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

 

 

By Carly DeFilippo

 

Last week, more than 250 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.

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ICE students cooked alongside alumni of the program, Le Thi Thuy and Nguyen Than Linh, preparing traditional dishes served in the STREETS Restaurant and Cafe in Hoi An. It was Le and Nguyen’s first time in the United States, an opportunity to spend two weeks exploring the city’s culinary industry, culminating with their appearance at the annual benefit, held at the Astor Center. For two students who couldn’t speak a word of English just two years ago, Le and Nguyen presented the dishes and culture of Vietnam with exceptional poise and enthusiasm.

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STREETS was founded by Dr. Neil Bermas and his partner Sondra Stewart in 2009. Today, 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.

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ICE President Rick Smilow and Chef Floyd Cardoz (North End Grill)

As for the dishes served at the fundraiser, a range of celebrated New York restaurants provided unique tastings. The line-up included August, Blue Smoke, North End Grill, Nightingale 9, Rosa Mexicano, Kuma Inn, Edi & the Wolf, Num Pang and The Meatball Shop.

Thanks to the help of STREETS’ many benefactors, including local culinary leaders such as Howard Greenstone (Rosa Mexicano), Phillip Baltz (Baltz & Company), Mark Maynard Parisi (Blue Smoke), and ICE President Rick Smilow, the event was a rousing success. It costs $1,800 for one student to complete the training program, and the benefit raised more than $125,000 for the organization.

ICE alum and TV personality Gail Simmons, Dr. Neal Bermas, and students from STREETS International

ICE alum and TV personality Gail Simmons, Dr. Neal Bermas, and students from STREETS International

Thank you to all the members of the ICE community who came out to support this incredible cause. As Dr. Bermas mentioned in his speech, we couldn’t be more proud to be part of such a generous industry.

 
By Carly DeFilippo
 

Whether it’s aiding victims in the wake of Hurricane Sandy or supporting the day-to-day efforts of City Harvest, ICE has long been committed to contributing to the larger New York Community. But there are causes further afield that are also near and dear to our hearts, perhaps none so much as Streets International. Founded by former Culinary Management instructor Neal Bermas, this unique non-profit culinary training program teaches impoverished young Vietnamese men and women the life and professional skills they need to be employed in a 5-star culinary or hospitality setting.

This week, we were thrilled to welcome Neal and Streets alumni Le Thi Thuy and Nguyen Than Linh to our teaching kitchens, where they engaged in a cultural culinary exchange with our chef instructors and students. In the morning, Le and Nguyen joined Chef Lorrie Reynoso’s Culinary Arts class, tackling an eight recipe lesson on the regional cuisines of Northwest Italy.

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Le Thi Thuy, Nguyen Than Linh, and Chef Lorrie Reynoso’s Culinary Arts class.

Over four hours they learned to prepare wild boar ragu, fresh hand-cut pappardelle, and braised shrimp-stuffed calamari. From there, they moved on to giant veal chops stuffed with Fontina cheese, which were then breaded, pan-fried and finished in the oven with white truffle butter. Finishing off the rich menu, the students prepared a creamy gorgonzola risotto and sfogliata di radicchi (a Ligurian tart bursting with radicchio, spinach, raisins, oil cured olives and anchovies in puff pastry). Needless to say, these flavors were a far cry from the street food of Vietnam. The class concluded, as it always does at ICE, with a communal tasting and critique of the day’s work.

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Le Thi Thuy, Nguyen Than Linh, and ICE Dean of Students, Andy Gold.

In the afternoon, the tables turned, as ICE students attended a cooking demo where they learned to make traditional Vietnamese rice pancakes (Bánh xèo) and winter melon soup. As Neal explained, Streets International is more than a school, it is also one of the most popular restaurants in Hoi An, Vietnam, seated at the heart of a blossoming tourism industry. In addition to culinary and hospitality skills, students are trained in English language and “life skills”, a foundation for communal living and working with others. At the end of their 18-month program, 100% of Streets students find work in 5-star establishments, as there are more jobs for highly trained locals than Streets can teach on an annual basis.

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Bánh xèo, a traditional Vietnamese rice pancake.

From the look of Le and Nguyen, two of Streets’ most talented graduates, you would never know the hardship and poverty in which they were raised. They now lead tours of Vietnamese markets for curious tourists and help manage the Streets Restaurant and Cafe. Next Wednesday, May 1st, the two will present traditional dishes at the annual Streets International NYC Benefit, which will also feature more than a dozen local chefs, such as Floyd Cardoz and Kenny Callaghan. Buy your tickets here: http://bit.ly/Zz9XEV.

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…

ICE is very proud of the focus our curriculum places on different cuisines and techniques from around the world. Our students are exposed to the cuisines of France, Italy, India, China, Japan and Thailand among others. As a special supplement to these in-class lessons, ICE also offers students and alumni the chance to travel and sample cuisine of other cultures and places.

Coming up this December, Director of Student Affairs, Chef Andy Gold will take a group on an extraordinary tour of Vietnam. The trip is open to all Culinary Arts, Pastry & Baking Arts, and Culinary Management students and alumni (significant others are also welcome). The group will travel 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 will be immersed in history and culture to enrich their understanding of Vietnamese food. Viet Nguyen, owner of VietOrient Tours, designed the tour with Chef Andy and ICE President Rick Smilow to give ICE students and alumni a well-rounded experience. The group will land in Ho Chi Min City on December 24, then travel up to Danang, through Hue (the ancient Imperial City) and into Hanoi before returning home on January 2. More…