wine enthusiast

14 ICC Grads and Instructors Awarded Prestigious Honors from Wine Enthusiast

Wine Enthusiast Magazine is one of America’s foremost experts and voices on wine. With over 300 million magazines printed since 1988, to reaching millions across their social platforms, their knowledge and expertise is far reaching around the world.

Each year, Wine Enthusiast publishes a list of America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants that honors “a selection of restaurants where wine is shared and celebrated, and where, the selection, food, service and atmosphere are all exceptional.” With knowledgeable experts bringing consumers information on the fascinating world of wine and spirits, this list speaks to the hard work and dedication that restaurant owners across America are bringing to the table.

We are proud to congratulate the six members of the ICC community who have been named on this prestigious list—from an Intensive Sommelier Training alumnus and instructors, to graduates of our Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts and Art of International Bread Baking programs, the versatility of the awardees speaks for itself.

If that’s not enough, check out these eight restaurants owned or operated by ICC alumni that were inducted into Wine Enthusiast’s Restaurant Hall of Fame. These standouts have appeared on their list of America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants four or more times, and they’re still operating at the top of their game.

Congratulations to all for continuing to raise the standards of food and wine in America! We couldn’t be more proud. Below, check out the winners and their respective restaurants, then click on the links to view the full lists.

Angler, CA

Joshua Skenes, Founder, Professional Culinary Arts ‘01

Atomix, NY

Jhonel Faelnar, Advanced Sommelier, Wine Director & Sommelier, Intensive Sommelier Training ‘14

Gotham Bar and Grill, NY

Jason Hedges, Beverage Director, Culinary Entrepreneurship ’11

Lafayette, NY

Josh Nadel, MS, Beverage Director, Intensive Sommelier Training Program Instructor

Racines, NY

Pascaline Lepeltier, MS, Partner, Intensive Sommelier Training Program Instructor

Vetri Cucina, PA

Mark Vetri, Chef/Founder, Art of International Bread Baking ‘98

Click here to view the full list

Blue Hill at Stone Barns, NY

Dan Barber, Chef/Owner, Professional Culinary Arts ’94

Fish & Game, NY

Zak Pelaccio, Owner and Executive Chef, Professional Culinary Arts ‘98

Frasca Food and Wine, CO

Kelly Jeun, Co Executive Chef, Professional Culinary Arts ‘07

Gramercy Tavern, NY

Howard Kalachnikoff, Chef de Cuisine, Professional Culinary Arts ’04

L’Etoile, WI

Tory Miller, Chef/Owner, Professional Culinary Arts ’00

Manresa, CA

David Kinch, Executive Chef, Dean

Per Se, NY

Anna Bolz, Executive Pastry Chef, Professional Pastry Arts ’07

Quince, CA

Aaron Babcock, Advanced Sommelier, Intensive Sommelier Training Program ‘13

Click here to view the full list

world's 50 best

ICC Alumni Named To The World’s 50 Best Restaurants List!

On June 25th, in the late hours of the evening in Singapore—luckily the morning for us in NYC—the moment the culinary world had been waiting for had finally arrived: the release of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2019 sponsored by San Pellegrino.

While the list has seen many changes since its inception 18 years ago, it still arguably holds significant power in today’s foodie world. Take Chef Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca, for example, who visited ICC for a demonstration last September. In 2013 and 2015, his restaurant took home 1st place, then received over 2 million reservation requests within 24 hours (Time). The impact that this list has on the culinary world is immense.

That’s why, we couldn’t be more excited to congratulate the three ICC alumni and their respective restaurants who have been named to this year’s World’s 50 Best list. It is truly one of the greatest honors in gastronomy! We would also like to extend our congratulations to 2019 Professional Culinary Arts graduate Matthew Boronat, who is a line cook at Cosme. After graduating just three months ago, he secured a job at the No. 23 restaurant in the world!

Over the years, ICC has had the pleasure of hosting many of the chefs and restaurants on the Worlds 50 Best Lists for demonstrations at the school. We’d like to send our congratulations to Chef Virgilio Martínez, Chef/Owner of No. 6 restaurant Central in Peru, Chef Rubens Salfer, Head Chef of Alex Atala’s No. 54 restaurant D.O.M in Brazil, Chef Manish Mehrotra, Chef/Owner of No. 60 restaurant Indian Accent in India, and Chef Ángel León, Chef/Owner of No. 94 restaurant Aponiente in Spain, .

Additionally, the publication also includes the top 51-100 restaurants. This year, in a surprise twist, the list was expanded to include restaurants 101-120 to celebrated sponsor San Pellegrino’s 120th anniversary!

Below, check out the alumni who were named to the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list for 2019!

