suk plating

ICC Professional Culinary Arts Student Takes Home Silver At Umami Cooking Competition

Suk Son Weisman Proudly Represents ICC Among All Women Chef Winners At The Second Annual United States of Umami Cooking Competition

On November 8th, culinary students from around the country gathered in Charleston, South Carolina to compete in the United States of Umami Cooking Competition, presented by Ajinomoto. Developed to strengthen the conversation around umami and monosodium glutamate, or MSG, the competition aims to educate culinary students on the science of umami while debunking the rumors and myths surrounding the ingredient.

suk head shotThis year, the competition challenged semi-finalists from America’s top culinary schools to create two original dishes highlighting umami, including one centered around a plant-based diet, and the other celebrating ethnically-inspired or regional cuisines. ICC was honored to be selected as one of the seven culinary schools, including Johnson & Wales University and the Culinary Institute of Charleston, to participate in the competition.

Through an internal selection process led by ICC’s Director of Culinary Arts & Technology, Chef Hervé Malivert, Professional Culinary Arts student Suk Son Weisman was selected from a group of applicants to represent ICC in the competition. (Suk was selected for the competition while a student at ICC, but has recently graduated from the program). suk with medal



Judged on technique and taste, these culinary students went head-to-head in an exciting all day competition. After months of preparation refining her umami-rich recipes and one-on-one practice with ICC’s resident culinary competition coach, Chef Hervé, Suk Son Weisman took home the silver medal for the competition! We couldn’t be more proud to share Suk’s journey with all of you, and the recipes behind her innovative dishes.

Suk's Journey To Competition

suk plating shrimp steakSuk Son Weisman was born in South Korea and raised on her family’s farm. Her childhood was filled with learning about the different ingredients that grew on their farm like rice, shrimp, salt and garlic. Then, she would learn how to use those ingredients to cook in the kitchen with her mom, a chef herself! Though she had a strong desire to follow in her mom’s footsteps of becoming a chef, she spent 7 years working at Samsung to support her family. When she realized there was something missing in her life, she quit her job and moved to Hong Kong to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a Chef. In Hong Kong, she worked at fellow ICC alumna, Judy Joo’s restaurant JinJuu, and Alvin Leung’s Bib n Hops for several years. After a dinner with Chef Judy Joo herself, she felt inspired to enroll at the International Culinary Center in New York City to pursue her culinary education and create a strong foundation in other cuisines & techniques. After completing level 4 of the Professional Culinary Arts program, she embarked on one of the most prestigious externships in the country—learning in the kitchens of Eleven Madison Park.

To create her dishes for the competition, Suk reminisced on her childhood and eating seasonal ingredients throughout the year. When her mom would cook meals for her family, it was always well-balanced and nutritious. Overall, her dishes were inspired by her mom’s cooking, as well as the movement towards healthy alternatives to red meat. Her Autumn Umami Shrimp Steak with Radish Purée, for example, was developed to present a dish naturally rich in umami flavor, but offered an alternative to meat.

suk and herve practicing

In preparation for the competition, Suk trained one-on-one for months with our Director of Culinary Arts & Technology, Chef Hervé Malivert. Chef Hervé has coached many ICC students in competition to success including: Rose Weiss, winner of the 2011 Bocuse d’Or Commis Competition; Christopher Ravanello, Northeast Regional winner of the 2012 S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition; Colfax Selby, Northeast Regional winner of the 2015 S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition; Mimi Chen, winner of the 2016 Ment’or Commis competition; Nick Lee, winner of the 2018 United States of Umami Cooking Competition. Through working with Chef Hervé, Suk was able to hone her mindset for competition—practice timing, organize her thought process and understand what it really takes to compete in a major challenge. For instance, when through their practice sessions, they both felt that something was missing from her umami dressing. After brainstorming, they added coffee to the dressing, which balanced the sauce through its bitterness.

When we asked Suk what it was like to be selected for the competition, she remarked that she was “…Very excited and honored to represent ICC. When I first started culinary school, I was very nervous because English is not my first language. Sometimes, it was hard for me to understand what was going on in class, so I worked extra hard to study cooking, but also English. My instructors in class, Chef Jeff, Scott, April, everyone was helping me both in and out of class to explain to me if I didn’t understand something. I feel very lucky that I met them!”

Check out Suk’s delicious recipes below and you’ll see why these dishes received such high praise!

Served With Parmigiano-Reggiano Crisp and Coffee Pine Nut Emulsion

suk's appetizer

YIELD: 4 Servings


3 Asian Pears

1 Cucumber

3 Persimmons

12 Shiitake Mushrooms

1 Bulb Garlic

3 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar

2 Cups Pine Nuts

1 Cup Sugar

2 Cups Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons French Dijon Mustard

2 Tablespoons Porcini Powder

1 Pound Parmigiano-Reggiano

Aged 18 Months

100 Grams Fresh Brewed Coffee

1 Quart Whole Coffee Beans

1/2 Bunch Fresh Chevril

1/2 Bunch Fresh Chives

Salt & Pepper To Taste


For the Dressing:

  1. Combine the apple cider vinegar, toasted pine nuts, sugar, Dijon mustard, porcini powder and
    parmesan in a blender.
  2. Blend on low speed until smooth.
  3. Add the coffee and slowly add the olive oil until well emulsified.
  4. Transfer to an ISI canister.

