Chef Bao Bao

Bao Bao

Chef Bao Bao

Courses of study: Professional Pastry Arts ’08

Current occupation: Owner and Chef of Baoburg

Suchanan Aksornnan, also known as Chef Bao Bao, was raised in Chiang Rai, the northernmost province in Thailand. When she was 15, Bao Bao and her mother moved to New York to cook together. She was then formally trained at the International Culinary Center and L’ecole in NYC. She continued her career at upscale restaurants and working as a personal chef for many celebrities and royalty, including the Prince of Saudi Arabia, Cameron Diaz, Janet Jackson, Lucy Liu and Marc Jacobs. In 2013, Chef Bao Bao opened her fusion restaurant, Baoburg. Since its opening, she has received immense praise: Zagat’s “30 under 30” culinary rising stars in NYC, competing on both the Esquire Network TV Show “Knife Fight” and Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay”, and Thrillist’s “11 Most Badass Female Chefs in New York”.

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Michelle Doll

Courses of study: Pastry Arts 2004

Current occupation: Owner and Cake Artist of Michelle Doll Cakes

Though Chef Michelle Doll Olson started selling pies and working in a pizzeria in high school, she didn’t consider a career in the food industry until after working for some of the city’s top design and branding firms. After 10 years in the design industry, she traded pencils for whisks and attended ICC’s Pastry Program and began as a sugar artist for Ron Ben-Israel. After a stint as Head Chef at Patisserie Colson, she opened Michelle Doll Cakes and joined International Culinary Center (ICC) as Chef-Instructor in Pastry Arts and Cake Techniques + Design in 2013. Michelle’s cakes have appeared in several publications, including Bride’s, Vogue.com, The Knot and New York Magazine. She scuba dives, practices archery and has competed in Throwdown with Bobby Flay. (She won.)

Renowned for her distinctive style and elegant designs, Michelle has become one of the most sought after cake designers in New York. At the same time, her down to earth and easy going personality make the process fun and exciting for both the bride and groom.

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ESTER JANNE HILL

 Intensive Sommelier Training, 2014

I tell my children to only get married when they can’t imagine themselves not being married to the person that they love.  My work is the same for me.  I really can’t imagine doing anything else.  -Ester Janne Hill

Helping people enjoy good wine is a passion for Ester, who lives in Sellwood with her family.

A Leningrad (St. Petersburg) native and Israeli immigrant, she  began her career with an emphasis on cooking. She studied at the Israel Institute of Culinary Arts apprenticed at the innovative Catit Restaurant in Tel Aviv, then went on for additional culinary training in Rome and Florence.

After moving to the United States, Ester completed extensive studies in wine, including:

  • Certified Sommelier – Court of Master Sommeliers
  • Certified Specialist of Wine – Society of Wine Educators
  • WSET Level 3 – Wine & Spirit Education Trust
  • French Wine Scholar –  French Wine Society
  • Italian Wine Specialist – North American Sommelier Association
  • California Wine Appellation Specialist – San Francisco Wine School

She worked in San Francisco in wine sales, and as a sommelier and wine director. Today, Ester is focused on offering excellent wine values and advice at Orange Line Wines. Come in to find a shop that has great matches for everyone, whether you’re an occasional wine drinker, an enthusiast or anyone in between.

In an interview, Ester Hill, a former accountant in the Tech Industry, gave us some insight on her professional journey. After graduating from the ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Program in 2014, she became an entrepreneur in the Food & Beverage Industry, opening her own wine shop.

 

 

ICC: How did you end up as an entrepreneur in the Wine Industry?

Ester: Completing the sommelier program  at the ICC,  led me to positions in San Francisco as a wine sales associate, sommelier, and wine director. In Portland, I found a dynamic community with a growing interest in wines and a high demand for dedicated wine shops. Last year, I opened a retail wine shop in Portland, Oregon that offers more than 400 labels and stocks 3000 bottles.

ICC: As a wine shop owner, what does your job entail–both in a broad sense and day-to-day?

Ester:  My job entails selecting the wines for the store to carry (through industry tasting events, winery visits, and meetings with distributors), rating and writing about those wines (every wine on the shelves is labeled with a description and score that I assign), hosting weekly tasting events (I prepare background material on each of the wines to be poured) and…of course…selling wine!

ICC: Did your ICC education help you become the successful entrepreneur you are today?

Ester: The sommelier training that I received from ICC provided me with the knowledge and experience essential to selecting and selling great wines.  I use the skills that I acquired at ICC every minute of every day. I completed many wine courses, but none were as intense and comprehensive as the ICC Sommelier Program.

