By Stephanie Fraiman

This week, more than 200 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 - Events - STREETS International Benefit

Chef Anita Lo of Annisa poses between ICE President Rick Smilow and an ICE student Volunteer at the STREETS International 7th Annual Benefit Wednesday night, at the Astor Center in NYC.

STREETS was founded by Dr. Neal Bermas (a former ICE Culinary Management instructor) and his partner Sondra Stewart in 2007. Now in its seventh year of success, 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. Among its most notable accolades,  STREETS was inducted into the Clinton Global Initiative in 2014.


ICE - Events - STREETS International Benefit

Video presentation at the benefit. Photo courtesy of Joe Wehner

This year, STREETS hosted its annual benefit event at the Astor Center in New York City. ICE students cooked alongside such esteemed chefs as Daniel Boulud and Anita Lo, preparing Southeast Asian-inspired street food for the event.

ICE - Events - STREETS International Benefit

Chef Daniel Boulud, Neal Bermas (STREETS International Founder), Mark Maynard-Parisi (Senior Managing Partner at Blue Smoke Enterprises), and Danny Meyer. Photo courtesy of Joe Wehner.

ICE - Events - STREETS International Benefit

Chefs from restaurants around the city join STREETS International founder Neal Bermas. Photo courtesy of Joe Wehner

Among the wide range of celebrated New York restaurants participating in the event were The Meatball Shop, Pok Pok, Toro, Annisa, DBGB, Blue Smoke, Pearl and Ash, Umi Nom/Kuma Inn, Num Pang, Le Colonial and Ai Fiori. Guests toasted the evening with specialty cocktails crafted by top mixologists from The Wren.

ICE - Events - STREETS International Benefit

ICE - Events - STREETS International Benefit

ICE - Events - STREETS International Benefit

ICE - Events - STREETS International Benefit

From left: Leslie McEachern (owner, Angelica Kitchen), Stephen Zagor (Dean, ICE School of Business & Management Studies, and Marion Nestlé (Paulette Goddard Professor, Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, & Public Health, New York University).

ICE - Events - STREETS International Benefit

ICE - Events - STREETS International Benefit

ICE - Events - STREETS International Benefit

Thanks to the help of STREETS’ many benefactors the event was a roaring success. It costs $1,800 for one student to complete the training program, and the benefit raised more than $100,000 for the organization. To learn more about STREETS and how you can contribute to their mission, click here.

ICE - Events - STREETS International Benefit

ICE was proud to be a part of the benefit, which raised over $100,000 for the charity organization on Wednesday night.


By Maureen Drum Fagin, Director of Career Services

What do the pastry chef of Riverpark, a sous chef for Union Square Events, the HR director of Breads Bakery, a pastry cook for Jean-Georges, a sales associate at D’Artagnan, and a cook for Gracie Mansion have in common? They are all ICE alumni, and they were all welcomed back to ICE recently for our annual Alumni Party.

ICE Alumni Party 2014 -

For recent graduates like Lauren Isenhour ’14 (Cook, Bouley Restaurant), the chance to mingle with more experienced alumni is an exceptional networking opportunity.

Each spring, ICE throws open its doors to graduates from all four of our career programs – Culinary Arts, Pastry & Baking Arts, Culinary Management and Hospitality Management – for a celebration of all the talented folks who make up our dynamic alumni network. Over beverages and hors d’oeuvres provided by chef-instructor, Sabrina Sexton (herself a Culinary Arts ’94 alum), this year’s 150 or so attendees caught up with staff, faculty, and fellow classmates, while mingling and connecting with graduates from across many years and all 4 programs. (ICE has launched over 10,000 careers, so party attendees represent just a small sliver of our alumni population, which spans the globe!)

ICE Alumni Party 2014 - Maureen Drum Fagin and Eric Perlmutter -

The party was a great opportunity for ICE alumni to reunite with their Career Services advisors. Here, Maureen Drum Fagin, Director of Career Services & Administration, welcomes back Eric Perlmutter ’04 (Co-Owner, E&E Grillhouse – Hill and Bay).

Among the night’s highlights was a presentation by ICE President, Rick Smilow, of ICE’s future new home at Brookfield Place (the redeveloped World Financial Center) and the chance to meet the newest member of ICE’s extended family: the daughter of two ICE grads, Matthew Chin and Jonelle Thompson (Culinary ’09 and ’07).

ICE Alumni Party 2014 - Rick Smilow -

ICE President Rick Smilow shared school updates and news with the alumni community.

ICE Alumni Party 2014 - Matthew Chin and Jonelle Thompson -

ICE Alumni: Matthew Chin ’09 (Baker, Balthazar) and Jonelle Thompson ’07 (Wine Consultant, Lenz Vineyard) and their daughter Blaise.

