cookie games winners

Cookie Games Winners: Where Are They Now?

This year, Hester Farabee, a Professional Pastry Arts student, took home the gold at ICC’s Seventh Annual Cookie Games. At the competition this August, three winners from previous Cookie Games stopped by their alma matter to cheer on this year’s competitors and taste their cookie creations! We caught up with them—and one alum, who now lives in Singapore—to see what they’ve been up to since bringing home Cookie Games glory.


Vianna Sinnan
Vianna Sinnan | Professional Pastry Arts ’15

Winning Recipe: Coconut Daun Pandan of Malaysia

coconut daun pandan

What are you currently up to?

I am living in New York and working pastry at Buddakan.

Have you ever made your winning cookie recipe again? And if so, in what capacity?

I have made my cookie many times since the competition! Part of my holiday gifting tradition has come to include a box or bag of the cookies for family and friends. 

What is your fondest memory about your experience participating in the Cookies Games?

My fondest memory of the competition was hearing my name called out as the fan favorite. I couldn’t believe it, especially since I was still in Level One of the Professional Pastry Arts program and had seen how talented the other contestants were over the course of the two days. 


savita bhat
Savita Bhat | Professional Pastry Arts ’16

Winning Recipe: Chocolate Cardamom Buttons of India

chocolate cardamom buttons

What are you currently up to?

Currently, I work in New York City at Simon & The Whale on the pastry team! Our Head Baker and Pastry Chef is also an ICC grad, Zoë Kanan.

Have you ever made your winning cookie recipe again? And if so, in what capacity?

I’ve definitely made my cookie recipe again. Actually the same year I did the cookie games, I entered my recipe a the WNYC Holiday Cookie round up and it was selected as one of the featured recipes by Melissa Clark! I try to make it around the holidays every year—it’s a pretty good Christmas cookie.

What is your fondest memory about your experience participating in the Cookies Games?

My fondest memory about my experience participating in the Cookie Games was definitely brainstorming and baking with my pastry school friends who were also participating. It was pretty chaotic, but so fun and such a great moment to look back on!


clara lim
Clara Lim | Professional Culinary Arts ’17

Winning Recipe: Browned Butter Masala Chai Cookies

browned butter masala chai

What are you currently up to?

I’m currently living in Singapore! I am the Co-Head Chef at an artisan café and bakery called Baker & Cook at Core Collective Dempsey.

Have you ever made your winning cookie recipe again? And if so, in what capacity?

I made the cookies again on one of my last days at my externship at Park Avenue! 

What is your fondest memory about your experience participating in the Cookies Games?

Fondest memory is probably working with my partner, Maddie! So great to get together with her again and work on a project like this because by that time we had been out on our externships. It was nice spending time with her again within the walls of ICC. 


rebecca ng
Rebecca Ng | Professional Culinary Arts ’18 and Professional Pastry Arts ’19

Winning Recipe: Umami Cookie

umami cookie

What are you currently up to?

I am currently traveling and visiting family in Hong Kong. I am not working right now, but I continue to bake for family and friends.

Have you ever made your winning cookie recipe again? And if so, in what capacity?

I frequently make my cookie for family and friends!

What is your fondest memory about your experience participating in the Cookies Games?

My fondest memory of the cookie games was working in the prep kitchen and hearing Chef Anna Bolz commentary.

buzzfeed's tasty

Behind the Lens at Buzzfeed’s Tasty With ICC Grad, Rie McClenny

Buzzfeed’s Tasty has shaped food media as we know it today. It’s hard to imagine that just four years ago Buzzfeed’s Tasty began as an experiment, launching as videos were expanding and becoming more popular on Facebook.  Suddenly, there was a brand showcasing cooking in an easy to digest and exciting way!

Just as Tasty was exploding with popularity, Rie McClenny was moving to LA after graduating from ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program. She had always wanted to work in food media, but knew she needed experience in a restaurant setting to further her culinary techniques. After two and a half years in the restaurant world, Rie decided it was finally time to pursue her dream of working in food media. She heard of Tasty through the food world grapevine and saw that they were expanding their operations to Tasty Japan. They were looking for someone who had graduated from culinary school, had food experience, and could speak Japanese. Having all of those qualifications, Rie knew it was the job for her!

Rie nailed the interview, which should come as no surprise, and landed her dream job. Now, after 3 years at Buzzfeed, she has over a quarter of a million followers on Instagram @thedessertsnob and a community of 300,000+ subscribers to her own Youtube channel. Her followers are loyal—with each video that she produces, she garners millions of views and people across the world love recreating her recipes. If you aren’t already following her, you definitely should be!

This month, we sat down with Rie to learn about her career as a Tasty video producer and how she uses her culinary training to influence the videos that she creates. Below, get a glimpse into a day in the life as a video producer for Buzzfeed’s Tasty!

What was your life like before culinary school and was cooking something you were exposed to at a young age? Did you have a career outside of the kitchen before going to culinary school? 

Growing up, I always loved to eat, but I wasn’t interested in the food industry. My grandmother had a café so I was always surrounded by food. In my early years, I didn’t necessarily think that my goal was to be a chef. I actually majored in English at a college in Osaka, Japan.  After I graduated, I started working for a culinary school in Tokyo as an event coordinator. I was organizing trips to New York City for our students to visit what was then the French Culinary Institute, now ICC. We brought the students for a one-day chocolate class. During this time, I met a lot of students who were passionate about cooking and they influenced me a lot. Through these experiences, I got to know the food industry more and more. At that time, I was already in my mid-20’s, so to be honest, I thought it was too late for me to be a chef. Instead I thought maybe I should pursue a different career path within the food industry. I wanted to be a food stylist, which was one of the reasons I applied to ICC as I thought that going to culinary school would offer me this opportunity. 

