James Beard and ICE founder Peter Kump

History of the Institute of Culinary Education

Over Four Decades of Culinary Instruction

It all began with five students in a tiny Upper West Side studio apartment...

Peter-kumps-logo-top-no-year.jpgIn 1975, Peter Kump, an educator and entrepreneur with a great love of food, offered to teach a small group of students the basic techniques of cooking in the cramped kitchen of his Upper West Side, New York City apartment.

Not long after, the New York Times wrote favorably of the fledgling school. As a result of that article, Kump received numerous phone calls from potential culinary students asking to study with him and Peter Kump's New York Cooking School was born.

Within five years, the school was flourishing. In 1979, an article in Bon Appétit quoted Kump as saying he hoped his students would "develop taste":

"I want them to become free to improvise, to work without recipes. They should learn principles, the reasons for mixing and blending this with that. And techniques."

By 1979, the school had grown in reputation — and had outgrown its original apartment space. Looking for something that better reflected the school's professional aspirations, Peter Kump's New York Cooking School moved to a new space on East 92nd street, with three kitchens full of commercial equipment, including a demonstration kitchen. A fourth kitchen and roof garden were added later, as was a separate dedicated pastry kitchen located two doors down the street.

In 1983, Kump launched the culinary career training program to train aspiring chefs. He himself had learned from the best, and former teachers of his such as James Beard, Simone Beck, Marcella Hazan and Diana Kennedy all later came to teach classes at the school. Illustrious food leaders such as Julia Child, James Peterson and David Bouley were frequently guest instructors. In 1986, Chef Nick Malgieri, former executive pastry chef at Windows on the World, and the James Beard award-winning author was brought on to launch the school's professional baking program.

Rick%20Smilow%2C%20Julia%20Child%20and%20Nick%20Malgieri.jpgCenter: Julia Child. To her right is current CEO and Chairman of the Institute of Culinary Education, Rick Smilow. To Julia’s left is Nick Malgieri. Surrounding the three are students of Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School.

Among his other activities, Kump, along with Julia Child, went on to establish the James Beard Foundation in 1985. The organization inspires and showcases American chefs through dinners, publications, food events and its prestigious awards program. The school's ties to the James Beard Foundation remain deep, with ICE students volunteering alongside the nation’s top chefs at James Beard House dinners, as well as the JBF annual awards gala.

The evolution of culinary schools in New York and LA


When Peter Kump passed away in 1995, an obituary in the New York Times proclaimed him “one of the most influential figures on the American food scene.” It was then that Rick Smilow, an entrepreneur passionate about education and the food industry, acquired the school. The Smilow family was already a notable participant in the New York City restaurant scene via its partnership with Chef Daniel Boulud and his restaurants, including Restaurant Daniel, Café Boulud and DB Bistro Moderne. Smilow remains the CEO and Chairman of the school.

In late 1995, the school opened a new Manhattan location at 50 W. 23rd Street. In 2005, the 23rd Street facility expanded further, renovated its existing kitchens and classrooms, and built a new resource library. The school ultimately occupied over 42,000 square feet in the Flatiron district, including 11 teaching kitchens.

By 1997, the school's recreational cooking program had grown to be the largest in the nation. ICE continues to offer a wide array of hands-on cooking, baking, wine and beverage classes for home cooks each year. 

Over the years, the school, its graduates and its instructors have won numerous awards and honors. In 1997, New York magazine named the school the “best cooking school in New York.” In 1998, W Magazine included the school in its “Black Book … the World's Best Addresses.” In 1998, Pastry & Baking Arts Program Director Nick Malgieri was inducted into the James Beard Foundation's Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America. In 1999, Chef Malgieri was named as one of America's Ten Best Pastry Chefs by Pastry Art & Design magazine.

In 2000, the school was accredited by the ACCSC (American Commission of Career Schools and Colleges). In their institutional evaluation, the ACCSC honored the school for achieving four items of excellence, a rare accomplishment. Those areas were: 100% student satisfaction (all students surveyed would recommend the school to a friend); outstanding faculty and faculty commitment to students; the school’s facilities and equipment; and the school’s involvement in community service.

