By Dana Mortell

This spring, ICE was thrilled to invite renowned Chef/Restaurateur Ken Oringer to share his experience and insight with our students. As a James Beard award-winning chef of four celebrated Boston restaurants and one New York location, Oringer has helped shape the national culinary scene, using his passion for travel and exotic cuisines to inform his creativity in the kitchen.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Growing up, Oringer wasn’t surrounded by unique ingredients or international cuisines. But as a kid, he always wanted to hold a knife because he knew he belonged in a restaurant kitchen. Whenever his parents would take him to Chinatown, Ken was always amazed by the cooks stir frying in woks over a high heat flame. His favorite treat at street fairs was lamb on a stick, an exotic foodstuff in his Massachusetts hometown. Observing these different techniques and flavors fostered his curiosity well into his adolescence.

Oringer’s first foray in the business was a position at a family-run Italian deli. There, he learned how mise en place and preparation influenced the end product. Once he reached the ripe age of 15 years, he decided that it was his time to work in a proper restaurant. He went door-to-door asking for work, even if it was unpaid. All Ken wanted was the experience of working in a professional kitchen to enhance his skills, which he continued to do through high school.

Following his parents’ influence, Ken headed off to business school, but still dreamed of being a chef. He nearly flunked out after his first semester at Bryant College, continuing to research food during his spare time. However, the strict curriculum in finance and accounting wound up being a blessing, benefiting the day-to-day operations of his current restaurant group.

After graduating from college, Oringer knew that he didn’t want to sit behind a desk. His business school internships had proved uninspiring, and he knew that his heart was still in the kitchen. Ken enrolled in culinary school with an exceptional sense of focus. He knew exactly what he needed to do to succeed and was always the first student in class and the last one out. Ken also explains that he wasn’t afraid to make mistakes in class, seeing them as an opportunity to learn as much as possible from his chef-instructors.

Ken Oringer - Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs -

Photo Credit:

Once it was time to choose an externship site, Oringer sought placement at the River Café in Brooklyn with Chef David Burke. It was the 1980s and Burke was fearless. Ken had frontline access to a menu chock-full of exotic items such as duck tongue confit. He recalls wanting to taste everything to make up for lost years, having only tasted sushi or oysters for the first time as an undergrad. As an entry-level cook with no money, River Café gave him the opportunity to experience these new ingredients while learning and working.

After culinary school, Oringer went back to New England and got his first job at Al Forno in Providence, Rhode Island. The restaurant was among the first to start using organic and local ingredients, similar to the Alice Waters philosophy. Over the next few years, Oringer worked his way up to the role of pastry chef and created a menu where all ice cream was made to order.

But Oringer had more on his mind than Italian classics. On one occasion, he remembers visiting an off-the-beaten-path Cambodian restaurant in South Providence. From fresh galangal to fried shallots, he was endlessly intrigued by the use of these new and complex flavors. He gave Al Forno his two weeks’ notice, and headed back to Boston to pursue the next phase of his career.

In Boston, Oringer begged to be hired at Le Marquis de Lafayette, a prominent French restaurant where Jean-Georges was consulting chef, incorporating flavors from Bangkok throughout the menu. He may have been the only American in a kitchen of French-speakers, but Ken was enamored with Jean-Georges’ cooking style. He was working with the best products from around the world, including kilos of black truffles. Eventually, Oringer was promoted to sous chef, mastering the art of survival in one of the country’s most demanding kitchens.

After a stint as the Chef de Cuisine at Silks in the Mandarin Oriental in San Francisco crafting Asian-influenced French cuisine, Oringer returned to Boston to open his first restaurant, Clio, in 1997. This was the point when business school became highly valuable, aiding with the design, financials and business plan for the restaurant. Clio was a rustic space with a casual vibe that served contemporary French and Asian cuisine. From day one, the restaurant was packed; a success owed in large part to the quality of Oringer’s staff. A team of positive and driven individuals, he recalls the team as being particularly respectful and effective communicators.

Clio opened the door to future opportunities for Oringer. In 1998, when he heard the James Beard Foundation nominated him for Best New Chef Northeast, he was shocked—and even more so when he won the award in 2001. With national recognition under his belt, developers and moguls started to approach him with national and international consulting and partnership ideas, but Oringer knew he had to be selective.