I enrolled in the 9-month evening culinary program and graduated in 2014, but during the day I was working at Korin Knives as a sales person. I was able to offer my classmates and teachers knife sharpening for free!

Why did you choose to go to ICC? Was there a reason that you decided to attend culinary school first instead of jumping into the restaurant industry?

I wanted to be a food stylist, but I didn’t have any connections. I was looking for an opportunity to study and felt that going to school would provide me with the best education to learn the techniques. ICC’s location in Soho was so convenient for me, but I also chose ICC because I already knew it was one of the top schools to go to. 

So, what did you do after culinary school? What made you want to make the move to Buzzfeed?

Right after I graduated, my husband and I decided to move to Californiathis was always the plan. After we moved, I wanted to further my professional cooking skills and got a job in the kitchen at Rustic Canyon in California. Even though I wanted to pursue a career in food media, I knew I needed to gain experience in a restaurant atmosphere. After working as a cook at Rustic Canyon, then A.O.C. Wine Bar for about two and a half years, I applied for a job at Tasty Japan as a Recipe Developer. 

I started to feel like I was ready to go after what I had originally set out to doto work in food media—which is when I found the Tasty Japan job. Using ICC’s alumni network, I found that a few people were working at Buzzfeed as food writers. Buzzfeed’s website listed that they were launching Tasty Japan and looking for someone who lived in LA, graduated from culinary school and could speak Japanese. I immediately knew that this was the job for me because my experience was so unique to the position! 

What do you do at Buzzfeed?

After some time as a recipe developer, one of the video producers who was on the Buzzfeed Tasty team ended up leaving the company. My manager asked me if I wanted to learn how to edit videos, something I desired to learn. At Buzzfeed, they offer beginner courses that you can take, so one of my coworkers was teaching me how to shoot video while another was teaching me how to edit.

Now, I’ve been at Buzzfeed for 3 years and my official title is “video producer.” That means we develop the idea, shoot the video and edit it, but we are also the hands and talent in the video. We work with amazing recipe developers that help us with the back-end of the recipes. After we publish the video, we discuss how the video performed and analyze the data.

Where does the inspiration come from for your videos?

It’s a little all over the place! I feel like I get inspired when we’re brainstorming and working with other colleagues to come up with new ideas. The environment at Buzzfeed is very collaborative. One time, I made this aquarium cookie that ended up going viralthat idea came from a Japanese website. This type of cookie was popular at the time in Japan, but the process was very complicated. I ended up simplifying it for home cooks and that was really cool to see. We always get inspired by other creators, but our end goal is to always simplify it for our viewers at home. 

My culinary training has helped me understand the process of simplifying recipes for home cooks. I’m one of the only video producers that went to culinary school, so I’m able to use my education to recognize mistakes and provide feedback for other producers.

What is your favorite part of the job?

A huge part of my job is being in the front of the camera, so a lot of people have gotten to know me and follow me on social media! When I share my videos, a lot of the time people will recreate what I make and will message or tag me on Instagram to show me what they’ve made at home. It’s very rewardingI brings me a lot of joy knowing that people around the world are making my recipes!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in food media or as a video producer?

I think that if you want to work in food media, you just have to follow your passions. I was hesitant to apply for any food media jobs because I felt that I didn’t have any media experience, but I took a chance on myself. When you see an opportunity to transition into this part of the industry, just apply and see where it takes you. Right now there are a lot of platforms that allow you to express your creativity, so even if you feel like you don’t belong on one platform, you have many choices to find your niche. If you keep doing what you love and what you’re passionate about, it will continue to expand your skills and techniques. There’s always an audience out there looking for something new!

Rie’s Headshot By Photographer Taylor Miller

food business fundamentals

Business Bites Resources: 4 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Secure Investors

One of the biggest challenges for restaurants and food business owners seeking growth is securing investors. So, how do you convince a total stranger to believe that your idea will sell? Well, it all starts with a great pitch and a solid business plan to back it up!

During our most recent Business Bites panel—Perfecting Your Pitch—we learned from industry experts Paul Daitz (Executive Chairman, BCMS), April Wachtel (Founder/CEO, Swig + Swallow) and Evan Madden-Peister (Consultant and Strategist, 13 Ventures) on how to secure capital to get your business up and running.

Their first piece of advice? Pitching your business is almost never like what you see on the popular TV show Shark Tank! Typically, it’s meeting in an office space or discussing your business over the phone. So, if your only reference on how to find investors is from the “sharks” on the show, we recommend you read what we learned from ICC’s very own investment-experts below!

The Environment of Pitching Has Changed

Like we said, pitching does not frequently happen in face-to-face scenarios anymore. With technology continuing to change the way that business is done, most pitch meetings occur over the phone via a call or video chat. While this does open the door for a wide range of investors from around the world, it can also hinder the quality of investors. Our investment experts recommend always trying to arrange an in-person meeting, when possible.

Don't Discount Early Investors

Early investors, like seed capitalists and angel investors, can be the success to your food business. These early investors are the ones that will help to get your business off the ground as they believe in your initial idea. They likely will not be large corporations or investment companies, but any investor, even if it’s a family member or small company, that you can secure at an early stage is important.

