From Puppies to Pasta Part II

By Kris Feliz,
ICC Italian Culinary Arts graduate.
Read From Puppies to Pasta Part I

I got to culinary school having romantic ideas of Italian landscapes and giant bowls of pasta, thinking tradition and family was what drives cuisine in Italy but looking back at the Italian Culinary Experience at ICC — this total immersion curriculum expanded and exceeded my whole understanding of learning, cooking, what it means to be a chef, interacting with other chefs, and the beautiful countryside of Italy.

In the New York portion of the program, we learned all aspects of Italian cooking techniques and the connections that the cuisine has to culture, history, and language. It’s amazing how detailed and packed those days were — and Chef Guido is an excellent and genuine instructor. The foundation I built at ICC paved the way towards having a successful experience at ALMA.

As a school, ALMA is a precious gem in the Italian culinary world and it completed my education with a polish that has impacted the way I view the bigger picture of my job as a chef. Learning a complete body of wine, culture, history, language, and cooking techniques from all areas of the fine dining kitchen is just part of what I walked away with. The dedication and self discipline required to complete the complex coursework has shaped the kind of professional I am now becoming in the job market.

The campus environment is beautiful and truly helped to shape my thinking about the cooking community. Every week, we met with guest chefs who shared their wisdom and experience, allowing us to learn how these exceptional visionaries carved out their place in the modern cooking world. Simplicity, elegance, and elevation became fundamental for creation that reinforces the values of respect for the ingredients, expands traditions, and pushes the limits of today’s modern cooking techniques. Going to ALMA changed me, from a person who wanted to cook, to a chef who wants to create.

Italian Culinary Experience

Living in Italy was such a magical experience! ALMA is situated in a great location for access to many major cities, and there just wasn’t a reason not to enjoy the benefits of our free time. It’s always full sensory participation of foods, architecture, and cultural events no matter what city you visit. Travelling by train was easy and comfortable, and there’s always something happening in Italy. I had so many spontaneous experiences just because I was standing in the right spot when the marching band passed by, or when the festivals were visiting. I fell so in love with the sky, the trees, every building and cathedral, the coastlines, and mountains that I wanted to stay!

Luckily I was coming back to New York City with its high-quality, high-volume kitchen culture that is fueled by creative passionate chefs. I run into other ICC grads all the time in kitchens and it feels good to see us working and producing. I feel proud to be a working member of our graduate community! And I look back at the brilliant education I received with fondness for my creative and passionate instructors, mentors. This motivates and drives me to keep practicing, keep pushing this craft into a lifelong career of learning and giving back.


Finding my sweet niche

By Breana Alper
ICC Professional Pastry Arts 2016

Growing up in an Italian household, I would always come home to a house filled with many delicious aromas. My mom would have sauces boiling on the stove while making one of my favorite desserts, banana bread, which was also the first dessert I mastered. My mom would always be the cook and I eventually took on the role of the dessert maker. I guess you could say that’s how I fell in love with baking. After dinner each night, my family couldn’t wait to see what kind of dessert I had chosen to make. It was most likely something with chocolate, since I basically eat, breathe, and drink chocolate!

I have always been searching for my “niche” in life, but couldn’t find it…until recently. What I failed to realize was that the answer was right in front of me the entire time. I Love To Bake! Baking is literally the one thing I am good at that I have consistently done throughout my life. I was baking all the time, my mom jokingly blamed me in advance for all the weight she suspected she would gain from eating the baked goods!

Breana Alper International Culinary Center

A family friend of mine always comes into my house and says “Ay Betty Crocker, what’s crackin’! What are ya baking today?” To this very day he still calls me “Betty Crocker” any time he sees me. What he doesn’t know is that this nickname will always encourage me to push myself a little further each time I bake something. I love seeing the expressions on people’s faces whenever they eat something that I spent whole day baking.

For me, baking is a time to get away from all my thoughts and feelings and just focus on one thing — perfecting whatever dessert I decide to take on. I bake because it is something that I enjoy doing, not necessarily because I want to eat what I make. In my mind, baking was just a hobby that I loved and nothing more. I never thought I could bake as my career, but people started suggesting it more and more. This is how my story begins.