For the Salad:

  1. Wash pear, cucumber and persimmon.
  2. Peel and cube pear and cucumber
  3. De-seed and cube persimmon

For the Parmesan Crisp:

  1. Micro-plane the Parmigiano-Reggiano and mold inside a 5-inch ring.
  2. Add some porcini powder and place in a 350 °F oven until golden and crisp.

For the Dried Shiitake Mushrooms:

  1. Clean and slice shiitake mushrooms.
  2. Add garlic, oil, salt, pepper and roast in the oven at 350 °F.

To Assemble:

  1. Season the salad mixture with salt, pepper, toasted pine-nuts, chive and olive oil.
  2. Arrange the Asian pear salad on the bottom of the bowl, add the Parmesan crisp and the emulsion.
  3. Finish with dry shiitake and chervil.

Served with Radish and Bacon Infused Mashed Potatoes over a Braised Radish and Dashi Reduction

shrimp steak

YIELD: 4 Servings


2 Daikon Pieces

500 Grams Shrimp

200 Grams Leeks

300 Grams Sweet Rice Flour

50 Grams All Purpose Flour

44 Grams Corn Starch

1 Cup Egg Whites

1 Bag Katsuobushi

2 Cups Dry Shredded Nori

600 Grams Water

60 Grams Soy Sauce

20 Grams Sugar

5 Grams Kombu

5 Grams Ginger Juice

3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

100 Grams Canola Oil

200 Grams Bacon

400 Grams Potatoes

150 Grams Milk

50 Grams Butter

1 Tablespoon Dry Oregano

2 Lemons


Make the Sauce and Daikon Steak:

  1. In a pressure cooker combine the water, soy sauce, kombu, Katsuobushi, sugar and 6 slices of daikon cut 1 cm thick.
  2. Close the pressure cooker, bring to pressure and cook for 25 mins.
  3. Remove pressure, remove the daikon and strain the dashi.
  4. Add the ginger juice bring to a boil.
  5. Slurry the corn starch until proper consistency is achieved.
  6. Taste for flavor, add lemon juice if needed.

For the Shrimp Steak:

  1. Peel and mandoline lengthwise a thin slice of daikon.
  2. Chop shrimp and leek finely, season with salt and pepper, add corn starch.
  3. Spread shrimp filling on top of sliced radish, roll tightly to wrap, keep refrigerated.
  4. When shrimp steak is set, remove plastic wrap, dust with AP flour, and coat with sweet rice powder batter.
  5. Fry at 350 °F until slightly brown.
  6. Mix egg white with corn starch, coat and fry the steak again.
  7. Roll in Katsuobushi and fry again.

For the Purée:

  1. In oil, cook the diced bacon until crispy, strain it, sweat onion and radish in bacon fat, until brown.
  2. Add a few drops of water to deglaze, then add sugar, vinegar, pepper and oregano.
  3. Add back the bacon, add balsamic vinegar and mix well.
  4. Make mashed potatoes.
  5. Combine the mashed potatoes with the bacon mixture and mix well.

To Assemble:

  1. On each daikon steak, arange radish purée and dust dry seaweed on top.
  2. Arrange at 10 o’clock on the plate.
  3. Add at 1 o’clock on the plate, a portion of shrimp steak and some dashi reduction in the center.
anthony contrino

How To Make It In The World Of Food Styling With Alumnus Anthony Contrino

Anthony ContrinoAnthony Contrino has always had a passion for food, so when the time was right, he enrolled in the International Culinary Center’s Professional Pastry Arts program. 10 years later, he’s an Emmy-nominated culinary producer, food stylist and chef. He’s collaborated with clients like Wendy’s, Lavazza Coffee, and even, and has worked on TV shows on The Food Network, USA Network and The Today Show.

We spoke with Anthony to learn what led him to become a food stylist for The Today Show, what it’s like to work on live TV and his advice for aspiring food professionals. Check out our interview below and be sure to watch a few of his segments on The Today Show!

Why did you decide to attend culinary school?

I always knew that I wanted to go to school, I just never knew when the right time was. Finally, the right opportunity came along, and I knew that I would learn a lot more than what you would learn just in a kitchen. One of the best parts about going to school was the networking and connections that I gained since then. I still talk to my classmates all the time! I went the pastry track because I’ve always loved dessert, and I’m kind of a picky eater, so I wanted to make dishes that I really enjoyed. Luckily, pastry is very technical, so the skills that I learned definitely apply to savory cooking too.


What led you to follow the path of food styling?

I always knew that I wanted to write a cookbook, that was my ultimate goal. There was a posting to assist a well known pastry chef on his second cookbook on the ICC job menu and I was at a good time in my life to take this opportunity. I was literally doing this job just to understand the behind the scenes of working on a cookbook. Within a few months, people were calling me to work on their cookbooks and do other food styling jobs without any real experience in the field. It happened by accident, but all of a sudden I was working for Food Network, then the Today Show too. This is one of those sectors of the industry where you really have to put yourself out there and make the right connections.


