inventory of what you have at least once a month. This will inform you of which goods you’re buying too much of and will give you an idea of what needs to be adjusted.
  • Create a system and cycle so you know which days during the week you need to order goods, the process of how the food and beverages will be delivered and what time of day you (or the purchasing director) will receive the goods.

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Purchasing requires trial and error and continuous adjustment. The good thing is that you can try new ordering strategies every week and improve each day. The world of purchasing is a hands-on and ongoing learning experience.

Ready to learn to manage and build your own food business? Click here to learn more about ICE’s Culinary Management program. 


By Chef-Instructor Ted Siegel

With the imminent closing of The Four Seasons Restaurant in New York City next month, I have been reflecting on the profound influence this restaurant has had on the North American dining scene and restaurant industry since its opening in 1959. The Four Seasons Restaurant was heralded as the first modern American restaurant (post World War II) to promote North American regional ingredients and seasonally driven menus—a quality that is lauded in today’s food culture. Historically, however, another great New York City restaurant that opened in 1823 was the so-called “Godfather” of this trend—Delmonico’s.

Chef Charles Ranhofer cookbook The EpicureanBy the middle of the 19th century, Delmonico’s was considered to be the greatest restaurant in the United States. To put it in perspective: the way we think of Thomas Keller’s French Laundry today is the way Americans spoke of Delmonico’s back then. The key date in Delmonico’s history was 1862, when a great French chef from Alsace named Charles Ranhofer took over Delmonico’s kitchen. His devotion to regional North American ingredients introduced Americans to ingredients that were not commonly served at that time. He used black sea bass from Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island; soft shell blue crabs from the Chesapeake Bay area; shad and its roe from the Hudson River Valley; locally caught sturgeon; alligator pears (that is, avocados from Florida) and samp, a hominy-like dish based on hulled corn kernels from the southwest that Chef Charles served with wild teal duck. Some of his most iconic preparations, such as Lobster Newburg and Baked Alaska (which he called “Alaska, Florida”) have become staples on many American menus—including some of the earliest menus of The Four Seasons Restaurant. All of these dishes and thousands more were memorialized in his book The Epicurean, published in 1894, five years before his passing.

Jeremiah Tower, former executive chef of the prominent Berkley, CA, restaurant Chez Panisse, speaks quite poignantly in his cookbook, New American Classics, about how The Epicurean inspired him to transform the Chez Panisse menus to reflect Northern California’s indigenous ingredients and produce. In fact, he mentions that the very first Northern California regional dinner menu he prepared at Chez Panisse in 1973 paid homage to Chef Charles’ influence by adapting Delmonico’s green corn and crayfish soup on that evening’s menu.

Looking at the early menus conceived by James Beard and Albert Stöckli, executive chef of The Four Seasons Restaurant, the influence of The Epicurean is evident. Hence, no discussion of North American regional cuisine, including the recent farm-to-table and locavore trends in menu concept and execution, is complete without a discussion of the impact of Charles Ranhofer, Delmonico’s and The Epicurean.

If you want to delve deeper into cookbooks inspired by The Epicurean, here are some recommended reads:

The Four Seasons Cookbook (1971 ed.) by James Beard and Charlotte Adams

The Four Seasons: The Ultimate Book of Food, Wine and Elegant Dining (1980) by Tom Margittai and Paul Kovi

The Four Seasons Spa Cuisine (1986) by Seppi Renggli

New American Classics (1987) by Jeremiah Tower

Interested in studying with Chef Ted? Click here to learn more about our Culinary Arts program.


The ment’or BKB Foundation is a nonprofit organization that aims to inspire excellence in young culinary professionals and preserve the traditions and quality of cuisine in America. The group held their prestigious 2016 Young Chef and Commis competitions last week in ICE’s kitchens. Ment’or is led by Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Jérôme Bocuse—considered three of the world’s most celebrated chefs, with nearly 20 restaurants and over 30 industry honors between them—who founded the organization together in 2008 and came to ICE last week to oversee the day’s events.