Know Your Audience

Investors are people too—they want to know whether the idea is useable for them, if the idea is unique to the market and others who may have invested in your company. Yes, the return on investment will be very important to the investor, but there are so many other factors that play into whether or not they will invest.

It’s also important to note that each investor will want different things. If you are bringing the same pitch deck to every investor, it probably will not work out for you in the long run. You should research your investors and know what they have invested in previously, but you do not need to know their whole life story. You must find a balance that will help you win their business in the end.

Clarity Is Key For Your Pitch Deck

There are certain points that all investors want to see covered in a stellar pitch deck including, who your company is, why this investment will matter to them in the long run and how it will ultimately benefit them. For a first meeting, it’s important that your deck hits on all of these points. You’ll want to leave 20 minutes of time for questions—that will most likely leave you with 40 minutes to present your pitch if the meeting is an hour long. A good pace to keep in mind is 3 minutes to present each slide, which will allow you to give enough substantive information without going into excessive detail.

One aspect of pitching that all of our experts agree on: clarity is key! At the end of the day, your pitch should begin and end with a presentation that looks put together and professional. If it’s difficult to follow, investors will be less likely to take away the main goal of your pitch.

Ready to get started on the business plan for your restaurant, food truck, food product or other dream culinary concept? Register for ICC’s Food Business Fundamentals 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 Food Business Fundamentals program at ICC, is a series of workshops, discussion panels, networking events and resources designed to support entrepreneurs in the food industry.

career fair

Meet Your Future Employer: 2019 Fall Career Fair

All chefs get their start somewhere. This fall, meet your future employer and amp up your networking skills! ICC’s Career Fairs, held twice a year, allow current students & alumni to meet some of the most well-known restaurants and restaurant groups in NYC, coming specifically to ICC to meet YOU. From fine dining to fast casual, catering, bakeries and more, there is something for everyone and every career path!

But, before you head to career fair to show you’ve got the chops, check out these tips from our Career Services team to make the most of meeting employers!

  1. After you set up an appointment with Career Services to have your resume reviewed, be sure to print out at least 25 copies! While you might not hand them all out, there are plenty of employers to network with and it’s better to have too many than not enough.
  2. Do your homework on the companies & employers in attendance—that way, you can ask pertinent questions to the recruiter or chef, rather than asking a basic question like “What do you do at your company?”
  3. Appear alert & enthusiastic. Shake their hand, introduce yourself and say what program you are from. Remember: The most important quality an employer looks for is a great attitude!

Get the full list of tips, commonly asked questions and more by logging into your account and heading to the Career Fair section!

the standard
james beard foundation
blue hill at stone barns
Thursday, September 12th | 3:00pm-4:30pm
International Culinary Center
28 Crosby St | New York, NY 10013
*Open to ICC Students & Alumni ONLY*
Email with inquiries
noho hospitality
crafted hospitality

Below is the full list of employers, but be sure to visit the ICC Community page at for more information and for any updates to the employer list.

ABC Restaurants
Abigail Kirsch
Bastianich & Bastianich
Blue Apron
Blue Hill/Blue Hill At Stone Barns
Bold Food Group
Breads Bakery
Choc o Pain
Club Med Resorts
Crafted Hospitality
Crown Shy
Harvest Restaurant Group
James Beard Foundation
Loring Place
Major Food Group
Mercer Kitchen
NoHo Hospitality Group
Padoca Bakery
Quality Branded
STARR Restaurants
The Center For Discovery
The Culinistas
The Standard
Thomas Keller
Union Square Hospitality Group
Vice Media/Munchies
WS New York
Martha & Marley Spoon
Miason Kayser
Soho House
group shot


The 7th Annual Cookies Games was, yet again, a huge success! Throughout the week, students prepped their original cookie recipes and demonstrated the extraordinary creativity of ICC’s Professional Culinary and Pastry Arts students. A total of 19 applications from current students were submitted for the chance to compete this month. An in-house selection committee narrowed it down to 10 finalists who produced a wide variety of interesting flavors and textures inspired by countries around the world. This year, the selection committee chose recipes that included never-before-seen (in The Cookie Games!) ingredients like parsley, porcini mushrooms, rosewater, Stilton blue cheese and masa harina.

all of the cookiesFrom the use of turmeric in the Spiced Golden Coco Cookie inspired by India, to the bold blue-cheese in the Stilton Cherry Walnut Shortbread, students combined their technique-based education with their travels, heritage and memories to create unique submissions for the games. Check out the full list of finalist creations below!

“The Cookies Games is an exciting opportunity for the next generation of chefs to flex their creative muscles. The 7th annual games this year brought a broad range of ingredients and pairings. I applaud all the professional ICC students for their innovation and determination in this tough competition.” —Jansen Chan, Director of Pastry Operations and Creator of The Cookie Games

chocolate masa cookie

This year’s first place winner, Professional Pastry Arts student Hester Farabee, took home the Grand Prize—KENWOOD Kitchen Machine Stand Mixer, Valrhona Alpaco 66% Dark Chocolate and $30 Gift Card + book from the MoMA Design Store—for her Mexican-inspired Mexican Chocolate Masa Cookie. Craving more of her delicious, sandwich cookies? You can make Hester’s cookies at home, click here for full recipe.

Congratulations are also in order for Pastry student, Lily Hu, who came in second place with her Crazy Rich Asians’ Shortbread inspired by her Chinese heritage. In her delicious recreation of a Millionaire’s Shortbread, she incorporated Chinese Five-spice powder, which commonly includes cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Szechwan peppercorns. Lily took home a De’Longhi Countertop Oven and $20 Gift Card + book from the MoMA Design Store.