Do you have any tips for people looking to break into the world of food styling?

Definitely check out the ICC job menu! There are food styling assistant jobs that pop up, so it’s always great to take those opportunities. When you’re first starting, you should understand basic knife skills and the process of cooking food. This helps to explain how we prepare a dish and what we need to do to fake it. Ask questions, don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone, and don’t be afraid to reach out. Even if you don’t have the exact experience, it never hurts to ask and reach out to people. Just be willing to learn and have the basics skills—this is one of those jobs that you have to be mentored in, so find the right person that’s willing to teach you.

Get Anthony’s Cooking Secrets in this Today Food Segment

What is it like working on live TV segments?

I prefer live TV, believe it or not! It sounds like it would be more stressful, but there are specifics to what you’re supposed to be doing. When you’re styling for live TV, you know exactly when they need the food styled and when you’ll need to get it done by. There aren’t many jobs that you can say they’ll need a turkey and mashed potatoes prepped for 8:53 AM. If you’re organized and ready to go, 95% of the time it’s a breeze.


Do you have any advice for aspiring food professionals?

At the end of the day, the world of food styling is a lot of fun. We all get into food because we love it, so find what makes you happy and go for it. There’s so many different sub genres of food, so it’s just finding what keeps you passionate about food.

Get a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Life as a Food Stylist on the Today Show

world bread awards

Two ICC Alumni Win at the 2019 World Bread Awards!

The Tiptree World Bread Awards came to New York for the second time to celebrate the very best in American bread bakers. Now in their seventh year since their founding in England, the Awards are the top annual competition for professional bakers in the United Kingdom.

The Awards include 13 categories, from sourdough to baguettes and bagels. The bakers in this year’s competition were judged by 36 industry professionals from around the country, including ICC’s very own Director of Pastry, Chef Jansen Chan and ICC alumni Melissa Weller (Highstreet on Hudson) and Rhonda Crosson (Meyers USA).

ICC graduate David Shalam, center, receiving his award
ICC graduate David Shalam, center, receiving his award

ICC is proud to recognize two alumni who took home awards this year in the categories of bagels, focaccia and the TipTree Showstopper. Clémence Danko’s bakery, Choc O Pain French Bakery in Jersey City, brought home the focaccia award for their focaccia baguette. Clémence is a 2010 graduate of ICC’s Art of International Bread Baking program and hires many ICC graduates to work at her bakery. David Shalam, 2011 graduate of ICC’s Professional Pastry Arts program and Founder/Head Baker of Heritage Bakers in Glen Cove, NY, took home the Bagel Award for his everything bagel, as well as the award for the TipTree Showstopper! For this award, he submitted his signature popovers and incorporated TipTree’s Little Scarlet strawberry jam into the recipe.

Congratulations to all of the evenings winners! Check out the full list of awards here.

About The Art of International Bread Baking Program:

Our Art of International Bread Baking program was created 20+ years ago to create the future bakers of tomorrow. In this program, students learn 85+ breads and learn the art of bread baking. In eight weeks, you’ll travel the world through bread baking in our pristine New York City kitchens. Develop a fundamental understanding of the science, ingredients and techniques you need to master artisanal hand-crafted breads. Learn more here.

About the Event Partners:

Tiptree has always had strong links with the USA. Scott Goodfellow, Wilkin & Sons Joint Managing Director commented, “C. J. Wilkin, the son of our founder, toured several states back in the 1890s, to learn about fruit growing and jam making. New York City has a global reputation for excellent food, so it makes the perfect spot for the inaugural overseas Tiptree World Bread Awards. We are very much looking forward to discovering the world of artisan bread that is available across the USA.”

The Food is GREAT campaign is a government initiative to support UK food and drink exports and to increase positive public perception and demand of UK food and drink around the world.

The American Bakers Association (ABA) is the Washington D.C.-based voice of the wholesale baking industry. Since 1897, ABA has represented the interests of bakers before the U.S. Congress, federal agencies, and international regulatory authorities. ABA advocates on behalf of more than 1,000 baking facilities and baking company suppliers. ABA members produce bread, rolls, cookies, crackers, bagels, sweet goods, tortillas and many other wholesome, nutritious, baked products for America’s families. ABA works to grow and enhance the industry through public policy advocacy, education and networking. ABA brings together industry leaders to share ideas, develop industry solutions and network with industry colleagues.  Follow ABA with #AmericanBakers

Photographs by Henry Kenyon

off the vine panelists

How Technology Is Changing The Wine Industry

Nowadays, sommeliers must be knowledgeable about more than the wines they serve—they also have to be on the cutting edge of technology. While technology can often be seen as a hindrance in service and hospitality, it can actually build communities, allow consumers to be in-the-know, and even introduce sommeliers to new information.