No.2 Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark

Kevin Jeung, Chef of Research and Production, The Fermentation Lab, Professional Culinary Arts ’10

No. 28 Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, NY

Dan Barber, Chef/Owner, Professional Culinary Arts ’94

No. 47 Benu, San Francisco, CA

Lauren Reed, Pastry Chef de Partie, Professional Pastry Arts ’11

No. 70 Saison, San Francisco, CA

Joshua Skenes, Founder, Professional Culinary Arts ‘01

No. 76 Momofuku Ko, New York, NY

David Chang, Owner, Professional Culinary Arts ‘04

No. 115 Per Se, New York, NY

Anna Bolz, Pastry Chef, Professional Pastry Arts ‘07

No. 119 Atomix, New York, NY

Jhonel Faelnar, Advanced Sommelier, Wine Director & Sommelier, Intensive Sommelier Training ‘14

ben mims

Ben Mims Career Timeline


With social media fueling the foodie craze, careers in food media are more desired than ever. From publications and cookbooks to YouTube and other digital media outlets, food media has taken over in popularity. But breaking into this growing industry isn’t easy. It requires skills outside the kitchen, like a background in journalism, photography or film, which paired with a strong culinary arts education can help set you apart!

Take Ben Mims, 2008 graduate of ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program. With a degree in communications from Mississippi State University, Ben set out to gain the culinary knowledge and professional kitchen experience that he needed to propel his dream of working in food media. Check out Ben’s journey below from culinary school to Cooking Columnist for The Los Angeles Times, and our 2019 Outstanding Alumni Award Winner for Excellence in Media!


mississippi state university

Ben Mims received his Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Mississippi State University, knowing that he would want to focus on journalism and eventually work in media. While pursuing his degree, he worked for the school’s newspaper, The Reflector, for 2 years, and spent a summer as an extern at The Vicksburg Post. It was here that he learned what a career in food media could look like.



Following graduation, Ben packed up his college life in Mississippi and moved to the Big Apple to attend ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program! During school, he interned for Jean-George’s recipe-development chef, stationed mostly at Perry Street, where he helped with prep work three nights a week.



After a few months at Jean George’s, Ben decided to jump at an opportunity to intern at Saveur magazine. He already had his degree in journalism, so this was the job that he was looking for! Eventually, he transitioned into a full-time job at Saveur as an Associate Food Editor. In this role, he helped to test recipes in the test kitchen, write stories, and research and fact-check articles.


Bar Agricole

After 5 years at Saveur, he decided to leave New York and return to restaurant kitchens in San Francisco. He got a job as the pastry chef at Bar Agricole and was there for a period before he left to focus on freelance work, developing recipes for food publications back in New York.


food & wine

The following year, he landed a job as a Food Editor at Food & Wine Magazine! Here, he developed recipes for the magazine and worked on recipes for the books published in house. During this time, his first cookbook, Sweet and Southern: Classic Desserts with a Twist (Rizzoli; 2014), was published.


food network

In 2015, he returned to Saveur as the Food Editor. Rather than working in the test kitchen, he helped to develop stories and shape the vision of the content developed. A year later, he would return to freelancing, working mostly with Food Network developing recipes, while also writing for The Wall Street Journal,, Jarry,, Rachael Ray Every Day, Real Simple, Southern Living and


lucky peach

At the end of 2016, Ben took a job at fellow ICC alumnus’ David Chang’s magazine, Lucky Peach. During this time, he was the only person cooking, recipe developing and testing in the kitchen! When the magazine stopped printing in 2017, he used this as an opportunity to write his second cookbook Coconut (Short Stacks Editions, 2017).


buzzfeed tasty

Nearing the end of 2017, Ben joined the Tasty team at Buzzfeed as a recipe developer. Here, he was in charge of conceptualizing and producing three of their cookbooks including Tasty Ultimate: How To Cook Basically Anything (Clarkson Potter, 2018), Matcha: A Lifestyle Guide (Dovetail, 2017) and Munchies: Late-Night Meals from the World’s Best Chefs (Ten Speed Press, 2017). In addition to producing three of their cookbooks, he also wrote his third cookbook Air Fry Every Day: 75 Recipes to Fry, Roast, and Bake Using Your Air Fryer (Clarkson Potter, 2018).


ben and coworker

In February 2019, The Los Angeles Times announced the relaunch of their stand alone food section with a few new team members—including Ben as one of the Cooking Columnists. After a year and a half at Buzzfeed, he took the opportunity to try something new and made the move from the east coast to the west. In this new role, he’s developing his own recipes and writing about ingredients, chefs, dishes, and all things food that excite him in his new home city.

Ready to join one of hottest fields in the culinary industry? Learn more about ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program where Ben gained the culinary techniques and restaurant experience to supplement his background in journalism and pursue a career in food media.

Business Bites Resources: 4 Tips For Finding A Restaurant Space

By Stephani Robson

Stephani Robson is a Senior Lecturer at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and teaches in the Culinary Entrepreneurship program at the International Culinary Center.

Site selection is about much more than finding the right size of space in the right neighborhood for your food business. Have you ever considered that doors have to be a certain width to fit industrial kitchen equipment? What about the visibility that your restaurant will garner, or lose, depending on where the front door is?