Chefs Thomas Keller, Jérôme Bocuse, Daniel Boulud at ICE culinary school

(From left) Jérôme Bocuse, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, James Kent and Richard Rosendale judge the 2016 ment’or Young Chef and Commis Competitions at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.

The judges panel was a veritable “who’s who” of the country’s top chefs, including:

  • Daniel Boulud – Chef/Owner, Restaurant Daniel, DINEX Group, 4-time James Beard Award winner, including “Outstanding Restaurateur” and “Outstanding Chef of the Year”
  • Thomas Keller – Chef/Owner, The French Laundry, Per Se, Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, 4-time James Beard Award winner, including “Outstanding Chef: America” and “Best New Restaurant (Per Se)”
  • Jérôme Bocuse – Vice President, Bocuse d’Or USA and Chef/Owner, Les Chefs de France
  • Gavin Kaysen – 2007 Bocuse d’Or US team member and Chef/Owner, Spoon & Stable
  • Philip Tessier – Winner of the 2015 Bocuse d’Or Silver Medal
  • Barbara Lynch – Chef/Owner, Barbara Lynch Gruppo
  • Bryce Shuman – Executive Chef, Betony
  • Chris Hastings – Chef/Owner, Hot and Hot Fish Club
  • Gabriel Kreuther – Chef/Owner, Gabriel Kreuther
  • James Briscione – Director of Culinary Development, Institute of Culinary Education
  • James Kent – Executive Chef, The NoMad
  • Richard Rosendale – Chef, Rosendale Collective
  • Mathew Peters – 2017 Bocuse d’Or US team member and Executive Sous Chef, Per Se
  • Robert Sulatycky – Founder/Principal Chef, Taste Restaurant Group
  • Shaun Hergatt – Chef, formerly of Juni and SHO Shaun Hergatt
  • Timothy Hollingsworth – Chef/Owner, Otium and Barrel and Ashes

These events give skilled young chefs the opportunity to showcase their talents in a live cooking demonstration. Winners have the chance to stage with the 2017 Bocuse d’Or Team USA and attend the finals this coming January in Lyon, France.

Student young chef competitions at ICE culinary school

ICE students also had the unique opportunity to volunteer during the event. Christopher Lewnes, an ICE culinary arts student had this to say of his experience: “I was truly inspired by the young chefs who were participating in the competition. Seeing other young chefs doing what they were doing and all the different techniques displayed, I was motivated to learn more and achieve more to become like them. It was also enormously inspirational just to be in the presence of chefs like Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller.”

Institute of Culinary Education President Rick Smilow with Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Top chefs at ICE

Ment’or offers annual educational grants and internships to culinary professionals through their Continuing Education Program, affording young chefs the opportunity to earn a paid stage anywhere in the world. For young professionals who have already begun their career, the Young Chef and Commis Competition series provides these ambitious individuals with a chance to add increased value to their work through educational opportunities and access to a network of esteemed mentors. ICE students and alumni can have the honor to participate in these prestigious programs. Applications for the competitions are announced via their social media at @mentorbkb.

Thomas Keller speaks at ICE culinary school in New York City

According to ment’or President Chef Thomas Keller, “As established chefs, it is our responsibility to create and foster programs that promote mentorship and shared experiences which elevate and influence the next generation of chefs in the United States.” ICE is proud to be a part of this prestigious organization and help the next generation of chefs find their culinary voice.

For more information on how to get involved with ment’or and apply for their programs, contact Chef James Briscione at


ICE was once again the proud host of the pastry industry’s sweetest night, welcoming Dessert Professional’s 2016 Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America Awards. With a beautiful sunset and the Hudson River as a backdrop, hundreds of guests filled our halls to celebrate the talents and artistry of this year’s winners.

