Le Bernardin's Executive Pastry Chef, Orlando Soto

Meet ICE New York's Alumnus Commencement Speaker: Orlando Soto

ICE alum Orlando Soto addresses ICE graduates as Executive Pastry Chef at Le Bernardin

ICE admissions representatives often speak with potential ICE students who are curious about leaving previous careers or courses of study behind to pursue their passion for the culinary arts. This year’s commencement alumni speaker may have had the same thought, but it turns out engineering and fine dining desserts actually have a lot in common. 

In less than 10 years, Chef Orlando Soto has gone from the kitchen classrooms at ICE, where he attended both the Pastry & Baking Arts program and the Restaurant & Culinary Management program, to holding the title of Executive Pastry Chef at the internationally-renowned Le Bernardin.

After graduating from a Chemical Engineering program at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, Chef Orlando did what so many hope to do and followed his dream of working in the creative pastry arts right to culinary school. 

While the Pastry & Baking Arts program is an intensive introduction to technique, method, professional-level production of breads and desserts, Chef Soto compounded his experience by enrolling simultaneously in the Restaurant & Culinary Management program, which provides an education in the business side of running a kitchen or starting a food business. In addition to school work, he regularly volunteered on-campus, assisting ICE Creative Director Michael Laskonis (himself a former Executive Pastry Chef at Le Bernardin, where he earned a James Beard Award), and took on his first professional kitchen role in the production kitchen of Momofuku’s Milk Bar.

However, it was in his ICE externship at Thomas Keller’s Per Se where Chef Orlando first dipped into the world of luxury dining, and based on his trajectory from there, he never looked back.

More Alumni Accomplishments: ICE Alumni Lead Many of The New York Times’ 100 Best NYC Restaurants

From Per Se, Chef Orlando moved into a role at Chef Daniel Boulud’s landmark restaurant Daniel, then pivoted from French cuisine to German by joining Michelin-starred Günter Seeger. From there, Chef Orlando spent a year executing Lebanese desserts at New York’s popular Ilili Restaurant, before landing his first Executive Chef role to help open Catch’s NYC location, where he dabbled in the world of plant-based desserts.

This trajectory through some of the country’s best restaurants finally landed Chef Orlando at the helm of the pastry team at Chef Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin in  2022, shortly before The New York Times review that awarded them four stars and cited Chef Orlando by name.

As is evident by Chef Orlando incredible journey, graduates at ICE’s New York Campus commencement ceremony would do well to heed the advice he shared as they officially transition from students to colleagues in the world of professional cooking.

Watch the replay of Chef Orlando's speech and the rest of the ceremony below.

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