scott tacinelli

Re-Thinking Italian Food At Don Angie With Scott Tacinelli

THE FUTURE OF ITALIAN FOOD IN NYC

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.

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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.

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

FOLLOWING HIS PASSION

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.

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

A HUGE CHALLENGE

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.

FINALLY, A PLACE OF THEIR OWN

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.”

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The finished Pink Snapper Crudo

THE FUTURE OF DON ANGIE

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.”

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!

wines

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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

zoe kanan

Going Against The Grain With Zoë Kanan

HOW ONE BAKER & PASTRY CHEF IS RISING TO THE TOP

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

It’s a hazy, humid day in June, and I walk into The Freehand Hotel in New York City, located just east of Madison Square Park for my second Outstanding Alumni interview. I glance at my typical work-attire and feel as if I should be wearing a trendier outfit from the runways of Paris. From the art adorned walls that would make most avid collectors jealous, to the wooden elevator accent that’s reminiscent of an older New York, the space from Gabriel Stulman’s Happy Cooking Hospitality family is as fun to eat in as it is to look at.
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Knick-knacks in The Freehand Hotel

Up the grand staircase, I find the hotel’s all day café, Studio. I am instantly transported to another world, two-stories above the busy streets of NYC, filled with plush chairs and beautiful, yet quirky, knick knacks. As I sit in one of the overstuffed seats covered in faux-fur reviewing my interview notes, Zoë Kanan walks into the room with a gold notebook in one hand and a plastic quart container filled with iced coffee in the other. A typical move for a chef that’s always on the go. I joke that I also need a quart of coffee at 9am, and she laughs at my to-be-expected comment. Immediately, my worries about the interview are squashed— it’s as if I’ve met up with an old friend and we’re catching up over jugs of iced coffee.

Bringing The Family Together

As we sit down to talk about her almost ten-year career after graduating from the Professional Pastry Arts program at the International Culinary Center, I begin to paint the picture in my mind of just how much Kanan has accomplished in under a decade. Born and raised in Texas, she’s the product of a pit-master father and a vegetarian mother— baking was a way to bring the family together. It was also how she curbed her sweet-tooth after skating lessons throughout her childhood and teenage years. Yes, she was training to become an Olympic-Gold medalist, but broke her arm right before qualifying for senior competition. It was then time for her to pursue other passions, like baking and music. Luckily for all of us, baking stuck.

Baking in the kitchen with her family was only the beginning for her. After high school, she packed up her life in Texas and moved to New York City to study at ICC “fast-tracking (her) access to work in kitchens.” When I ask why she chose ICC specifically for her education, she remarked that “the program touched on a lot of different elements of the pastry and baking world, so I felt like I had the pick of the litter, as far as the type of establishment that I could walk into and feel like I would know where to begin.”

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Kanan in her early Milk Bar days

The Youngest Baker In The Kitchen

Pick of the litter, indeed. During pastry school, Kanan worked at Milk Bar— her dream establishment since her Texan days—first at the front of house, then as a kitchen intern. Getting there, however, wasn’t so simple— it only took hand delivering a resume three times to Milk Bar before finally having a chance encounter with mega-boss and fellow ICC graduate Christina Tosi. What’ll come as no surprise— Kanan was hired shortly after.

When she began, she was the youngest baker in the kitchen. Then, suddenly, or not so suddenly at all, she was running the Weddings and Special Orders Department, helping to build the reputation of Milk Bar’s famed “naked cakes.” During her time at Milk Bar, she also started at Four & Twenty Blackbirds in Brooklyn to learn more, as fast as she could. The owners, Melissa and Emily Elsen, were named in 2011 by Time Out New York  as “Artisans of the Year,” right when Kanan was working diligently under them.

After leaving Milk Bar with a Tosi relic in tow— the signature bandana look that Kanan still rocks to this day— she went on to Mile End Deli to develop her bread-making with Dianna Daoheung. Then, once again, it was time to work with a new mentor, master-baker and fellow ICC graduate, Melissa Weller. Weller was gaining buzz as the “Bagel Whisperer” and Sadelle’s, the now cult-following bagel spot, was born shortly after Kanan joined. This is where Kanan discovered her true expertise in baking.

