By Rick Smilow, ICE President

On November 18, eighty people—including several food industry VIPs—gathered at ICE for a Vietnamese cooking party to benefit STREETS International. ICE has admired and supported STREETS’ efforts since the organization’s inception in 2009. Based in Hoi An, Vietnam, STREETS provides culinary and hospitality career training to poor and disadvantaged Vietnamese young adults between the ages of 17 and 21.

Many of the students who are chosen to participate in STREETS’ 18-month program are coming from orphanages and have limited opportunities for future employment. But with the aid of the career training, which includes a year of English language lessons, these young men and women now have the potential for long careers in Vietnam’s growing hotel, tourism and restaurant sector.

See below photos of the hands-on cooking party, which featured traditional Vietnamese ingredients:

Too many chefs in the kitchen? Not this night at ICE!

Too many chefs in the kitchen? Not this night at ICE!

Kitchen B guests learning about their cooking assignment.

Guests learning about their cooking assignment.

Happy guests, left to right, ICE alum Gail Simmons (Top Chef / Food & Wine), Nilou Motamed (Editor-in-Chief, Epicurious), Christina Grdovic (Publisher, Food & Wine) and Pam Norwood (Food & Wine).

Happy guests, left to right, ICE alum Gail Simmons (Top Chef / Food & Wine), Nilou Motamed (Editor-in-Chief, Epicurious), Christina Grdovic (Publisher, Food & Wine) and Pam Norwood (Food & Wine).

Group waiting for the heat to rise includes STREETS board member Ruairi Curtin, President of Bua Bar Group (in tie).

Group waiting for the heat to rise includes STREETS board member Ruairi Curtin, President of Bua Bar Group (in tie).

The cooking efforts did result in a delicious three course meal.

The cooking efforts did result in a delicious three course meal.

The seared rare duck breast with caramel glaze and braised duck leg with soy and spices.

The seared rare duck breast with caramel glaze and braised duck leg with soy and spices.

Neal Bermas (left) and Sondra Stewart (right) presenting Mark Maynard-Parisi, Managing Partner of the Blue Smoke group at Union Square Hospitality Group, with a certificate of appreciation.

Neal Bermas (left) and Sondra Stewart (right) presenting Mark Maynard-Parisi, Managing Partner of the Blue Smoke group at Union Square Hospitality Group, with a certificate of appreciation.

 

The organization’s founders, Neal Bermas and Sondra Stewart, have long been friends of ICE. The two used to live in New York City, where Neal was an instructor in our Culinary Management program and Sondra worked in the field of mergers and acquisitions.

On behalf of STREETS and the staff at ICE, we would like to thank everyone who made this very special fundraiser a success. To find out more or make a donation, visit: http://www.streetsinternational.org/welcome-streets-international.html

 

Streets Chef Competition

Tim Love, Kerry Heffernan, Lauren Glassberg, Mark Maynard Parisi, Daniel Holzman, ICE President Rick Smilow and Neal Bermas

I’m a big advocate of supporting relatively small, entrepreneurial, and spirited non-profit groups that, in their own way, make the world a better place. One such charity is Hoi An, Vietnam–based STREETS International, founded in 2007 by Neal Bermas, a former ICE Culinary Management Instructor, and Sondra Stewart.

STREETS held its annual fundraiser at Astor Center on Thursday, March 29th. And I was lucky enough to attend with a group from ICE. The event included a walk-around tasting with modern street food, a chef cooking competition (for which I was a judge) and a short film about STREETS. Restaurants that participated in the street food tasting included Red Rooster, Morimoto, Bua, Rosa Mexicano, August, Blue Smoke and more. More…

Every year, ICE’s Culinary Management program hosts a one-of-a-kind series of lectures called Meet the Culinary Entrepreneurs, during which a wide range of successful culinary business leaders and luminaries share their expertise with students and guests. Yesterday, Howard Greenstone of Rosa Mexicano restaurants came to ICE to discuss his experience helping grow and develop what is now an international restaurant group specializing in authentic Mexican cuisine with the Culinary Management students. More…

Last night, STREETS International held their Fourth Annual NYC Benefit at Astor Center. STREETS is a non-profit organization founded by former ICE Culinary Management Instructor Neal Bermas in 2009. The program is part hospitality and culinary school and part restaurant café in Hoi An, Vietnam, where local, disadvantaged youth are offered an 18-month training program that teaches them skills and expertise necessary to achieve financial independence and begin a new career in the food industry.