There are so many different elements that go into choosing the perfect location. That’s why we sat down with Culinary Entrepreneurship instructor and Senior Lecturer at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, Stephani Robson, to learn how to get it right when choosing a location for your restaurant or food business. With over 30 years of experience designing restaurants and teaching restaurant design, Robson’s advice is some of the best in the business! When looking for a site, Robson shares, “a broker can be really helpful, but remember that the broker is working for the landlord, not for you.” Brokers get paid only when the space is leased, so they have a real incentive to get you to commit. Her first tip: Always do your homework first, and be sure to get everything in writing so your lawyer can review it before you sign a lease.

Here are the 4 things she recommends checking with your broker as you look for spaces!


Ask about the rent and how it is structured— the rent you pay should not exceed 6% of your total sales.  If the rent you are quoted includes all property taxes, insurance, and common-area maintenance, that “all-in” rent should not exceed 10% of your sales.   Be sure to find out whether rents being quoted are “all-in” (including “CAM” charges, building insurance and your share of the property taxes) or “triple net.” If these aren’t included, you will have to pay another 10-20% a month to cover these additional occupancy costs.

Rents vary widely depending on city and neighborhood, so get a feel for local rents by talking to a broker well before you complete your business plan.  If your restaurant concept cannot easily generate the sales to cover the rent quoted using this 6% thumb-rule, do not sign the lease, no matter how appealing the space looks!

Street Level Matters

For restaurants, you really do need to be at street level. Spaces on second floors of buildings or above are also rarely successful for any kind of food business. However, a bar can sometimes work in a basement space that has direct access from the street— otherwise, save basements for storage and food prep! If a street level space you are looking at includes a basement, ask if there is any additional charge for the basement, or if you need to share that space with other building tenants. It’s not unusual to have to share the stairs to the basement with others which can make operations difficult if you need to use those stairs frequently.

Avoid Kitchen Upgrades

Find out if the space already has a grease trap or kitchen ventilation.  Adding these can be really expensive — as in thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.  But if these are already in place, you’ll probably need to give them a really good professional cleaning before use.  While you might be able to clean the grease trap yourself (although it’s a messy task!), you’ll need to spend a few hundred dollars or more having the hood and its associated duct-work professionally cleaned.  At the same time, have the ventilation and fire protection systems checked by an engineer.  That will cost you another couple of hundred, but will be money well spent.

Pay Attention to Doorways

Double check the width of all doorways before you buy any equipment.  Many restaurant owners have found that they can’t get that new freezer or oven into their building! Sometimes, you can make a tight squeeze work by taking off the equipment’s legs or doors, or by removing the building’s door and its jamb (that’s the trim around the doorway), but try to avoid this kind of hassle by measuring carefully before you shop for your kitchen equipment and restaurant space.

Ready to get started on the business plan for your restaurant, food truck, food product or other dream culinary concept? Register for ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship course starting September 14th, and you’ll have a solid business plan & pitch ready in just 6 weeks! Click here to learn more.

The BUSINESS BITES, brought to you by the Culinary Entrepreneurship program at ICC, is a series of workshops, discussion panels, networking events and resources designed to support entrepreneurs in the food industry.

Stephani RobsonStephani Robson has over thirty years of experience designing restaurants and teaching restaurant development and design.  She is a Senior Lecturer at Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and teaches in the Culinary Entrepreneurship program at the International Culinary Center.  Stephani holds a PhD in environmental psychology from Cornell and does research on how the design of restaurants affects guests and operators.


Vanessa Da Silva Career Timeline

From Marketing to Wine: How She Became A Certified Sommelier

The road to becoming a Sommelier can be different for everyone, but what most paths share is an interest in wine and a desire to pursue your passion. The same can be said for our 2019 Outstanding Sommelier Award Winner, Vanessa Da Silva. What began as a curiousity while studying abroad in Florence grew into an undeniable passion for wine, and ultimately a career change into the hospitality industry!

See what Vanessa’s path was to becoming a Certified Sommelier and her growth in the wine industry below.


florence italy

Vanessa Da Silva grew up in rural Maine. Upon graduating from high school, she attended the University of Maine, but yearned for more. So before her senior year, she seized the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy at the Lorenzo de’ Medici School. During her time in Europe, she enrolled in a recreational wine class which sparked her interest to learn more.


university of maine

When she returned home from Florence, she continued to pursue her degree in Marketing, but that didn’t stop her from exploring her new found love of wine. While in her last year of college, she began working at a local business called State Street Wine Cellar where she began to develop her knowledge of wine.


Zack’s Oak Bar & Restaurant

Upon graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing & International Business from the University of Maine in 2009, Vanessa pursued the career in marketing she set out for. But, she quickly realized her budding interest in wine was more than a hobby. In 2012, she got a job as a waitress and bartender at Zack’s Oak Bar & Restaurant while she patiently waited to enter the newest chapter of her life.