Uni, a sashimi bar located in the lounge of Clio, opened in 2002. It was born of Oringer’s travels to Asia, where he was inspired by chefs who spent their entire careers mastering a single style of dish or set of ingredients, especially the individuals who mastered tempura. Impressed by the art of performing and repeating a recipe for years on end, Oringer chose to have Uni specialize in different styles of sashimi, without maki rolls or rice. Oringer’s further travels brought him to Barcelona, where he was seduced by the culture of Spain’s tapas bars. Capturing the culture of social eating, Oringer opened Toro, following by the Italian enoteca, Copa, in 2010.

Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonette at Toro. Photo Credit:

Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonette at Toro in NYC. Photo Credit:

Oringer’s most recent project was opening a second location of Toro in New York City on 15th Street and 10th avenue—the same block as Mario Batali’s Del Posto and Tom Colicchio’s Colicchio & Sons. The restaurant opened in 2013 in a 9,000 square foot space with a private dining room, offering house-made charcuterie and 65 items on the menu. Oringer is thrilled to have his business translate to the competitive culture of New York dining, and the restaurant has proved a fantastic success.

Despite all his success, Oringer is an extremely humble individual whose philosophy is one of hard work, creativity and respect in the kitchen, while maintaining an open mind. Having great food isn’t good enough. His staff is taught to treat people well and take on the attitude that no task is too big or too small. That said, Oringer insists that cultivating an environment where the staff wants to stay is key, a task made more manageable by granting requests for personal matters and scheduling fairly. From what we can see, dedication, focus and clear communication—and never giving in to the temptation of ego—have been the main secrets to the success of Ken Oringer.


Click here to read more stories of successful food industry entrepreneurs who have visited ICE.

By Carly DeFilippo

Often referred to as the “Oscars of Food”, the annual James Beard Awards honor the country’s most respected chefs, restaurateurs, beverage professionals, food journalists, activists and media professionals. As one of the most anticipated culinary events each year, the JBF gala is always full of exciting wins for the ICE alumni community and offers an exceptional opportunity for current ICE students to volunteer alongside the industry’s most respected chefs.

ICE students support alumnus Brian Recor, Chef de Cuisine at Morgan's in the Desert.

ICE students support alumnus Brian Recor, Chef de Cuisine at Morgan’s in the Desert.

This year, we were thrilled to have 36 culinary and pastry students participate (more than any other culinary school!), supporting such esteemed chefs as Kevin Sbraga (Sbraga Dining—Philadelphia), Bill Corbett (Absinthe Group—San Francisco), Robert Del Grande (Restaurant RDG/Bar Annie—Houston), Paul Qui (Qui—Austin) and Sue Torres (Tierra—Westport, CT).

ICE President Rick Smilow caught up with alum Gail Simmons, nabbing a selfie with famed musician and food lover, Questlove.

ICE President, Rick Smilow, caught up with alum and Top Chef host, Gail Simmons, nabbing a selfie with famed musician and food lover, Questlove.

It was also exciting to see ICE alumni Brian Recor, Chef de Cuisine at Morgan’s in the Desert (La Quina, CA), and Aaron Gottesman, Chef de Cuisine at The Fat Ham (Philadelphia), representing their home restaurants at Monday night’s gala. Additionally, at Friday’s Broadcast, Book and Journalism awards, ICE alumnus Matthew Riznyk, Executive Chef at Great Performances, masterminded and oversaw the catering for more than four hundred of the most influential personalities in food media and publishing.

ICE culinary student Mariseli volunteers alongside alumnus Aaron Gottesman (Chef de Cuisine, The Fat Ham—Philadelphia). JBF award winner and ICE alum Amy Thielen attends Monday's gala with her husband.

ICE culinary student Mariseli volunteers alongside alumnus Aaron Gottesman (Chef de Cuisine, The Fat Ham—Philadelphia). JBF award winner and ICE alum Amy Thielen attends Monday’s gala with her husband.

Last, but certainly not least, we were thrilled to congratulate ICE alumni Amy Thielen, Greta Anthony and Ed Behr on their Beard award wins, recognizing their contributions to the fields of food publishing and media. Amy’s cookbook The New Midwestern Table won in the category of “American Cooking”, while Greta’s work on Martha Stewart brought home the award for “Television Program – in Studio or Fixed Location”. Renowned founder and editor of The Art of Eating, Ed Behr, was one of six inductees into the Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America”.