We were also delighted to give away some of the many ICE alum-authored books to come out in the last year, including those by the recent James Beard and IACP Award-winners such as Edward Behr (Culinary ’84), 50 Foods: The Essentials of Good Taste; Amy Thielen (Culinary ’00) The New Midwestern Table; and Rick Mast (Management ’06), Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook.

ICE Alumni Party 2014 - Maureen Drum Fagin and Michael Eng -

Alumni attendees had the opportunity to win various culinary prizes. Here, Maureen Drum Fagin shows off one of them with ICE alum Michael Eng ’11 (Chef – Catering, Marcey Brownstein Catering).

ICE Alumni Party 2014 - Cristian Quiroz -

Cristian Quiroz ’10 (Chef de Cuisine, Txikito – El Quinto Pino – La Vara) shares post-graduation experiences with his ICE peers.

A great time was had by all, and we’re energized about the prospect of following everyone’s successes over the coming year. To read more about recent ICE alumni success, click here.

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.

This blog posting by Rick Smilow, president of ICE, is the second of two posts on Chef Thomas Keller’s September 7 lecture. Culinary Relations Manager, Virgina Monaco wrote the first. Keller came to ICE for many reasons and one of these was his long time friendship with ICE Chef and Instructor Chris Gesualdi. Thomas and Chris worked and cooked together at three NYC restaurants in the 80’s: La Reserve, Raphael and Rakel.

On Friday evening September 7, ICE hosted Thomas Keller, one of Americas most admired and influential chefs. Keller, most known as the chef and owner of The French Laundry and Per Se, addressed over 100 ICE students, alumni and staff for 90 minutes before signing books – nearly 100 of them!

He covered a wide range of topics and answered a series of questions that students had submitted in advance.

One of the student’s questions dealt with inspiration and where it comes from. Chef Keller said it happens rarely, and that you have to be ready for it, as you don’t know in advance that it will happen. He wryly observed that an artist, a musician, a poet and a chef could be walking down the street together and each see a leaf fall. From that, each would be inspired differently. As a real life anecdote, Keller said that his signature salmon cornet appetizer was inspired many years ago, by a Baskin-Robbins ice cream cone standing rack.

On the subject of what he looks for when hiring new employees, Keller answered that people expect the answer to be passion, but the actual answer is desire. He went on to explain that he knows that passion is something that ebbs and flows, but desire is something that you can bring to work every day.

Speaking about what his goals are for the customer experience in each of his restaurants, Chef Keller said that he wants to make sure each of his guests leaves with a great memory of the dining experience and that memory defines success.

Keller is widely known for his commitment, interest and dedication to using the finest ingredients. Sometimes those ingredients are local, and sometimes not.  But he pointed out that sustainability has various meanings and dimensions. So when his Napa Valley restaurants source butter from Orwell, Vermont or lobsters from Stonington, Maine, the product is not literally local, but he happily knows that he is helping small producers sustain their lifestyle and the economics of their own rural community.

Talking about the future, he said that one of his driving forces now, was what he called the next generation. That means that he, and his top staff, spend a lot of time training and mentoring. Keller said he thinks it is critical that the younger generations in his kitchens have the confidence and encouragement to collaborate.

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 culinary career paths. DICED shares some of them with you in a reoccurring feature: “Unique Culinary Careers.”

We’ve already met some professionals who have dedicated their passion for the culinary arts to helping others learn to cook or find careers in the restaurant world. But there are also careers that put a passion for food to work helping to feed the hungry. Ed Debiec, a 2006 ICE Culinary Arts alum, is the Demonstration Chef at the Desert Mission Food Bank, a part of the John C. Lincoln Health Network in Phoenix, Arizona. There, he helps educate the food bank’s clients about nutrition and cooking to promote healthy eating. Debiec graduated from the ICE program when he was 62 years old and has gone on to find a career than makes him in his own words “a truly happy man.” After he stopped by to catch up with his old Chef Instructors a few weeks ago, we asked him about his line of work and what it means to him.

How would you describe your job?
The Demonstration Chef’s job is varied, challenging and interesting. Mainly, the job is to deliver nutrition education to clients and students — presenting recipes, providing samples for clients to taste, delivering outreach programs to schools and community centers, cooking demonstrations, serving as a resource, quality control, healthy eating and sanitation all make up the chef’s job. More…

Last night, ICE participated in the Careers through Culinary Arts Program’s (C-CAP) annual benefit at Pier Sixty on the Chelsea Piers. Over 38 chefs from around NYC came out to support this unique charitable program which is designed to encourage high school students who show interest and aptitude in the culinary arts to turn their passion into a long-term career. ICE President Rick Smilow was a long serving member of the program’s board of directors, and every year he shows his support by providing scholarships to attend culinary school and hosting their annual scholarship cooking competition.