Third place went to the USA-inspired Barbecue Cookie created by Professional Pastry Arts student, Dressler Parsons. Dressler explained that her inspiration for the cookie came from her dad’s love of creating smokey-barbecue in their backyard. He was even there in the jam-packed audience cheering her on! Dressler received a BRAUN Hand Mixer and $10 Gift Card + book from the MoMA Design Store.

Finally, the audience vote for Fan Favorite went to none other than Professional Culinary Arts student, Hayley McLean’s Sticky Toffee Pudding Cookie, inspired by her travels through the United Kingdom. During her externship at Citi Group, Hayley learned how to create a proper sticky toffee pudding from her head chef who was originally from the UK!

chef michael anthonyWe’d like to thank all the student participants of the 2019 Cookie Games, as well as our expert judges who provided thoughtful critique and suggestions to our students. This year’s roster of judges included Bao Ong (Food & Drink Editor, Time Out New York), the team from Gramercy Tavern—Michael Anthony (Executive Chef) and Miro Uskokovic (Pastry Chef), Emma Bengtsson (Executive Chef, Aquavit) and Mike Chau of @foodbabyny. We’d also like to recognize the generosity of our sponsors who provided the prizes and gift bags for all competitors. A special thank you to Valrhona for providing all of the chocolate for the competition! Check out our full gallery of photos from this year’s games below!


USA | Dressler Parsons

China | Lily Hu

Armenia | Mary White

Mexico | Hester Farabee

Japan | Jeremy Rick

Italy | Samantha Daily

USA | Regan E. Peschel

India | Jennifer Fay

Great Britain | Hayley McLean

Great Britain | Iuliia Kiskie


Kenwood Logo
Braun Logo
Valrhona Chocolate Logo
michel et augustin
milk bar
moma design store
masa cookie

The Cookie Games 2019 Winner: Mexican Chocolate Masa Cookie Recipe

This year’s first place winner of The Cookie Games at the International Culinary Center was created by Professional Pastry Arts student, Hester Farabee, inspired by the delicious flavors of Mexico. Her original cookie recipe, The Mexican Chocolate Masa Cookie, received the highest score among the 10 competitors judged by the likes of Bao Ong (Food & Drink Editor, Time Out New York), the team from Gramercy Tavern—Michael Anthony (Executive Chef) and Miro Uskokovic (Pastry Chef), Emma Bengtsson (Executive Chef, Aquavit) and Mike Chau of @foodbabyny.

The sandwich cookie begins with two wafer-like cookies that pack a crunchy punch. The cookies use standard ingredients like butter, sugar and baking soda, but combine Añejo Tequila and Masa Harina to represent some of the signature flavors of Mexico. A filling of creamy pepitas, Valrhona Equatoriale dark 55% chocolate and spices like cinnamon, chili powder and cayenne are sandwiched between the two wafer cookies. Try out this winning recipe for yourself at home!

hester prepping
Mexican Chocolate Masa Cookie Recipe

Yield: 48 cookies (plus extra for breakage)


800g pepitas
14g + 100g vegetable oil
18g kosher salt
300g Valrhona Equatoriale dark 55% chocolate
96g turbinado sugar
8g cinnamon
6g chili powder
1g (1/2t) cayenne

340g butter, chilled & cut into 1/4” cubes
340g sugar
24g milk powder
1.5g baking soda
4g kosher salt
60g egg whites
37g anejo tequila
360g masa harina (preferably Masienda brand)
120g all purpose flour


For the Filling:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
2. In a bowl, toss the pepitas, vegetable oil and kosher salt
3. Spread the pepitas onto a parchment lined baking sheet and roast 12-15 minutes, stirring and turning half
way through the roasting time
4. Let cool ten minutes
5. In a Vitamix, process pepitas and vegetable oil until smooth, using tamper as necessary
6. Add chocolate, sugar, and spices and process just until incorporated
7. Let cool to room temperature

For the Cookie:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar, milk powder and baking soda until light and fluffy
3. Slowly add egg whites and mix well until emulsified
4. Slowly add tequila, mixing until emulsified
5. Add masa harina and mix until thoroughly combined
6. Add all purpose flour, paddle until incorporated
7. Divide dough into four balls, wrap in plastic and chill at least one hour
8. Once chilled, roll dough on lightly masa floured bench to 1/8” thickness.
9. Cut dough into 3” rounds and place on parchment lined baking sheet.
10. Use cookie stamp to lightly impress design on top of each cookie.
11. Bake until golden brown, 12-15 minutes, turning half way through.
12. Cool on sheet 10 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks

1. Place filling into piping bag with #4 piping tip and pipe approx 1/4” of filling onto half the cookies leaving
about 1/8” margin at the edges.
2. Place the remaining cookies on top of the filled cookie to make a sandwich.
3. Keep in airtight container.

scott tacinelli

Re-Thinking Italian Food At Don Angie With Scott Tacinelli


By Sophia Smith, Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the International Culinary Center

Google ‘Don Angie’ and you’ll find headlines like “Red-Sauce Italian Cooking Finds a Future at Don Angie” (Wells, The New York Times, 2018) and “Don Angie Is the Next Evolution of Italian-American Cuisine” (Sutton, Eater, 2018). Rave reviews about the revolutionary Italian restaurant splatter the result pages. Critics, foodies, out-of-town friends, and the ever-hard-to-impress Italian grandparents can’t seem to get enough—and neither can I.

don angie
The exterior of Don Angie located at 103 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY

As a self-proclaimed foodie, I tend to receive a few, albeit almost-frantic, questions a month from friends and family asking where they should dine in NYC. So, I was more than excited when I received an invitation to eat at the ever-popular Don Angie for the first time. Located on a busy corner in the West Village of NYC, it’s the perfect place to satisfy your Italian cravings; if you can snag a reservation (they typically have thousands of reservation requests a night!).