Dessert Professional Magazine Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America Awards 2016 Institute of Culinary Education

From homey treats (gourmet cookies and rice crispy squares from Willa Jean’s Kelly Fields) and playful presentations (push-pop trifles from Franck Iglesias of Foxwoods Resort Casino) to the truly transformational (a fine dining presentation of a Duncan Hines mix from Joseph DiPaulo Jr. of Pinnacle Foods), the 2016 selection was a dynamic bunch that demonstrated the wide range of tastes and techniques today’s pastry chefs must master to stay at the top of their game.

Dessert Professional Magazine Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America Awards 2016 Institute of Culinary Education

For ICE students interested in practicing pastry, the event is also rife with opportunity to network and pick up new skills. With each of the ten chefs preparing multiple desserts en masse, our students serve as an essential support for the honorees, prepping and plating dishes. At the same time, the event gives them the opportunity to connect with the industry’s current leaders. ICE student (and 2016 US Pastry Competition silver medalist) Pooja Jhunjhunwala had the chance to work with several of the chefs throughout the evening: “Working with amazingly creative chefs like Chef Scott Green, Chef Jean-Marc Viallet and Chef Robert Nieto on a one-on-one basis and seeing the fabulous work of all the chefs was such an educational experience. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to be part of this event—definitely worth a repeat!”

Dessert Professional Magazine Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America Awards 2016 Institute of Culinary Education student volunteers pastry school

With the wealth of talent the winners brought to the school and a seemingly endless array of sweets, it was certainly a sensational night at ICE. Check out more photos from the event below, and click here to find out more about the networking and volunteering opportunities available to ICE students.

By Christen Clinkscales—Student, School of Culinary Arts

The first time I walked into an ICE kitchen, I could not wait to start cooking! I quickly found out how much there was to learn before I’d be allowed to craft a complete dish. Initially, I was disappointed that we weren’t going to jump right in and prepare elaborate feasts. That’s what I signed up for, right? As it turns out, consistently producing an amazing plate is harder than it looks. From knife skills to sauces to butchery, it’s amazing how many “basic” skills I learned in just the first two months of school.

sauce making culinary school

The ICE Culinary Arts program is divided into five modules, and “Mod 1” is all about these basics. During this intensive dive into the foundations of professional cooking, my classmates and I learned about the evolution of cooking throughout history, the importance of sanitation, basic knife skills, herb identification, culinary math, stock making, fabrication (also known as butchery) and more.

I can honestly say that through all of my years of school and working, those two months were the biggest learning curve I have ever experienced. I breezed through culinary math and herb identification, but I got tripped up by knife skills. Chef James made dicing potatoes look so easy that I immediately thought, “I’ve got this.” In truth, my ego should have been checked at the door. Try as I might, I could not get those pesky potatoes diced into perfect cubes. After much practice in class and at home, I figured out how to “surrender to the potato.” With a little kitchen meditation, I was—finally—able to dice those spuds into cube-like pieces. I’m still not perfect at it, but I am getting better.

Speaking of knife skills, I was a little intimidated by fabrication. You see, there’s this cool place called a grocery store, and in that store they have these packages with perfect cuts of meat already portioned out. In short, I’d never broken down anything, let alone a whole fish or a leg of lamb. While pre-cut meat is just fine for a home cook, it doesn’t fly in the professional kitchen.

lamb fabrication butchery

In class, we fabricated many proteins, but the most challenging for me by far was the lobster. It wasn’t the hardest protein to fabricate, but it was the most daunting. It was still alive, and I was terrified! I spent the better part of ten minutes apologizing to it for what I was about to do. (Cue some serious flashbacks to my high school biology class.) Ultimately, I swallowed my fears and cut right between the eyes. RIP. After that, I knew I could break down any other type of protein thrown at me—as long as it was already dead.