ICC: What were your greatest challenges at school? And how were you able to overcome them?

Ester: English is my not my native tongue so many of the vocabulary words I learned in the courses were new, not just the French ones!  I studied very very hard, made a lot of flash cards, and tasted as much wine as I possibly could.

ICC: Do you have a fondest memory of your time here at the ICC?

Ester: I have many excellent memories of learning from the Master Sommeliers, getting to know students from all over the U.S., the challenge and satisfaction of the exams, and the great celebratory meals after each exam.

ICC: What is the best industry related advice you’ve ever received?

Ester: One of the Master Sommelier instructors recommended that after graduation we should be humble and start out in the lowest position at the best restaurant that we can find.  At the time, I was shocked by the thought of washing dishes after training so hard as a sommelier.  I see now how important it is to be prepared for long and difficult work in an industry that values experience so highly.

ICC: What advice would you give to someone considering a career in wine?

Ester: The food and wine industry is highly competitive. If you are going to enter it, you will need every advantage that you can get to help ensure your success.  In particular, you will need ability, education, experience and perseverance.  Do yourself a favor, and get the best education that you possibly can.

 

Check out her website: www.orangelinewines.com

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Aaron Babcock, Advanced Sommelier, Sommelier at Quince

Aaron Babcock, AS

Aaron Babcock, Advanced Sommelier, Sommelier at Quince

Starting his restaurant career, at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, in a small town just south of Pittsburgh, PA. Aaron developed a deep curiosity about wine, being exposed to a large cellar and Wine Spectator award winning list. Having had the honor of working throughout various restaurants on the property he honed his skills in fine dining.

With wine on the mind, California dreaming wasn’t far away. In 2012, he enrolled at the International Culinary Center in Campbell, CA to complete the Intensive Sommelier Program as well the CMS certified exam, at the age of 21. From there he returned to Nemacolin for a year. But California again came calling, this time in the form of a job offer at Manresa, at the time a 2 star Michelin restaurant by Chef David Kinch in Los Gatos, CA. There he worked as a Sommelier with Jim Rollston MS. After recovering from a devastating fire that closed Manresa, Aaron was privileged to be part of the team when Manresa earned their third Michelin star.

After passing the CMS Advanced Exam at the age of 24, he consulted briefly for the wine list at the Inn at Park Winters. Quince in San Francisco was the next stop. At Quince Aaron has been able to help expand the wine program, as well as being able to be part of the transition from 2 to 3 Michelin stars once again. While remaining at Quince Aaron continues to prepare for the Master Sommelier exam and occasionally teaches wine educational classes in the Bay Area. Aaron is the 2018 recipient of ICC’s Outstanding Alumni Award for Outstanding Sommelier.

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Steven Cook, Co-Owner of CookNSolo Restaurants

Steven Cook

Steven Cook, Co-Owner of CookNSolo Restaurants

One of the country’s top restaurateurs and the 2016 James Beard Award winner for “Best International Cookbook” and “Book of the Year” for his and business partner Chef Michael Solomonov’s first cookbook, Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, Steven Cook is the co-owner of CookNSolo Restaurants, home to some of Philadelphia’s most distinctive culinary concepts. His culinary mark began with Zahav, the pioneering modern Israeli restaurant that puts the diverse cuisine of Israel on the map, and extends to Federal Donuts, Abe Fisher, Dizengoff, Goldie, and the philanthropic luncheonette, Rooster Soup Company, which donates 100% of its profits to their non-profit partner, Broad Street Ministry Hospitality Collaborative.  Cook is also co-owner of Dizengoff NYC.  Prior to founding CookNSolo, Cook left his job as an investment banker in New York to return to Philadelphia and pursue a career as a hospitality entrepreneur, graduating from the International Culinary Center (formerly The French Culinary Institute) in 2000. Steven is the 2018 recipient of ICC’s Outstanding Alumni Award for Excellence in Entrepreneurship.

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Chef Anna Bolz, Pastry Chef Per Se

Anna Bolz

Chef Anna Bolz, Pastry Chef Per Se

Anna Bolz is the Pastry Chef at Per Se where she oversees the production of all  the dessert offerings and chocolate production for the restaurant, while ensuring that her team exceeds the guests’ expectations and standards of excellence set by Chef Thomas Keller. Prior to joining the team at Per Se in 2009 , she was a pastry cook at Porterhouse and Jean-Georges restaurants in New York City. Born and raised in small town Iowa, Bolz is deeply rooted in community and the stories behind meals shared by friends and families. She continues to find inspiration in the people, kitchens and stories that surround the staff and guests at Per Se. She holds a degree in music from Luther College and received her pastry and baking certificate from the International Culinary Center in 2007. Anna is the 2018 recipient of ICC’s Outstanding Alumni Award for Excellence in Pastry Arts.

