Find your cullinary voice

The Hydroponic Garden

Cultivating Innovation at ICE

In today’s culinary industry, food sourcing is more important than ever. Taste an herb picked straight from a garden and you’ll immediately understand why—the fresh and robust flavor is incomparable to your average store-bought greens. That’s why, when the school moved to a brand new location in downtown Manhattan, ICE built a state-of-the-art indoor hydroponic garden, intended to give culinary students access to the freshest herbs and produce as well as provide the opportunity to take part in the latest urban agriculture trends. By instilling in students the importance of quality ingredients while allowing them to participate in innovative growing practices, ICE ensures that each student receives a holistic culinary education.

ICE’s hydroponic garden is at the forefront of urban agriculture. Utilizing LED light technology and a hydroponic irrigation system, the garden grows up to 50 varieties of herbs and produce on any given day. There you’ll find both common and little-known herbs, inspiring culinary creativity and innovation in the classroom. “We’re growing things like toothache plant, purple ruffle basil, papalo, bronze fennel, red shiso and ordering new stuff all the time. We’re really trailblazing,” says Rob Laing, founder of Farm.One—the organization responsible for cultivating ICE’s hydroponic garden.

Making accessible the inaccessible, the garden gives both students and chef instructors the chance to work with freshly grown ingredients from around the globe without the limitations of seasonal or regional availability, encouraging them to push the boundaries of their culinary exploration. New varieties are planted each month and the team continually searches for rare seeds and innovative techniques to maximize flavor and appearance. What’s more, the garden produces several hundred pounds of herbs, micro greens, fruits and vegetables to supply the school each month, making the garden’s bounty an integral part of each ICE student’s education. ICE is also employing creative techniques to maintain the garden—including utilizing the release of over 150 ladybugs to provide pesticide-free pest control:

In addition to students and chef instructors, ICE’s hydroponic garden has drawn visits from industry leaders such as Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Bryce Shuman, Shane Hergatt, Gabriel Kreuther and Wylie Dufresne—chefs with refined palates who can taste and instantly envision how to use the garden’s herbs. Together with ICE’s bean-to-bar Chocolate Lab, ICE’s facilities prepare students for exciting careers in the current culinary landscape.