Of all the skills I learned in Mod 1, my favorite was sauce making. Before enrolling at ICE, if you had asked me about sauce, I would have pointed you to the jars of tomato purée at the grocery store. I did not understand the level of complexity and preparation that goes into making sauces for fine dining. Just like knife skills, classic French sauces are among the building blocks for many of the dishes that we will make during the rest of the Culinary Arts program.

lobster butchery culinary school

Creating a mouthwatering red wine pan sauce or turning a creamy béchamel into Mornay sauce were just two of the many techniques we mastered. I was so excited to bring these concoctions home after class and experiment in my own kitchen. (My friends were blown away by the cauliflower gratin I made using my leftover Mornay sauce!) It has been so much fun to utilize these new skills at home, and I can already tell how much I have grown as a cook since starting the program.

Click here to learn more about the Culinary Arts program at ICE.


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.”

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.

Click here to receive free information about ICE’s Culinary Arts and Culinary Management programs.

Culinary Student Lizzie Powell

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. I had some concerns about where my ICE education would take me, but as school went on, I discovered more about myself. I 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. In the restaurant industry, to get a job, you don’t go through the traditional desk-job interview where you come in a suit with a resume in hand. To get a job in a kitchen, you set up “trails,” which are essentially tryouts for the job. Fortunately, ICE has a great Career Services department that offers students guidance on coordinating these trails. After compiling a list of restaurants I admired in New York City, I reached out to schedule some trails.

Graduation Culinary School

Celebrating graduation with my Culinary Arts classmates

On the morning of my very first trail, I woke up early to sharpen my knives, make sure my whites were pristine (even though the restaurant said they provided them, I like to play it safe and be prepared) and reread my resume to make sure there were no typos. On my walk there, I went through various types of knife cuts—julienne, brunois, etc.—in my head, as previous students told me that you typically help with mise en place. I was nervous about sounding inexperienced and not landing a job, but once I stepped into the kitchen, I realized the environment was already somewhat familiar, based on my experience in ICE’s kitchens. During each trail, I helped with prep before service, which included lots of knife work. In the end, I realized that I felt excited to be a part of the “real world,” even if just for a few days. Most importantly, each of my trails confirmed my decision to be in the kitchen after graduation.

After trailing at several acclaimed restaurants, I decided to accept an offer from Gramercy Tavern, a Michelin-starred restaurant that is part of one of the nation’s top restaurant groups: Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG). USHG is celebrated for their food, operations and exceptional hospitality, and I’m honored to work for one of the most respected organizations in the industry. For now, I plan on investing a few years in the kitchen, and then I hope to move to a front-of-the house position. I start my externship in just a few days, and I’m eager for my real world education to begin!

Click here to discuss your individual career goals with our admissions team.


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 in the video below:

One of the most important steps in any financial aid process is to accurately fill out your free application for federal student aid (FAFSA). Learn about this and other essential tips in the video below:

Click here to learn more about financial aid options at ICE.


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

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been an adventurous eater. I don’t know exactly how this developed—whether due to my parents’ “eat it or go to bed hungry” policy or my Southern roots (my dad often brought home venison, quail or other wild game)—but I do know that my childhood had a major impact on my interest in a culinary career path.

Lizzie Powell - Quail Hunt - Southern - Culinary Student

Here I am, with my brother, dad and a few quail when I was about three or four years old.

Aside from being exposed to foods that would prompt most children to wrinkle their noses, I was fortunate enough to travel a good bit throughout my childhood. My family has always organized vacations around food, and the resulting meals are some of my fondest memories. I’ll never forget the first time I tried pâté in France, tested out fried catfish and grits in my great grandmother’s small Georgia town or discovered my love for oysters at a seafood shack (covered in dollar bills) on the Gulf of Mexico.

Though I had the opportunity to explore many cuisines growing up, I had never really known much about the history of certain dishes or how regional cuisines are impacted by elements like climate and the availability of certain ingredients. Sure, I’ve taught myself to make many traditional Italian dishes or stir up a few Asian ingredients, but it wasn’t until Module 3 at ICE that I took a deeper look into iconic dishes from across the world.

Lizzie Powell - Pasta - Handmade - Artisanal - Culinary School - Culinary Student

Learning to make handmade pasta in our Italian cuisine classes.