Six months ago, I decided to take a huge step away from the path that everyone says you need to follow — college. I was starting my junior year at The University of Delaware when I reached a point where I said to myself, “Isn’t now the time when I am supposed to be pursuing my dreams and passions?” So I told my parents that I needed to find my real direction, which meant taking time off from school. Thankfully, they were nothing but super supportive. They are the ones who pushed me to pursue culinary school and even came with me to tour International Culinary Center in New York City. My mom was in awe the whole time, because she has also always dreamt of attending culinary school.

Breana Pastry School Student

Fast-forward to the present and I am now on day 21 of the Professional Pastry Arts program, with aches in my back and pain in my feet, but I couldn’t be happier! There was a lot of back and forth in my mind choosing between pastry and culinary arts. It was a hard decision to make, but in the end I am glad that I chose the pastry route. There is something special about being surrounded by people from all over the world who share the same passion as you. Each and every day gives me the validation that I made the right choice coming to The International Culinary Center!

– Breana
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No more cakeless meetings

By Lindsay Morrison
ICC Professional Pastry Arts 2016

My favorite quote has always been, “a party without cake is just a meeting” … Trust me, I would know. I’ve sat in a lot of meetings for the past 6 years. I’ve had a day job, and a night hobby.

I may have had a business card labeling me as a Sales Manager, but most people know me as Benny’s Baker (#bennysbaker), an Instagram hashtag I made to show my friends and family all the things I bake for my husband, Benny. Luckily for my coworkers, I quickly started baking more than he could handle eating. What started as a hobby quickly turned into so much more.

I went to work every day counting down to five o’clock so I could rush home to bake. I would show up the next morning with cookies, a pie, a cake – sometimes all three. I had a chalkboard office door full of desserts my coworkers wanted me to bake for them. I dragged my colleagues to bakeries in between sales calls and catered breakfast pastries for our morning meetings. Physically, I spent my days at the office in a desk chair but mentally, I was at home in my kitchen wondering if I had enough butter and sugar for my next recipe.

Pastry Career

Believe it or not, I toured ICC for the first time in 2010. It took me six years to realize that I go to bed happiest on days I’ve created art through food. I fall asleep mapping out what I’ll bake tomorrow, and I wake up excited only on the days I get to spend in a kitchen. After six years dreaming of the day I could trade in my suit for an apron, I was finally ready to turn my passion into a profession with a pastry path at the ICC.

The only problem was that I lived in Florida – with a husband, a dog, and (amongst dessert dreaming) a great job. It wasn’t an easy decision, but after months of planning, preparation and deep, deep thought, I finally took the plunge. A six month adventure in New York City to live a dream I’ve had as long as I can remember was something I simply couldn’t not do. The game changer for this career changer was that realization.

Lindsay Morrison Pastry Student

So, here I am: Lindsay Morrison, 27 years old, Pastry Arts Student – Level 1, Career Changer, from Delray Beach, Florida. Sure, I’m husband-less, wienerdog-less, family-less (at least there’s FaceTime), but I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m learning everything I’ve always wanted to learn, amongst a new family I’ve found at ICC. I’ve stopped staring at the clock and counting down the minutes until I get to go home – because I’m finally exactly where I want to be, doing what I love alongside inspiring Chefs and my talented classmates from all over the world. After only a few weeks here, I already feel more confident than ever that I made the right decision, more inspired to continue to do what I love, and more convinced that we should never, ever have cakeless meetings.

I’m so excited to be here and thrilled to be writing all about it – I can’t wait to share my experiences, recipes and everything else along the way with you.

– Lindsay
Blog // Instagram


Italian Culinary Experience Diary

After ten weeks of studying Italian cooking fundamentals, authentic ingredients, traditional dishes and Italian language in New York City, our students fly to the famed Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. For nine exhilarating weeks, they study at our sister school, ALMA, The International School of Italian Cuisine near Parma, where our students expand their knowledge with history, visits from master chefs and field trips to the sources of authentic Italian cuisine: regional farms, factories and vineyards that employ traditional methods.