At our most recent Off the Vine panel, we spoke with two graduates of our Intensive Sommelier Training program, Anna-Christina Cabrales (Certified Sommelier—General Manager & Wine Director of Morrell Wine Bar) and Jerry Cox (Advanced Sommelier—Sommelier at Le Coucou), to understand how technology impacts sommeliers in their role as ambassadors of hospitality—on restaurant floors, behind the bar, in wine shops and more. Moderated by Nikki Palladino, ICC’s Wine Coordinator, we dove into how sommeliers must adapt to take service beyond the bottle.

Below, check out what our panelists shared about the benefits, drawbacks and learning curves of incorporating new technology into service!

There's Always A New Tool

Picture this: you finally open a bottle of wine that you’ve been saving, but you have to enjoy it in one sitting. Sure, you could try to re-cork it, or put a stopper into the bottle. However, now that you’ve introduced oxygen to the bottle, you know it won’t be the same. Gone are those days thanks to the ever-evolving world of wine gadgets.


If you work in restaurants, are studying for your Court of Master Sommelier Exams, or just want a single glass of wine, you need to know about Coravin. Coravin is changing the way that the world drinks wine. They are the world’s first wine technology company, and their system allows you to pour wine without removing the cork and introducing oxygen into the bottle. This allows you to prolong the life of a bottle and keep your wine fresher, longer. Sommeliers Cabrales and Cox both use Coravin at home and in their restaurants. While they agree that it isn’t ideal for delicate vintages and aromatic varietals like Rieslings, it’s perfect for bold, young wines and does not compromise the integrity of the bottle. Try it for yourself and see what you think!

New Networks And Communities Are Built Daily

It’s no secret that the world of social media is prevalent in our daily lives. Every day, stories and experiences are shared with the world, creating long lasting memories and communities. This also holds true for the world of wine.

When Cabrales first started her Instagram account, she wasn’t expecting anything to come of it and was simply commemorating the amazing wines that she gets to taste. Now, she has built a community of over 6,000 followers that love to see the wine that she’s pouring. She doesn’t provide tasting notes in her captions as she believes you must taste a wine on various occasions before you’re able to understand its complexity. Cabrales also shared that social media is a great way to meet collectors and learn from other wine lovers around the world!

The Customer's Experience Is Always First

At the end of the day, sommeliers are on the front lines of hospitality and are there to elevate the customer experience. Sommeliers have the opportunity to make a guest’s evening more memorable and provide a lasting impression. But, technology is changing the way that sommeliers provide these experiences to their guests.

Vivino is one of the apps changing the industry all together—especially the way customers do, and don’t interact with sommeliers. This popular app is used by millions around the world to rate bottles of wine, profiling over 100,000 wines on the app. It was designed for wine lovers with little knowledge of wine to help them feel more informed. It recognizes labels and names of wines, even on a wine list, and tells the consumer what people are saying about the wine, average prices, and more.


Contrary to popular belief, wine apps are not totally icing out the sommelier from a diner’s experience. In fact, customers are more excited and educated about wine than ever before. Now, when Cabrales or Cox approach a table to provide recommendations on their wine list, customers often have the Vivino app pulled up on their phones to make their selection for them. While this can be a tricky situation to navigate, both of our experts agree—it’s best to be on the customer’s side. Use the app as a positive conversational tool to gain the customer’s trust and show them that a sommelier is there to recommend the best wine for their needs.

OFF THE VINE, brought to you by the Intensive Sommelier Training program at ICC, is a series of tastings, discussion panels and networking events designed to support wine professionals in the beverage industry. Each event is designed to provide education, information and the opportunity to connect with industry experts in a collaborative setting.
camilla marcus

ICC In The News: Highlights from October 2019

ICC In The News provides monthly highlights from articles published around the world that feature alumni, deans, faculty and more within the ICC community. Stories of our 15,000+ alumni network and their successes are continuously popping up across various prestigious publications. Below, we have brought together some of our favorites from October 2019, aimed to keep you connected with our community and inspire readers to #LoveWhatYouDo in the kitchen and beyond.

jean georges
The Jean-Georges Recipe for Restaurants

Lois Freedman graduated from our Professional Culinary Arts program in 1987, and has been Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s right hand ever since. For over 30 years, she has worked within the Jean-Georges restaurant world and is now the president of the company. Read more about her and Jean-Georges Vongerichten in The New York Times.

In this article with Fatherly, check out what ICC grad and executive chef at New York’s L’Artusi Joe Vigorito’s top picks are for dads who love to cook.

Chef Danny Mena is an ICC grad and restaurateur, but did you also know that he’s a cookbook author? In this podcast with Splendid Table, Chef Mena talks all things Mexico City, like his favorite places to grab a bite, the inspiration behind his new book & more. Listen here.

In search of authentic Thai food in Philadelphia? Look no further than ICC alumnus Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon’s new restaurant Kalaya, housed inside of one of the oldest Italian markets in the country. The recipes are straight from her childhood like the khao yum, a version of the rainbow rice salad the chef’s mom sold at her food stall, which includes toasted coconut, dry shrimp, makrut lime leaf, ginger, and bean sprouts. Read more in this Food and Wine feature.