When I ask her what it was like to work for two of the greatest bakers of our generation in her early years after pastry school, she doesn’t hesitate. “Because we covered the entire rainbow of the baking and pastry world (at ICC), combined with the guidance and knowledge that I gained from working for Melissa Weller and Christina Tosi, it painted this picture for me where I felt equipped to approach these different angles of my job with the knowledge that it requires.” Throughout her career, she’s specifically chosen to work in female-led kitchens, something that is still important to her to this day. 

Kanan’s career didn’t stop there. As she shares, “bread baking is ancient and is this foundational component of food. It’s global and feels like a common thread around the world.” Kanan embraces that as The Head Baker and Pastry Chef for Simon & The Whale and Studio. However, Gabriel Stulman never envisioned having a head baker for Simon & The Whale— it was always going to be just a pastry chef. Former-boss Christina Tosi personally recommended Kanan for the pastry chef position, but after gaining experience in the industry, she knew that baking was truly where her passion lay. She turned Stulman’s offer down initially, but told him that if he needed a head baker, she was right for the role. The rest, as they say, is history.

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The fish sandwich from Simon & The Whale with Kanan's poppy seed torpedo roll

More Than A Standout Baker

Kanan is more than a standout baker. She’s the chef that adds a twist to every dish, helping put Simon & The Whale on the map. According to Pete Wells, the prominent New York Times food-critic, her “poppy-seed torpedo roll helps lift the fish sandwich with carrot-squash slaw above the ordinary.” That’s just what she does— she adds a unique, global influence to any dish and elevates it to a whole other level. Even though she doesn’t have time to travel much these days, after all, she is a 2019 Eater Young Gun and James Beard Award Outstanding Pastry Chef nominee, she draws from past experiences and cookbooks to find new inspiration. She thinks of recipes that she knows will work, approaches them from a new perspective and injects a burst of expertise and technique that lifts breads and pastries out of their pans. Her evolution of breads and pastries is the key to her growing legacy in the baking world. Future bakers are already taking notes.

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Kanan holding her signature sourdough croissant

Even though Wells admires her poppy-seed torpedo roll, Kanan’s favorite creation is her Sourdough Croissant. “I’m most proud of our croissant. It’s very much a bakery thing to say, but a croissant is so simple in flavor, so it takes a lot of thought and care to highlight what makes it special. It’s this perfect combination of technique, thoughtfulness, flavor and careful craftsmanship that makes it perfect. You don’t expect much from it, but I like to over-deliver.” When I get to try one for myself, she first cuts into two different croissants to see how the crumb performs. To my untrained, but croissant aficionado eye, they look perfect. Fluffy on the inside, flaky on the outside, I could tell that they would “over-deliver” even before I took a bite. It’s clear why they are referred to as the croissant “making the French angry.” The added sourdough elevates the croissant in a way that I had never tasted before.

When we head to the kitchen to get started on her daily, mile-long to-do list, she quickly realizes that she’s without her trusty gold notebook. The notebook is filled with recipes and new ideas that she translates in her spare time to work for her kitchen. Weller— a chemical engineer before her master-baker career— taught her how to use excel formulas to be more precise with her bakers math. Now, it’s clear that she’s following the same path as Tosi and Weller before her. But getting a peek in her kitchen is where I see how truly brilliant she is as a leader. 

She’s built a team around her of strong bakers, many of them fellow ICC grads. Looking around the kitchen and seeing all women bakers, I think back to our interview just an hour prior. Kanan didn’t know why she was drawn to female led-kitchens, but realized it was her initial admiration for their menus and the products they created. “Growing up, I had a lot of powerful female influence in my life, and I wanted to stay close to that. I ultimately wanted to be one of those women. I got to make food that I was really inspired by, but also be close to these really powerful women that were role models to me.”

Leading The Future of Bread and Pastry

Throughout our morning together, she works with and teaches her team while helping to get the day’s work done. In what seems like an instant, she’s laminated croissant dough on a shockingly-small table, then worked with her team to separate out another Kanan signature— her Russian Black Bread.