I could go on (and on) about the flavors of Italy, injected with global influence that we devoured—but you can read the more eloquently-written reviews from my aforementioned food industry colleagues for that. What you may not be able to find is a look into one-half of the culinary innovators behind Don Angie’s success—Executive Chef/Co-Owner, Scott Tacinelli.

The warm interior of the restaurant, featuring "old school" decor


It’s a gloomy day in late-May when I meet Tacinelli for my first 2019 Outstanding Alumni interview, a few days before my Italian adventure there. As I approach the restaurant, I see Tacinelli inside pulling chairs down from tables and laying out table settings through the propped open door. The space feels welcoming—with just 52 seats, black and white marble checkered floors, warm lighting across the focal point bar, and retro arches and lighting fixtures, it feels familiar as it calls back to old Italian red-sauce joints.

As we sit down for our interview, Tacinelli recounts how he began in the food industry. After a successful eight years as an advertising sales rep for CBS radio, Tacinelli woke up one day (having just turned 30) and decided he needed to follow his passion—cooking. Before jumping into the industry, however, he decided to enroll in the International Culinary Center’s Professional Culinary Arts program in 2008. “I called my mother and told her that I was going to quit my job and enroll in culinary school full-time. She said ‘I think that’s the best thing that you could ever do.’”

Following graduation, Tacinelli consulted with ICC’s Career Services team and was recommended to trail at Park Avenue. “Career Services had said that the Chef there, Craig Koketsu, was a really great teaching chef. The restaurant had just opened a few months prior and had this cool concept that the restaurant would change every few months into a different season, so I knew that I was going to be able to experience a lot.” 

Tacinelli worked his way up in the restaurant, setting goals for himself along the way. After a year, he was promoted to sous chef within the restaurant, despite having doubts about if this was the right career for him. “I remember thinking, maybe this isn’t the right career for me. I love cooking, but I’m not very good in the restaurant setting. As I became more comfortable cooking, I knew it was the place for me.” Years later, he can’t imagine doing anything else.

Tacinelli plating the {ink Snapper Crudo with Burnt Porcini Dashi, Black Trumpets and Marsala


After a successful three years at Park Avenue, and meeting his future business partner and wife Angie Rito along the way, he was asked to join the team at Quality Meats as the co-chef de cuisine. He knew it was the right step to take on his path. During his time there, he worked with Chef Pascal Béric, ICC Chef Instructor of over two decades, to hone his charcuterie skills. Even though Chef Pascal was teaching at ICC during this time, he enjoyed working at restaurants to teach teams about charcuterie, what Professional Culinary Arts students still have the pleasure of learning from him in the program today.

Just as he was finding his footing, the restaurant group that owns Quality Meats—Quality Branded—decided to open an Italian steakhouse next door. They asked Tacinelli to become the Executive Chef, and he’ll be the first one to admit, “It was amazing, but very scary. It was a 220-seat restaurant and a huge challenge.” At Quality Meats, he was part of a team. In this new role at Quality Italian, he was suddenly thrown into completely new waters. “I hadn’t been the sole person running the kitchen yet. This was creating a whole new menu and a whole new genre that our company hadn’t done yet, which was Italian food. Luckily, it ended up being very successful.”

Through the process, he learned a lot about himself. From managing staff and expectations, to coaching and training people, everything was a growing experience. This was also his first New York Times review, and while it “wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for” (they received 2/4 stars, which is considered “very good”) he still learned about receiving criticism on a national level, a vital lesson for a chef to learn. Looking back now, he says that the experience was amazing and changed his perspective.


Following their successful speakeasy venture—dinnertable—which he ran with his wife, Chef Angie Rito, they finally opened a place of their own that everyone had been waiting for—Don Angie. This is where the husband and wife team have really hit their stride. Tacinelli is an unmistakably talented chef, but as we take a break during our interview, Tacinelli’s business-mind shines through. As he discusses the Meyer hand soap for the bathroom with the restaurant’s manager, it’s clear that his attention to detail and thoughtfulness in every aspect is a large part of what makes Don Angie special.

Before I met Tacinelli, I didn’t expect to learn about the business-aspects of running a restaurant. I imagined we’d talk in-depth about what inspires him in the kitchen. I quickly learned that this wouldn’t be all that we’d discuss. Halfway through our interview, he admits that they still have days where “they aren’t as busy” and thoughts race through his mind like, are we losing popularity, or, how do we allow ourselves vacation days? Ironically, as he utters his typical, business-owner fears, the phone rings off the hook for what seems like the 20th time during our interview, most likely a diner scrambling to secure a much sought after reservation. Rest assured, Don Angie’s popularity isn’t diminishing—on any given night, there are upwards of 2,500 hopefuls on the wait-list for a table at the much sought-after restaurant.