Meet the Illustrator Who Turns Noodle Soup Into Art

Michele Humes is a writer, an artist and an ICC Professional Culinary Arts graduate. Throughout her career, she’s worked as a cook, food stylist, culinary illustrator and journalist. Now, she’s published her first book, The Noodle Soup Oracle, a mix and match guide that helps you create the noodle dish of your dreams. Read more about it in Grub Street.

camilla marcus
Meet the Restaurateur Championing Accessible Childcare for New York City’s Hospitality Workers

ICC grad Camilla Marcus is changing the restaurant industry—at her restaurant, west~bourne, she’s offering free childcare to her employees. Read more about how she’s doing it in and why it’s so important in Vogue.

The pop-up Seaport Food Lab, a rotating residency of big-name chefs and bartenders, is back with two New York City pros at the helm: Du’s Donuts owner Wylie Dufresne and former Del Posto chef Mark Ladner. To check out ICC grad Wylie Dufresne in action, read more about it in Eater here.

Pure Wow recently named our Cooking and Baking Camps for Teens some of the best kids’ cooking classes in NYC! Read all about why you should sign your teen up for the ultimate foodie summer camp here.

Bao Ong, ICC Professional Culinary Arts graduate and the New York food and drink editor for Time Out NY, recently published a list of the 100 Best Restaurants in New York. With ICC graduate restaurants on the list like Don Angie, Sofreh and LaLou, you won’t want to miss these NYC hot spots. Check out the list and grab your reservation here.

judy joo
Eater London
With Korean Fried Chicken, Westfield Doubles Down on Bid to Be Taken Seriously

Heading to the other side of the pond sometime soon? ICC alumna Chef Judy Joo is opening a new restaurant in London called Seoul Bird. This restaurant will focus on everything from crunchy fried chicken to warming, spicy gochujang sauces. Read more about it in London Eater here.

david chang
Ramen, Noise and Rebellion

It’s hard to dismiss what ICC alumnus David Chang’s impact has been on the food world, but in a recent interview with The Washington Post, he shares that he hopes his name is forgotten one day. Read more about how the culinary giant helped to create a new generation of chefs.

Brandy Kirchner is a 2017 Intensive Sommelier Training alumna, and after graduating from our program, moved to Indiana to pursue her wine passions. Currently, she’s a Certified Sommelier and just opened her business White Oak Wine Cafe. Read more about the opening in KPC News.

ICC Chef Instructors Chef Hervé Malivert and Chef Jeff Butler cooked alongside 15 other world-renowned chefs for The Center For Discovery’s 2019 Michael Ritchie Big Barn Event for a Sustainable Future. Learn more in Yahoo! about how our chef instructors helped to raise money for the scientific research and innovation for cutting-edge care and education for 1,200 children and adults.

Nicki Sizemore is a Professional Culinary Arts graduate and recently released her second cookbook, Fresh Flavors for the Slow Cooker. It’s a recipe book aimed to simplify weeknight meals, all while giving you confidence in the kitchen. Check it out here in Candid Cover.

The viral Twitter war about cooking pasta in cold vs. boiling water continues! Huffington Post asked our culinary team to weigh in on the debate. Check out what they recommended here.

angie mar
Beatrice Inn Chef Angie Mar Lays It All Out in Her First Cookbook, ‘Butcher + Beast’

ICC grad Angie Mar of The Beatrice Inn is releasing her debut cookbook this month. More than just recipes, it’s really an autobiography through food. Check out her interview in WWD to get an inside look at how fashion, personal experiences and her creative process influence her cooking.

Who’s excited for David Chang’s new Netflix show streaming now? You won’t want to miss this ICC grad traveling the world with celebrities like Chrissy Teigen, Seth Rogan & more to eat ‘Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner’ as alluded to in the show name! Watch the trailer on New York Eater and get ready to binge watch ASAP.

chef oscar barrera

From Doctor to Chef—How ICC Grad Oscar Barrera Followed His Passion

Oscar Barrera wasn’t always a chef—before he followed his passion for the kitchen, he was a medical resident studying to become a doctor in Chile. After realizing that food was his true calling, he competed on MasterChef Chile and worked with The World’s 50 Best Restaurants organization. It was through these experiences that Oscar desired to develop his skills in the kitchen—leading him to enroll in the International Culinary Center’s Professional Culinary Arts program in 2017!

Chef Oscar Barrera with a student and fellow ICC graduate from Chile

Chef Barrera recently returned to his alma mater to showcase the flavors of Chile and the diversity of his home country. In the demonstration, we tasted three different dishes including Rica-Rica Meringues with lime curd and desert rose petals; Charquicán, Sopaipillas and Pebre—or potato, pumpkin and meat stew with fried pumpkin bread and pico de gallo; and finally Paila Marina—or fish and shellfish soup. But before we tasted the vast cuisines of Chile, we sat down with Chef Barrera to talk life after ICC, what it’s like to open your own restaurant and more. Check out our interview with him below!

oscar barreraWhat made you decide to attend culinary school and pursue a new career as a Chef after your profession as a Doctor?