In late 2012, Vanessa decided to pursue her passion for wine and enrolled in our Intensive Sommelier Training program! By January of 2013, she had completed the course, passed the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Certified Sommelier examinations and was ready to head into the industry with the credentials to begin her career.


estiatorio milos

Vanessa’s first job after ICC was as the Assistant Sommelier at Estiatorio Milos. Here, she helped to manage the wine list and cellar, learning the ins and outs of the industry. In this capacity, she helped to recommend wines and serve at least 500 guests a night.



After Estiatorio Milos, she rose through the ranks and became a Sommelier at Megu. But, she didn’t just help to manage the wine list—she also looked after the sake list and other beverage selections. Through assisting on the floor with all aspects of the beverage program at Megu, she grew her understanding of what it meant to be a Sommelier.


vanessa at work

After some time at Megu, Vanessa was ready for a change. In March of 2014, she happily returned home to her alma mater to become ICC’s Wine Studies Coordinator. Under the guidance of our Dean of Wine Studies, Scott Carney, MS, Vanessa helped to coordinate the curriculum for the Intensive Sommelier Training program which she had completed just one year prior!


beasts and bottles

Towards the end of 2017, Vanessa decided it was time to return to the restaurant industry. She began a stage at Beasts & Bottles in Brooklyn—co-owned by Intensive Sommelier Training program instructor, Alex LaPratt, MS—to get back into the swing of the fast paced world of restaurants.


ninety acres

After a few months staging at Beasts & Bottles, she took a job that was perfect for her— Sommelier at Ninety Acres in Far Hills, NJ. Since 2017, she has continued to thrive in this role through assisting on the floor and interacting with customers, while also educating the staff on wine selections for the Chef’s Tasting Menus. Most recently, Vanessa was selected as one of 18-sommeliers in the world (and one of only 4-American sommeliers) to attend the New Zealand Wine Sommit 2019.

Ready to pursue your passion for wine? Learn more about ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program where Vanessa gained the knowledge and skills she needed to begin a career in wine.

aly moore

Exploring The Flavor Profiles of Bugs

Written By Aly Moore, Founder of Bugible

Imagine that you have a friend who is an artist. She paints beautiful pictures, but only uses red, pink, and yellow. She can make lovely paintings, but one day you show her the other rainbow of colors that exist – the blues, greens, purples, oranges, silvers, and more. Now she can make even more vivid paintings. That’s where we are in the culinary world. We have a huge range of raw ingredients that chefs use, but there are rainbows of additional flavors to explore. Welcome to the world of edible bugs.  

Back in the 1960’s, sushi was considered barbaric. We couldn’t understand why people would eat raw fish. Slowly but surely, more businessmen from Japan started doing business in California. They started requesting sushi, but we were not sold. Then, a clever chef introduced the California Roll. He disguised the fish in rolls of rice and avocado, making the dish less intimidating for Americans. Photographs emerged of celebrities eating this new dish and it went from being barbaric to trendy. Now, we can’t get enough of it!

It is my hope that bugs will take a similar path. But we have to take a few steps to get there. One of the biggest factors is the name— we don’t eat raw fish, we eat sushi. We don’t eat cows, we eat beef. We don’t even necessarily eat plants, we eat vegetables. A different name for bugs may be the path that we have to follow.

It’s also important to note that bugs are easier on the environment than traditional protein sources, they’re packed with nutrition and can taste great. They are not the only solution to sustainably feed our growing population, but they are the most provocative.

Instead of asking why we eat bugs, we should be asking, why not?

Some put bugs into three unofficial flavor categories. The first nutty and earthy. Crickets and mealworms are examples of bugs that taste a little like seeds, nuts, or mushrooms. The second is fishy and seafood-like. Locusts and scorpions are examples of bugs that have been compared to crab. The third is meaty and savory. Sago grubs are often called the bacon of the bug world.

A big step along the way to normalcy is to get chefs on board. Chefs are the “Gate Keepers of Consumer Preference” and continue to expand our cuisines with innovative concepts and eclectic menus. It’s not uncommon for one chef alone to drive a vibrant micro-food culture in a city, thus expanding appreciation for new foods and dishes that can impact customers’ attitudes nationwide.

Over the last three years, for example, we have seen a trend of vegetable-focused menus. The results is a “normalization” of vegetable dishes as fully belonging on acclaimed menus and as vehicles for culinary creativity. If bugs are to earn a place on casual menus, it will be critical for chefs to champion our efforts. While several restaurants, especially Oaxacan or other ethnic cuisines, are experimenting with bugs on the menu, this practice could become much more common if chefs had more access to education and supplies of edible insects.

The more we work to explore the flavors and uses of insects in cuisine, the more frequently we might see the occasional salad topped with black ants, margarita glass rimmed with grasshopper salt, or bread baked with cricket powder. This might not be immediately obvious until we learn more about these ingredients. Below, check out some of the ways you can incorporate these ingredients into your dishes!