Though the restaurant’s central West Village location allows for an abundance of foot traffic, what it doesn’t offer is an abundance of space. When he was designing the menu with Rito, his culinary training helped him to think outside of the box and utilize the space-constricting kitchen to his advantage. “We had to figure out ways to make things that people were going to like, using different techniques, so those skills that I learned are really important.”

plated dish
The finished Pink Snapper Crudo


It’ll be two years in October since Don Angie opened to the public. Six months in from the restaurant opening, Tacinelli and Rito decided to go on a vacation to Italy for the first time. When they landed, their phones were inundated with emails saying that the restaurant had flooded. Learning not to freak out, he says, is the biggest skill that he’s gained through running a restaurant. Think through any issues that you have and push through the problems. Throughout the ups-and-downs of running a restaurant, Tacinelli and Rito have pushed through the competitive food-industry to outshine their competition. From their James Beard Award nomination for Best Chef: New York City, to being named on The New York Times, Eater and Time Out’s lists of “Best Dishes of 2018” and Esquire’s “Best New Restaurant in America 2018,” the culinary power duo show no signs of slowing down.

Looking towards the future, Don Angie diners can get excited for a Scott Tacinelli and Angie Rito cookbook coming out soon. As for any advice he wants to give to those looking to change their careers like he did? “Talk to people, friends in the industry, and take classes to see if you love to work in the restaurant setting. If you feel like it’s the right place for you, then go for it.”


ICC In The News: Highlights from July 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 July 2019, aimed to keep you connected with our community and inspire readers to #LoveWhatYouDo in the kitchen and beyond.

la lou food
LaLou Just Might Be Your New Summer Hangout

Congratulations to Ashley Rath, 2009 Art of International Bread Baking grad, on becoming the executive chef of La Lou! Check out the feature in Grub Street and see why the restaurant is the palce to be and be seen this summer!

Kandy Alva, graduate of Hot Bread Kitchen’s Culinary Training program hosted at ICC, came from Peru a decade ago in search of a brighter future. Read her story in Medium to see why she felt at home in the kitchens of ICC and how the program at Hot Bread Kitchen changed her life.

With the effort to ban plastic straws across America growing, it’s time to start thinking about alternatives! Check out how 2015 Professional Culinary Arts graduate Stephanie Nass is doing so with her ceramic straws featured in The New York Times. With a beautiful, dish-washer safe print, they’re sure to be a hit at your next party! Read more here.

2017 Professional Culinary Arts graduate Liza Cohen recently launched her company Nature’s Nosh! Read more about how she’s de-stigmatizing the CBD industry in Style Chicago.

Rebekah Peppler, Professional Pastry Arts ’09 and 2019 James Beard Foundation Book Awards finalist for Beverage, wrote an article for The New York Times featuring (what else?!) simple summer cocktails. Get her recipes and read more here.

salt bagels
NYC’s Newest Salt Bagel Is a Master Class in the Genre

High Street on Hudson in the West Village is selling some of NYC’s best bagels right now under the direction of ICC Professional Pastry Arts grad and master baker, Melissa Weller. Read more about the salt bagels in Eater, then journey to get one ASAP!

wildair chefs
New York’s Wildair Chefs Expand Into Retail

Two of the city’s most beloved restaurateurs and ICC grads, chefs Jeremiah Stone (Professional Culinary Arts 2007) and Fabián von Hauske Valtierra (Professional Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts 2009, 2010), are adding to their empire with a combination wine shop and bar. Read about their newest project in The Wall Street Journal and get a peek into their lives here.

If you’re searching for the perfect foodie break in Tuscany this summer, head to Villa Lena, where ICC Professional Culinary Arts grad Katzie Guy-Hamilton is chef in residency from July to September. She will be taking the lead on sustainable activities throughout her residency, with foraging sessions and baking classes. Read more about it in Country and Townhouse here.

ICC Dean of Classic Studies, André Soltner— who cooked for celebrities and socialites at Manhattan French institution Lutèce — makes an Alsatian pie stuffed with bacon, sliced potatoes, hard boiled eggs, parsley, and crème fraîche in Great Chefs on Amazon Prime. Read about the series in Eater here.

Originating in the Detroit area in 2014, 7greens, a salad, smoothie and breakfast establishment, recently opened their third location in Chicago. Kelly Schaefer is an ICC alumna and uses her education in creating “cheffy” dressings for her restaurants. Read more about her company here in Eater.

In Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Chef Eric Mendoza—Professional Culinary Arts 2006— is taking over at The Lakely as the new Head Chef. Read more in Volume One on how he’s continuing their mission to serve delicious, locally sourced food while blending his Californian style with the Midwest.

The 16 Best New Restaurants in America

Congratulations to Sarah Welch, Professional Culinary Arts 2010, Partner and Executive Chef of Marrow. Her restaurant was named one of the 16 Best New Restaurants in America by Eater! Read more about the restaurant here.

philly mag
Home Away From Home: Kalaya Reviewed

Chutatip “Nok” Suntaronon, Professional Culinary Arts 2011, opened a Thai restaurant to rave reviews in Philly Mag. With three out of four stars from the magazine, meaning come from anywhere in the region, you won’t want to miss this one! Read more here.

The ninth edition of the Olive Oil Sommelier Certification Program produced by the Olive Oil Times Education Lab and the International Culinary Center is coming this September to San Francisco. Read more about our program in the Olive Oil Times here.

Our 2004 Professional Culinary Arts grad, David Chang, is getting a new show on Netflix. The show, titled Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner, will showcase the Momofuku founder as he visits different cities with celebrity guests, eating three meals over the course of one day. Read about it in Grub Street.

