riverpark farm

Understanding Your ‘Foodprint’ – April Sustainability Programming

Since 1970, Earth Day has provided a way to bring environmental challenges to the forefront of our conversations. A catalyst for ongoing education, action and change, Earth Day promotes environmental awareness and solutions while celebrating our connection to the Earth.

tomatoes being grownHere at ICC, we often think about the impact of practices in the culinary industry on the environment. Culinary education plays an important role in teaching one to think about the use of whole ingredient cooking. Our students learn the art of charcuterie and butchery to make use of the entire animal, in addition to learning to make stocks, sauces and more utilizing vegetable cut offs. Promoting usage from leaf-to-root and snout-to-tail not only minimizes food waste, but also cuts down on food cost.

In the Farm-to-Table extension of our Professional Culinary Arts program, students take their culinary education beyond the kitchen through the 4-day Farm Powered Kitchen field trip to Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture. They also participate in lectures from the agriculture specialists and Stone Barns, as well as field trips to urban farms, green markets and more.

There are other ways to decrease food waste in the kitchen, one of which is composting. Since 2007, the school has composted an average of 350 lbs per day. When possible, the school also regularly donates food to The New York City Rescue Mission, including 3-tier cakes made in our Professional Pastry Arts program. To further efforts on campus to counteract our environmental impact through food, we implemented a Meatless Monday program into our Family Meals.

mushroomsMeatless Monday encourages people to eliminate meat from their diet just one day a week to see both increased health benefits and decrease their environmental impact. In just one year, by eliminating meat from our family meal each Monday, we eliminated 4,600 lbs of meat, saving 4.8 million pounds of greenhouse gases from being emitted into our atmosphere. Since an average car emits 12,000 pounds of greenhouse gases per year, that’s the equivalent of taking 400 cars off the road!

In honor of this year’s Earth Day celebrations, we’re dedicating our event programming in April to promote sustainability in food, farming and business practices to better understand your foodprint. From panel discussions about the effect of climate change on viticulture and wine making, to demonstrations with sustainable seafood farmers and urban farm-to-table restaurants, we’ll look at the many ways food impacts the environment, and vice versa. Find a list of April demos & events below focused on sustainability and stay tuned for additional details as they become available!

Sustainable Seafood Demonstration and Lecture
with the Sustainable Shrimp Partnership
Wednesday, April 3rd | 3:30-5pm | ICC Amphitheater
Open to students & alumni – NO RSVP required. Limited seating available to the public, RSVP to events@culinarycenter.com.

Urban Farm-to-Table Demonstration with Riverpark
Led by Executive Chef Andrew Smith & Riverpark Farm Manager Jonathan Sumner
Wednesday, April 10th | 3:30-5pm | ICC Amphitheater
Open to students & alumni – NO RSVP required. Limited seating available to the public, RSVP to events@culinarycenter.com.

Off the Vine: Climate Change in Wine
Thursday, April 11th | 6:30-8pm | ICC Amphitheater
RSVP to events@culinarycenter.com

Business Bites: Sustainable Practices for Your Restaurant
Thursday, April 18th | 6:30-8pm | ICC Amphitheater
RSVP to events@culinarycenter.com

Stay tuned for more event details coming soon!

Off the Vine: Careers in Wine

How to Jump-start Your Career in Wine

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

The wine and beverage industry is dynamic & diverse, and offers many opportunities to build an exciting career—with options that suit different backgrounds, personalities and lifestyles. For those who are seriously considering a career in the wine industry, the possibilities are endless.

This month, we gathered for a dynamic panel discussion with Slim Mello, Head Sommelier at the Mandarin Oriental; Michele Thomas, Assistant Manager and Buyer at Greene Grape Wine & Spirits; Patricia Alazraki, Brand Manager for Monsieur Touton; and Cristina Coari, Wine Education and Press Manager for Vias Imports.

Together, we explored topics like career paths, hiring practices, qualities that employers seek and the paths that each panelist took to get to where they are today. Below, learn what our panelists said about translating skill sets, building your network, hiring practices, and salary expectations!

How can my skills translate to the wine industry?

wineWhen people consider changing careers to enter the wine industry, they are often worried that their skills won’t translate to wine. It’s intimidating to think about starting a new career at any point in your life, but if you share a passion for wine, you’ll fit right in to this new industry.

Your resume doesn’t always have to be perfectly polished—many of your previous work experiences can be translated into the skills needed to pursue the wine career of your dreams. So what are some of the skill sets that you can utilize in your future wine career?