ICE President, Rick Smilow, catches up with JBF award-winning alum Ed Behr.

ICE President, Rick Smilow, catches up with JBF award-winning alum Ed Behr.


By Carly DeFilippo

The Institute of Culinary Education takes great pride in the success and advancement of our staff and alumni. As we enter the culinary awards season, we are thrilled to recognize the wide variety of nominations, honors and awards that have been presented to members of our school community. From a Thai-inspired restaurant, to a chocolate-centric cookbook, award-winning turns on food television to the “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America”, their culinary accomplishments could not be more diverse.

One trend we have seen is that many of our alumni in the spotlight are entrepreneurs or small business owners. And even more notable, given the recent buzz about women’s role in the culinary world, is that four ICE alumni chefs nominated as semi-finalists for James Beard Awards are female.

ICE Awards Brady Bunch
International Association of Culinary Professionals – 2014 Awards

Each spring, the IACP honors the industry’s best work in food writing, photography, design, and journalism and presents “Awards of Excellence” to institutions and individuals who have demonstrated an exceptional dedication to the culinary arts, as well as innovation and leadership in their specific field.

ICE Creative Director Michael Laiskonis received the IACP Award of Excellence for “Culinary Professional of the Year”.

ICE alumnus Rick Mast (Culinary Management ’06), co-owner of the Brooklyn-based Mast Brothers Chocolate took home the “Best Single Subject Cookbook” award for Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Affair.

ICE Pastry & Baking Arts Instructor Jenny McCoy was nominated for her first cookbook, Desserts for Every Season, in the category of “Baking: Savory or Sweet”.

ICE alumnus Sarah Copeland (Culinary Arts ’02) was nominated in the category of “Culinary Based Column” for her work on “Things Cooks Know” at the magazine Real Simple.

James Beard Foundation – 2014 Awards

In February, the James Beard Foundation announced the semi-finalists for the organization’s 2014 awards, including four female ICE alumni chefs. In March, five alumni were nominated for their work in food media and one was inducted into the organization’s “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America”. The award winners will be announced May 5th at Lincoln Center in NY.

Ann Redding (Culinary Arts ’02) and her husband Matt Danzer’s New York City restaurant, Uncle Boons, is a semi-finalist for “Best New Restaurant (in America)”.

Tiffany MacIsaac (Culinary Arts ’02), Executive Pastry Chef/Co- Owner, Neighborhood Restaurant Group in Washington, D.C. / Virginia is named an “Outstanding Pastry Chef” semi-finalist.

Rachel Yang (Culinary Arts ’01) and her husband Seif Chirchi are nominated as semi-finalists as “Best Chef: Northwest” for their work as Chef/Owners of Joule Restaurant in Seattle.

Vivian Howard (Culinary Arts ’03) is a semi-finalist for “Best Chef: Southeast” as Chef/Co-Owner of Chef & the Farmer in Kinston, NC. She is also nominated for “Television Program, On Location” for her work as host of A Chef’s Life on PBS.

Ed Behr (Culinary Arts ’84) will be inducted into the JBF “Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America” on May 5th, for his significant contributions to the industry as the founder, editor and publisher of the quarterly food magazine, The Art of Eating.

Kristen Miglore (Culinary Arts ‘09) is nominated for her Food52 column “Genius Recipes” in the JBFA media category of “Food-Related Columns”.

Sarah Copeland (Culinary Arts ’02) is nominated as a cookbook author in the “Vegetable Focused and Vegetarian” category for Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite.

Greta Anthony (Pastry & Baking Arts ’95) is nominated for her work as Producer on Martha Stewart’s Cooking School in the “Television Program, In Studio or Fixed Location” category.

Jamie Tiampo (Culinary Management ’06) is nominated for his work with SeeFood Media as a host of Upwave Eat Videos in the category of “Video Webcast, Fixed Location and/or Instructional”.



A letter from ICE President and CEO, Rick Smilow:


Last night in San Francisco, ICE took home the International Association of Culinary Professionals Award of Excellence for “Cooking School of the Year”. We are thrilled to win this honor, having previously won other IACP awards in 2008 and 2011.


