By Virginia Monaco, Department of Student Affairs

When you think of the quintessential New York City chef, a few famous names come to mind, but Andrew Carmellini is definitely at the top of the list. You won’t see his face plastered on a billboard or endorsing a product in a magazine, facts that contribute to Carmellini’s reputation as a “Chef’s Chef”. Respected for his dedication to the craft, his talent and undeniable work ethic, his career reads like a history of New York City dining—and it’s nowhere near finished.


Chef Andrew Carmellini looks on as Lafayette Chef de Cuisine Damon Wise explains the technique behind his short ribs

Although raised in Ohio, Chef Carmellini moved east to attend the Culinary Institute of America, where he cooked for Mario Cuomo on the weekends. After graduation, he worked at New York’s famous Italian restaurant, San Domenico. A lover of Italian cuisine, he decided to go to Italy to learn firsthand. Upon returning to New York, he landed at the legendary Lespinasse under the tutelage of Gray Kunz, which inspired him to travel again—this time, to France. Upon his second return to the states, Carmellini took the role of sous chef at Le Cirque, gaining additional French fine dining experience.


Braised short ribs with crispy polenta

Having honed his chops under the watchful eye of some of the city’s top chefs, Carmellini was poised and ready to make a name for himself as Chef de Cuisine at Café Boulud. During his six-year tenure, he earned a three-star New York Times review, two James Beard Awards and the respect, admiration and attention of many in the industry. His next step was to open his first restaurant, A Voce, to critical acclaim, earning his first Michelin star.

Carmellini has since parted ways with A Voce, but today he’s at the helm of three of New York’s most popular restaurants: Locanda Verde, The Dutch and Lafayette. His forth restaurant is slated to open later this year.


Lafayette Pastry Chef, Jenny Yee

For these reasons and more, we were thrilled to welcome Chef Carmellini, along with Lafayette’s Chef de Cuisine Damon Wise and Pastry Chef Jennifer Yee, for a lecture and demonstration at ICE. The trio shared two of Lafayette’s signature dishes: braised short ribs with crispy polenta and a flaky, buttery apple tart. Both were perfect examples of Carmellini’s culinary vision—classics with a twist.


Buttery Apple Tart

In addition to demonstrating these signature dishes, Chef Carmellini shared advice with ICE students and audience members on everything from industry preparedness to ingredient selection. In particular, his insights into the culture and traditions of Southern France (the basis for Lafayette’s exceptional menu) revealed that a significant element of Carmellini’s success is his curiosity and drive to continually further his education.

Sharing the delicious food and industry wisdom of such a respected chef was a truly invaluable experience and a great way to spend a cold winter afternoon. With that in mind, we thank Chef Carmellini, as well as Chef Damon Wise and Chef Jennifer Yee, for taking the time out of their undoubtedly busy schedules to mentor and inspire the next generation of chefs!


By Carly DeFilippo


When Michael Laiskonis got hired for his first job, scooping ice cream in Detroit, he probably never imagined that he would one day be teaching ICE Pastry & Baking students about the complex chemistry of frozen dairy products. In fact, Michael never intended to enter the food industry. Rather, he fell into it by accident, after deciding to abandon formal studies in fine arts and photography for what he describes as an “earn while you learn” approach. And so he entered the business, working the overnight shift at his roommate’s brother’s bakery.

Michael, teaching a petit four class at ICE's School of Professional Development.

Michael, teaching a petit four class at ICE’s School of Professional Development.

Soon enough, Michael discovered he had a certain talent for pastry and wanted to find a more structured environment to further his skills. He found it in Emily’s, a small kitchen with only four chefs. Starting out as a savory cook, Michael gradually absorbed more and more pastry duties, proving his merit until his boss agreed to make him the full-time pastry chef—the first time he would see his name on a restaurant menu.


In 1996, Michael moved to Tribute, starting as a line cook and moving up the ranks until he was again named pastry chef in 1999. The restaurant was at the epicenter of Detroit’s culinary scene, named one of the nation’s best by the New York Times in 2002. In 2003, it became one of only two Detroit restaurants to have garnered a coveted James Beard Award. But by 2004, Michael was looking to test his hand in one of the nation’s culinary capitals, and was referred by a friend to Chef Eric Ripert. After a single 90 minute meeting, Ripert offered Chef Michael the chance to come on as Executive Chef of renowned New York institution, Le Bernadin.