Italian Culinary Arts student Lauren Fuschillo documented her ALMA experiences in the series of blog posts:

Part 1: From New York to Italy.

“Gratitude fills my heart as I pack my knives, my passport and those travel converters. Excitement engulfs my thoughts as my mind races – thinking and daydreaming about all the adventures I’ll experience while spending the next six and a half months in Italy with the nine members of my new chosen family. We’re Chef Guido’s “soldiers” and here we go, we’re getting on the plane to cook our hearts out and own every second that this world can give.”


Part 2: First days at ALMA.

“We reviewed all the routine procedures, met the faculty and chefs, were fitted for uniforms, etc. We toured the classrooms, demo rooms and kitchens – all beautiful and grand! In the middle of it all there’s an adorable little cafe serving up delicious espresso for the students and faculty all day long. Pinch me?”


Part 3: A day in the life

Here’s how Lauren spent her days at ALMA.


Part 4: EXPO Milano 2015.

“In the morning all of the students meet and hop into the van. I’ve got a comfy seat to myself and pastry in hand, thanks to my bud Mikey (you probably see him on my Instagram on the reg, he’s one of my best friends and pretty soon going to be one of the most amazing chefs around!) We chat, we nap, we jam out and we get ourselves psyched to see one of our favorite teachers, Michele Crippa, and visit the Expo!”

Part 5: Externship assignments.

“They announced each assignment one by one, accompanying the announcement with a photo and map of where each student will be. We went in alphabetical order, so I was fifth to hear the news. My stomach was rumbling and my hands were shaking, and then it all stopped. “Lauren Fuschillo will be going to Cagliari, Sardegna to work with Chef Stefano Deidda at Dal Corsaro Restaurant.””


The next Italian Culinary Experience program starts on March 7th, learn more.


From military newsroom to chef’s whites

By Shira Vissoker,
ICC Professional Culinary Arts student.

I was born 25 years ago in a desert town in the south of Israel. Like any other Israeli, I joined the army right after I finished high school. But unlike most of my friends, I was lucky enough to do something different during my service and got into the IDF radio station, called “Galey Tzahal”, and became a radio broadcaster.

I served as a military journalist for 3 years, and later on I worked at the most popular media channels in Israel. I edited, produced and broadcasted radio shows for over 1,000,000 listeners. Although I have learned a lot and got to talk and write about culture, music and even food – I was also exposed to a lot of disasters and crimes.

I was in the direct career path to become a successful reporter – the one who sits in a studio and tells the world about the horrible murders or the latest politic bribe affairs.

So, why am I here instead?

For the same two reasons as everyone else: I want to make my dream come true and to make people happy. Food makes people happy – that’s the only thing I knew when I imagined pursuing a culinary career. I wanted to combine my passion to be heard, with my long forgotten love for cooking. I’ve always loved to cook, but never had an opportunity or courage to do something about it.

The major change in my life happened when my boyfriend told me he was moving to New York – I decided to join him! The move to NYC became my official opportunity to get the culinary education I couldn’t get in my homeland. After a long search, I came for a private tour to ICC. That was when everything finally felt right, and I became certain of what I really wanted to do in life and how I wanted to do it.


When I decided to go for it and apply to ICC, everyone told me I was crazy: my parents, my friends, and even my boyfriend who started this whole thing. I had a promising career and a very easy and interesting life back in Israel, and all of a sudden I decided to leave everything and pursue my culinary dreams. More importantly, do so in a very expensive city, 5600 miles away from home.

That’s what I did, and it was the best step I could have taken. It’s very hard, it’s even harder in a foreign country – I see more people on the subway everyday than I saw in a month on the streets of Tel Aviv. Working in the kitchen is hard: it’s hot, it’s competitive and very demanding. But it’s also the place when you can actually make the best lemonade out of lemons, and the clearest consommé out of raw bones – and everything you ever wanted to make.