This award is made possible by the skill and passion of the dozens of chef-instructors who teach in ICE’s School of Recreational Cooking.  Additionally, this award is a credit to our staff from stewards and the customer service team to the kitchen assistants and maintenance crew, who coordinate the schools’ almost  24 hour a day of operations. In particular, this year’s win recognizes the planning and creativity of Kate McCue, Director of our School of Recreational Cooking,as well as Susan Streit, Associate Manager and Dan Stone, Recipe Editor.


Hot off winning a James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef, Mindy Segal visited ICE this week to share her experience opening the Chicago gem, Hot Chocolate.  Her visit was part of our Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs series, which gives ICE’s Culinary Management students the opportunity to learn from some of America’s top culinary business owners.

Segal was full of knowledge and eager to share as much as she could in her time with ICE students. You could see her passion for food within minutes of chatting with her and the students kept her rolling with question after question.

Growing up, Segal didn’t play with Barbies, instead she grew up pretending to be in a restaurant. She didn’t do well in school due to a learning disability but found comfort working in kitchens. She attended culinary school and began working in several kitchens, which included the prestigious role of pastry chef at Charlie Trotter’s.  She went on to open Hot Chocolate, where she prides herself on craft food and a comfortable, relaxed dining experience. Segal joked that many people come to her restaurant for the dessert and they stay for the food.

When describing her leadership style, Segal tells her staff that they have to feel comfortable making mistakes in order to learn. One of the most important lessons she has learned when running the restaurant is when people understand your expectation, they are successful. She also recently started to bring her yoga techniques into the restaurant telling her staff to “be present” and “let’s get ourselves into hot chocolate!”

Segal shared samples of her s’more cookies as well as her signature cold hot chocolate and encouraged students to never stop learning. She is a big believer in this – so much so that she has a tattoo that says “the more you think you know, the less you know.”

And finally, when asked what her favorite dessert was, she responded, “I am a banana, caramel and chocolate kind of girl!”

For info on the next Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs lectures, including David Burke and Lucinda Scala Quinn of Martha Stewart Living, check out our culinary career development class listings.

Originally formed in 1985 to celebrate James Beard’s 82nd birthday, Monday night marked the 27th annual Chef’s Tribute to Citymeals-on-Wheels. This annual al fresco event kicks off the summer season in New York City and is held at Rockefeller Center. While James passed away a few months prior to the first event, the gala now salutes America’s harvest and American talent as a tribute to him.

Monday night’s event was a celebration of food and film as renowned chefs gathered and served dishes inspired by their favorite movies. Over 40 students from ICE volunteered at the event and worked with some of the greatest chefs in the nation. We are so proud of their hard work – see below for highlights from the evening. Hats off!


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.


ICE Alum Aurora Nessly in Jamie Tiampo's SeeFood Media Kitchen

When ICE President Rick Smilow and Anne E. McBride wrote Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food they discovered a plethora of food jobs they had never heard of before. Since the book’s release, they have been discovering even more interesting career paths in the food world. DICED shares some of them with you in a reoccurring feature, “Unique Culinary Careers.”

Jamie Tiampo worked for years in enterprise software and as a technology executive at IBM, but followed his passion for food and photography to a culinary career as a food media specialist. Now, he is a food photographer, video producer and small business owner. Jamie has worked in all kinds of food media, photographing top-selling cookbooks and videoing culinary events such as the James Beard Awards for his website EatTV. His company, SeeFood Media recently opened a studio with four kitchens designed for film production. Just last week, Tiampo won a 2011 International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Cookbook Award in the Children, Youth and Family category for his photography in Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners and he was recently elected to serve on the IACP Board of Directors. In case that wasn’t enough, he is also a partner in dell’anima and L’Artusi restaurants.

How would you describe your job?
I deal in one thing — food. I just talk about it on different platforms through SeeFood Media. First, we do rentals of our kitchen studios for TV and film. We have four sets, and are about to have a fifth. Second, we offer creative services and end-to-end production for companies looking for media content. And the third thing we do is produce our own editorial content for EatTV. So, we produce, shoot and edit really, really interesting things. 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…

Subscribe to the ICE Blog

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notification of new posts via email.