Parsnip brulee and sponge, hazelnut cream, browned milk solids. 2013 "Pastry Pop Chef" at the Star Chefs International Chefs Congress.

Parsnip brulee and sponge, hazelnut cream, browned milk solids. 2013 “Pastry Pop Chef” at the Star Chefs International Chefs Congress.

Making a move to Le Bernadin was no small feat. Michael’s predecessors included one of his idols, François Payard, as well as acclaimed chefs Florian Bellanger, Herve Poussot and Oscar Palacios. But over the next eight years, Michael more than proved his talent, helping the restaurant earn three Michelin stars and four stars from the New York Times. Celebrated for his use of modern techniques to reinvent classic desserts, Michael was also awarded the coveted James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2007.


In 2012, Michael joined the Institute of Culinary Education as our first ever Creative Director. “After a successful 20 years in some amazing kitchens,” Michael explains, “I’d earned a lot of opportunities—and I chose to join the team at ICE. I have always admired ICE, and education is the perfect opportunity for me to give back, to inspire the next generation of chefs to enjoy and excel in a career in culinary or pastry arts.” He has already instrumented significant progress in our kitchens, providing pastry students with a more in-depth look at the science of their craft, and teaching a number of both public seminars and advanced pastry classes in our School of Professional Development.

michael blow torch

Looking back on his career, Michael notes that his path was most unusual in that he stayed in nearly every position for more than five years. He recommends that young chefs only move on to a new position if they feel that they have taken everything they possibly could from that position (including what not to do moving forward). In large part, he credits Chef Takashi from Tribute for establishing his belief in never making a lateral or inferior move, in only moving on if it’s a step up. As for how to judge when it’s time to move on, Michael says, “The day you go into work without a pit in your stomach is the day you start looking for a new job.”


It’s this sense of curiosity and constant pursuit of furthering his own education that has kept Michael at the forefront of his industry. Outside of the rigorous constraints of a restaurant schedule, teaching has provided Michael with the ability to work on innovative research projects and to pursue his lifelong interest in the arts, film, reading and writing. (To date, he has contributed to publications including GourmetSaveur, The Atlantic and a range of professional pastry journals.) Whether in his public demonstrations, writing or other creative endeavors, it’s clear that Michael has developed a newfound appreciation for teaching. After learning so much from others, he insists, “You don’t keep secrets. You have to share.”

By Carly DeFilippo


Last night, ICE students and recent graduates cooked with the culinary stars at the James Beard Awards. Among the hundreds of volunteer opportunities we organize each year, these annual awards stand out as one of the most exciting, providing students with the chance to cook alongside such influential chefs as Grant Achatz, Michael Mina and Marcus Samuelsson.

ICE President Rick Smilow and Culinary Relations Manager Virginia Monaco pose with a trio of hardworking student volunteers.

ICE President Rick Smilow and Culinary Relations Manager Virginia Monaco pose with a trio of hardworking student volunteers.

Often referred to as the “Oscars of food”, these annual awards are among the most elite honors in the culinary field. This year’s theme was, fittingly, “Lights, Camera, Taste”, a celebration of the long-standing relationship between food and film. The sentiment was perhaps best expressed by Outstanding Restauranteur winner, Maguy Le Coze, who exclaimed, “Let’s say it; it’s Hollywood now!”

The event was held at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, overlooking the famous plaza of the performing arts center.

The event was held at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, overlooking the famous plaza of the performing arts center.

Each dish at the awards gala reception was inspired by cinema, with such inventive offerings as Grant Achatz’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Cocktail”, which required giant fish tanks of seaweed-infused liquor. But the most talked about dish of the evening seemed to be Nate Appleman’s “Royale with Cheese”, an upscale slider that sated the discerning palates of the industry attendees.


Student Jonathan Horn cooked alongside Chef Nate Appleman, preparing the event’s most buzzed-about dish.

It was a thrill to see our students’ excitement at serving such celebrated personalities as Martha Stewart, Jacques Pépin, and Daniel Boulud. The evening’s plates surpassed the challenging setting, and we are extremely proud of all the ICE volunteers who helped make the event a success.


Student Jenny Wong helped prepare Chef Aarón Sánchez’s Lamb Enchiladas with Mole Negro.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners, and thank you to the James Beard Foundation for yet another memorable ceremony. We look forward to cooking with you again next year!