Check out this article in Wine Enthusiast featuring our 2014 Intensive Sommelier Training graduate Jhonel Faelnar, Advanced Sommelier and Beverage Director at Atomix. He shared his story on finding who he was in wine and how his mentor, Scott Carney, MS—Dean of Wine Studies at ICC— helped him on his journey. Read more here.

heirloom kitchen
A new wave of immigrant cookbooks celebrates America’s delicious diversity

ICC Professional Culinary Arts graduate Anna Francese Gass was recently feature in The Washington Post! Her cookbook, Heirloom Kitchen, was featured as one of the newest cookbooks championing the recipes and stories of immigrants in the United States. To learn more about her cookbook, check out the story here.

wines of 2019

Vanessa Da Silva’s Top 10 Wines of 2019 (So Far!)

With 2019 more than half over, we asked Vanessa Da Silva, this year’s Outstanding Alumni Award winner for Outstanding Sommelier, to share her top 10 wines of the year (so far!) As the Sommelier at Ninety Acres Farm in New Jersey, she serves her guests wines that she truly loves from experiences and knowledge gained throughout her career.

After a recent trip to New Zealand as one of only 18 Sommeliers in the world to be invited to the New Zealand Wine Sommit, she was inspired to learn more about the amazing wines produced in the country. Below, you’ll find 4 delicious bottles from the up-and-coming wine country, plus wines like the “not always easy to like” Viognier and the “herbal and complex” Syrah!

Check out what she said were her favorite wines of the year, and be sure to pick up a bottle that’ll easily impress!


2015 Millton Clos Samuel Viognier Gisborne, New Zealand

Viognier isn’t always the easiest variety to like. It’s often overly aromatic and can lack acidity making it feel heavy on the palate. This Viognier blew me away! It is intense and complex with layers of appealing aromatics and flavors, the bright acidity perfectly balances the residual sugar in this late-harvest wine.  Millton Vineyards is a unique & magical place—James Millton is an adamant believer in Biodynamics and the vineyards are as alive with life as the wine is. This wine was an absolute gem and I have no doubt that it will age for decades to come.


2016 Lingua Franca The Plough Pinot Noir Willamette Valley, Oregon

Winemaker Thomas Savre at Lingua Franca makes wine of precision, care, and soul. They are compelling, complex and balanced— delicious now and yet still have so much potential to age. This Cuvee, the Plough, is made in homage to the vineyard workers, to the people who keep this winery moving.  If you haven’t tried these wines yet, you should!


2017 Smockshop Spring Ephemeral Grenache Columbia Gorge, Oregon

Hiyu Wine Farm is an experience which will seep into you and engulf your senses and it is a must-visit for any Biodynamic wine lover. Hiyu goes beyond solely Biodynamics, and also incorporates practices of permaculture and animals living among the vines into their charming farm. This wine smells like where it is from more than any I’ve tasted this year. You can practically smell the spring herbs growing in the vineyard, the just ripe red fruit aromas smell as though growing wild in surrounding forest. The structure on the palate is refreshing and up lifting like the breeze across the vineyard as you look towards Mt. Hood. This is a wine that encompasses your senses and brings you to the farm it came from. I can’t help but smile every time I have the opportunity to serve it.


2013 Quartz Reef Methode Traditionnelle Central Otago, New Zealand

Rudi Bauer, winemaker at Quartz Reef, let this sparkling wine sit on the lees for over 4.5 years! This makes him both a bit of a madman and an absolute genius! Rudi is humble despite being one of the foremost winemakers in Central Otago— he is originally from Austria, having come to New Zealand over 30-years ago for what was supposed to be a 6-month stage. Rudi believes wholeheartedly in Biodynamics and the wines are full of passion, authenticity to where they’re coming from, and vibrantly delicious. This sparkling wine is 91% Chardonnay, 9% Pinot Noir from a vineyard in the Bendigo sub-region of Central Otago. This wine is mouthwatering with layers of citrus fruit, fresh brioche, and poached orchard fruits—not to be missed!


2013 Element Syrah Finger Lakes, New York

Element winery makes a compelling case for cool climate varieties from the Finger Lakes. One of my favorite is this Syrah! It is savory, herbal, complex, and still showing incredible youth despite being nearly 6-years old. Element winery takes great care in making wines that are genuine to the Finger Lakes, take a minimalist (nothing added, nothing taken away) approach to winemaking, and allow their wine the time they need before being released. This 2013 is the current release of Element Syrah, it is stunning and still has a lot of life in it!


2012 Te Mata Elston Chardonnay Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

Te Mata estate was first planted in 1892! They are located at the heart of Hawke’s Bay GI, the Havelock Hills. Te Mata is part of Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand and looks not only at their environmental impact, but also takes into account social and economic sustainability.  The Elston Chardonnay is all about balance and elegance, spending 10-months on its lees in barrel, Elston shows lovely richness while maintaining a strong backbone of freshness. I had the opportunity to taste several vintages while in New Zealand, and can say with confidence that it is delicious in its youth, and stunning as it ages.


2009 Dry River Craighall Riesling Martinborough, New Zealand

Martinborough GI is a small winegrowing area renowned for its Pinot Noir in the Wairarapa GI on the North Island of New Zealand. Martinborough comes across as an agricultural valley, where there is a wonderful sense of camaraderie among winegrowers. Dry River has deep roots in the area and they farm in a way which is sustainable to their site, and seek to preserve rather than ‘enhance’ wine. This riesling comes from their Craighill vineyard and is layered with citrus blossom tones, citrus zest, juicy pit fruits, and undertones of savory earth tones. The Dry River rieslings are mouthwatering and refreshing in their youth, but really compelling with age.