For starters, a desire to learn, listen and study are all very helpful. Pursuing your wine education requires a dedication to study. Even as a professional, you’ll find it important to continue to learn about new wines, taste new producers, etc. Previous front of house or service experience is a plus, as well as any sales background. Being a people person and feeling comfortable speaking with others is very important. Don’t be afraid to ask questions—being able to read a room and help identify what someone wants is not a small task. Make sure you can talk about your previous experiences and apply them to what you want to do in the future. Use your qualifications as leverage and know that all experience is good experience!

How do I build my network?

Building your network is key in any industry, especially within the tight-knit community of wine. If you want to be a part of this community, you have to put yourself in the position to meet people. Attend a tasting event. Frequent industry meet-ups. Reach out to a professional contact on social media. Making a connection, even through social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram can introduce you to new people who can become great resources in this business.

Panelist Patricia Alazraki, ICC alumna and Brand Manager of Monsieur Touton, found her current job through a friend’s social media post on Facebook. After reaching out to a mutual friend and asking to get coffee to learn from her expertise, her new contact ended up offering her a job. Never be afraid to reach out to someone already working in the industry or at a company you want to work for—more often than not, they are more than willing to help in any way that they can.

Speaking of social media, use your channels to build your own wine presence. Demonstrate your knowledge of wine by posting tasting notes and using popular wine hashtags. You never know who might reach out to you!

What do hiring managers look for when interviewing?

wine pouredAlthough a resume is important in any interview, all of our panelists—who are hiring managers themselves—agreed that two of the most important skills you can bring to your interview are not actually on your resume. Passion and people skills are integral to how you sell yourself in any interview. By bringing your passion for wine to the forefront of your interview, you’ll show that you’re able to connect with customers and consumers.

Interactions that you have in your interview are a good indicator for how you will interact with your customers. You have to be able to carry a conversation and learn about someone’s interests so that you can recommend the right wine to them and have them coming back for more.

What can I expect for my salary?

Like any industry, salaries in wine vary greatly. According to our panelists, who all have years of combined experience, you can expect to start at around $15-$20 while working in retail. Then, anywhere from $25,000-$50,000 is a great ballpark when you begin in a restaurant, not including what you’ll make in tips! From there, Head Sommeliers can make $70,000+ with experience, higher level certifications and percentages of monthly sales or tips. Brand Ambassadors can make anywhere in the $60,000-$90,000 range and added sales commission can increase salary.

Want to learn more about how ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program can help you pursue your wine career? Check out our next Off the Vine panel in April!

Barrel of Sherry

Certified Sherry Wine Specialist Seminar

Lustau, maker of top quality Sherries, presents a brand new wine certification available to all wine students and professionals: the Certified Sherry Wine Specialist. Offered by Lucas Payà, Certified Sherry Educator and Lustau’s Brand Educator, this brief course offers Intermediate Level study material that has been reviewed and approved by the Regulatory Council of Jerez.

After many successful SOLD OUT workshops, ICC has partnered with Lustau again to host the certification seminar this April. Register today to reserve your seat!

Monday, April 22
International Culinary Center
28 Crosby St, 5th Floor | New York, NY 10013

Cost: $35 per person


The program consists of a 2.5-hour class that includes:

    • Instruction on the history, geography, climate, viticulture, wine-making, and wine styles.  When studying the styles of sherry, students will learn about their differences, pairings, and best ways to serve.
    • A tasting of 6 wines, including all the basic styles (Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, and Dulce).
    • A 28-question test, graded after the course to award the Certified Sherry Wine Specialist recognition to those with a passing score of 20 or higher.

The Certificate of Achievement will be signed by both Lustau’s CEO and César Saldaña, Director of the Regulatory Council of Jerez. They will be numbered and a list of those that passed the course will be shared with the Regulatory Council.  A Certificate of Recognition will be issued to those that do not achieve the passing grade but only signed by Lustau.

Attendees must be at least 21 years of age.

thai cuisine

A Taste of Thailand

Thai Cuisine, well known for its spiciness, is really better characterized by its complex balancing of five distinct flavors—sour, sweet, salty, bitter, spicy—and is the secret to mastering Thai food. Though the ingredients of Southeast Asian cuisine, like fish sauce, may be unfamiliar to some, most are readily on hand and can be used to create exciting flavor profiles. Thai cuisine is vast and varied, heavily influenced by regional ingredients, food traditions and the cultures of surrounding countries. For instance, the food of Southern Thailand tends to be very spicy and incorporates a lot of seafood. In other regions, dishes are served with different types of rice—Central Thailand leans toward jasmine rice while sticky rice is a staple of Northeastern Thailand. So, to really capture the dynamic intricacies of Thai cooking, the International Culinary Center and the National Research Council of Thailand have joined forces to bring the Thai Cuisine to Global Market project to New York!