ICE alumni are finding success through out the food world. From winning awards for food video production to receiving attention for opening new restaurants, our graduates often have many incredible achievements. Check out just some of the alumni finding success and making recent headlines throughout the industry.

* The James Beard Awards were held in early May, and ICE alumni were among the recipients! Modernist Cuisine by Nathan Myhrvold with Chris Young and Maxime Bilet (Culinary Arts ’05) won in the Cooking from a Professional Point of View category, as well as Cookbook of the Year. Jamie Tiampo (Culinary Management ’06) also took home the award for Video Webcast for eatTV.

* Angela Cuervo (Pastry & Baking Arts ’07), owner of Making That Cake, was a contestant on the new season of Sweet Genius on Food Network.

* David Seigal (Culinary Management ’03) appeared in The New York Times “Off the Menu” column, as chef of Chelsea’s Table, a new family-friendly restaurant in Chelsea Piers.

* Anup Joshi (Culinary Arts ’04), chef de cuisine of Tertulia, was named among Zagat‘s “30 Under 30: NYC’s Hottest Up-and-Comers”.

* Kate McAleer’s (Pastry & Baking Arts/Culinary Management ’11) new organic and natural chocolate business, Bixby & Co., was featured in Dessert Professional.

* Emily Peterson (Culinary/Management ’09) was recently recognized by Chef2chef as one of the country’s top 50 culinary instructors to follow on Twitter.

* Anna Levien (Pastry & Baking Arts ’06) appeared in the New Jersey Herald in a piece on vegan cooking

To network with these ICE alumni and many more, you can connect with Career Services on Facebook or LinkedIn.

There is a reason that the Empire State Building is shining yellow and orange today! This year marks the 25th anniversary of the James Beard Foundation and to commemorate his legacy, the foundation has released a new book, The James Beard Foundation’s Best of the Best: A 25th Anniversary Celebration of America’s Outstanding Chefs and last night they honored these chefs as well as friends of the foundation at the iconic James Beard House in Greenwich Village.

The special evening featured James Beard-inspired hors d-oeuvres prepared by students here at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) along with a diverse group of ICE chefs who included Andy Gold (pictured above), Michael Laiskonis, James Briscione and Chris Gesualdi. After a month of reviewing legendary recipes, the team began prepping a menu reflective of the rich history of James Beard. Many of the students at ICE had a hand in testing, prepping and preparing for this special night.

The chefs and students from ICE arrived at the James Beard House yesterday afternoon and prepped for the guests of honor. When entering the James Beard House, you have to walk through the kitchen before reaching any other room, so not only did the students and chefs prep the food but they were the highlight of the evening. Chef Thomas Keller entered the kitchen and hopped right in to help a student put the finishing touch on a bite size BLT. It was an honor and unique experience to cook the food for this crowd and also receive their feedback right there in the kitchen.


Alumni Round-Up

From running award-winning restaurant kitchens to writing notable cookbooks, ICE alumni continue to win accolades and receive attention for their success. Check out just some of the alumni finding success and making recent headlines.

*The James Beard Award Nominees were announced and ICE alumni are on the list of finalists: Jamie Tiampo (Culinary Management ’06) was nominated in the Video Webcast category for EatTV. Maxime Bilet (Culinary Arts ’05) was nominated, along with Nathan Myhrvold and Chris Young, in the Cooking from a Professional Point of View category for their book Modernist Cuisine. And Tertulia got a nod for Best New Restaurant, where Anup Joshi (Culinary Arts ’04) is chef de cuisine.

*Christine Krupin’s (Culinary ’12) blog post “10 Things I Learned Working in a Restaurant Kitchen” about her time on externship was just published in the Huffington Post. More…

ICE Pastry & Baking Arts alumna Melissa Camacho is among the 14 talented pastry chef-testants set to compete for a sweet victory on Bravo’s Top Chef Just Desserts. We were so thrilled to hear that another former ICE student would be competing on the Emmy- and James Beard Award–winning show! Fellow alum and graduate of the Culinary Arts program Gail Simmons is the host of the show. Competition gets whipped up to another level in the show’s second season, where the contestants will be dealt challenging tasks ranging from concocting delectable fairytale showpieces to edible room décor. Camacho and her fellow contestants will endure pressurized challenges, quick fires and even guest celebrity judges that include the cast of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, renowned Pastry Chef François Payard and even one of the Beastie Boys! We are so excited for Just Dessert’s Aug. 24 premiere! For now, here is a peek of Camacho’s pastry chef credentials: More…

It’s amazing what can change in a year.