I am honored and humbled to be recognized among the very talented alumni of ICC.  Beyond what this award means to me personally, I think it’s an excellent way to highlight the work that ICC students do after graduation: collaborate with our colleagues, help elevate the standards of those around us and, ultimately, raise the bar for our entire profession.”

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Angie Mar

Chef Angie Mar, graduate of ICC’s Classic Culinary Arts program in 2011, has spent most of her life around the world of food. A native of Seattle, Washington, she comes from a family of food lovers and restaurateurs. Her aunt was the infamous Ruby Chow who pioneered Chinese cuisine in Seattle and these deep rooted ties have given Angie an innate love for bringing people together around a dining table.

Angie had the privilege of getting her training in some of New York City’s renowned kitchens, including honing her skills at whole animal butchery and open fire techniques at Andrew Tarlow’s lauded Brooklyn restaurants Reynard, Diner, and Marlow & Sons. She went on to work at The Spotted Pig, where she learned an unparalleled dedication to perfection and a love of simplicity.

In October 2013, Angie took the helm of storied West Village restaurant, The Beatrice Inn. Best known for her love of working with whole animals, live fire and dry aging techniques, she revamped the menu and began to create her signature style.

Under Angie’s guidance and vision, The Beatrice has become one of the most coveted reservations in the city, known for its meat forward menu and show-stopping presentations. She is now the owner and executive chef at The Beatrice Inn, re-opening the doors in September 2016 with a fresh perspective and a celebrated new menu. Her signature dry aging techniques are widely regarded as some of the best in the city, her Duck Flambe is an international hit and her Butcher’s Blocks are a meat lovers dream.

The Beatrice Inn and Angie Mar continue to gain momentum and praise in the food community. Pete Wells awarded the restaurant an impressive 2-star review for the New York Times, calling it “One of the most celebratory restaurants in the city” and “a place to go when you want to celebrate your life as an animal.” Angie was named “Chef of the Year 2016” by Thrillist and most recently, she was chosen as one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs for 2017; the only chef from New York selected to receive this honor. She is the 2018 recipient of ICC’s Outstanding Alumni Award for Excellence in Culinary Arts.

Angie Mar on becoming a Chef & attending Culinary School:
Angie Mar on her inspiration for The Beatrice Inn:
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Ben Lubin, Owner of The Blind Monk

Ben Lubin

Ben Lubin, Owner of The Blind Monk

“Discipline, respect, organization and the ability to master skills are key in the kitchen. If you are a good soldier, you can be a good professional cook…I can’t imagine a career that is better suited for veterans.”

After tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and earning a Master’s Degree from Columbia University, Marines veteran Ben Lubin was looking for two things: a job in International Relations and a really good cup of coffee.

Instead, he discovered a new passion and—tapping his military skills—created a career he loves. Today, he is the owner of a successful wine and tapas bar, The Blind Monk, in his hometown of West Palm Beach, FL, armed with a Sommelier Certification and Grand Dîplôme from International Culinary Center in New York City.

“I finished my tour, started the process of finding a job” and decided to drive across the country during the search. Being out on the road was amazing, “but it can be isolating unless you reach out to people. Every town I visited, my goal was to find a coffee house and from there a great bar or restaurant. You meet and experience what the town is about and you realize that the food, wine, coffee are the connectors.”

After weeks of good eating and interviewing, he got two job offers. As fate would have it, the one he accepted fell through. Rather than leaving him discouraged, he decided to build what he enjoyed on his travels — a friendly, unpretentious neighborhood place where one can experience the pleasure of drinking fine wine and beer.

In 2010, with little experience in the culinary industry, Lubin opened The Blind Monk Wine Bar & Tapas in his Florida hometown. Initially, he focused completely on the beverage program, hiring a sommelier and a cicerone on staff. When he was ready to open the kitchen, he hired a chef consultant. Almost instantly he realized he wanted those skills himself.

“At first, I wanted to stay close, but when I started investigating local options I saw the price of ICC was about the same so I decided I might as well go with the best. Also, the six-month program was key,” referring to the school’s reputation for excellent fast-track (almost boot-camp-like training).

After completing the Professional Culinary Arts program in 2013, Lubin made significant improvements in both the menu and physical space which led them to receive the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence and also be named Best Place for Great Value. Relying once more on his staff to cover, Lubin completed ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program and earned his Certified Sommelier accreditation in 2013.

Lubin was featured in the April 2015 issue of Arrive (click here) and The NY Post in 2016 (click here).

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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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