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ICE WELCOMES AWARD-WINNING LE BERNARDIN PASTRY CHEF MICHAEL LAISKONIS AS CREATIVE DIRECTOR

New York, NY, February 2012 – The Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York City welcomes award-winning pastry chef Michael Laiskonis as its first-ever Creative Director. Beginning in March, Laiskonis will bring his talent, insight and experience to ICE students in this new and innovative role.

Laiskonis has long been one of the industry's most creative and talented chefs. Fresh off of an eight-year tenure as Executive Pastry Chef at Le Bernardin, Laiskonis is well known for helping the restaurant earn four stars from The New York Times and three Michelin stars. He was named to America's Top Ten Pastry Chefs by Pastry Art & Design in both 2002 and 2003 and was Bon Appétit's Pastry Chef of the Year in 2004. Best known for his use of modern techniques to reinvent classic desserts, he was also awarded the coveted James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef in 2007. Laiskonis has been an active writer, in print and on-line, including Gourmet, Saveur and The Atlantic and has appeared on television shows such as Top Chef: Just Desserts. While Laiskonis is best known as a pastry chef, he spent most of the first half of his career on the savory side of the kitchen. Accordingly, ICE President Rick Smilow noted, "While pastry and baking will be Michael's first focus, we know his knowledge can transcend to other departments at the school."

As Creative Director, Laiskonis will join the educational leadership team to direct new projects in curriculum development and research, teach classes, mentor ICE students and faculty and serve as an industry ambassador for ICE. Smilow said, "Michael's been an active member of our Advisory Board for over a decade. So we know well the intelligence, drive and commitment to excellence that he will bring to our program."

Laiskonis remarked, "After twenty years in the kitchen, this new role with ICE is the perfect opportunity for me to give back, and inspire the next generation of chefs to excel and innovate in the culinary and pastry arts."

ICE has a notable track record producing award winning pastry chefs. Renowned chef, teacher and author Nick Malgieri launched the program in the early '90s. Since then, alumni have won The James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Pastry Chef award three times: Stephen Durfee in 1998, Claudia Fleming in 2000 and Gina DePalma in 2009. The addition of Chef Laiskonis to ICE's educational leadership team will help the program continue to thrive.

For more information, contact Stephanie Bourgeois in the ICE Public Relations Department at (212) 847-0775 or stephanie@iceculinary.com

About ICE

The Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) is New York City’s award-winning center for culinary education. Founded in 1975, the school offers highly regarded 8- to 13-month career training programs in Culinary Arts, Pastry & Baking Arts, Culinary Management and Hospitality Management. ICE also runs one of the largest programs of recreational cooking classes in the country. In 2008, ICE was named the International Association of Culinary Professionals' Culinary School of the Year and a School of Distinction by the ACCSCT in 2006. More information can be found at www.iceculinary.com. The school is located at 50 W. 23rd St. in Manhattan.

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