Exactly one year ago today, I began my journey as a pastry student at ICE. I stepped into checkered pants and slip-resistant black kitchen shoes for the first time. I buttoned my white chef coat from collar to bottom and covered my curly hair with a commis hat, having no idea the scope of what I would learn in the nine months of class and three months of externship that were to follow.

The question most students leave ICE with is “What Next?” It’s the natural evolution of going through an educational and vocational program that inevitably leads to a change in the course of your career path. For me, when I started the program, my goal was to use my experience as a way to improve my ability to advise students who were going through the same thing. Of course, I was also looking forward to learning how to make a tasty pastry! Through it all, I promised myself to take my own advice and be open to anything that came my way. As much as I warn students that it happens, I truly can’t believe how much my goals and plans changed. In the past year, I fell in love — with working with my hands to create something that others can enjoy, with the thought of having my own food business and with a boy. All of a sudden, my goals and plans changed.

As a Career Services Advisor, I always believed that what I spoke to students about was much more than just their job — what you choose as a job and career path needs to fit your lifestyle and make sense for your career goals and life goals. Last week at the James Beard Awards, I listened to one of the winners as he quoted the saying, “If you love what you’re doing, you’ll never work a day in your life.” It made me realize again just how much of an impact your job can have on your everyday life. I do love my job. I love to meet chefs, listen to their passion for creating a certain type of food and experience and then have the opportunity to taste their expression. I love going to restaurants and watching how well a service staff works in making sure each guest is refilled, cleared and reset. I love sitting down with students and seeing their eyes light up when they verbalize their dream of opening a bakery, working with a chef they’ve looked up to or discovering that there are so many other options in the industry outside of a kitchen. More…

ICE Senior Career Services Advisor Amy Quazza and Director of Career Services Maureen Drum Fagin with Outstanding Chef Award Winner José Andrés

As we welcome spring, food lovers and passionate diners everywhere look forward to the annual James Beard Awards. Celebrated close to the anniversary of James Beard’s birthday in May, the awards are given to the best chefs, restaurants and media in the country. ICE founder Peter Kump helped launch the James Beard Foundation and ICE is proud to maintain close ties to the organization and their hard work to promote and celebrate food in America. The Awards are regarded as the most prestigious awards in the culinary industry, often referred to as the “Oscars” of food.

This year, the awards ceremonies and festivities were spread over the entire weekend as the food world gathered in NYC for a celebration of all things culinary. On Friday night, the foundation held their Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards, hosted by Ted Allen of Food Network’s Chopped and ICE alum Gail Simmons of Bravo’s Top Chef. In fact, Top Chef, took home the award for best Television Show, In Studio or Fixed Location. ICE alums Dominique Andrews and Marie Ostrosky were also nominated for the second year in a row in the Television Special category. More…

Last Thursday, the James Beard Foundation announced the semifinalists for their prestigious Restaurant and Chef Awards. Included on the list are ICE alumni Missy Robbins of A Voce in New York City for Best Chef: New York City and Rachel Yang of Joule in Seattle for Best Chef: Northwest. The final list of nominees will be announced on March 21 and we have our fingers crossed for both of these successful alumni. Both chefs are members of our Alumni Hall of Achievement and neither are strangers to awards. Yang was a James Beard Awards semifinalist for Rising Star Chef in 2009 and Best Chef: Northwest in 2010 and Robbins was selected as one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs in 2010.

Also, Food & Wine will be naming a People’s Best New Chef in addition to their annual Best New Chef awards this year, and ICE alums are also nominated for this brand new award. Held in conjunction with CNN’s Eatocracy, the award will be given to a chef selected by the dining public. Among the highly-respected chefs are ICE alums Alex Pope of R Bar in Kansas City and James Holmes of Olivia in Austin. ICE alum Tiffany MacIsaac’s husband Kyle Bailey of Birch & Barley in Washington D.C. is also nominated for the award (MacIsaac heads up the restaurant’s pastry team). You can vote online anytime before March 1.

Good luck to these ICE alumni!