While it would be ideal to travel to as many foreign regions as possible to learn first-hand about global cuisine, the curriculum at ICE prepares students with a knowledge of the core techniques and ingredients that form the foundation of various international styles of cooking. Over several weeks, my class dove into the flavor profiles of France, Italy and Asia through articles and texts, as well as hands-on experiences in the kitchen. For many of us, it was an introduction to ingredients we’ve never seen before and techniques that go beyond “traditional” kitchen training.

Asian ingredients - Lizzie Powell - Culinary School

Changing the flavor profile with Asian ingredients

It’s an exciting turning point as, at this stage in the program, we’ve learned almost all of the classic culinary techniques— knife skills, butchery and various dry or wet cooking methods—and are moving on to specialized skills like crafting handmade pasta, rolling sushi or whipping up duck confit. People frequently ask about my favorite thing I’ve learned at ICE, but the truth is that diversity is the best part of this training—whether that means learning about the iconic flavors of different regions in France or applying new techniques to produce a traditional Asian dish. After completing this culinary world tour, it’s safe to say I’ve expanded my horizons and that I not only feel prepared, but also excited to work in such a creative, international industry.

Click here to learn more about ICE’s unique recipe for culinary training.

Laura Denby headshot
By Laura Denby—Student, School of Culinary Arts

Hi fellow foodies! I’m Laura, a media professional and current Culinary Arts student. Working full-time during the day while pursuing a life in the kitchen at night is nothing short of thrilling, draining, inspiring and exhausting. Yet despite the obvious challenges, going to school at ICE has so far proven to be one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. Over the next few months, I hope to share some of my experiences and what its like to pursue your passion while holding down a 9-5 job.

I’m sure many of you, like me, struggled with the decision of whether or not to take the leap and jump headfirst into culinary school. But when I found that all I wanted to talk or think about was food, I realized that this passion was something I needed to take seriously. My desire to feed my hunger for knowledge and redirect my life towards a new career completely overrode the exhaustion I thought I would face. And after just two weeks of class, I’m already hooked. Knife skills, fabrication—you name it, I can’t get enough.

When I chose to pursue cooking more seriously, a lot of people asked me why I was choosing a non-traditional career path when I already had a very predictable and stable job. While I love to cook and eat, the answer for me (and I’m sure a lot of you) is much more complex. For me, cooking has always been a way to travel and explore different cultures without leaving my house. The origins of so many iconic dishes have been dictated by historical events in the past. Each country or region has their own traditions formed by times of war, occupation and colonization, as well as religious and socio-economic influences. Discovering food as culture has allowed me to experience so much more than just what’s on my plate.

Life as a Culinary Student - Lizzie Powell - Knife Skills

Yet, as I’m sure you can imagine, this passion doesn’t change the fact that there’s only so many hours in the day. One thing that I have found particularly difficult as a career changer is finding the time to be involved in extracurricular activities. Before enrolling, I envisioned myself attending guest lectures, electives, career fairs and networking opportunities. Although my schedule doesn’t allow me to attend as many events as I would like, I try to be as involved as I possibly can. Volunteering at events that take place on Sundays—like the New York Times Travel Show—and taking recreational classes in the late evenings are both ways for students with full-time jobs to practice their skills outside of classroom hours. One of my favorite things about ICE is the myriad of ways they help to complement your education in the classroom with experience in the field.

Volunteering - Food Events - NYC - Get Involved - Culinary School

My advice to anyone looking to go to school while working a full-time job is to stay motivated, get involved and keep the end goal in mind. Be prepared to work hard. Taste everything. Volunteer, read as much as you can and take advantage of ICE’s recreational classes! The truth is, many of the most exciting opportunities in the food industry require you to work outside of the traditional 9-5 schedule, so this experience is getting me ready to make that transition. I look forward to sharing more stories about my time at ICE!

Click here for more “Life as an ICE Student” stories.

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