Kristine Johnson of CBS served as the evening’s emcee, introducing Founder of C-CAP Richard Grausman who spoke about C-CAP’s mission to provide culinary employment opportunities for youth. After Grausman, C-CAP alumni Sylva Senat spoke about how the program served as the foundation of his career and helped him become the Executive Chef of Tashan in Philadelphia. The event’s Honorary Co-Chair, the illustrious Bette Midler, introduced the evening’s honoree, Michael McCarty.  Michael is credited with helping to pioneer the local, fresh and organic movement and opening Michael’s restaurant in Santa Monica in 1979 and Michael’s New York in 1989. To this day, both restaurants remain hot spots renowned for their fresh, seasonal, contemporary American cuisine. He has long been a supporter of C-CAP, welcoming the program’s graduates into his kitchens. More…

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 culinary career paths. DICED shares some of them with you in a reoccurring feature: “Unique Culinary Careers.”

The food business is dependent on the network of food suppliers and purveyors. Chefs must source all the food they cook with from the businesses that sell it — if an ingredient isn’t available or of poor quality then the menu suffers. Joe Navin is the founder of Fresh Focus, a boutique fresh-cut produce processing company. In addition to a line of commercial packaged fruit and vegetables, they also offer an assortment of consumer-ready fresh-cut produce. From single-serving apple slices to stir-fry mixes, they offer an extensive variety of fruits and vegetables prepared to a wide range of specifications. Their 4,000 square-foot facility and office is located in Maspeth, Queens. All of their produce is cut on-site to order, ensuring that customers receive fresh-cut, ready-to-use produce. It’s a unique company and we sat down with him to get a look inside the world of produce.

How would you describe your job?
Fresh Focus is a fresh-cut fruit and vegetable processing in Queens. We’re still a start-up so I’m heavily involved in all aspects of the business and overseeing operations, as well as obtaining new business. We deal in lettuce, carrots, celery, peppers, pineapples, and anything else our customers ask for. The produce is either vacuum-sealed or heat-sealed in trays depending on water content. But we also offer consumer-ready packaging. We are selling mostly to distributors and wholesalers who sell the product. More…

Artichokes in the Testaccio market. The Coliseum at night.

ICE President Rick Smilow recently spent several days in Rome. As always, he had a few food adventures on his journey (regular readers will remember his trips to Mississipi and Chicago). In this account of his food tour through Rome’s Testaccio neighborhood, he shares how he did as the Romans do and ended up eating very well.

I’m a big fan of history, food and touring. So on our recent holiday trip to Rome, it was easy to get excited about our planned, Eating Italy Food Tour in Rome.

Philadelphia native Kenny Dunn started Eating Italy Food Tours in early 2011. Ken and his wife Ana moved to Rome in 2009 when she took a position as an economist for the UN’s Food & Agriculture Organization. At present, he runs one incredibly enjoyable and delicious tour of Rome’s Testaccio neighborhood. Throughout history, Testaccio has played a key role in Rome’s food culture. During the Roman Empire, the area had docks on the Tiber River where barges delivered food. Later, in 1890, a slaughterhouse that was once the largest in Europe was built there. Now, there is a covered stall, local food market there, open from 7:30am to 1:00pm, that is Rome’s largest such market. Our Testaccio tour included seven stops on a sunny but brisk December Tuesday. It was scheduled as a group tour, but on this particular day, my family was the only group. More…

Since 1975, ICE has been training students for successful careers in the culinary world. In those 36 years, ICE has seen incredible talent pass through our kitchens and classrooms who then go on to become leaders in their chosen art. We are continually amazed by the passion and dedication of our students as they set out on new careers in the food industry, and are impressed by where their newly learned skills and hard-work takes them. Now, ICE is proud to announce the launch of the ICE Student Awards Program to publicly recognize our amazing students in the Culinary Arts, Pastry & Baking Arts, Culinary Management and Hospitality Management programs.

In each graduating career training class at ICE, three students will be recognized for their accomplishment with an award given out at their class’ senior reception. The awards are meant to recognize students who have displayed exceptional dedication and commitment to their education. More…

The annual Great Gathering of Chefs is coming up on September 14. It is an extraordinary tasting with 20 of the best restaurants in New York including Nobu, Landmarc, Boulud Sud, Aureole, Gilt, Spice Market, Buddakan, Negril Village, Ai Fiori and The Hurricane Club. Plus, there will be wine pairings by Sud de France.

The event brings together 150 of some of the world’s most celebrated chefs to raise money for Action Against Hunger. 100% of net proceeds from the event will be donated to Action Against Hunger to help support their efforts to fight world hunger. Institute of Culinary Education President Rick Smilow is on the Board of Advisors of this international food relief agency.

Plus, the event is the launch party for the two new books, Salads and Pies, by renowned culinary photographer Battman. Salad contains a stunning dish from ICE Director of Student Affairs Andy Gold. Also participating in the books are over 200 chefs such as Eric Ripert, Alexandra Guarnaschelli, Michael White, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Michael Laiskonis, Emeril Lagasse, Daniel Boulud and Nobu Matsuhisa, just to mention a few.

Visit the event website for more information on how to buy tickets.

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