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.
The International Culinary Center® will celebrate the annual commencement ceremony for students who have completed programs between May 2016 and April 2017. The ceremony, held at the iconic Carnegie Hall in New York City, will feature keynote speaker and Dean of Special Programs, Jacques Pépin. Each year during the ceremony, ICC honors one alumnus from each field of study in a series of Outstanding Alumni Awards. This year, ICC dedicates the Excellence in Culinary Arts award to Chef Julian Medina, Chef / Owner of Toloache, Tacuba, Coppelia, Yerba Buena, and La Chula. Excellence in Pastry Arts will be awarded to Susanna Yoon, Founder and Head Chocolatier of Stick With Me Sweets. Culinary Arts and International Bread Baking graduate and Head Baker of MeyersUSA, Rhonda Crosson, will receive the Excellence in Bread award. The Excellence in Entrepreneurship award will be presented to Hugh Mangum, Chef/Owner of Mighty Quinn’s and a graduate of ICC’s Classic Culinary Arts program. Lastly, the Outstanding Sommelier recipient and alumnus will be Jhonel Faelnar, AS, the Sommelier at The NoMad.
The commencement will be held on Sunday, April 23rd. For media inquiries, please email Angela at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m honored to provide this extraordinary group of individuals with the distinction of Outstanding Alumni during the 2017 Commencement Ceremony at Carnegie Hall. It’s extremely inspiring to watch former ICC students, and even my own classmates, go on to thrive in the hospitality industry. We acknowledge Julian Medina, Susanna Yoon, Hugh Mangum, Rhonda Crosson and Jhonel Faelnar for excellence in their respective fields and hope their stories inspire our new graduates to love what they do in any career path they follow.” – Erik Murnighan, President of the International Culinary Center.
Read about the recipients of ICC’s 2017 Outstanding Alumni awards below.
EXCELLENCE IN CULINARY ARTS
Julian Medina | Chef/Owner of Toloache, Tacuba, Coppelia, Yerba Buena, La Chula | Classic Culinary Arts, 1999
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 American in 2011.
EXCELLENCE IN PASTRY ARTS
Susanna Yoon | Head Chocolatier/Founder of Stick With Me Sweets | Classic Pastry Arts, 2010
Susanna Yoon is the Head Chocolatier, Founder and heart behind one of New York’s finest confectionaries and chocolate shops, Stick With Me Sweets. Susanna was rewarded Top Ten Chocolatiers in America by Dessert Professional and attributes her intense, keen eye for perfection to her training in Michelin starred restaurants. Stick With Me Sweets’ chocolates were included amongst Oprah’s Favorite Things this past year and continue to receive many accolades for their exquisite bonbons.
EXCELLENCE IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Hugh Mangum | Chef/Owner of Mighty Quinn’s | Classic Culinary Arts, 2001
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 in 2001. “My father had a lust for life,” he says. “I wanted to continue that tradition as we shared it—through food.” 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. Named after his eldest son and inspired by his late father, Mangum handles recipe development for menus across all Mighty Quinn’s locations. Mangum has also won Food Network’s hit series Chopped and has been featured on programs such as Beat Bobby Flay, Unique Eats, and more.
EXCELLENCE IN BREAD
Rhonda Crosson | Head Baker at MeyersUSA | The Art of International Bread Baking, 2004 | Classic Culinary Arts, 2006
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, where she first got her interest in Scandinavian bread making. Rhonda used to work as a chemist and 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. Rhonda takes great pride in perfecting her rye bread, so it tastes like that of a Danish grandmother, and when not baking, she loves to travel the world.
Jhonel Faelnar, AS | Sommelier at The NoMad | Intensive Sommelier Training, 2014
Jhonel Faelnar is currently a Sommelier at the NoMad Restaurant in New York. He has been with the Make It Nice family since 2015 and has recently taken the helm of the NoMad’s Beer Program, while preparing for the rigorous Master Sommelier examinations in 2018. Graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Management Engineering from the Ateneo de Manila University and as captain of the men’s Judo team, wine and hospitality were far from mind in the beginning. Leaving home and moving to Osaka and then New York opened up a different culinary world that inspired his first foray into the industry in 2013, with scholarships from both the James Beard Foundation and the International Culinary Center, and an internship with Wine & Spirits Magazine. Obsessed with wine at this point, he pursued further education with Scott Carney, MS at the ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Program and the Court of Master Sommeliers at the close of 2013. Hitting the ground running from there, he worked with Roger Dagorn, MS on his first wine program where he learned invaluable lessons on wine and hospitality. Eventually moving to the NoMad Restaurant and pursuing further growth, he passed the Advanced Examinations of the CMS in July of 2016, happily the first graduate in the New York program’s short history to have done so.