I’ve learned so much over the past two and a half months! Not just about food – but also about my working habits. I’ve learned that cooking combines amazing creativity with strict rules and major organization skills. Most of all, I’ve learned that I knew nothing about food and I am really excited that I have so much more to learn and research.

So, here I am! My name is Shira, which means “poetry” or “her song” in Hebrew (and also the name of the “princess of power” from the 80s TV show). I’m a culinary arts student, passionate writer, and a young woman who aspires to be a successful chef. For some reason I listened to myself when everybody said I shouldn’t, and I work every day to prove them (and myself) that I was right.

– Shira


From puppies to pasta // Italian Culinary Experience

By Kris Feliz,
ICC Italian Culinary Arts student.

So let me begin by telling you that ALMA, The International School of Italian Cuisine near Parma, where we went after 10 weeks at ICC in New York City, is amazing. The school is full of passionate instructors who have fantastic industry experience. In addition to cooking, we take field trips, have history classes, and get to live in Italy, of course.

The classes at ALMA are so inspiring, I could go on and on about this but it really boils down to the teachers here. It’s one of the top three culinary schools in the world and I completely understand from being here why that’s so. The administration takes our educational program very seriously and the team here works like a brigade of stations all complementing each other.

I miss home, my loving network, and dog tremendously… and ramen, and chocolate chip cookies! Lol. But I forget all the time what my life was like before culinary school. I used to walk dogs and think about food, break down recipes or marinate on specialty ingredients and the science of substituting. All those years of rainy walks and snowed through dog parks, poop bags, and doggie kisses – I never thought I’d take the leap and start my program towards fulfilling my dream to be a chef.

To be in such an incredible and fulfilling program makes the sacrifice so very worth it. This is something very special about ICC.

When I first thought about Italy, I thought about its strong agro-culinary culture but living here really brings to light that there is so much more to the Italian tradition than just farming and purely good ingredients. This country is amazing! No matter where I travel everything is rich with history: historic centers, buildings, monuments and churches. It’s all about respect and beauty here.

Italian Culinary Experience

On the weekends I travel to nearby cities and it’s amazing how unique each experience is. It isn’t that expensive to travel and there is a whole new world beyond our dorms! I see history, traditions, and nature everywhere I go and it’s very beautiful here. The sweeping landscapes and vast farm country are amazing. It’s winter here now and I can only imagine how much more captivating it is during spring or summer. “Wow” is a common phrase.

Because of this experience I now understand that being a chef is much more than just cooking. It is a way of seeing things – an appreciation of sorts. A way of seeing what is special and complicated beyond simple appearances. I know now how chefs who understand and respect the essence of history and tradition become able to elevate and expand these boundaries in a groundbreaking way.

With only half of ICC’s Italian Culinary Experience program completed – I have mixed feelings of total excitement, total anxiety, and total humility at the thought of being in one of these professional kitchens. I’m throughly elated and so grateful everyday. I don’t know where I’ll be placed for stage (externship) yet, although I would LOVE to be in southern Italy – Calabria. I’ll let you know when I find out!

– Kris
Blog // Instagram


Green Is The New Me

By Rachel Green
Professional Culinary Arts student

Have you ever changed . . . willingly, yet unexpectedly? I mean really, really worked hard toward something – full speed ahead in one direction (for more than 17 years, to be exact); achieved “success,” made money, earned academic degrees, experienced being “the boss,” saw light at the end of the retirement tunnel . . . and then, without rhyme or reason, other than momentary courage (or “insanity,” according to some), you changed your mind? Who does that? Well, I did! And because I did, I have an amazing opportunity to live my dream and share my story!

My name is Rachel Green and I am still in awe of what happened when I stepped out on faith, embraced change, and challenged my own definition of success. In shifting what I know as an educator and a Southerner to once again become a student and a Northerner, I realize it’s impossible to simply erase a lifespan of knowledge and even harder to change some ole’ habits that used to work . So instead, I find myself tabling what “used-to-be” for memory lane, sopping up the new . . . well, everything, and facing vulnerabilities that will only make me stronger. Alas, to be “green” again and as inquisitive and full of joy as my 2 ½ year-old niece, Navi!