Black Ants

black antsBlack ants have a naturally acidic quality from the formic acid in their systems, giving them a zesty lemon-pepper taste. Their texture reminds some of roe, and they are often affectionately refer to them as the caviar of the bug world. While some bugs can star as the feature in dishes, black ants are more likely to serve as garnishes and flavor-enhancers. Imagine their zesty flavor and striking color sprinkled on top of grilled shrimp, tossed into an arugula salad, or even as a topper for the popular childhood dish “ants on a log!”


There are grasshoppers, and then there are Chapulines. Really, they mean the same thing (one in English and one in Spanish.) But I often use the distinction to refer to unseasoned grasshoppers vs. those flavored Oaxacan-style.

Plain, their flavor will still be strong – a savory umami, a bit like miso. Some describe an acidic mushroomy earthiness.. If you’ve ever rubbed hay in your hands, you will understand how this tastes. It’s a bit like unprocessed wheat, or similar to raw pasta. Often confused for crickets, grasshoppers share the familiar skeletal crunch with a meaty and more chewy texture (grasshoppers supposedly have longer migratory patterns and thus have more muscle on their bodies.)

Seasoned, perhaps with “Adobo flavor,” the Chapulines become a delicious snack. They smell like Christmas, chili, and citrus all in one, and tasting them will leave you with just a hint of pine on your pallet. They taste of a beautiful smoky spice with a hint of sour, sometimes also wonderfully fruity. Seasoned with a bit of lime, chili, and tajin, grasshoppers are able to hold onto a cool, lingering heat.


cricket cookiesCrickets are one of the most commonly farmed bugs in the US. This is not because they are the best bugs, but simply because we know the most about optimizing their breeding cycles, nutrient contents, and flavor profiles. Crickets are best described as flavor vehicles like potato chips. They are often seasoned with flavors like BBQ or lime, as their plain taste can be difficult to distinguish.

Unseasoned, they taste a bit like edamame and have an earthy umami quality. Regardless, a nutty, woodsy flavor comes through, sometimes accompanied by a shrimp quality (from the high omega-3 content). Crickets are also commonly ground up into a powder that can be used in baking, substituting 5 – 20% of the dry ingredients.

We’ve made progress in this dialogue as a society before: remember that the creeping, shelled, 10-legged crustacean we now so lovingly dip in butter (ahem, the lobster)  was once considered so repulsive as to be inhumane to feed to prisoners. And in many parts of the world, bugs are already a popular—and important—menu item. Let’s continue to open minds and mouths with six-legged livestock.

About Aly Moore

My name is Aly Moore and I eat bugs. It might sound strange to many, but bugs are sustainable, packed with nutrition, and tasty when prepared correctly. While studying public health and food policy at Yale University, I took a trip to Mexico and tried grasshoppers for the first time. After returning to the States, my impish inclinations led me to research how to buy bugs safe for human consumption in the U.S. (to prank friends and family, of course.) Due to the lack of information available back in 2012, I ended up calling the owners of a few cricket farms, and those discussions changed my life. I soon began working closely with bug companies to educate western consumers about this stigmatized food.

I created Bugible, a blog about the world of edible insects, to share what I was learning. To reach broader audiences, I started hosting fun and memorable events around eating bugs to create atmospheres where first-time-bug-eaters could feel more at ease (like bug wine pairings, bug dinners, and bug cooking classes.) emerged as a way to make entomophagy accessible, educate the public, and support the great bug-entrepreneurs.

outstanding alumni with aaron sanchez

4 Tips for Success from 2019 Outstanding Alumni Award Winners

Since our days as The French Culinary Institute, our school has had a long tradition of celebrating the success of our graduates. And why wouldn’t we? With more than 15,000 graduates in 90+ countries, it’s easy to find an ICC trained chef, sommelier, pastry chef, baker, cake decorator and everything in between at businesses integral to their communities.

So when we created the Outstanding Alumni Awards in 1997 to showcase the accomplishments of graduates who had gone on to excel in their field, we couldn’t have imagined the people and achievements we would be celebrating. These awards have been bestowed to some of the industry’s best and brightest—from the mind behind culinary empire Momofuku, to the creative genius crafting Milk Bar’s imaginative desserts; from the chocolatier handcrafting “storybook” bonbons recognized on Oprah’s Favorite Things, to the chef turned voice of the farm-to-table movement named one of TIME Magazine’s Most Influential People in the World. But what David Chang, Christina Tosi, Susanna Yoon and Dan Barber all share is that they received Outstanding Alumni Awards as they were rising to secure their place in the culinary landscape. Each year at our Annual Commencement Ceremony, the next wave of culinary trailblazers are recognized with an award celebrating excellence in their respective fields.

This year, Leland Clark, Vice President of Student Affairs, presented the 2019 Outstanding Alumni Awards at our Carnegie Hall Ceremony to five very deserving recipients—Scott Tacinelli of Don Angie for Excellence in Culinary Arts, Zoë Kanan of Simon and the Whale and The Studio for Excellence in Pastry Arts, Vanessa Da Silva of Ninety Acres for Outstanding Sommelier, Matt Monahan of Other Half Brewing for Excellence in Entrepreneurship and Ben Mims of The Los Angeles Times for Excellence in Media. If you haven’t heard of these alumni just yet, it’s time to remember their names!