This March, ICC is hosting a 3-day series of hands-on classes, workshops and demonstrations promoting authentic Thai cuisine to the world. Through this exchange, the project seeks to strengthen the knowledge of Thai cuisine—from ingredients and techniques to regional recipes and cooking processes—and promote authentic Thai dishes to culinary students + instructors, professional chefs and foodies in the US. Join ICC and two celebrated Chefs from Suan Dusit University in Thailand as we journey to Southeast Asia, without ever leaving NYC! They’ll teach us about the complexities of Thai cuisine, and show us how to create, and balance, these flavors in our own kitchens. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from the experts—check out the three days of events below!

A Taste of Thailand—Chef Demonstration of Authentic Thai Cuisine

Wednesday, March 27
ICC Amphitheater

We’re excited to welcome celebrated chefs from the Suan Dusit University in Thailand—Chef Jareuk Sriaroon & Chef Songpol Vithanwattana—accompanied by ICC Alumna, Chanchana Siripanwattana, for an afternoon highlighting the complex flavors of authentic Thai cuisine. Join us for a demonstration to unlock the secrets of Thai Cooking—from working with ingredients found in Southeast Asian countries, to the art of balancing sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy flavors. They’ll share the differences and similarities in different regional dishes of Thailand and explain how local Thai cuisine has adapted influences from surrounding Asian countries into their food. Bringing their expertise to New York for the first time, they’ll demonstrate four traditional Thai dishes—Mee Grob (herb crispy vermicelli), Red Curry with Roasted Duck, Gaeng Som Goong (sour soup with shrimp) and Sago Pudding with Longan & Sweet Corn. Plus, attendees will have the opportunity to taste each of the four dishes and learn how to make these popular Thai dishes in their own kitchens!

Open to ICC Students, Alumni and Staff—no RSVP required. For volunteer opportunities, please contact Natalia Pozzi at npozzi@culinarycenter.com.

Limited seating available to the general public—please RSVP to events@culinarycenter.com to attend.

Private Hands-On Class for ICC Chef Instructors & Alumni

Tuesday, March 26
201 Kitchen

In this 2-hour hands-on professional development workshop, ICC Chef Instructors & Alumni will have the opportunity to learn the techniques behind two authentic Thai dishes—Gratong Thong (minced chicken in crispy golden cups) and Kanom Jeen Namya (rice noodles with yellow crab curry). Through this workshop, you’ll gain an understanding of how Thai cuisine is influenced by the dishes of other Asian countries and learn firsthand how to balance Southeast Asian flavors in your kitchen.

Note: Please bring your knives & chef coat for the class.

Private Hands-On Class for Current ICC Students

Thursday, March 28
201 Kitchen

In this 2-hour hands-on cooking class, current ICC students will have the opportunity to experience firsthand how their culinary education can be applied to cuisines from around the world. Chef Instructors from the Suan Dusit University in Thailand will lead the class in cooking two classic Thai favorites—Pad Thai (Thai stir-fried noodles) and Spicy Beef Salad—from start to finish! You’ll learn the techniques behind authentic Thai cuisine and understand how to use ingredients commonly used in Southeast Asian cooking.

Note: Please bring your knives & come in uniform for the class.


Songpol “Park” Vithanwattana

Chef ParkChef Songpol “Park” Vithanwattana received his Bachelor’s degree in Kitchen & Restaurant Management from Dusit Thani College in Bangkok, Thailand before pursuing his MBA in Modern Entrepreneurship from Ramkhamhaeng University in Bangkok and an MBA in Hospitality Industries from HTMi, Tourism Management Institute in Switzerland.

Chef Vithanwattana’s kitchen experience spans from working as a Commis at the Hotel Sofitel Silom and Centara Grand Bangkok in Thailand before becoming Thai Chef at Ah-hua Restaurant in Zurich, Switzerland. After returning from Switzerland, he became an instructor in Culinary Technology and Service at Suan Dusit University in Thailand. Here, he contributes to the development, planning, and implementation of teaching the next generations of chefs.

Throughout his years, Chef Vithanwattana has won various awards throughout the world. In 2011, he was awarded a gold medal in the Battle of the Chef, 13th Penang International Salon Gastronomique for the meat/ poultry category and awarded the silver medal in the Chef Competition 2016, Taiwan International Food Festival TCAC Culinary Challenge.

Jareuk Sriaroon

chef jareukChef Jareuk Sriaroon began his culinary education in 1999, receiving his certificate in Food Production Operation from Dusit Thani College in Bangkok, Thaliand. He then went on to study hospitality marketing and wine in the Netherlands, as well as hotel management in England.