A new team member, fellow ICC grad Savita Bhat, just joined— it’s only her fourth day when I meet them— but instead of letting her figure it out on her own, Kanan’s teaching her about the dough while giving her precise feedback. For Kanan, the motion of scraping her workspace to mold the bread into a uniform loaf is natural and seemingly effortless. As she explains how to cut the bread in a way that doesn’t overwork it, while also using the perfect amount of flour so the bread is moldable, I finally understand that I’m watching an artist create her masterpiece. 

kanan with coworker
Kanan teaching Savita Bhat, a member of her team and fellow ICC grad

When I ask Bhat what it’s like to work for Kanan, she says that a lot of the places she’s worked haven’t taken the time to train her properly like Kanan has. Kanan looks to me and responds that, “the execution of the product that we’re giving to our customers is key to our success— the staff has to be on board for that as well.” It’s clear that the staff are on board with so much more than the product— they wholeheartedly believe in their boss and what she creates.

Looking towards the future, Kanan is “excited about continuing our participation in the regional grain economy.” I must have a puzzled look on my face because she laughs and continues, “what that really means is sourcing grain that has been grown and milled in the Northeastern region. We are always bringing in new flours to experiment with, so I’m trying to learn more about that. We’re also working on gluten-free desserts, so really, we’re leaning both in and out of grains!”

When I ask her what advice she would give to young bakers and pastry chefs starting out, she knows her answer— it’s what she did. “Seek out a person or a mentor who you want to work for, rather than a restaurant or bakery that has the most cachet. When you’re creating your foundation and expanding upon your knowledge, find someone who you really admire that is willing to take you under their wing to guide you in the right direction.” For the future of baking, Kanan will be that guide for many.

2018 Outstanding Alumni Awards: Angie Mar, Anna Bolz, Steven Cook, Aaron Babcock

ICC Announces 2018 Outstanding Alumni Award Winners

International Culinary Center’s 2018 Commencement Ceremony, held on June 3rd at New York City’s iconic Carnegie Hall, celebrated students who have completed ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts, Italian Culinary, Pastry Arts, Cake Techniques & Design, Art of International Bread Baking and Intensive Sommelier Training programs between May 2017 and June 2018.

ICC has a long tradition of celebrating the success of our graduates. Part of our process for planning each year’s Commencement is looking at who has made an impact in the previous year and left a mark on their industry. ICC selects these individuals from each field of study to honor in a series of Outstanding Alumni Awards.

This year, ICC bestowed the Excellence in Culinary Arts award to Chef Angie Mar, Chef/Owner of The Beatrice Inn in New York City. Excellence in Pastry Arts was awarded to Anna Bolz, Pastry Chef of Per Se. Steven Cook, graduate of the Culinary Arts program in 2000, and Co-Owner of CookNSolo Restaurants, received the Excellence in Entrepreneurship award. Lastly, the Outstanding Sommelier recipient was Aaron Babcock, Advanced Sommelier and the Sommelier at Quince in San Francisco who traveled from the West Coast to receive his award.

Please join us in congratulating our 2018 Outstanding Alumni Award winners and let their stories, and successes, be an inspiration to you!


I’m honored to provide this exceptional group of individuals with the distinction of Outstanding Alumni during the 2018 Commencement Ceremony at Carnegie Hall. It’s so inspiring to watch former ICC students thrive and innovate in the hospitality industry. We acknowledge Chef Angie Mar, Anna Bolz, Steven Cook, and Aaron Babcock, for excellence in their fields and hope that their stories inspire our new graduates to love what they do and to prosper in whatever career path they follow.” – Erik Murnighan, President of the International Culinary Center


MEET ICC’S 2018 OUTSTANDING ALUMNI AWARD WINNERS

EXCELLENCE IN CULINARY ARTS
Angie Mar | Executive Chef/Owner of The Beatrice Inn | Classic Culinary Arts, 2011

Chef Angie Mar, a native of Seattle, Washington, comes from a family of food lovers and restaurateurs. After graduating from our Culinary program in 2011, she went on to work in some of the toughest kitchens in New York, including the Spotted Pig, Marlow & Sons, Reynard, and Diner. In 2013, she took the helm of the West Village institution The Beatrice Inn, where she’s now the executive chef and owner. She has become known for working with whole animals and live fire, earning her a two-star review from the New York Times. She was Thrillist’s chef of the year in 2016, a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2017. Read more & see her interview here.