As each recipient accepted their award, they shared advice for members of the graduating class hoping to follow in their footsteps, like setting personal goals and continuing to be curious. Read what these alumni said that has helped them in the pursuit of their culinary, pastry and wine careers. Then, check out their bio’s to learn more about their road to success!

Scott Tacinelli

scott tacinelli

Chef/ Co-Owner of Don Angie
Excellence in Culinary Arts

“Set personal goals. Don’t stop until you achieve those goals. Work as hard as you possibly can and always continue to set objectives.”

Zoë Kanan

zoe kanan

Head Baker of Simon & The Whale and The Studio
Excellence in Pastry Arts

“Treat every person that you work beside with compassion and respect, from dishwashers to owners. Kitchen work is teamwork, and support from your team is what will give you an edge. Buy and cook from cookbooks—they’re my favorite resources for inspiration, and a great way to dive into a chef’s mind. Keep your ego in check—there is room for everyone in our industry, and the best way to get to where you want to go is by championing your friends, your colleagues and yourself. Champion yourself, lean into your creative thoughts, work hard, but make sure that you get the sleep that you need. Do your best to make time for the people who make you happy in life.”

Vanessa Da Silva

vanessa da silva

Sommelier at Ninety Acres
Outstanding Sommelier

“Be curious, ask questions, and stand up for the things that you believe in—that really matters. More than anything else, try to learn something new every single day.”

Ben Mims

ben mims

Cooking Columnist for The Los Angeles Times
Excellence in Media

“When you’re just starting out, do a little bit of everything. Take every restaurant job, every catering job, anything you might not even be interested in, just do it. Only by doing everything will you find what you want to do. Once you find what you want to do, stick to that, and love what you’re doing every day.”

Looking for more inspiration as you pursue a career in the culinary & hospitality industry? Check out the advice our Commencement Keynote Speaker, Chef Aarón Sánchez, gave to our graduates and those aspiring to work in the industry here.

summer of savings

ICC’s Summer of Savings Announced For 2019!


Ready to turn up the heat on your culinary or pastry technique this summer?

We’re excited to announce our Summer of Savings with Special Summer pricing for our Professional Culinary Arts programs this July! Apply to begin in our Professional Culinary Arts part-time evening class beginning July 12th, or full-time day class beginning July 29th, and you’ll receive an instant $5,000 savings off the cost of the program. Our evening schedules afford the perfect opportunity for you to work full-time during the day while pursuing your culinary training part-time at night. Whether you’re just about to make a career change, or wish to keep your day job while you train for your dream job, our evening programs provide you the opportunity earn while you learn.

But wait—there’s more! If that wasn’t enough, applications are now open for our $5,000 ICC Pastry Arts Scholarship towards the Professional Pastry Arts class beginning on July 25th AND our $5,000 ICC Culinary Arts Scholarship towards the Professional Culinary Arts class beginning on July 29th. If you’d rather study full-time during the day and graduate ready to work in just 6 months, this opportunity could be right for you! Multiple scholarships are available for those who qualify—you must demonstrate financial need by completing your FAFSA.

Check out all the ways you can save this summer and submit your application today!


Professional Culinary Arts
Click here for program details.
Daytime – M-F – 6 Months
9:30 am to 3:00 pm
07/29/2019 – 01/24/2020 – $35,900 (normally $39,900)
Evening- M,W,F – 9 Months
5:45 pm to 10:45 pm
07/12/2019 – 05/04/2020 – $29,900 (normally $34,900)



Financial need is a criterion for this scholarship. Applicants must complete a FAFSA at least one week prior to the application deadline in order to be considered for the scholarship.

AWARD AMOUNT: $5,000 (Multiple Scholarships Available)

Must be enrolled in the following PROFESSIONAL PASTRY ARTS program:

July 25, 2019 | Mon-Fri, Day

July 15, 2019

July 19, 2019

July 10, 2019

Click here for eligibility requirements and application details.

culinary arts

Financial need is a criterion for this scholarship. Applicants must complete a FAFSA at least one week prior to the application deadline in order to be considered for the scholarship.

AWARD AMOUNT: $5,000 (Multiple Scholarships Available)

Must be enrolled in the following PROFESSIONAL PASTRY ARTS program:

July 29, 2019 | Mon-Fri, Day

July 18, 2019

July 22, 2019

July 15, 2019

Click here for eligibility requirements and application details.

cristina garces and anna francese gass

How To Land A Cookbook Deal: Secrets From HarperCollins

In 1796, Amelia Simmons accomplished something that had never been done in America before—she published a cookbook! Contained within its 47 pages were recipes informed by British heritage and culture. Though her cookbook was the first to be written by an American, at the time, she still had to sign a contract with a publisher to get her book on shelves.