After his studies, he went on to work in kitchens throughout Bangkok, cooking French cuisine and refining his talents. After his time working in kitchens, he embraced his passion for education to become an instructor at Silpakorn University International College. Then, he became executive producer and host of the documentary Namprik, which celebrated Thai cuisine. Now, he’s continuing his instructor path at Suan Dusit Rajabhat University/ International Culinary School.

During his time cooking, Chef Sriaroon was awarded the title of Official Thai Chef for Thai Food Promotion from the Ruckblick Inoga and the Royal Thai Consulate of Mumbai. He also is a World Chefs Approved Judge by the World Association of Chefs Societies, on the Board of Directors for the Thailand Culinary Academy, and has been a judge in 10+ culinary competitions throughout Thailand and the world.

Off the Vine: Careers in Wine

Off The Vine: Careers in Wine

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


Thursday, February 28th | 6:30-8:00pm
International Culinary Center
462 Broadway, 2nd Floor Theater

Find out where you fit in the wine industry during a panel discussion with industry professionals at ICC!

The wine and beverage industry is dynamic & diverse, and offers many opportunities to build an exciting career—with options that suit different backgrounds, personalities and lifestyles. For those who are seriously considering a career in the wine industry, the possibilities are endless.

Elizabeth Smith, the Wine Program Coordinator at ICC, will moderate a panel of professionals representing the diverse avenues available to wine career seekers including distribution, restaurants, media and more. Together, we’ll explore topics such as career paths to explore, hiring practices, qualities that employers seek and the paths that each panelist took to get to where they are today. Come with your questions—there will be an open Q&A with the panelists following the discussion! Plus you’ll have the opportunity to network and learn more about how ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program can help you pursue your wine career.

Light refreshments will be provided.


Elizabeth Smith, Certified Sommelier, ICC Wine Program Coordinator

Elizabeth Smith is the Wine Program Coordinator at ICC, where she assists in running the Intensive Sommelier Training program and coordinates the Court of Master Sommeliers AmericasTM Introductory and Certified Exams.  She also teaches ICC’s introductory wine classes, and organizes extracurricular wine lectures and tastings.

Elizabeth began her career at Food & Wine magazine, and spent 8 years in various sales, marketing, and business insights roles at F&W and American Express.  In 2016 she decided to take her love of wine to the next level, graduating ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Training program, followed by a happy year at Astor Wines and Spirits.  Elizabeth is a CMS Certified Sommelier and is currently pursuing her WSET Diploma in Wine.

She is a passionate lover of wine and food, and documents her culinary adventures on Instagram @in_vino_glorias.


Slim Mello, Certified Sommelier
Head Sommelier at The Mandarin Oriental | ICC Alumnus

Slim started his hospitality career at ICC (International Culinary Center) in New York with the Intensive Sommelier Training program under the instruction of Master Sommelier, Scott Carney.  In the same year, he was granted the Walter Clore Scholarship at the Court of Master Sommeliers certified examination for achieving the highest score in NYC.

In 2016,  Slim began his work at Mandarin Oriental NYC with the Internship program under the mentorship of the Master Sommelier Laura Williamson. In 2017 proceeding the internship he became the Sommelier at Asiate Restaurant of the Mandarin Oriental.

During this exciting learning process, Slim was able to expand  his knowledge at the WSET level 3 course. As well as becoming a certified Sherry Wine Specialist with the House of Lustau in 2018.

Currently, Slim resides at Mandarin Oriental as the Head Sommelier taking on new challenges that will allow him to achieve the next level on his educational journey.

Michele Thomas, Certified Sommelier
Assistant Manager and Buyer, Greene Grape Wine & Spirits, Writer & Educator | ICC Alumna

Michele Thomas is the assistant manager and buyer for Greene Grape Wine & Spirits, located in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene, neighborhood, and a writer, editor, and educator with deep roots in food, wine, and publishing. A certified sommelier (IST ’15) and former executive editor for curriculum at the International Culinary Center, she is co-author of Culinary Careers for Dummies (Wiley), and her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Edible Brooklyn, and Activist Philanthropist. She has also consulted for several food and hospitality companies, including Garnish Global Studio and Gumbo Bros, and documents her varying adventures in food, wine and culture on Instagram as @Bedstuysomm.

Patricia Alazraki
Brand Manager, Monsieur Touton | ICC Alumna

Patricia was born in Uruguay and lived a life outside the wine world until her late 20s.

She initially pursued a career in Psychology and Culinary Arts and learned from working at her family’s food import business about sales, distribution and marketing. It wasn’t until 2016 that she decided to make a career change and move towards wine.