While life as an administrator in higher education ended for me in February 2015, life as a budding entrepreneur and hungry culinary professional began in March 2015 with a homemade video submission to the Rachael Ray Show in New York City! Who knew, other than my mom (Madonna), auntie (Mary), sister (Ruth) and my friend (Courtney), that my salmon patties and grits would be life changing? I do have a very supportive crew who KNEW that if I’d just got out of my own way, great things would happen! But, I still had doubt.

Rachael Ray Show Culinary School Competition

After multiple rounds of competition, including two culinary “cook-offs” judged by Chef Jaques Pepin, I was crowned the grand winner and awarded a few sweet prizes, including full-tuition for a 6-month Professional Culinary Arts program! At the prestigious International Culinary Center (ICC), formerly The French Culinary Institute, in Manhattan, NY, is where I now spend my days butchering chicken, filleting fish, rolling dough, and being made “painfully” aware of just how imperfect I really am . . . how perfect!

Doubt removed, I’ve completed my first term with an “A.” More importantly, I’ve survived my first real look at food as more than a hobby or passion – but as an art-form and industry in which only the best thrive. Make no mistake; peeling away many layers of comfort and familiarity and replacing them with a “large” and “inexpensive” apartment, an “easy-breezy, no one’s ever sneezing” subway commute, and “yes, Chef” (just a few of the many perks I’ve discovered since arriving in NYC), is no cakewalk! Nevertheless, as I inhale the wonderful city of New York and ICC’s 6-month fast-track culinary program, I am enjoying the opportunity, in the moment, to simply be “green.”

I realize that my journey is not just about me. My journey is about reaching people like me – people that know there is more to life than what they’re currently experiencing – people that do not know where to start and when they start, do not know how to keep going! Although I’ve been told that anything and everything is possible in New York City, I know too, that anything is possible for anyone – everywhere – as long as we are inquisitive enough to ask “Why not?” and courageous enough to answer “Let’s go for it”!

Join me as I continue to explore the risks and rewards hidden in “all things new” in NYC! Who knows, someday, you too may wish to be “green” again!

– Rachel


ICC Alum Hosts Wine Business + Tasting Afternoon

By Rachel Lintott
ICC’s Associate Wine Director
Certified Sommelier

Each with a flute of pink bubbles in hand, ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training students all sat down at the long, wooden table in CooperVino’s private dining room/education salon. “I’m going to ask you all to guess what this is. You’ll never guess what it is,” exclaimed owner Michele Snock as she graciously greeted the class. A 2009 Intensive Sommelier Training graduate herself, Snock is now the owner of the recently opened wine bar and retail space in the new downtown Cupertino.

You see, it’s nearly impossible for a group of wine geeks NOT to challenge one another when it comes to blind tasting. It’s just too much fun, plus you might find yourself (as we did) sipping on something quite delicious.


Snock, a member of ICC’s Professional Advisory Committee (a group of professionals that help guide the school on industry trends, program improvements, etc.) invited the class to come in for a lesson on opening a business. Specifically, the path she took from corporate Silicon Valley, to becoming a Certified Sommelier, to opening and running a small wine business and what she’s learned along the way.

A few (not all) tips from Michele on opening a successful wine bar:

  • Love customer service and be gracious.
  • You don’t have to know everything. When hiring your staff, look for people with qualities and knowledge that you don’t have. Let them help you and learn from them.
  • You need extensive wine knowledge (ahem, I know where you can get that!).
  • Differentiate yourself.

After her presentation and ample discussion on the business of wine, a flight of Italian whites was presented. The students are at the beginning of the program — France — so it was a great glimpse at what’s to come. A floral 2014 Ippolito 1845 Ciro Bianco (100% Greco Bianco from Calabria), a refreshing 2014 Poggio del Gorleri Vermentino (from Liguria), and an exotic orange wine: 2009 Primosic Ribolla di Oslavia (100% Ribolla Gialla from Collio).