Many years later, it’s now more difficult than ever to score a cookbook deal. Despite the challenges, our alumna Anna Francese Gass (Culinary Arts ‘12) was able to do just that, publishing her first cookbook this past May. But she didn’t just pull it off—she scored a cookbook deal with HarperCollins, one of the largest publishing houses in the world. So, how did she do it you ask? For starters, she did more than just jot down recipes, walk into publishing houses and receive contracts to print copies of her dream project. She put years of dedication into solidifying the initial pitch for Heirloom Kitchen that she eventually brought to publishers, while also building her personal brand.

So, what were the steps that Gass took to accomplish this feat? And what made HarperCollins finally draft up that longed for book deal contract? (after all, they don’t just say yes to everyone!) Here are the industry secrets we learned from Gass and HarperCollins on how to get your cookbook published.

Book Agents 101

First, think about the publishing route that you want to pursue. Do you want to self publish? (read: it can be done! Our grad, Jason Licker, self-published Lickerland: Asian-Accented Desserts and received a James Beard Award nomination for it.) This avenue is arguably the road less traveled, but certainly an option. Or, do you want to work with a book agent? These are the people that help to open doors for you at publishing houses (note: publishers are legally not allowed to take unsolicited book pitches, so a book agent is necessary for introductions).

However, agents receive manuscripts all of the time, so your pitch has to be on point and sans loose ends. Insider’s tip: think about if you know anyone who has published a cookbook—they may be able to introduce you to their agent.

Once you’ve found yourself a book agent, it’s time to start finessing your initial pitch to make it more enticing. Today’s market for cookbooks is saturated, so it’s important to make yours uniquely you. Here’s what Gass’ book agent recommended to make her overall package stronger.

1) Build An Audience

Although Gass had an Instagram audience of around 25,000 when she first started, her agent pushed her to continue to grow it. Remember: these are some of your biggest supporters who will be excited to buy your cookbook! Now, Gass has an engaged following of almost 90,000 who are interested in what she has to say.

2) Gain Experience

After graduating from ICC, Gass got a job in Food52’s test kitchen with the help of ICC’s Career Services team. From there, she went on to work as a recipe editor for Martha Stewart Living. This made Gass’ case for a deal extremely strong: she had the chops to write recipes and she had been published during her time at Food52. She continued to write for publications, making her portfolio of published articles grow, which in turn, made her a stronger candidate.

3) Be Committed

Ask yourself: are you really passionate about this project? This will turn into a second full-time job, as publishing a cookbook requries a lot of heavy lifting. Make sure that you really love what you’re creating and put your heart into it. This will jump off the pages of your pitch.

4) Think About The Timing

Like everything in life, timing is key, even with scoring a cookbook deal. Unfortunately, this isn’t something as easy to control. Sometimes, things have to work in your favor. Think about what’s happening in the news and know that relevancy may help your case.

So, Now It’s Time For A Contract

After you’ve worked with your book agent to tidy up any loose ends in your pitch (sometimes it can take years to get it right), it’s time to start meeting with publishing houses! When your pitch finally lands on the desk of an editor at a publishing house, they’ll immediately start looking for certain tells. Cristina Garces, who is an editor at HarperCollins and worked with Gass for years—from pitch to published—divulged her secrets of what she looks for in a compelling pitch.

1) Online Presence and Experience

The first thing that Garces does when reviewing a pitch is Google the person. While this may seem unfair—you’ve probably put years of hard work into your project—you need to have an audience who is interested in what you have to say.

Garces could tell that Gass had followers who were engaged, but she could also see that Gass had the skills to back up what she was offering. She had put in the work, both through her culinary school training and her resume. Garces could also see that Gass’ recipes would be well tested and edited from her experience as a test kitchen editor and writer.

2) Strong Voice and Clear Point of View

It will be clear to an editor when your project is ready to go and well thought out. While this is one of the most important aspects, you’ll also set yourself apart from the crowd by sounding like yourself—not who you think the publisher wants you to be. Stay true to your story and showcase your passion on the pages.

3) A Story That’s Uniquely Yours

Like Gass’ book agent warned, the cookbook market is crowded. It’s vital to have your own niche, and not just another cookbook about breakfast foods (yes, everyone loves breakfast foods, but what makes yours out of the ordinary?) However, it’s also essential to cast a wide net so that enough people will be interested. It’s all about finding the sweet spot between being unique and all encompassing.

heirloom kitchenOnce you’ve worked tirelessly with your book agent to land a contract at a publishing house, the real, fun work will begin! It will take years of dedication to make your dreams a reality, but it IS possiblejust ask some of our many grads who’ve done it! If you’re interested in buying a copy of Heirloom Kitchen, you can purchase one here.

aaron sanchez

What Aarón Sánchez Wished He Knew As A Young Chef

For over two decades, Aarón Sánchez has been building his culinary empire—from restaurants and cookbooks to TV shows, media platforms and philanthropic work. You may recognize him today as co-star of FOX’s MasterChef and MasterChef Junior, but he wasn’t always a household name. Even before he judged culinary hopefuls on the “chopping block” in the early 2000’s on Food Network—a time when culinary TV was just gaining in popularity—Chef Aarón was following his dream to have his own restaurant and be the captain of his own ship. Not only has his hard work and determination allowed him to do what he loves every day, but he’s also helping other young chefs do the same. Through his charitable foundation, The Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund, he’s empowering aspiring chefs from the Latin community to pursue their culinary passions, providing recipients with mentorship and full culinary scholarships to the International Culinary Center. The result is encouraging diversity in the kitchen, something we can all get behind!