I decided to follow the culinary path because it’s my passion—basically, that’s the main reason. I discovered throughout the years that I wanted to cook, so I finished medical school and came to New York, my favorite city, to study at the best school possible.

Why did you choose to travel internationally and enroll at ICC in NYC to receive your culinary education?

When I was very little, I used to stay up late watching re-runs of TV shows with New York in it. I came to New York for the first time when I was 14 and fell in love with the city. Because of a friend, I knew about ICC, so I came to visit and knew that it was the place for me.

How did you get your start in the Culinary Industry?

Around the time that I realized I wanted to be a chef, I was still studying in medical school. Every day, I would go to school, then the gym, and I would run on the treadmill and study medicine so that I could go home after and focus on cooking. My goal was to cook a new dish each day and post it on Instagram, and this caught the attention of The World’s 50 Best organization. They had a food competition where amateurs could submit pictures, recipes and videos of dishes that they were cooking, and I won the competition! The prize was going to one of the awards ceremonies of The World’s 50 Best, and I kept in contact with them afterwards. I ended up working for the organization and created content for them and took over their social media, so that was really my first taste into the culinary world.

What was your experience like competing on MasterChef Chile?

It was very fun to compete, but after all, it’s a reality show with cooking. So, you learn some things and it’s fun, but I did it because I was an amateur cook at the time and wanted to take every opportunity that I could. I don’t regret it at all—I had the desire to be a chef before I was on the show, and I had already decided to pursue a culinary career, so the show was really a turning point for me.

meringueWhere did you find your passion for educating people about Chilean flavors and ingredients?

Chilean food and ingredients were not really known until recently—we had this big breakout where it got popular about 10 years ago. We have great chefs [from Chile] working around the world, like Victoria Blamey who is the Executive Chef of Gotham Bar and Grill in NYC, but still, the world wasn’t really seeing Chilean cuisine. Since I had gotten visibility from The World’s 50 Best and MasterChef, and after becoming a professional chef, I realized there was a possibility for me to showcase the flavors of my country.



What advice would you give to aspiring chefs who are hoping to change careers?

If you’re thinking about changing careers and getting into the culinary world, the most important thing is that it must be your passion. It’s hard work and you work long hours, so you really have to make sure that it’s what you want to do. Follow your dreams—it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Don’t just be a cook—give your career a twist and use your previous career as an advantage.

What are some of the  projects you are working on right now?

I’m very excited to launch my own brand RAM. It’s a restaurant, but not just in one place. It’s inspired by NYC’s culture, as well as global issues like eating healthy. So I’m excited to combine my past career as a doctor into my new career. I’m also a teacher in Chile, and I teach different things like nutrition and fermentation, and I do a lot of research on dairy and food philosophy. Finally, next year, I’m taking part in the biggest food festival in South America, The Ñam Food Festival. Different chefs and people in related professions gather from around the world to do talks and find solutions for food issues in Chile!

oscar barrera with studentCould you have imagined you would be sharing your expertise and knowledge back at your alma mater only 3 years after graduating? What is it like to come full circle?

After I graduated, I went back to Chile and decided to follow my dreams. It’s amazing to think about all that has happened in 3 years. It’s not really about being in the right place at the right moment—it’s much more about taking every opportunity. I’m no longer working in a restaurant, so working independently has made me more aware of the business aspect of things and taking chances. You fail thousands of times, but there’s always a success that will come and you have to take those chances. ICC gave me a lot, so being here only a few years after graduation is a dream come true. This is a way for me to give back to the school and the students.


3 Ways To Pair Rum With Food

Many reach for a bottle of their favorite wine to pair food with, but few consider food pairings with spirits. When they do, it’s often as a digestif coupled with dessert. So when the experts at Diplomático Rum stopped by earlier this month, we jumped at the opportunity to challenge our palates and explore food pairings in a guided tasting of three different rums.

Founded in 1959, Diplomático is internationally recognized for producing some of the finest rums in the world. Rum is filled with flavors of vanilla, molasses, citrus and even caramel. Their rums are aged in different casks, typically former bourbon and malt whiskey barrels. This ageing, along with different blending and distillation processes, gives each rum its distinct color and flavor. Through our guided tasting, we learned that rum is filled with flavors of vanilla, molasses, citrus and even caramel.

Below, check out how ICC Culinary Events Coordinator, Chef Natalia Pozzi balanced these flavors in her food pairings with Diplomático Rum!


diplomatico Planas rum
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Planas rum is perfectly paired with seafood. Aged for up to 6 years, it has notes of coconut and ground coffee, which compliment the salinity in the seafood. For the tasting, Chef Natalia prepared a red snapper ceviche with jicama, mango and avocado. The citrus notes in both the ceviche and rum made for a delicious and balanced pairing!


diplomatico mantuana rum
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Mantuano is a dark, golden rum that is aged for up to 8 years in white oak casks. They use casks which previously aged bourbon and malt-whiskey, giving this rum all of the spices and flavors—like cinnamon, apple and nutmeg—commonly associated with those spirits. Chef Natalia prepared a molasses glazed pork tenderloin with grilled pineapple and chili for this pairing, demonstrating that smoky flavors of the meat compliment the Mantuano well.