And, the sparkling rose? Well the predominant minerality led the students to the Old World, but once France was crossed off the list there were some far-fetched guesses. Finally, she revealed to us that the wine was from Sicily — Nerello-Mascalese made in the metodo classico: 2011 Murgo Brut Rosé.


Snock’s dedication and perseverance are apparent at CooperVino. Carefully selected wines, ambience, customer service and education intertwine to create an enjoyable and fun experience. Thank you Michele, for taking the time to support our students by sharing your knowledge, experience, hospitality and wine!

– Rachel


Be Fast. Be Fine.

By Yanling He
Professional Pastry Arts student
in Campbell, CA

“We must cultivate our garden.” — Voltaire

Five years ago I was on a road to become an engineer.

I graduated from university with Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering degrees and easily landed a job in a software company due to the high demand in tech industry. But then I started wondering what was waiting for me ahead: working 9 to 5 to build someone else’s dream while being just a bolt, a high salaried bolt…?

“Do I really want this?” I asked myself. “What will I do with this money? Get more food? Clothes? Entertainment?” I found myself thinking about Edward Norton and his famous saying, “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”

I decided to get off this road and to take my time to understand myself. I started traveling to the national parks, alone with my camera. Driving countless hours, walking countless miles and shooting countless photos.


Every time I looked through the view finder and played with light, colors and composition, I remembered how I used to draw, paint and craft my imaginary world back when I was a little girl. I love painting, photography, computer graphics and all sorts of art, but I never pursued any of it seriously. I love expressing myself way more than advertising or selling myself, but I don’t know how I to live my life by just doing art.


One day I arrived in a small town far north in Washington. It was so unlike any big city with their famous shops and chain restaurants. Every shop in this town was unique. There was the best organized bookstore I’ve ever seen and the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted. I was surprised by the town’s slow and fine lifestyle. It made me realize that if we just hurry in life and chase the wrong things, we’ll neither be satisfied nor enjoy our lives. If people never think about what they eat, they’ll also never think about what they fill their minds with, – this is why doing art is hard.


I decided to start learning art, BUT, culinary art! The most basic and best applied art. I enrolled into the International Culinary Center’s Professional Pastry Arts program. I find it very relaxing and simple, and it feels like meditation. I might not necessarily be interested in the techniques as much as figuring myself out while doing the things I love.


I have no idea where this road is taking me, how long or how hard it’s going to be, but I am enjoying every moment of it. I know there must be people with similar feelings. Some of us take steps, while others hold back. I decided to write for ICC’s blog and share my own stories as well as those of my friends and people with passion and love for food, art and life. Let’s put more nutrients in our bodies and minds!

Website // Instagram // Medium



Pursue what you love

By Julia Johnson,
Professional Culinary Arts student

Respond to every call that excites your spirit. – Rumi

It’s hard to pinpoint a defining moment that began my love affair with food. It seems to be more of a compilation of many moments that led me from a teaching job, to a corporate position working for a celebrity chef, and then ultimately, to pursue my passion in earnest at International Culinary Center. In life, I’ve found, our paths aren’t as straight and defined as we often expect them to be.


Food has always been a hobby of mine – I’ve long enjoyed cooking for family, hosting friends for dinner parties, and blogging about my recipes. Cooking for a living, however, was always a dream – something that was fun to think about, but for various reasons, I never thought could be my reality. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I felt the call to leave my inhibitions behind and just go for it.


It has been a little over a month since I started the Professional Culinary Arts Program at ICC. To say the program has exceeded my expectations is a vast understatement. I spend my days with 16 classmates from all over the world and we have already cooked our way through countless dishes at the direction of accomplished and inspiring chefs. Each of us has our own story, and a unique path that brought us to this point, but we are also bound by the same passion and a drive to pursue what we love. Food unites us all.


I feel both privileged and honored to be writing for ICC, and look forward to sharing seasonal recipes that highlight the techniques I’m learning in class. Whether you are a chef, current student, alum of the school, or just love good food, I hope these recipes will inspire you in your own kitchen.

– Julia
Blog // Instagram