She is an alumni of the Intensive Sommelier Training program at ICC. Later on she took on an apprenticeship at Wine and Spirits Magazine, and moved to Bordeaux where she pursued a Master in Wine and Spirits Management. In Bordeaux she worked in wine tourism and education for visitors from around the world. She recently moved back to Brooklyn, NY and took on the position as US Brand Ambassador for a selective group of Bordeaux wine makers. You might find her waking around Prospect Park every morning with her yellow lab, her second passion after wine.

Cristina Coari
Wine Education and Press Manager, Vias Imports

Cristina Coari is a native Italian from Gorizia in Northeast Italy. She joined the Vias Imports Marketing Team in 2014, and today she is especially involved in wine education projects and media/public relations.

Cristina received Master Sommelier status from AIS, the Italian Sommelier Association, in collaboration with ALMA, La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana. Prior to that, she worked in communications at Marco Felluga winery in Italy and was an intern at Domaine Select Wine Estates in New York.

pastry plus


Announcing The Second Charity Bake Sale and Pastry Conference on March 9 and 24, 2019

It’s back! The International Culinary Center (ICC) in New York City is excited to announce the second Pasty Plus Conference to be held on Sunday, March 24, 2019, and its charitable arm—the Pastryland Bake Sale running earlier in the month on Saturday, March 9, 2019, both at ICC (28 Crosby Street, New York, NY 10013). With its mission to establish a pastry community that promotes a constructive exchange of ideas and information to secure the future of the industry, ICC is proud to be hosting these not-to-be missed sweet occasions!

pastry plus attendeesLed by ICC’s Director of Pastry Operations Jansen Chan, in partnership with Callebaut and an advisory committee of top pastry chefs, Pastryland Bake Sale will take place at ICC on Saturday, March 9, 2019 from 12-4PM. The daytime event will feature an array of select pastry chefs from world-class restaurants and bakeries, including Union Square Café, Bien Cuit, Bâtard, Per Se and Patisserie Chanson, who will each donate one-of-a-kind desserts for the charity bake sale, which will benefit Hot Bread Kitchen. It’s the sweetest way to give back! Check out the full list of Pastryland Chefs here!

Guests can purchase Pastryland VIP Tickets ($50 + fees) for first access to the bake sale from 12PM-1PM, which will include an exclusive Meet + Greet with top pastry chefs; plus, 5 tokens to exchange for beverages or pastries. General Admission Tickets ($15 + fees) will be available for set time slots (1PM, 1:45PM, 2:30PM or 3:15PM) and include two tokens. Additional tokens can be purchased on-site by credit/debit cards only. Attendance of over 500 sweets lovers is expected. Guests will have the opportunity to fill their shopping bags with dozens of unique baked goods from top chefs, all in one place! Tickets can be purchased beginning January 28th on Eventbrite!

last year's keynoteThe theme of Pastry Plus Conference 2019, which will be held on Sunday, March 24, 2019 at ICC, is Sharing the Slice, presented in partnership with Callebaut, and will feature a collective presentation, activity and panel discussion focusing on how the industry must consider the way in which we connect and share information. Pastry Plus aims to connect the innovative minds of pastry professionals, providing a rare opportunity to meet and network in a positive, constructive environment to discuss the issues facing them individually and in the industry as a whole. Pastry Plus’ Keynote Address will be given by Francisco Migoya, Head Chef of Modernist Cuisine. Individual, self selected breakout classes (choice of three 75-minute sessions) will focus on preserving the craft of pastry arts; innovation in techniques, ingredients and products; and improving the workplace. Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided, and a networking reception will conclude the inspiring day. ICC has also joined with the James Beard Foundation and Pastry Arts Magazine, as leadership and media partners, respectively.

Over 140 pastry chefs, pastry sous chefs, pastry cooks, pastry students, pastry enthusiasts and pastry business owners, plus food media, bloggers and social media influencers, are expected to attend the conference. General Admission Tickets for Pastry Plus ($120 + fees; $90 + fees for Early Bird from January 28 to February 25), include access to Pastryland. Click here to purchase tickets.

pastry plus attendeesIn addition, Pastry Plus is holding the Next Gen Contest presented by Callebaut, seeking the next generation pastry chef. Individuals who have not yet attended a pastry-focused educational program are eligible to apply. Two Grand Prize Winners will be awarded VIP-First Access Ticket to Pastryland, All Access Ticket to Pastry Plus 2019; Meet + Greet with members of Pastry Plus’ Advisory Committee; and a One-Day Pastry Class at ICC. Entries are due at noon on Friday, February 15, 2019. Winners will be announced Friday, February 22nd. For official contest rules and regulations go to: www.pastry.plus/nextgen.