diplomatico reserva exclusiva
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Reserva Exclusiva is an amber colored rum with a complex taste. It has bright, orange citrus flavors combined with the flavors of cocoa. The cocoa adds bitter notes to the palate, while the citrus adds freshness and sweetness. To end the tasting, Chef Natalia paired the Reserva Exclusiva with—what else?—an orange infused chocolate truffle.

chef sean brock and tilit co founders

TILIT and Chef Sean Brock Talk Wellness in Hospitality at ICC

This past October, ICC was pleased to host TILIT, the leading chef wear company for today’s on-the-go culinary professionals, to celebrate the launch of their newest line, TILIT SUPPLY! The company is helping to redefine work wear for the hospitality industry, all while adding their signature street wear flare that chef’s crave.

In addition to debuting their new collection, TILIT Founders Alex McCrery and Jenny Goodman taped a special LIVE segment of their hit Heritage Radio Network podcast, Opening Soon, featuring special guest Chef Sean Brock. The James Beard Award winner shared insights into his new Nashville restaurant complex, the importance of wellness for chefs, and his latest cookbook—SOUTH: Essential Recipes and New Explorations.

As the restaurant industry continues to evolve, restaurateurs like ICC alumna Camilla Marcus, as well as Chef Sean Brock, are focusing on employee benefits—child care, improved health care, and wellness are just a few key ones to name. For 12 years, Chef Brock was the Executive Chef of McCrady’s in South Carolina, as well as the founding chef of Husk restaurant concepts throughout the South. After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, he took a step back and reevaluated how he was taking care of himself, both in and out of the kitchen.

He began to rethink health & wellness and how it affects his life, as well as the lives of his employees. After realizing that there was an opportunity for the restaurant industry to improve, he decided to set out on his newest venture. He will soon open his flagship restaurant and first solo establishment in East Nashville, TN—a 10,000-square-foot Appalachian-focused compound featuring a casual downstairs dining room and an upstairs tasting menu. In what’s surely to be pivotal for the restaurant industry, the compound will also feature a mindfulness center focused on mental health for his team. This mindfulness center, he says, was not easy to convince his investors of as the center’s square footage will take away seats in the restaurant, and therefore potential revenue. However, this was a necessary sacrifice that Chef Brock was willing to make. To listen to the full podcast and learn more about how Chef Brock is addressing health & wellness in the restaurant industry, click here.

After the podcast taping, attendees were invited for an exclusive preview of the new TILIT SUPPLY line and tasted recipes from Chef Brock’s brand new cookbook! Check out all of the images from the event below.

2020 michelin stars

23 ICC Graduates Among 2020 Michelin Star Recipients

One of the most well-respected restaurants in America has finally earned recognition from the world’s oldest restaurant guide. The coveted list of 2020 MICHELIN star recipients was released earlier this week for the New York City, Chicago and Washington D.C. markets, and ICC alumnus Dan Barber’s Blue Hill At Stone Barns earned two MICHELIN stars for the first time since the restaurant opened it’s doors in 2004.

This is the 15th year that a MICHELIN Guide has been published for New York City, but the first time that it has been expanded to Westchester, where Blue Hill At Stone Barns is located. Chef Barber’s other restaurant, Blue Hill—located in Manhattan—has retained one star since 2008. Earlier this summer, the MICHELIN Guide announced another big shake-up—the announcement of the first statewide guide in the U.S. for California which included ICC alumnus, Joshua Skenes’ new restaurant Angler.

The 2020 announcements feature exciting new additions to the annual guides where International Culinary Center alumni are leading both front- and back-of-house teams to success. Lisa Kalemkiarian (Professional Culinary Arts ’16) is the Head Baker at Benno, a fine-dining restaurant combining French technique with contemporary Italian cooking, and helped to earn the restaurant its first MICHELIN star this year.

Additionally, Atomix—where Intensive Sommelier Training graduate Jhonel Faelnar is the Wine Director—was elevated to two stars in their second year of operations. Dan Catinella, Director of Business Operations at Crown Shy and Professional Culinary Arts graduate, shared that he is “excited for the team at Crown Shy and always happy to see them recognized.” Crown Shy is also a new addition to the NYC MICHELIN Guide this year.

Two ICC graduates are making their mark on the D.C. food scene as new additions to the list of MICHELIN-starred restaurants. Vincent Badiee, ICC alumnus and Chef de Cuisine of Gravitas, helped to earn the restaurant its first star. Maydān, which is helmed by co-executive chef/owner Gerald Addison (Professional Culinary Arts ’08), earned its first star after receiving much acclaim over the past year.

In total, 23 ICC alumni plus Dean David Kinch have received a combined 36 stars this year alone—a record breaking number for the ICC community! ICC is proud to congratulate the winners across America being recognized by the industry for their hard work and dedication to their craft, especially our alumni and Dean, and their respective restaurants. Check out the full list below of ICC graduates, and our Dean, to see where the MICHELIN Guide recommends making a reservation in 2020!

New York City

Three Stars (“Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.”)