2015 The Boneline Iridium Canterbury, New Zealand

The Boneline is a small estate in Canterbury, New Zealand. The Boneline takes its name from the nearby K-T Boundary line and each label features a fossil found within the nearby Waipara river. The Boneline is a unique place where the Southern Alps provide a rain shadow and there is bountiful sunshine, warm dry westerly winds and cool southerly winds that provide for long glorious vintages. Biodiversity reigns here and vines grow among pigs and sheep, native scrub provides shelter for geckos and native birds. And the wine is just as stunning! The Boneline has just been made available in the US as of July 2019, and I cannot urge you enough to find & try some. This Iridium is a red blend of primarily Cabernet Franc with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It is a melody of deep dark fruit, savory spice, and herbal earth tones— it is alluring, delicious, and will linger on your mind!


2015 Marc Delienne Abbaye Road Fleurie, Beaujolais

Marc Delienne works organically, and practices biodynamics on a small 12 acre estate in Fleurie, Beaujolais. He believes in minimal intervention and allows the wine to speak for itself. He uses goblet training, ambient yeast, whole cluster fermentation, no racking, no fining nor filtering, aging in foudre or concrete, and very little sulfur.  His wines are soulful, with deep complex flavors that linger in the palate, and a soft mouth-feel. They are everything that Gamay should be!


2016 Syncline Mourvèdre Horse Heaven Hills, Washington

James and Poppie Mantone run Syncline Winery with their family along the Columbia river within the Columbia Gorge AVA. They believe in biodynamics to help their vineyard thrive and take care to observe the health of their soils, wines, and employees. They have sworn-off the manipulation of wines, a sentiment which I love! They focus on Rhône varietals, and the wine they produce is both soulful and satisfying. This Mourvèdre has high tones of juicy red berries, black pepper, cured meat, and petrichor. You don’t often see varietal Mourvèdre, but Syncline is making a very compelling case for it.

gramercy tavern field trip

What A Professional Pastry Arts Student Learned at Gramercy Tavern

During the course of the Professional Pastry Arts program, students have the opportunity to participate in industry field trips to restaurants, bakeries and more where they meet working pastry chefs, ask questions and see the skills + techniques they’ve learned in action.

Chefs at participating patisseries walk students through the kitchen for a behind-the-scenes look at their operations—from ingredient preparation to plating and service. Attending one of these field trips not only provides great networking opportunities, but also allows students to experience professional kitchens first-hand. Some of our recent pastry field trips have included OceanaRon Ben-Israel CakesDominique Ansel Kitchen, and ICC Dean Jacques Torres’ chocolate factory Jacques Torres Chocolate.

Recently, a group of Professional Pastry Arts students embarked on a journey to Gramercy Tavern to experience the iconic NYC restaurant with Pastry Chef, Miro Uskokovic. For 6 years, Chef Uskokovic has been at the pastry helm of the Michelin-starred kitchen and has been leading his 20 person team to success. Throughout the tour, Chef Uskokovic gave the insider’s scoop to the restaurant—like how on any given day they serve hundreds of desserts to guests with a sweet tooth, and make all of the varying 12-13 different breads that the restaurant serves.

Chef Uskokovic and Gramercy Tavern as a whole, famously, do not use refined sugars or corn syrup in any of the desserts or dishes created on the menu. Instead, they use ingredients like non-GMO and organic white, brown, powdered, coconut, and maple sugars. Seeing this first hand in the kitchens is an invaluable experience and something that is not soon forgotten.

So we sat down with current Professional Pastry Arts student, Kathleen Feeney, to find out what she and her classmates learned on their adventure to Gramercy Tavern. Below, read what she took away from the once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Kathleen is a current Professional Pastry Arts student and enjoys the challenge of learning so many new skills.  She has found pastry school enriching and is excited to continue to learn so many techniques and recipes under the guidance of her chef instructors. In her free time, Kathleen loves to play many instruments, travel and enjoy her Irish culture through dance, art and lots of bread making.

Delivering Freshness With Organization

To deliver a fresh and flavorful menu, being highly organized is necessary. Each staff member has a clearly defined role, work station, and tools which includes ingredients and recipes. Gramercy Tavern has dedicated prep stations for each aspect of the menu including pasta making, butchery, chocolate making, pastry, breads and more.

A Team Effort

It takes many hands and a team effort to operate a great restaurant. Many kitchen staff work closely together to ensure successful plating in a timely manner. But outside the kitchen, key staff are responsible for delivering a stellar dining experience to customers. This includes an in-house floral arrangement team who create beautiful fresh displays throughout the restaurant, a marketing & events team and even a forager who goes to Maine in search of the freshest berries.

Flexibility Will Help You Learn

The staff rotate in the kitchen so that they each learn different functions to ensure proper coverage—some members even do 2-3 stations a week! This keeps new ideas flowing freely and education at a high-level. The supervisor will always put together a production list for the day, so even if you’re new at the station, you know what needs to get done. The menu is also always being refreshed to include the best produce of that season, which carries through the message of flexibility in the kitchen.

To learn more about our Professional Pastry Arts program and see the next available start dates, click here.

Gramercy Tavern by the Numbers: 300 desserts a night, 200 full time staff, 17 pastry chefs, 25th Anniversary, 1 iconic biscuit!