EXCELLENCE IN PASTRY ARTS
Anna Bolz | Pastry Chef of Per Se | Classic Pastry Arts, 2007Chef Anna Bolz, Pastry Chef Per Se

Anna Bolz is the Pastry Chef at the three-Michelin-starred Per Se where she oversees the production of all the dessert offerings and chocolate production for the restaurant. Born and raised in small-town Iowa, Anna studied music before pursuing her passion in pastry and baking at the International Culinary Center, then The French Culinary Institute. She cooked her way through a few of New York’s best kitchens, including Porterhouse and Jean-Georges, before landing at Per Se. Read more & see her interview here.

 


EXCELLENCE IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP 
Steven Cook, Co-Owner of CookNSolo RestaurantsSteven Cook | Co-Owner of CookNSolo Restaurants & Dizengoff NYC | Classic Culinary Arts, 2000

Steven Cook may not be a household name yet, but he’s one of the country’s most successful restaurateurs and oversees a mini-empire in New York and Philadelphia along with his business partner Michael Solomonov. He graduated from our culinary arts program in 2000 and is now the co-owner of a growing family of restaurants including Zahav, Dizengoff, Federal Donuts, and the philanthropic luncheonette Rooster Soup Company (check out their website roostersoupcompany.com—they’re really doing amazing work!). The cookbook he co-wrote with his business partner, called Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, won TWO James Beard Awards in 2016, for Best International Cookbook and Book of the year. Read more here.


OUTSTANDING SOMMELIER 
Aaron Babcock, Advanced Sommelier, Sommelier at QuinceAaron Babcock, Advanced Sommelier | Sommelier at Quince | Intensive Sommelier Training, 2012

Aaron Babcock, this year’s Outstanding Sommelier, is a young man who has accomplished incredible success in a very short span of time. He graduated from our Intensive Sommelier Training program in 2012, earned his Certified Sommelier qualification and went to work at Manresa, one of California’s best restaurants. Just a few years later, at the unlikely age of 24, he passed his Advanced Sommelier exam and joined the team at Quince in San Francisco, which he helped to earn its third Michelin star. Read more here.

Julian Medina

Julian Medina, chef-owner of Toloache, Yerba Buena, Coppelia, Tacuba Mexican Cantina and La Chula has been creating refined Mexican cuisine for over fifteen years. Raised in Mexico City Julian moved here in 1996 and graduated from ICC (formerly French Culinary Institute) in 1999. He has been featured in many publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker and on Iron Chef America in 2011.

ALUMNI PROFILES

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ICC Announces Outstanding Alumni for 2017 Commencement Ceremony

The International Culinary Center® will celebrate the annual commencement ceremony for students who have completed programs between May 2016 and April 2017. The ceremony, held at the iconic Carnegie Hall in New York City, will feature keynote speaker and Dean of Special Programs, Jacques Pépin. Each year during the ceremony, ICC honors one alumnus from each field of study in a series of Outstanding Alumni Awards. This year, ICC dedicates the Excellence in Culinary Arts award to Chef Julian Medina, Chef / Owner of Toloache, Tacuba, Coppelia, Yerba Buena, and La Chula. Excellence in Pastry Arts will be awarded to Susanna Yoon, Founder and Head Chocolatier of Stick With Me Sweets. Culinary Arts and International Bread Baking graduate and Head Baker of MeyersUSA, Rhonda Crosson, will receive the Excellence in Bread award. The Excellence in Entrepreneurship award will be presented to Hugh Mangum, Chef/Owner of Mighty Quinn’s and a graduate of ICC’s Classic Culinary Arts program. Lastly, the Outstanding Sommelier recipient and alumnus will be Jhonel Faelnar, AS, the Sommelier at The NoMad.

The commencement will be held on Sunday, April 23rd. For media inquiries, please email Angela at asamartano@culinarycenter.com


I’m honored to provide this extraordinary group of individuals with the distinction of Outstanding Alumni during the 2017 Commencement Ceremony at Carnegie Hall. It’s extremely inspiring to watch former ICC students, and even my own classmates, go on to thrive in the hospitality industry. We acknowledge Julian Medina, Susanna Yoon, Hugh Mangum, Rhonda Crosson and Jhonel Faelnar for excellence in their respective fields and hope their stories inspire our new graduates to love what they do in any career path they follow.” – Erik Murnighan, President of the International Culinary Center.