Logo_Color_RGB_300dpi.jpgIn 2001, reflecting the school’s growth, size and stature, the school’s name was changed to the Institute of Culinary Education, abbreviated as ICE. This new era also heralded the development of numerous new programs at the school, including:

  • 2001 – Launched Restaurant & Culinary Management Program
  • 2010 – Launched Hospitality & Hotel Management Program
  • 2012 – Launched School of Professional Development

ICE_logo_NY_375x375.jpgIn 2005, ICE was designated an ACCSC 2006 School of Distinction, an award given to recognize member schools that have demonstrated a commitment to the expectations and rigors of ACCSC accreditation, as well as a commitment to delivering quality education programs to students, graduates and employers. Then, in 2010, ICE’s Career Services department was given a commendation for excellence regarding their outstanding record of externship and job placements.

ICE also won numerous International Association of Culinary Professional ”Awards of Excellence” — in 2003, 2008 and 2011. ICE’s President Rick Smilow (now Chairman and CEO) also received significant recognition. In 2003, Smilow was chosen as the annual honoree of The New York Association of Culinary Professionals, joining a list of culinary leaders that includes James Beard, Julia Child, Peter Kump and Jacques Pépin, as well as Craig Claiborne and Lidia Bastianich. And in 2011, Smilow was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the IACP. ICE was also named the IACP’s 2015 “Culinary School of the Year ” and longtime chef-instructor Chris Gesualdi was awarded the 2015 “Culinary Educator of the Year.” 

During this time, ICE alumni emerged as leaders in the field, including numerous James Beard Award winners: Vivian Howard, Stephen Durfee, Claudia Fleming, Greta Anthony, Allison Vines-Rushing, Trish Magwood, Gina DePalma and more. Several others emerged as media stars, including Marc Murphy and Gail Simmons. To learn more about ICE alumni accomplishments, click here.

ICE students, instructors and staff mingle in the downtown New York City ICE campus

2015-Present: Regional and National Expansion

In the spring of 2015, ICE relocated from our longtime home on 23rd Street in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood to 225 Liberty Street in the Battery Park City neighborhood. Our Lower Manhattan location extends across 74,000 square feet, with Hudson River views to the west and One World Trade Center views to the east. This move, coinciding with ICE’s 40th anniversary, was an exciting chapter in a long history that parallels the growth of culinary culture in New York.

The facade of the Institute of Culinary Education Los Angeles campus

In early 2018, ICE opened a West Coast campus in Los Angeles , one of the biggest food destinations in the U.S. The new facility, formerly occupied by Le Cordon Bleu's Pasadena location, was updated to reflect the standards of ICE's flagship NYC campus. The school aims to create the same sense of community, creativity and campus life offered in New York, adapted to the thriving L.A. food scene.

Plant-Based Culinary Arts Lead Chef Elliott Prag teaches students at ICE.

In 2019, ICE introduced Plant-Based Culinary Arts (formerly known as Health-Supportive Culinary Arts) at both campuses. The program is based on the Health-Supportive Culinary Arts program originated by the Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI). Like NGI’s program, ICE’s Plant-Based Culinary Arts curriculum is based on seven principles of food selection: whole, fresh, seasonal, traditional, balanced, local and delicious. Ingredients for ICE’s program are sourced in accordance with these standards.

An ICC student and an ICE student each work with dough

In 2020, ICE and the International Culinary Center (ICC) entered into an agreement that brought the best aspects of ICC’s expertise, unique offerings and heritage to ICE's campuses in New York and Los Angeles. ICC was founded as The French Culinary Institute (FCI) by Dorothy Cann Hamilton in 1984. At the time of the school’s closing in 2020, ICC was widely recognized as a leader in culinary education. ICE is proud to carry on the legacy of ICC through our unique program offerings and the expertise of our instructors. 

2021 was another big year for the school, as it saw the launch of ICE's first associate degree program in Culinary Arts at the Los Angeles campus, and the launch of ICE's first online program — Culinary Arts & Food Operations. Since then, the school's degree offerings and online offerings have quickly expanded. Students at ICE's Los Angeles campus can now pursue an associate degree in Culinary Arts, Pastry & Baking Arts or Plant-Based Culinary Arts. For students looking to pursue their culinary dreams online, the school now offers an online Plant-Based Culinary Arts program in additional to our online Culinary Arts program.

Three ICE graduates

Although the school has seen remarkable growth since its founding more than 40 years ago, it remains true to Peter Kump’s philosophy of studying the culinary arts through technique, not recipes. Today, more than ever, ICE is realizing its mission of helping students unlock their personal potential and discover their culinary voices.