Per Se, Anna Bolz, Pastry Chef

Two Stars (“Excellent cooking, worth a detour.”)

Atomix, Jhonel Faelnar, Wine Director
Blue Hill At Stone Barns, Dan Barber, Chef/Owner
Ko, David Chang, Chef/Owner
The Modern, Thomas Allan, Chef de Cuisine

One Star (“High-quality cooking, worth a stop!”)

Agern, Rhonda Crosson, Head Baker
Bâtard, Jason Jacobeit, Wine Director
Benno, Lisa Kalemkiarian, Head Baker
Blue Hill, Dan Barber, Chef/Owner
Contra, Jeremiah Stone & Fabian Von Hauske, Chefs/Owners
Crown Shy, Dan Catinella, Director of Business Operations
Gramercy Tavern, Howard Kalachinikoff, Chef de Cuisine
Meadowsweet, Polo Dobkin,  Chef/Owner
NoMad, Mark Welker, Pastry Chef
Oxomoco, Justin Bazdarich, Chef/Co-Owner
Tuome, Tom Chen, Chef/Owner


One Star (“High-quality cooking, worth a stop!”)

Sepia, Andrew Zimmerman, Executive Chef 

 Washington D.C.

One Star (“High-quality cooking, worth a stop!”)

Gravitas, Vincent Badiee, Chef de Cuisine
Maydān, Gerald Addison, Co-Executive Chef
The Dabney, Alex Zink, Owner/Bar Director 


Three Stars (“Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey.”)

Manresa, David Kinch (ICC Dean), Chef/Owner
Quince, Aaron Babcock, Sommelier

Two Stars (“Excellent cooking, worth a detour.”)

Saison, Joshua Skenes, Chef/Owner

One Star (“High-quality cooking, worth a stop!”)

Angler, Joshua Skenes, Chef/Owner
Rich Table
, Sarah Rich, Chef/Owner

chef aaron sanchez

Chef Aarón Sánchez’s Quick New Orleans Shellfish Étouffée

Chef Aarón Sánchez, judge on Fox’s hit show MasterChef and ICC’s 2019 commencement keynote speaker, returned to the ICC community earlier this October to debut his brand new memoir, Where I Come From: Life Lessons from a Latino Chef (Abrams Press).

chef with student

The memoir, which was released on October 1, features stories from Chef Sánchez’s early years and his career in kitchens, along with recipes that have a personal connection to his journey. ICC students and alumni who attended the demonstration were able to get their hands on a signed copy of Chef Sánchez’s book first, before being released to the public. Throughout the demonstration, Chef Sánchez offered advice and words of wisdom to the packed crowd of future chefs and culinary professionals who look to him as a source of inspiration.

The chef/owner of Mexican restaurant Johnny Sánchez in New Orleans, and author of two cookbooks, learned how to cook at an early age from his mother, and famed restaurateur, Zarela Martinez. One of the world’s most distinguished Latin chefs, Chef Sánchez is passionate about preserving his family’s legacy through food and encouraging diversity in the kitchen. To celebrate his heritage and New Orleans roots, Chef Sánchez demonstrated his Quick New Orleans Shellfish Étouffée—the very first dish he cooked for his mother at a dinner party after his culinary training.

chef with studentsAt the demonstration, current Professional Culinary Arts students Yan Torres and Alejandro Castellon assisted Chef Sánchez in making his Étouffée. Yan and Alejandro, who are from Puerto Rico and New Orleans respectively, are the 2018 recipients of The Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund’s full tuition scholarships to ICC. The Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund was launched to help the next generation of Latino chefs and leaders, and ICC is proud to partner with Chef Sánchez’s initiative to provide high quality culinary education for these future culinary professionals.

Below, get the recipe for Chef Sánchez’s Étouffée and check out the photos from the demonstration!
Pro-tip from Chef Sánchez: when creating your roux, make sure it turns a dark blond color for more flavor.

Quick New Orleans Shellfish Étouffée

Serves 4 to 6










  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup (30 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup (60 g) tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups (480 ml) seafood stock
  • 1½ to 2 pounds (680 to 900 g/21 to 25 medium to large) shelled and deveined shrimp, crawfish tails, lump crabmeat, or a combination
  • 2 cups (240 g) cooked white rice
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Hot sauce for serving (Chef Sánchez uses Crystal, from Louisiana)


  1. In a Dutch oven or large cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. When it stops bubbling, adjust the heat to medium-low and stir in the flour. Cook, stirring regularly, until it’s smoothed out a bit and is a dark blond color.
  2. Stir in the onion, bell pepper, celery, and salt. Adjust the heat to medium and sauté until the onion is translucent and the vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, thyme, spices, and bay leaf and toast them for a minute or two.
  3. When the tomato paste no longer smells raw, pour in the stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until the stock has thickened slightly but is still actively, rapidly simmering, then fold in the seafood. Careful not to overcook—it’ll only need 3 to 5 minutes—and remove the Dutch oven from the heat when the meat is opaque but still tender.
  4. Ladle the étouffée over scoops of warm or room temperature white rice and top with fresh green onions and hot sauce.