So, when Sánchez took the podium to give the keynote address for our annual commencement ceremony at Carnegie Hall, he needed no introduction. The crowd, including graduates and their families, was buzzing with excitement to hear what wisdom the acclaimed chef would impart on the future chefs, pastry chefs, sommeliers, bakers and cake designers of the industry. At the end, he left the diverse group of graduates inspired to embark on their next tasty adventure, and the audience hopeful for their bright, and delicious, futures ahead.

Whether you’re thinking about going to culinary school, just starting out in your career, or are already a seasoned professional, you’ll do well to heed his advice!

1. Follow Your Passion

“Be mindful of your culinary identity. Figure out what genre of the cooking world you want to be in early on.”

There are many ways to become successful in our industry and cultivate your love of food. “You can be a food stylist, a personal chef; you can work in food production or be a catering chef. There are so many different areas that you can pursue your love for food…Don’t feel compelled to be a restaurant chef necessarily.” While Chef remarked that it may be important to have the experience of working in a restaurant, you will find success when you follow your passion.

2. Find A Mentor

“Mentoring is the primary thing you should extract from your moment in the culinary industry.”

Sánchez shared that he was a troubled kid growing up; for him, “restaurants were my salvation…and my mentor in life, Chef Paul Prudhomme, got me right. He not only taught me lessons in the kitchen, but life lessons that I think were invaluable.” As he told this story, he implored graduates to make a list of chefs who inspire them and seek them out. These are the people who will stand up for you, recommend you for jobs, and push you to excel as the best version of yourself.

3. Go The Extra Mile

“The reason that you will get noticed in kitchens is that sadly, so many people just go through the motions and do just what they’re asked to do. If you take that extra step, come in early, engage your chef and make yourself available, you’ll get noticed. Trust me.”

People will take note when you do more than what you’re asked to do. Even if you find yourself doing something monotonous, remember that even someone like Sánchez was in the same place that you are. Take those moments to make plans for your future and trust that there is always a lesson to be learned—patience, consistency, all those things that are invaluable to be a great chef.

4. Understand Your Fear Vs. Your Potential

“Your potential, coupled with your ICC diploma, will put you in the game. You’re already in the running. Don’t be scared to live your dreams, not your fears”

There are things that might scare you, like seeking out your dream job or travelling. Don’t let these things hold you back from realizing your potential. Use your potential, and your education at ICC, to help propel you in the direction to achieve your dreams.

5. Reflect On Your Culinary Memories

“Savor every culinary moment, every trip to a place where you learn who the best cook is—take on every lesson from those people. Make sure you remember that!”

By sharing this piece of advice, Sánchez recalled how appreciative he is to remember everything that he’s done throughout his career. He’s able to look back on his life now and these incredible chef experiences, cherishing the memories and lessons learned. By using the skills that others taught him, he became a knowledgeable, respected chef. But this didn’t happen overnight. He encouraged graduates not to “rush the process, make sure you have a foundation of mentoring, a foundation of travel, and understanding of your craft.” Don’t be afraid of the repetition, take your time, you’re already ahead of the game!

6. Become A Well Rounded Person

“I thank my mom for encouraging me very early on to read the paper. Why? Because chefs tend to be boring sometimes! We talk about our industry, our food, restaurants, and my mom was very adamant about allowing us to find inspirations in other facets of art.”

By going to museums, listening to music, writing poetry, traveling, reading newspapers and learning about other cultures, Sánchez expanded his knowledge beyond the kitchen, which in turn helped to inform his cooking. He encouraged graduates to “become multi-faceted and a lover of all things beautiful and artistic.”

7. Build A Reliable Team

“People say, ‘you are the sum of your parts, you are the people you surround yourself around’, and my team has been invaluable—but I don’t say my team. I say OUR team, because people are not objects. So, when you come to that position of being in a leadership role, say OUR team, because we’re all dedicated to the common goal of being successful.”

When you have a good team surrounding you, you will be able to realize your loves and passions. As Sánchez shared his final guiding words, he remarked that there’s a difference between hospitality and service. Service is putting down a fork and taking an order; hospitality is an innate need to foresee your customer’s needs. Hospitality is bringing people joy! Build a team who shares your love for bringing people joy, because at the end of the day, that’s what the hospitality industry is all about!

Want to read more coverage from our 2019 annual commencement cereomy? Check out our recap article here.