For more information on Pastry Plus, visit www.pastry.plus.

Business Bites: Unearthing Your Sources

Business Bites: Unearthing Your Sources

The BUSINESS BITES SERIES, brought to you by the Culinary Entrepreneurship program at ICC, is a series of workshops, discussion panels and networking events designed to support entrepreneurs in the food industry. Each event is designed to provide education, information and the opportunity to connect with industry experts in a collaborative setting.


Wednesday, February 13th | 6:30-8:00pm
International Culinary Center
462 Broadway, 2nd Floor Theater

For restaurants and food business owners, sourcing quality ingredients and importing products unique to your brand play an important role in setting you apart from your competitors. Your patrons become loyal customers for the quality you retain—and your prices can reflect that. Today, the expansion of global trade and ease of digital communication allows for access to exotic, hard-to-find ingredients from around the world, making it possible to introduce products direct from their origin.

But, what do you really know about your sources and where your products come from?

With consumers moving towards ethical buying habits, higher standards for quality and equality are vital in day-to-day business operations. In our latest installment of our Business Bites series, Unearthing Your Sources, you’ll hear from a panel of experts running some of NYC’s best single origin businesses about how they operate profitable food businesses without compromising on quality or fair trade practices. Join us to discuss what it’s like to source from around the world, the laws and agricultural regulations with regard to importing products, fair trade best practices and the key players within a supply chain. They’ll share their tips for working with farmers, navigating customs laws and building a network of trusted producers. Plus, you’ll also have ample time for networking and the opportunity to learn how ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship program can take you from concept to business plan & pitch in just 6-weeks!


Alek Marfisi
Alek Marfisi – Owner, Upwind Strategies & ICC Entrepreneurship Instructor

Alek Marfisi is a native New Yorker with a passion for building things and helping people. After working advising small businesses for five years, Alek launched Upwind Strategies in 2015 with the mission of providing deeper and more relatable services to small businesses: the anti-business-school services firm. He previously worked with the NYS Small Business Development Center where he dove into the exciting intricacies of making entrepreneurial projects a reality. Since then, Alek has logged more than 11,000 hours working with small businesses and has been recognized as one of the top drivers of economic development in the country.


Ethan Frisch
Ethan Frisch, Co-Founder of Burlap and Barrel

Ethan Frisch is a chef, activist and the cofounder of Burlap & Barrel, the first comprehensive single origin spice company in the US.  A former line cook and pastry chef in New York and London, he was also the co-founder and Executive Chef of Guerrilla Ice Cream, a nonprofit politically-inspired ice cream cart. As a humanitarian aid worker, he worked with NGOs including the Aga Khan Foundation in Afghanistan and Doctors Without Borders on the Syrian/Jordanian border.

He has been an adjunct lecturer at the City College of New York and an instructor with the Experiment in International Living’s Leadership Institute. He is honored to serve on the Board of Directors of the Bond Street Theatre (www.bondst.org), which uses theater to teach conflict resolution and resilience in areas of instability around the world, and on the Advisory Boards of the student-led racial literacy and justice organization Princeton CHOOSE (www.princetonchoose.org) and the Fragments Theater, a youth theater company in Palestine. He is also on the Organizing Committee of the Queens International Night Market.

He holds a dual Bachelors Degree in Conflict Studies and Education and Social Change from the City University of New York, and a Masters Degree in Violence, Conflict and Development from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

Stephen Thomas, Rishi Tea
Stephen Thomas, Market Manager- NYC Metro of Rishi Tea

Stephen Thomas began his hospitality career as a certified sommelier working for one of the largest wine collectors in the world. This passion led him into the world of cocktails, where his science and engineering background opened the doors to some of the top restaurants in New York. He joined Rishi tea just about 2 years ago where he was able to bring it all together under the core values of the company; Importer, selector, maker.

William Mullan
William Mullan, Brand Manager of Raaka Chocolate

William Mullan is Brand Manager for Raaka Chocolate, a bean-to-bar chocolate maker based in Red Hook, Brooklyn. He is fascinated by the intersections of food, culture, and commerce; how food shapes our lives and how we shape our lives with food. After five years at Raaka, he is still not sick of chocolate and considers this to be a good thing.

Rob T.
Rob Terenzi, Co-Founder and CEO of Vega Coffee

Rob Terenzi is a co-founder and CEO of Vega Coffee, a company whose mission is to radically transform the coffee supply chain. Before starting Vega, Rob lived in Nicaragua for about 5 years working with small women-owned coffee cooperatives on improving access to markets and making great Nicaraguan coffee available domestically He also attended law school at Fordham Law and earned a masters degree in International Economics, before working as a start-up and venture finance attorney in Silicon Valley for WSGR for a bit over three years.