Julian Medina, chef-owner of Toloache, Toloache 82, Toloache Thompson, both Yerba Buena and Yerba Buena Perry, Coppelia, and Tacuba Mexican Cantina locations in Astoria and Hell’s Kitchen, has been creating refined Latin cuisine for over twenty years.
Raised in Mexico City, Julian’s inspiration was the authentic home cooking of his father and grandfather. Training professionally in Mexico City, Julian was brought to New York City by Chef Richard Sandoval; later Julian was appointed as Chef de Cuisine of Sandoval’s Maya, which earned two stars from the New York Times under Julian’s leadership. Maintaining his position at Maya, Julian enrolled in the French Culinary Institute, graduating with recognition in 1999. Soon after, Julian became Executive Chef of SushiSamba, a New York City Japanese-South American restaurant, and helped to open SushiSamba 7 and South Beach’s SushiSamba Dromo.
In 2003, Julian was appointed Corporate Chef of Sandoval’s Mexican restaurants. Julian’s direction garnered Sandoval’s Pampono two stars from the New York Times. In 2004, Julian became the Executive Chef of Zocalo located in NYC’s Upper East Side.
In August 2007, Julian opened the theater-district gem, Toloache Mexican Bistro, the success of this first venture catalyzed the opening of seven more restaurants in nine years. He expanded the Toloache brand to include an ever popular Upper East Side Toloache 82 in 2012 and Toloache Thompson in 2013. Exploring all reaches of pan Latin cuisine, Julian opened the first Yerba Buena bistro in 2008 in the Lower East Side, and Yerba Buena Perry, West Village, in 2009. Both restaurants have been highly recognized. In 2011, Julian presented the concept of a 24/7 Cuban diner to New York City with the whimsical Coppelia, offering both day and late night foodies authentic Latin fare and dessert favorites. Most recently, the chef has returned to his Mexican roots with the ceviche, taco and fruit vessel cockteles boasting cantina, Tacuba, its two locations are Astoria and Hell’s Kitchen.
Chef Julian has been featured in many publications, including the Men’s Journal, The New Yorker and The New York Times. In 2010 Sam Sifton, famed New York Times food critic, gave Toloache one star along with an applauding review. In March 2011 Julian made his debut on Iron Chef America: Mexican Chocolate Battle, other television appearances include the Today Show, CBS “The Dish”, Beat Bobby Flay (guest judge), NY1, and Telemundo. His Mexican Hanukkah and Mexican Passover menus have become a delighted New York tradition and receive continual praise each year. Chef Julian continues to open new restaurants throughout New York City. He resides in Manhattan’s Upper East Side with his wife and daughter.
What ingredient is central to your cooking?
I love to cook with chiles as each kind is unique and their personality can be noted throughout the dish contributing to a beautiful flavor complexity.
How do you describe your food?
I believe my food is bold and full of flavor, one bite and you know all about my cooking. Presentation is also important to me so my dishes tend to be very colorful.
What would you do if you weren’t a chef?
I would have pursued becoming an architect.
What’s on your cooking bucket list?
Fugu (Blowfish), exploring flavor potentials of the Chilhuacle chile, publishing my own cookbook.
How do you find calm in your kitchen?
When the stress heats up in the kitchen I turn to finding fun to take the edge off, always by laughing and joking with my fellow chefs.
What cookbook is most important to you?
The Art of Peruvian Cuisine, by Tony Custer and The Lutece Cookbook, by Andre Soltner & Seymour Britchky.
Who inspires you?
Chef Daniel Boulud
What do you like to eat and drink on your night off?
A Mezcal Negroni, a fusion cocktail with mezcal, vermouth rosso and Campari with orange peel garnish, and a good plate of tacos.
When did you realize that you loved food?
I was 15-years old and still in Mexico, and I cooked my first dish which was tamarind pork. I was hooked.
If you could stage at any restaurant in the world, where would you go and why?
Copenhagen or Spain to showcase Mexican cuisine.