The fundraiser brought together top chefs and mixologists such as Masaharu Morimoto of Morimoto, Anita Lo of Annisa, Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern, Harold Dieterle of Kin Shop and Jim Meehan of PDT, among others. The chefs interpreted street food in their own styles and made a variety of different dishes for the event. For instance, Kenny Callaghan of Blue Smoke made Mini Tuna Tacos, David Suarez of Rosa Mexicano made Banh Mi Mexicano and David Waltuck of Ark Restaurants made Chicken Dumplings with Hot Sesame Oil. Our own Chef Instructor Erica Wides, who has traveled extensively in Southeast Asia, gave a short demonstration on her dish of Braised Clay Pot Pork with Quail Eggs. ICE students also helped out at the event working alongside the chefs. All were happy to donate their time and energy to the cause. More…

On Wednesday, March 30, New York City’s top chefs and mixologists will join STREETS International for a memorable tasting event and auction at their fourth annual NYC fundraising event. STREETS is a non-profit organization that is part hospitality school and part restaurant café in Hoi An, Vietnam, where local, disadvantaged youth are offered an 18-month training program designed to give them the tools and skills to achieve financial independence and start a new career in the food industry. Neal Bermas, formerly a Culinary Management instructor at ICE, started the program. Just a few months ago, ICE students and alumni visited the STREETS Restaurant Café for a cross-cultural cooking lesson with the program’s first graduating class.

Held at The Astor Center, the fundraiser will bring together top chefs who will offer their interpretation of street food and mixologists who will offer signature cocktails inspired by Southeast Asia. The list of chefs and mixologists includes Masaharu Morimoto of Morimoto, Anita Lo of Annisa, Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern, Harold Dieterle of Kin Shop and Jim Meehan of PDT, among others.

For more information or to buy tickets, please visit the STREETS International website.

Last week, DICED brought you the story of ICE students, alumni and instructors’ holiday visit to Streets International in Vietnam. While that was certainly a highlight, the group participated in many other activities during their nine-day trip. Here is a look at their time in Ho Chi Min City.

The group arrived in Ho Chi Min City after a grueling two days of traveling, including a flight on Christmas Eve. (Luckily, Director of Student Affairs Andy Gold was on hand to play Santa and give everyone a bag of chocolates during the flight.) After four airline meals, the group craved only one thing, the most famous of all Vietnamese foods, pho. The group’s tour guide told them about a place that former President Bill Clinton ate at, Pho 2000. On the corner of a busy intersection was a huge sign that said “The President’s Favorite Pho.” The ICE group sat down and ordered four bowls of pork pho and four bowls of chicken pho. To wash it down, eight orders of weasel coffee — thick, rich Vietnamese drip coffee made even richer with sweetened condensed milk. Chef Andy said, “We couldn’t wait for our pho. We each had a big bowl of steaming broth and noodles placed in front of us, with thin slices of meat shingled across the tight swirl of noodles. Small plates of sliced birds’ eye red chilies as well as bowls of spicy basil and mint sprigs were also out in front of us. It did not disappoint.”

After pho, the group began their culinary experience in Vietnam by going to a large traditional market, the Ben Thanh Market. They visited food stalls with Chef Binh, who used to work at the famous Hotel Majestic. She shopped for local ingredients and supplies with the students, explaining everything culinary along the way. The group then prepared lunch back at the Saigon Culinary Arts Center in a class designed for professional hotel and restaurant chefs in Vietnam, a memorable way to begin learning about the modern cuisine of Vietnam. More…

Earlier this week, ICE Instructors, students and alumni returned from a nine-day trip to Vietnam where they explored the cuisine and culture of Southeast Asia. The group traveled from south to north, eating and sampling as the cuisine changes with the landscape. With trips and tours of museums, cities, towns and landmarks as well as hands-on culinary excursions, the group was immersed in both the history and culture of the area to enrich their understanding of Vietnamese food.

One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the Streets International restaurant and culinary training center. This unique program trains former streets kids for a career in the culinary industry. Former ICE Culinary Management Instructor Neal Bermas founded the innovative program. During their visit, the ICE students and Streets International trainees went shopping in a Hoi An market and cooked lunch at Streets Restaurant Café. More…