Tips to Make 2019 a Financial Success

2019: A Successful Year for Your Food Business

As 2018 comes to an end, food entrepreneurs get a chance to sit down and look over their financial performance for the year.  The food business is fickle; some operators seem to have it so easy and others seem to always be struggling.  If you’d like to do better in the new year, here are 3 ways you can make your business more efficient and ultimately enable you to take home more money.

What’s Your Gross Margin?
Your gross margin is the most important ratio to know about your company. It’s the percent of sales left over after you account for what your product cost you.  If you sell $10 six packs of soda and your product costs you $4, your gross margin is 60%.  On your company’s profit and loss statement, find your gross profit and divide it by your total revenue to get your gross margin.  Here are a few things to think about once you know your margin:

  • Do I operate a high gross margin or low gross margin business?
    High margin businesses (those with gross margins over 50%) benefit the most from a sales push, or working on your pricing and food costing. Low margin businesses (those with gross margins under 50%) benefit the most from finding ways to make the business more efficient by lowering overhead costs like kitchen utilities and employee overtime.
  • How does my gross margin compare to other companies in my sector?
    Once you have your gross margin you can use it to make an apples-to-apples comparison to your competitors’, or industry’s gross margin. Is it above average?  If so, make sure you keep giving your customers a meaningful reason to pay more for what you’re offering. Is it below average? Then maybe you need to consider changing your pricing and quantity structure.

Track Your Refunds and Discounts.
No other businesses face as many refunds and discounts as food businesses do.  Whether it a restaurant comp’ing a meal after a service error or free samples being given away to promote a new food product at a grocery store, discounts and refunds can seriously affect your business’ ability to make a suitable profit.   At the same time, they’re a fact of life for this industry.  The solution is to benchmark, track, and set goals for your refunds and discount.  Many bookkeepers just lump discounts and refunds into your sales figure.  Encourage them to separate these costs out into discrete figures that offset your total revenue.

Work With an Expert to Optimize Your Labor.
Foodservice labor is complicated, and the rules are changing all the time.  It’s never OK to cut your staff and overburden your team just to save a dime, but there are many ways in which your scheduling, overtime, and calculation of base wages net of credit card fees can add small costs to your payroll every week that translate into big expenses each year.  A good payroll processing technology that’s specialized for the foodservice industry is good, but in this case we recommend that you talk to an expert: preferably someone who runs human resources for other food companies.  Here are a few labor costs to think about:

  • Do your customers tip your employees via credit card? If so, make sure you are deducting credit card fees from the amount of tips you pay out to your employees.
  • What is the tradeoff between adding a shift and working your current staff overtime? Comparing these two scenarios might make a big difference in your total annual payroll costs.



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.

Sous Vide Intensive Returns to ICC in 2019 With New Hands-On Curriculum

immersion circulator for sous videWhile the method of modern sous vide cooking has been around for more than 40 years—invented by Dr. Bruno Goussault in 1971—its popularity hasn’t slowed down. The use of sous vide cooking in restaurant kitchens continues to sweep the industry, and the emergence of new, more affordable equipment has allowed the technique to enter the kitchens of home cooks around the world.

And why wouldn’t it? The innovative cooking technique of sous vide—French for “under vaccum”—unlocks the full potential of food, enhancing flavor, texture and aroma to achieve results beyond the limits of traditional methods. Vacuum-sealed and slow-cooked in water at constant low temperatures, it produces consistently excellent quality and perfectly cooked meals.

chef Herve Malivert teaching sous vide techniquesWhen ICC’s Director of Culinary Arts & Technology, Chef Hervé Malivert, sought to re-launch the Sous Vide Intensive in 2019, he realized that there was something missing to how the method was being taught. “I’ve taken many sous vide classes,” says Malivert. “Some are technique and recipe focused but not hands-on, while others are science based and hands-on, but aren’t chef or cook oriented. We wanted to build a class that incorporated the science, technique and recipes for everyone—from professionals to foodies—to be able to integrate into their restaurants or home kitchens.”

“Just like any profession, chefs always want to improve upon technique and be able to control quality. Using sous vide to cook at precise temperatures allows me to achieve this. That’s why it’s become increasingly important for professionals, culinary students, and even home cooks to understand sous vide techniques.” – Chef Hervé Malivert

The new two-day, hands-on curriculum will offer a more complete approach to teaching sous vide techniques, combining practical and theoretical instruction into one. Through this 14-hour course, students will gain an understanding of how time and temperature influence taste and texture, learning to apply proper safety techniques to sous vide preparations. They’ll evaluate the difference between classic preparations and sous vide cooking methods, and taste side by side comparisons of various temperatures, and times of cooking protein.


