Melissa Weller

2004 Graduate of Professional Pastry Arts

After a career in chemical engineering, master baker Melissa Weller felt she needed a change of pace. She found it in the Professional Pastry Arts Program at ICC. After graduating in 2004, Melissa went on to work in the kitchens of Babbo, Per Se, Bouchon and Roberta’s.

Armed with a resume of NYC’s best bakeries, Melissa started experimenting at home making bagels, perfecting her recipe with each new batch. Her next stop was the outdoor Brooklyn markets, where she sold her homemade bagels, garnering critical acclaim and catching the attention of The Major Food Group. In 2013, Melissa became head baker and co-owner of Sadelle’s earning the title of “The Bagel Whisperer” for her inventive creations.

Now, Melissa ventures on a new journey as Pastry Chef of the recently opened Walnut Street Café in Philadelphia, PA.

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Samantha Stephens

Course of study: Professional Pastry Arts
Year of Graduation: 2010
Oatmealsny.com

Sam Stephens is the chef & owner of OatMeals, the world’s first oatmeal cafe, located in Greenwich Village, NYC. She completed the International Culinary Center’s Pastry Arts program in 2010. Sam grew up in Fairfax, VA, and is a graduate of Baruch College. She worked in the investment banking world for more than eight years and attended ICC nights and weekends while working full time.

OatMeals opened in 2012 and offers 30 signature oatmeal bowls ranging from healthy to sweet to even savory oatmeal as well as various oatmeal pastries and treats! Quaker Oats titled Sam their “Creative Oatmeal Officer” in 2012 and she has held the title ever since. In this role she works with Quaker as a brand ambassador to show the world how nutritious, exciting, and versatile oatmeal can be through recipes, PR and social media activities, and speaking events. She also consults with various R&D projects for PepsiCo, Quaker’s parent company. She has contributed and guest edited recipes for outlets such as The Huffington Post, Kitchen Daily, Self Magazine, Well+Good, and Women’s World Daily.

Sam has appeared in broadcast segments including CBS’s Live from The Couch, ABC’s Eyewitness News, and NBC’s News 4 New York. Additionally, she has been featured in an array of wide-reaching local and national publications such as The Wall St Journal, The New York Times, and Women’s Health.

Sam engages in frequent speaking events on female entrepreneurship, as well as the benefits of incorporating oatmeal into a healthy lifestyle. She is now globally recognized as an oat expert and even participates in oat conferences with farmers from around the world. Sam is working on a cookbook and store expansion into many cities!

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Rhonda Crosson

Rhonda has worked for and with some of New York’s best bakeries and high profile chefs; from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery and Per Se to Amy’s Bread, Daniel Boulud and Marcus Samuelsson. A former chemist, Rhonda holds a degree in Biological Chemistry from Bates College, as well as diplomas in both Bread Baking and Culinary Arts from the International Culinary Center, where she has also been a bread instructor. Today, Rhonda is Head Baker for all of the MeyersUSA locations including Michelin star restaurant Agern, Great Northern Food Hall in Grand Central Station and more.

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Hugh Mangum

Born to a father from Texas and a mother from the Bronx, Mangum grew up among the diverse food culture of Los Angeles, but always found the best barbecue in his backyard, prepared by his father. Honoring an inheritance he received after the passing of his father, Hugh Mangum graduated from New York’s French Culinary Institute (now ICC) in 2001. In 2011, Mangum took his passion to the next level as Co-Founder and Pit Master for Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque which defines a distinct brand of New York-style barbecue that slots neatly into the fast-casual industry.

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Jhonel Faelnar

“I am deeply honored to be recognized by the school that laid out the foundations of my career as a Sommelier. I wouldn’t be on the path I’m on today without the early guidance of Scott Carney and the talented roster of Master Sommeliers, from whom I’ve learned so much.  Considering the long line of outstanding alumni before me, there is much for me to live up to and the continued pursuit of excellence is a challenge I very much look forward to. I feel quite lucky being able to pursue my passion in wine every day and look towards paying it forward in the future.”

Jhonel received scholarships from both the James Beard Foundation and the International Culinary Center to attend ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program in 2013. Currently a Sommelier at the NoMad Restaurant in New York, Jhonel has been with the Make It Nice family since 2015 and has taken the helm of the NoMad’s Beer Program. In 2016, Jhonel became the first ICC graduate to pass the Advanced Sommelier Examinations of the CMS, and is currently preparing for the rigorous Master Sommelier examinations in 2018.

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Julian Medina

Julian Medina, chef-owner of Toloache, Yerba Buena, Coppelia, Tacuba Mexican Cantina and La Chula has been creating refined Mexican cuisine for over fifteen years. Raised in Mexico City Julian moved here in 1996 and graduated from ICC (formerly French Culinary Institute) in 1999. He has been featured in many publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker and on Iron Chef America in 2011.

