The International Culinary Center’s dedication to cultivating talent in its students begins with the passion and commitment of its renowned faculty and staff. Among those on the ICC Team driving student success is a long list of esteemed culinary professionals serving as deans and master chefs.
Meet Deans Jacques Pépin and Jacques Torres
At the heart of ICC’s culinary instruction is a curriculum carefully designed by world-renowned deans and taught by a core of accomplished chefs hailing from all corners of the culinary world. Among the other famous names filling these roles as deans are Jacques Pépin and Jacques Torres.
Jacques Pépin: Dean of Special Programs
Jacques Pépin began his culinary career at the famous Le Pavilion restaurant when he came to New York by way of Paris, France, where he had received his training at Plaza Athénée under Lucien Diat. In the years before joining the ICC staff in 1988, Pépin served as the personal chef to French head of state, Charles de Gaulle, and earned a master’s degree in French literature at Columbia, all while honing his own culinary technique.
Pépin’s culinary prowess and charm have also made him a superstar of culinary television. He launched his series The Complete Pépin in 1997 and went on to receive a daytime Emmy award for Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, a series he hosted alongside Julia Child. He has since been a guest judge on Top Chef and has aired several other of his own cooking series.
A living legend among culinary professionals and foodies, Pépin has received countless accolades, including the Chevalier de L’Ordre du Mérite Agricole, Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, several James Beard Foundation awards — including the Lifetime Achievement Award — and an induction into the foundation’s Cookbook Hall of Fame.
Known for his humorous and vibrant demonstrations, Pépin not only assisted in creating the curriculum for ICC students, but has long supported the culinary school’s focus on helping students find success by building technique from the ground up as the firm foundation of any cuisine.
“Before you can express your talent, you have to learn basic technique. You have to become first a craftsman.” – Jacques Pépin
Over the years, Pépin has released dozens of cookbooks, with his newest, Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul in the Kitchen, released this year and accompanied by a television series, Jacques Pépin: Heart & Soul, airing nationwide this fall.
With decades of unparalleled culinary experience, Pépin’s zest for cooking is as unyielding and as deeply personal as ever. In a recent piece he wrote featured in the New York Times, “Jacques Pépin’s Food Memories,” Pépin conjures a philosophy of food that is magical, familial and sentimental:
“For most people, the dishes that matter are the dishes that have been cooked with love. …Those dishes remain much more embedded in our taste memory than the recipes and dishes of great restaurants, even for a professional cook like me.”
Jacques Torres: Dean of Pastry Arts
Master pastry chef Jacques Torres started his journey into the pastry world at age 15 as an apprentice. In addition to being named Pastry Chef of the Year by both the James Beard Foundation and Chefs of America, Torres is the youngest title winner of the esteemed Meilleur Ouvier de France. After joining the ICC faculty in 1993, Torres helped design the curriculum for ICC’s Pastry Arts program, becoming the dean of the program in 1996.
He starred in the Food Network series Chocolate with Jacques Torres, and he has been featured on countless other television programs, including as a judge on Cake Boss: Next Great Baker.
Beyond his role at the culinary school, Torres has earned a name for himself — he is often referred to as “Mr. Chocolate,” a name he shares with the website for his well-loved chocolatier that operates many locations throughout New York City as well as a state-of-the-art factory.
Featured in countless articles by publications including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, the French-native was recently dubbed “Brooklyn’s Wonka” by Newsday. In the article, Torres explains his philosophy on dessert and on life: “You have to play big if you want to make it big,” he said.
Torres often shares his expertise with ICC students during hands-on demonstrations, evidence of which can be seen on his Instagram, and he remains an important part of passing on his real-world expertise to ICC culinary students.
“Making chocolate is a way of life, not a profession.” – Jacques Torres
Learning Technique Helps Gives You Confidence
Fundamentals are the cornerstone of the ICC experience. By learning classical techniques from our chef-instructors and some of the greatest culinary minds in the world, students gain the foundational skills needed to begin a journey to any place on the culinary map.
“We just concentrate on the cooking itself. That’s why we can do in six months what other people take two years to do.” – Jacques Pépin