The goal is to provide students with the techniques behind low temperature cooking and how to adapt them to their own kitchens—whether they plan to use what they learn in professional restaurants or home kitchens. Rather than focusing on professional grade equipment only, this course will also review at home versions of immersion circulators, as well as the difference between using sous vide vacuum bags and other alternatives. The end result is a course that provides students with the opportunity to taste, test and explore the applications of sous vide for their kitchens with an array of proteins, vegetables and more!

To celebrate International Sous Vide Day in January and the return of ICC’s Sous Vide Intensive, we’re hosting a special sous vide cooking demonstration with ICC’s Director of Culinary Arts & Technology, Chef Hervé Malivert. Join us on January 23rd to get a sneak peek of the new curriculum and learn how sous vide cooking unlocks the full potential of food to maximize taste, texture and aroma. We’ll be announcing details about the Sous Vide Intensive in January, so stay tuned and contact us if you’d like to learn more!


Wednesday, January 23 | 3:30-5:00pm
International Culinary Center
462 Broadway, 2nd Floor Theater

As our resident culinary technology and sous vide instructor, Chef Hervé brings years of experience—and experiments!—to the technique behind this innovative cooking method. During this demo, you’ll learn what it is, what to do—and how to do it—and most importantly, what to avoid when cooking sous vide. Chef Herve will share his tips & techniques for sous vide cooking, as well as demonstrate and compare classic vs. sous vide preparations on a classic. Plus, he’ll unveil his new sous vide eggs & bacon dish, which you’ll be able to learn in ICC’s re-launched 2-day Sous Vide Intensive course returning in the Spring of 2019.

Open to ICC Students & Alumni. Limited seating available to the general public, please RSVP to events@culinarycenter.com.

About Chef Hervé Malivert

Chef Hervé Malivert’s enthusiasm for the kitchen was evident by the age of 12, as his father was a cheese maker and going on deliveries with him was the inspiration for him to become a chef. Now, you can find him in the kitchens of ICC in his downtime creating beautifully intricate dishes and sharing them with his followers. As the Director of Culinary Arts & Technology, Chef Hervé’s sense of adventure is put to good use as he researches and develops new techniques to include in the ICC curriculum. Read more about Chef Hervé here!

Tips To Grow Your Beverage Program

This month, our Business Bites Resources—brought to you by ICC’s Culinary Entrepreneurship (CE) program—provides tips for food businesses looking to bolster their drink menu.

the panelists from the eventAt the beginning of November, members from the culinary community gathered for a panel to discuss the importance of having a beverage program in your restaurant that gets customers back to the bar.  The four panelists were experienced members of the culinary and beverage industry, including Jason Hedges, Bar Director of Gotham Bar & Grill and Partner of BarIQ; Noah Rothbaum, Editor of Half Full from The Daily Beast; Nora Favelukes, President of QW Wine Experts; and Vanessa Da Silva, Sommelier at Ninety Acres.

In the discussion, they shared their tips for creating and managing a successful beverage program, as well as how to turn your drinks into dollars. We’ve gathered some of their tips for success below!

Specialty Cocktails Drive Sales

Our panelists all agreed that specialty cocktails can drive sales and bring in new customers, while increasing margins for the business. Not only are cocktails experiencing a renaissance among bar scenes, but they can also be a fun and visual “Instagram-able” feature on your menu, increasing brand awareness. One tip that we learned from our experts—using fresh juice not only makes a cocktail more delicious, but is surprisingly a way to save money as it can be cheaper than buying expensive pre-made mixes.

Invest in Ice

For most guests, their first experience in a restaurant is ordering a cocktail, so why not take your cocktail to the next level? Ice is a daily requirement in all restaurants, and a universal ingredient in bar drinks. Despite its importance, ice can often be overlooked. Many bar programs are turning to ice blocks, specialty cubes and more to provide a better appearance and experience for their customers. In the end, the cocktails look better, but can also taste better as ice that is higher in quality won’t dilute a cocktail with water as fast.

Bar Software

Bar software can make or break a restaurant in today’s world. According to San Pellegrino, 100% of US restaurants on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list are using a software called BinWise. In addition to these restaurants, Jason Hedges and Vanessa Da Silva, both panelists that work in the restaurant industry, also use BinWise to manage their restaurants inventory and more. There are many other options on the market, so the key is to find a software that works for your business. In the end, bar software programs can increase time saved during inventories, help to gain insights into what products are being poured the most, create a database to have information readily available, and help to recapture lost money.


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.