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Ben Sargent

Ben Sargent, host of Cooking Channel’s Hook, Line and Dinner, is a seafood lover, chef, restaurateur and artist. In his show, Ben takes viewers on a coastal road trip uncovering the secrets and stories of expert fisherman, sharing their seafood specialties and highlighting the awe-inspiring journey from sea to table.

Growing up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Ben’s seafood obsession was evident from an early age. Shrimp was his preferred breakfast for a solid year and in preschool, he was cited for eating live minnows on a class trip. Throughout his childhood, he spent weekends in New England where he enjoyed fishing, crabbing, learning about sea life and developing his love for seafood and surfing.

In 2000, Ben graduated from Skidmore College with a Bachelor of Science in fine arts and sculpture. He worked for several realist artists, which eventually led him to Brooklyn where he worked various restaurant jobs to pay the bills. In 2001, Ben opened Hurricane Hopeful, which featured his famous chowders and lobster rolls. His website, www.BrooklynChowderSurfer.com, led to an online cooking series and a chronicle of his culinary adventures.

In 2007, he took the Culinary Entrepreneurship program at the International Culinary Center to deepen his business knowledge.
Ben currently lives in Brooklyn, NY, where he fishes for striped bass along the East River. When not in New York or on the road, Ben spends time in Londonderry, VT, working on his family farm, freshwater fishing and riding his old motorcycle.

Bio excerpted from starchefs.com

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Aditi Handa

A master of many trades, Aditi has trained as a psychologist, HR expert and a baker! In short, an impressive concoction of skill sets drives The Baker’s Dozen, an establishment of artisanal breads without preservatives in Mumbai, India. After honing her skills at The French Culinary Institute (now International Culinary Center) in New York City, she decided to bring authentic artisan bread to India in the way it should be: genuine, healthy and affordable. A stickler for systems, Aditi has everything planned out in Excel, from baking times to email reminders. With the help of ICC’s chef-instructors, Handa developed hundreds of bread recipes for The Baker’s Dozen; it was named “Best New Bakery” by Mumbai Mirror, and Handa has since opened two additional locations.

Bio excerpted from starchefs.com

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Johnson Yu

Though Johnson Yu always wanted to be a chef, he didn’t give bread much thought until after working in kitchens for ten years. A culinary school graduate, the New York City native found himself at a restaurant that made everything in-house, except for the bread. Figuring he could fill that gap, he decided to train himself.

While at ICC, one of his chef-instructors, Amy Quazza, was tapped for the opening team of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Napa Valley; she hired him to join her. After two years he moved to Della Fattoria—The French Laundry’s bread purveyor before Bouchon—then returned home to NYC. Chef Johnson was lured back to ICC by its supportive environment, inspiring staff and the opportunities to continue growing as a chef and baker. He takes great pride in preserving the tradition of handcrafted bread baking by teaching the next generation.

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ICC Alumnus Marc Vetri

Marc Vetri

ICC Alumnus Marc Vetri

Marc Vetri, food entrepreneur and chef/founder of Philadelphia’s critically acclaimed Vetri Family of Restaurants, is a 1998 graduate of ICC’s Art of International Bread Baking Program and a 2005 Outstanding Alumni Award winner.

A Philadelphia native, Marc initially pursued a career in music as a guitarist before realizing his true passion came from cooking. Spending his formative professional kitchen life in Bergamo, Italy, Marc has become known the world over for bringing a bold, contemporary sensibility to classic Italian cooking. In 1998, he and business partner, Jeff Benjamin, opened the eponymous fine-dining restaurant Vetri, which propelled Marc to the culinary forefront. Within two years of the restaurant’s debut, he was named one of Food & Wine‘s “Best New Chefs” and received the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s highest restaurant rating.

Following Vetri, Marc launched Osteria in 2007. Larger and more casual than Vetri, Osteria’s menu of traditional Italian thin-crust pizzas, homemade pastas and wood-grilled meats and fish quickly won over the dining public. In 2013, he opened a second location in Moorestown, New Jersey. Amis, named one of the top “10 Places for Pasta” in Bon Appétit magazine, opened in 2010; it specializes in small plates such as handcrafted pastas and house-cured meats.

Alla Spina, an Italian gastropub opened in 2012 and is a must-visit destination for beer connoisseurs of all levels. The following year saw Marc’s Vetri Family of restaurants expand to include Pizzeria Vetri which was named to GQ’s 2014 list of “Top 25 Best New Restaurants” in the country. This was followed by the opening of Lo Spiedo, a casual eatery with an emphasis on flame cooked food, in October 2014.

Marc is the author of Il Viaggio di Vetri, Rustic Italian Food and Mastering Pasts. His writing can also be found on The Huffington Post where he is a regular blogger.

Outside of his restaurants, Marc is deeply passionate about giving back to the community. In 2009, he and Jeff Benjamin created the Vetri Foundation for Children. The foundation’s signature initiative, “Eatiquette,” is a school lunch improvement program which services 10 schools, and has served nearly 265,000 healthy meals. Additionally, Marc and Jeff are the founders of the “Great Chefs Event,” to raise money and awareness for the pediatric cancer charity, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.

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