Read about the recipients of ICC’s 2017 Outstanding Alumni awards below.
EXCELLENCE IN CULINARY ARTS
Julian Medina | Chef/Owner of Toloache, Tacuba, Coppelia, Yerba Buena, La Chula | Classic Culinary Arts, 1999

Julian Medina, chef- owner of Toloache, Yerba Buena, Coppelia, Tacuba Mexican Cantina and La Chula has been creating refined Mexican cuisine for over fifteen years. Raised in Mexico City Julian moved here in 1996 and graduated from ICC (formerly French Culinary Institute) in 1999. He has been featured in many publications, including The New York Times, The New Yorker and on Iron Chef American in 2011.


EXCELLENCE IN PASTRY ARTS
suzanna-yoon-stick-with-me-sweets-icc-alumniSusanna Yoon | Head Chocolatier/Founder of Stick With Me Sweets | Classic Pastry Arts, 2010

Susanna Yoon is the Head Chocolatier, Founder and heart behind one of New York’s finest confectionaries and chocolate shops, Stick With Me Sweets. Susanna was rewarded Top Ten Chocolatiers in America by Dessert Professional and attributes her intense, keen eye for perfection to her training in Michelin starred restaurants. Stick With Me Sweets’ chocolates were included amongst Oprah’s Favorite Things this past year and continue to receive many accolades for their exquisite bonbons.


EXCELLENCE IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP 
hm-headshotHugh Mangum | Chef/Owner of Mighty Quinn’s | Classic Culinary Arts, 2001 

Born to a father from Texas and a mother from the Bronx, Mangum grew up among the diverse food culture of Los Angeles but always found the best barbecue in his backyard, prepared by his father. Honoring an inheritance he received after the passing of his father, Hugh Mangum graduated from New York’s French Culinary Institute in 2001. “My father had a lust for life,” he says. “I wanted to continue that tradition as we shared it—through food.”  In 2011, Mangum took his passion to the next level as Co-Founder and Pit Master for Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque which defines a distinct brand of New York-style barbecue that slots neatly into the fast-casual industry. Named after his eldest son and inspired by his late father, Mangum handles recipe development for menus across all Mighty Quinn’s locations. Mangum has also won Food Network’s hit series Chopped and has been featured on programs such as Beat Bobby Flay, Unique Eats, and more.


EXCELLENCE IN BREAD
rhondaRhonda Crosson | Head Baker at MeyersUSA | The Art of International Bread Baking, 2004 | Classic Culinary Arts, 2006

Rhonda has worked for and with some of New York’s best bakeries and high profile chefs; from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery and Per Se to Amy’s Bread, Daniel Boulud and Marcus Samuelsson, where she first got her interest in Scandinavian bread making. Rhonda used to work as a chemist and holds a degree in Biological Chemistry from Bates College, as well as diplomas in both Bread Baking and Culinary Arts from the International Culinary Center, where she has also been a bread instructor. Rhonda takes great pride in perfecting her rye bread, so it tastes like that of a Danish grandmother, and when not baking, she loves to travel the world.


OUTSTANDING SOMMELIER 
jhonel-thumbJhonel Faelnar, AS | Sommelier at The NoMad | Intensive Sommelier Training, 2014

Jhonel Faelnar is currently a Sommelier at the NoMad Restaurant in New York. He has been with the Make It Nice family since 2015 and has recently taken the helm of the NoMad’s Beer Program, while preparing for the rigorous Master Sommelier examinations in 2018. Graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Management Engineering from the Ateneo de Manila University and as captain of the men’s Judo team, wine and hospitality were far from mind in the beginning. Leaving home and moving to Osaka and then New York opened up a different culinary world that inspired his first foray into the industry in 2013, with scholarships from both the James Beard Foundation and the International Culinary Center, and an internship with Wine & Spirits Magazine. Obsessed with wine at this point, he pursued further education with Scott Carney, MS at the ICC’s Intensive Sommelier Program and the Court of Master Sommeliers at the close of 2013. Hitting the ground running from there, he worked with Roger Dagorn, MS on his first wine program where he learned invaluable lessons on wine and hospitality. Eventually moving to the NoMad Restaurant and pursuing further growth, he passed the Advanced Examinations of the CMS in July of 2016, happily the first graduate in the New York program’s short history to have done so.