ICE Alumni Lead Many of The New York Times’ 100 Best NYC Restaurants
Some ICE graduates are at the helm of kitchens that landed in restaurant critic Pete Wells’ top spots in the city.
This week, New York Times’ restaurant critic, Pete Wells, dropped his 100 Best Restaurants in New York City for 2023. Hot off the presses, Wells states that the list “captures the diversity and character of dining in New York,” with all five boroughs accounted for.
From Michelin-starred glamour shots in Manhattan to food halls in Queens, the list features a variety of restaurants, like Michael Anthony’s Gramercy Tavern mainstay (where Pastry & Baking alumna Shari Tanaka hails as Pastry Sous Chef) and neighboring one-Michelin-starred Casa Mono (there Gabriella Vals serves as Sous Chef).
ICE’s Career Services team has placed students in nearly 40 of the 100 restaurants listed, including the top three: Tatiana by Kwame Onwuachi, Atomix and Le Bernardin.
Here, we shed light on ICE alumni at the helm of these storied kitchens.
Congratulations to all ICE alumni — you make us so proud.
3. Le Bernardin
Orlando Soto — Executive Pastry Chef
Now nearly open for 40 years, it’s not a shock that Eric Ripert’s three-Michelin-starred seafood haven ranks high on the list. ICE alum Orlando Soto (Pastry & Baking Arts, Restaurant & Culinary Management, ’14) currently oversees the pastry kitchen as Executive Pastry Chef. Current dessert menu highlights include Pistachio (pistachio praliné with Grand Mariner bavarois); Coffee-Toffee (sticky toffee pudding with caramel crisp and coffee ice cream) and Honey (chamomile pan cotta, toasted oat and acacia-honey ice cream). Wells also notes that the “Le Bernardin Egg,” an off-the-menu item, is known to float through the dining room to the restaurant’s regulars.
17. Lilia & 39. Misi
Missy Robbins — Chef & Owner
A Culinary Arts graduate of 1995, Chef Missy Robbins gained a following while she was honing her skills at the now shuttered one-Michelin-starred A Voce in Manhattan. In 2016, she opened her first restaurant, Lilia, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to much fanfare.
“This is where Missy Robbins got real, breaking away from the suit-and-tie Italian cuisine she was known for, and starting over,” Wells says in his roundup. Hot on the heels of Lilia, Chef Missy opened her pasta outpost, Misi, just two years later.
Ayesha Nurdjaja — Chef/Partner
New York was buzzing with the news of Shukette’s opening in 2021. Shukette is the vibrantly loud and retro sister of Chef Ayesha Nurdjaja’s (Culinary Arts, ’07) Shuka restaurant in Soho.
“Ayesha J. Nurdjaja’s traffic jam of farmers’ market ingredients thrums with flavors from the Middle East and beyond,” Wells writes. The current menu boasts dishes like sunchokes alma plancha, crispy shake with black pepper aioli and whole porgy served “in a cage” with peas, fennel and green charmoula.
44. Gage & Tollner
Sohui Kim — Chef/Partner
A Seoul native, Chef Sohui Kim’s (Culinary Arts and Restaurant & Culinary Management, ’02) extensive resume includes stints with high-profile chefs including Michael Anthony, Peter Hoffman and Anita Lo.
Along with her husband, Ben Schneider, Chef Sohui is the co-owner of the glitzy Gage & Tollner in downtown Brooklyn. Since its grand opening in 2021, guests have been flocking to the oyster and chop house for chilled seafood platters, Parker House rolls and a variety of steaks and chops à la carte.
53. Silver Apricot
Simone Tong — Chef/Partner
“She must be the city’s most compelling interpreter of Chinese cuisine,” Wells says of Simone Tong, Chef and Owner of lauded Silver Apricot. The Culinary Arts and Restaurant & Culinary Management student graduated ICE in 2011, externing at Wylie Dufresne’s lauded wd~50 before ultimately landing a full-time gig there, working every station until its untimely closure in 2014.
Chef Simone debuted her first restaurant, Little Tong Noodle Shop, in early 2017 in the East Village, doling out bowls of mixian — and it was an instant hit. In the summer of 2020, she opened Silver Apricot. Named for the ancient Chinese ginkgo tree, the menu features dishes including cashew graffiti eggplant, Peking grilled cheese and grilled Tasmanian trout with pineapple-radish carrot salad.
Michelle Palazzo — Pastry Chef
Graduating with dual diplomas in Pastry & Baking and Restaurant & Culinary Management in 2009, Chef Michelle Palazzo also received a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art and Art History; she combines both to create uniquely modern French pastries.
After working in pastry kitchens including Reynard at the Wythe Hotel, Chef Michelle joined Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr’s popular Frenchette and Frenchette Bakery in Tribeca in 2018, heading up the pastry team. There, her claim to fame is the Paris-Brest à la pistache — the restaurant’s signature dessert, which she developed right out the gate when she signed on.
59. Yoon Haeundae Galbi
Bobby Yoon — Owner
Chef Bobby Yoon grew up in a household where food was at the forefront, and later graduated from ICE with dual diplomas in Culinary Arts and Restaurant & Culinary Management in 2016. He's gone on to work at venerable restaurants including Danji and O Ya before opening Yoon Haeundae Galbi in bustling Koreatown in 2018.
Paying homage to his grandfather’s restaurant Haeundae Somunnan Amso Galbijip in Busan, South Korea, which has been in operation since 1964, all meat served at the New York iteration “is prepared with unparalleled technique,” per the restaurant’s website.
Wells refers to Yoon as “the most impressive tabletop barbecue spot in Koreatown.”
84. The Musket Room
Mary Attea — Executive Chef
Chef Mary Attea (Culinary Arts, '11) joined The Musket Room team just prior to the pandemic in February of 2020, shifting the former New Zealand-inspired menu to one that reflected her own travels and experiences.
Dishes like quail with pomegranate, pine nut and romesco and half-roasted chicken with salsa verde have garnered much acclaim in Manhattan and beyond, including earning a Michelin star in the latest Michelin Guide.
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